Frajola World Covers

Collection of Western Express Covers formed by Steve Whitington

Offered by Richard Frajola

October 20, 2012 update: This offering is now closed. Remaining covers will appear in a future sale.

I am pleased to present the collection of Western Express franked covers formed by Steve Whitington. This presentation includes brief histories of the express companies and includes new information in many, if not most, cases. Much of this new information, primarily derived from newspaper resources now available online, corrects past authors. As the site will stay online as a resource, additional information will be added and further corrections will be made to those introductory paragraphs. Reader input is welcomed.

The provenance of covers offered is given when available. When describing the material it became very apparent exactly how rare most of this material is. The best material has been owned by a only handful of great collectors since the early 1900s. When numbers of covers reported is given in descriptions, it reflects my records from auction and philatelic literature, as well as the Frank Levi auction records, which includes clippings gleaned from auctions held circa 1950 to 1980. I have also used the reference notes of Stanley Ashbrook and George Sloane. Undoubtedly, there are additional examples that I am not aware of or may have overlooked. Below the Table of Contents are some brief notes about the collectors and the way they are credited in the descriptions. I have written three background articles on the California private mails that are linked from the page here. Searchable PDF file here (check for availability of items).

Click cover images to see larger view.

Ordering Information - Items that have grayed-out stock numbers and prices have been sold but prices will remain online as a value guide and reference. Please email me to confirm availability and order by stock number.

If you have fine Western Express material you wish to sell, please contact me.

  Table of Contents (alphabetical order)

Adams Express - Arizona & New Mexico Express

page 1

Bamber's Express - Burdin's Express

page 2

Chase's Express - Evan's Express

page 3

Everts & Co's Express - Everts, Wilson & Co's Express

page 4

Ford & Co's Express - Freeman & Co's Express

page 5

Garland's Express - Gregory & English's Express

page 6

Hall & Allen's Express - Holland & Wheeler's Express

page 7

Hopkinson's Express - Ish & Hailey's Express

page 8

Jones & Edgar's Canyon City Express - Lamping Express

page 9

Langton's Pioneer Express - La Porte Express

page 10

Martin's Stage & Express Line - North-Western Express

page 11

Oliver's Bannack & Salt Lake Express - Pauly's Express

page 12

Penman's Express - Prindle's Express (includes Pony Express)

page 13

Raum's Express - Rutherford & Co's Express

page 14

Schoch's Copper City Express - Swift & Co's Express

page 15

Thomes & Skaden's Express - Tracy & Co's Oregon Express

page 16

J.C. Truman's Express - Tucson and Tombstone Stage Line

page 17

Vera's Express - Wells, Fargo & Co. Express

page 18

Wells, Fargo Surcharged Franks (Premium Services)

page 19

J.P. Wharton's Express - Wood & Co's Express

page 20

Overland Mail Directives Covers - Select Unused Franks

page 21

Unused Western Express Franks (a PDF file)


Unused Hawaii Wells Fargo Express Franks (a PDF file)


Unused British Columbia Express Franks (a PDF file)


Unused Mexico Wells Fargo Express Franks (a PDF file)


Book Reference Notes  - The standard reference works on Western Express include: Franks of the Western Expresses by M.C. Nathan, published by the Collectors Club of Chicago in 1973 and Letters of Gold by Jesse L. Coburn, published by the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society in 1984. Both of these works are dated by still worthwhile. For transcontinental Pony Express uses, The Pony Express, A Postal History by Frajola, Kramer and Walske, published by the Philatelic Foundation in 2005 is the most current reference. For Oregon express uses, Oregon Express Companies by Dale Forster, published by the author in 1985 and for Nevada expresses, Nevada Express by James M. Gamett, published by the Western Cover Society in 1998. As a general guide to worldwide gold mining operations and postal history, Gold Fever by Kenneth Kutz, published by the author in 1987.

A note about Alfred Lichtenstein - Alfred Lichtenstein formed one of the greatest collections of western express postal history of the twentieth century. The nucleus of the collection came from H.B. Phillips, an ex Wells, Fargo employee (see April 20, 1895 San Francisco newspaper article here), who searched for, and wrote about, western expresses in the 1890's. His daughter, Louise Boyd Dale, expanded the collection. Portions of the Dale - Lichtenstein  collections have been sold in several HR. Harmer auctions. A major portion of western express material was sold in the 1999 auction listed below but the material that was judged the best was sold in two sales in 2004. Much of the material from that sale is included in this offering. Because of the vast number of covers,  there were many better items left in balance lots.

A note about Edgar Jessup - Edgar Jessup was one of the best students and collectors of California express covers in the last century. Many of his articles appeared in the Western Postal History Society Journal in the 1950s and 60s. Most of his collection was sold to Marc Haas but before all of the material could be purchased, Jessup passed away. The remnants descended to Jessup's daughter, Virginia, who married Basil Pearce. The Peace material was eventually sold in 2002.

A note about Marc Haas - Luckily, Marc Haas preserved in print most of his best Western Express material by funding a book, Letters Of Gold, that illustrates many of the covers, including several ex Jessup covers. For more about Marc Haas and the dispersals of his collection, see page here.

Annotated list of some of the more important Western Express Sales -

Edward S. Knapp Collection, Parke-Bernet Galleries, May 5 to 10, 1941 - good sections of pony express and general western express.
Alfred F. Lichtenstein California Express Covers, Eugene Costales, Apr 26-27, 1950 - first portion sold publicly (listed on this site as Lichtenstein)
Henry H. Clifford Collection of Western Postal History, Robert A. Siegel Auctions, Jan 22-23, 1969
Western Express Covers, Chiefly Wells, Fargo (from the Hall collection), H.R. Harmer, Inc, Feb 21, 1973 - includes section of Pony Express
Western Expresses (Jerome Hawley collection), Sotheby, Parke, Bernet, Mar 30, 1978
Western Covers (Henry Chaloner collection), John A. Fox, Jul 20, 1980
California Postal History (Marc Haas material), Richard Frajola, Dec 14, 1985 - a portion of his original collection which he repurchased from Stanley Gibbons
The Edwards Collection of Western Express, Christie's Robson Lowe, Oct 29, 1991 - collection formed by Edward Grombacher (listed on this site as Edwards)
Western Express Companies, Louise Dale and Alfred Lichtenstein collections, H.R. Harmer, Inc, Sep 25, 1997 - a portion of the holding (listed on this site as Dale - Lichtenstein)
The Tahoe Collection, Schuyler Rumsey Auctions, Dec 4-6, 2002 - material owned by Basil Pearce estate, mostly inherited from Edgar Jessup after Jessup had sold best material to Marc Haas
Western Express Companies, Louise Dale and Alfred Lichtenstein collections, H.R. Harmer, Inc, May 13, 2004 - the final portions of the holding (listed on this site as Dale - Lichtenstein)

Richard Frajola (July 6, 2012)