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The Lithographed General Issues of the Confederate States of America, Article 4

Stone Y, Characteristics

by Leonard H. Hartmann

All rights reserved, copyright © 2000, L. H. Hartmann


Stone Y is truly one of the under-appreciated mysteries of the CSA General Issues. We know nothing of it's origin except what can be determined from the surviving stamps. There may be data in the archives, but it has not yet been discovered.

Stone Y is one of the CSA 10 Blue Lithographed General Issues, Scott's No. 2. The basic catalog number is in essence three different stamps and should be so listed. The original design was printed by Hoyer and Ludwig of Richmond, Virginia, starting in the Fall of 1861 and was well known to collectors in the 1860's. Next J. T. Paterson & Co. of Augusta, Georgia, printed a stamp that evidently came from a transfer taken from the Hoyer & Ludwig design. They made a new transfer stone and printing stone or stones. The Paterson stamps were in production in July 1862. The Paterson printings may not have been known to exist until the report in the June 15, 1912 issue of "The Philatelic Gazette", Vol II, No. 20, page 345 of the discovery of a full pain with imprint. However, Paterson's activities as a printer for the CSA government were well known. Details of the Paterson characteristics appear in Charles J. Phillips 1913 catalog "Phillips' Specialized Priced Catalog of Confederate States General Issues, pages 14 and 15. Bertram W. H. Poole also covered the Paterson stamp, with rough plating information, in the "Philatelic Gazette" starting in Vol VI, April 1916.

There is little problem in distinguishing the Hoyer from the Paterson stamps. Characteristics A - E per Figure No. 1 were detailed in the 1913 Charles J. Phillips catalog and are definitive. See Figure No. 2 for a typical Hoyer stamp and No. 3 for a typical Paterson stamp.

Paterson - Hoyer Characteristics

Stone Y

The first mention of Stone Y that I have found is a note in the 5th edition, 1928, of the "Scott's Specialized Catalogue of United States Postage Stamps". 1928 is the first time CSA stamps were listed in the Scott's Specialized Catalog. The 6th edition, 1929 of the same catalog has a more detailed listing for Stone Y.

The identification of Stone Y was evidently made before 1928; hopefully more information on this will turn up, perhaps a published article or original notes. It is noted that the excellent article "Lithographs of the Confederate States of America" by Curtis, Knapp and Pratt in the November, 1929, issue of Scott's Monthly Journal does not mention Stone Y however the prelude to this article may explain the omission, "This article was among my notes on Confederates, and was prepared some five years ago, in fact parts of it were written by Mr. Curtis about 15 years ago and turned over to me E.S.K" (Edward S. Knapp).

What is Stone Y? We know it is a different transfer stone and thus one or more new printing stones from the evident characteristics of the stamp. It has historically been assumed to have been taken from a Transfer used by Paterson or perhaps a master stone from Paterson. The classic characteristic for Stone Y is the white head flaw, characteristic G, and the general Paterson Characteristics, i.e., A - E. The white head flaw has always been a problem for collectors to identify, as it is not equally clear or even present on all positions.

With a bit of experience collectors have learned to spot a Stone Y with, say, 90% confidence by the exact shade and quality of the impression. Also they cannot be plated as Hoyer or Paterson. They are almost always in a light gray blue with a poor quality of printing. With Hoyer and also perhaps a slightly lesser extent with Paterson we have some beautifully printed stamps in most attractive colors and fine impressions. For Stone Y this is not the case; they are all about the same dull shade and poor print and paper quality.

Rarity is major curiosity and puzzle! A used single of Stone Y on or off cover is perhaps 30% scarcer than a Hoyer or Paterson. Used multiples are much scarcer and are usually in poorer condition. There is a nice vertical strip of 3 used from Thomasville, Ga., sold in the November 12, 1999, Matthew Bennett sale of the McCarren collection. A strip of 4 is also reported but not confirmed. A poor condition horizontal strip of 7 used from Knoxville, Tennessee, was in the March 22 - 23, 1967 John A. Fox sale, lot 1053, and was previously sold in another Fox sale on January 11th, 1963, lot 140.

There is one well known used Stone Y block of 6 that was originally a block of 7. The J. C. Morgenthau sale of April 12-14th, 1943, lot 818 has an irregular block of 7; the top row being 4 stamps and the bottom being 3. This same block was in the John A. Fox sale of March 20th, 1961 as a block of 6, the top right stamp had been removed but overall it is still in poor condition. This block has since appeared recently in the R.A.Siegel sale of October 28-29, 1997, lot 667.

