CHAT: The US Newspaper Stamps, or: The Headaches of a Philatelist (part 4)

(If you'd like to start reading from the beginning, then click HERE!)

3 August 2017
Things are hotting up tremendously! I wake up to another email from D. He sent me a clipping from the 'United States Specialist' which lists the engravers of the 1875 issue! I've seen that Braceland name before and gather he is quite the expert in this field.


Not only do I now have the names, the snippet also confirms that the frame and lettering of the 1875 was done by a single engraver, even though not all of those are known yet. But the list yields yet another problem to sort. As frame/letter engraver for the two lowest dollar values, we find the name C A Kochler. His name is not yet in my database so I grab my trusted Hessler book, only to find that he spells the name as Kohler! Another spell on the world wide web is needed, in search of an engraver named either Kohler or Kochler.


Luck seems to be on my side today for within minutes I find an old auction lot which includes various ABNC items, among which Happy New Year cards by C A Kochler! So that settles it, as far as I'm concerned, and I can continue adding this new engraver to my database, together with James S King, Charles H Smith and Atwood Porter.

I start adding the engravers to my research cum want list, I bump into Charles Skinner's name again, on the $24 value. I had put him there after finding the EPJ snippet with the proof. Today's list names King as the engraver, so the image shown in the EPJ must have been of a drawn essay after all, with Skinner signing as one of the designers rather than the engraver. So that's another minor point sorted.

4 August 2017
The sun shines on the righteous! Or is it The devil looks after his own? Whatever way, yet another email arrives from D with what seems to be the final piece of the puzzle. That wonderful Essay Proof Journal, which should never have been allowed to be discontinued, is disclosing another of it splendours: a two part feature on the engravers of the 1895 issue! With in-depth information on how the dies were engraved, how the original 1875 dies were used, and transformed into the new 1895 issue. With loads of progressive proofs to illustrate. Too wonderful for words!

The feature states that Smillie did indeed engrave and or upgrade all the vignettes, whereas both Ellis and Kennedy are known to have done some of the lettering and frames. Not all frame and lettering engravers were known at that time (1957), but the feature is so authoritative that I'll gladly accept I'll never get to know this. But at least I now know all the vignette engravers, which is what I had hoped for.

So in that way my quest rather abruptly ends, with 99% of my questions answered! And all that while realising that most of the hard work had already been done by others! All I need to do now is actually collect all these beautiful items and keep my eyes peeled for (progressive) proofs to come up in auctions. For at the moment of writing I still do not own a single stamp or proof from this issue, and I can't wait to see them in real life!

Click HERE for the epilogue.

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