One could easily surmise from a quick examination of the covers and used stamps that these stamps may have been deliberately sent to small offices and where the troops were so there poor appearance was not as objectionable. I can only say that such is reasonable based on both the period of issue and the surviving examples but I have not tried to statistically verify this idea.

Now for the shocker, and I state this with considerable reservations as it should not be so, based on the large number of used singles. The only unused example of Stone Y that I know of are two singles and a block of 15 in poor condition! This general observation has been confirmed by several friends that have seen a large number of the Confederate Lithographs and have commented they have never seen an unused Stone Y. A single with original gum was sold as Stone Y in the Alfred H. Caspary collection in 1957, lot 453, and a block of four in the Col. Cornelius W. Wickersham collection sold by Robert Laurence on May 14, 1940, lot 180, neither of these items are illustrated. An unused block of 10 is listed in "The New Dietz Confederate States Catalog and Handbook", 1986. However I have no other record of this block. It is possible that the listed block of 10 is in reality the block of 15. As the block of 15 was previously configured, it appeared to have only 10 complete stamps. To remove defective stamps from a multiply often increases the eye appeal and marketability.

The identification of proofs of the CSA lithographs have long been a problem for collectors and will be the subject of a future article. The Stone Y proofs are the exception, they are printed in black versus the issued stamp in blue. I know of two singles in quite nice condition, one from the M. Kimmel collection was last sold by R.A. Siegel on May 18-19, 1976, lot 664 and the other from the W. F. Murphy collection last sold by R.A. Siegel on Oct 28-29, 1997, lot 504. There is also one pair of which a small portion of the right stamp is missing from the Clarence Brazier collection sold by R.A. Siegel June 27-29, 1990, lot 2167. I have never personally examined this pair and would like to obtain a large print or high definition scan.

Stone Y, Block of 15

This block of 15 was recognized as Stone Y about 15 years ago and was not previously shown. We have not been able to find any image of it in the "as discovered" condition which is most unfortunate. It is possible the Stone Y status of this block was previously known and the information lost. The block had been improperly restored circa 1985. Early this year the original gum was removed and the paper deacidified with some reinforcing paper fibers added. Previously, no doubt to give the block a more normal appearance, a stamp had been cut from the lower right end and glued under the upper left corners with the original gum as about 1/3 of the original upper left stamp is missing. The stamp that was cut off has now been returned to it's original position, the paper fibers matched perfectly. About 20% of the top of each stamp in the top horizontal row is missing however scrap that supposedly and most certainly originated with this multiply were again used to repair the stamps. It was not possible to relate these scraps with there original relative location and it was thought desirable to create an appealing image, there was no intention to deceive. The block has not been regummed or silked and all work is evident by examining the back of the block. Perhaps for preservation it would have been better to have silked the back but this would make it more difficult to determine what had been done in the future. Regumming is often done to hide repair work, though it does nothing to enhance the appearance from the front and is destructive to the stamp.

This block now defines the relative location of 15 positions. The previously mentioned used strip of 3 also fits into this block. The total of known relative positions is now 16. Any multiples, even sheet margin singles, would yield potentially valuable information.

Stone Y Characteristics

The block of 15 and also the one added position provide the basis for a detailed study of the characteristics which have been confirmed by examining a number of used singles that were previously considered Stone Y and are not plated. See Figure No. 4 for a typical Stone Y stamp and No. 5 for the restored block of 15.

Stone Y, previous accepted characteristics

Stone Y, Proposed Characteristics

I consider characteristic E when combined with characteristic A (to eliminate the possibility of a Hoyer & Ludwig stamp) to be as definitive in identifying Stone Y as the classic blank head flaw, characteristic G. From our 16 located Stone Y positions, 12 show the head flaw well, 2 show it poorly, and 2 do not show it at all.

Characteristic E suggests that Stone Y originated from an original Hoyer image that was touched up by or for Paterson and not from an image taken from a subject on the Paterson transfer or printing stone. In essence the design appears to me to be more Hoyer than Paterson. However considering the overall printing quality and color and it's late appearance for a lithograph it is unlikely to have been printed by Hoyer and was probably printed by either Paterson or another presently unknown firm. The actual printer is a historical question that we are not able to answer from the information presently presented by the available stamps. Much more needs to be done; statistics on the used examples, complete and confirm the plating, an archival search for some official records, etc.

I would like to give special thanks to P.W.W. Powell, J.E. Molesworth, L. Winick and S.Y. Trimble, V for their assistance on this article.

Future articles: If you have anything unusual or perplexing relating to the CSA lithographs please advise. The old literature mentions fabulous things that have never been properly described, illustrated or properly identified. Even the basic Stone Y has never been properly illustrated in print, hopefully this article will remedy this.

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