Catalog of

United States

Stamped Envelope

Essays and Proofs






Dan Undersander





Published by the

United Postal Stationery Society

Harold M. Stral, Publications Manager





















1853 George F. Nesbitt & Co.




In pencil on card

a.   bust only                                                                                         1500.00†

b.   complete design                                                                              1500.00†


Above with one page holograph letter signed George F. Nesbitt, Aug 27, 1857 to the Third Assistant PMG “Herewith you will please receive these specimens sent in, in answer to my advertisement.”  From White Collection, Siegel Auction, Mar 3-4, 1971.




















1853 George F. Nesbitt & Co.


E3A    THREE CENTS, Die 3(C) (‘K’ ends), proof (printers’ waste)


Cut squares, horizontally laid paper.

a.   red on buff                                                                                       500.00


Only two copies known (Per Barkhausen’s notes in his copy of Thorp Catalog).

Note: issued envelopes on horizontally laid paper were Dies 1(A) and 5(E); 1861 reprints were Die 5(E) and are on vertically laid paper, therefore above is none of these.


Comments from Gary Starkey:

“This item is on horizontally laid paper identical to the paper of the first envelopes.  The paper does not seem to be any special paper but is buff, which was not used for the first envelopes.  Die 3 is known with the Nesbitt seal (rare) so was in production before the first envelopes were issued.

The stamp is heavily embossed but the color is not uniform from top to bottom.  The color appears like many other embossings of the Nesbitt issues in that the color is weak on the bottom.  This is likely a result of the high-speed production of the embossing/printing.

The type of the outer rim and engine work is Type 2 of Die 3, the ‘K’ die.  But the head is similar to Head #1, which did not occur with this outer rim.  No envelopes have been reported with this combination and this combination is not listed in Thorp or other catalogs.

Finally, there are red ink specks on the reverse of the item, which indicates that this item was laid on top of another similar item, which was just printed.  The ink of the item on the bottom was not entirely dry and some of it transferred to the back of the item on top.

Based on all of the above, the item is believed to be printer’s waste.  The printers were likely testing the embossing/printing equipment and put a Head #1 with Type 2 rim and ran several pieces of paper through to test the printing, the machinery, etc.  They would then have destroyed this paper, per contract.  But somehow this item made its way to the collectors.

















1853 George F. Nesbitt & Co.


E6A    SIX CENTS, Essay, embossed design


Similar to Die 6, but four heavy strands make up the braided side ornaments (rather than three as on issued envelope) and the labels are not marked off as in the issued stamp.  Stamp in upper right corner of large pieces of horizontally laid paper; watermark 1.  One or two copies of each item known, as indicated below.


a.   green on white (75x43 mm)                                                               500.00

      (75x43 mm) with tape mounting stains on top and bottom,

      (28x32 mm ex-Brazer1) with horizontal crease through middle of vignette, “NH” on back, no watermark

b.   green on buff (70x65 mm)                                                                 500.00

      with tape stains on top, side and bottom, small tear to right of stamp

c.   violet-brown on buff (64x75 mm)                                                         500.00

      (64x75 mm) with tape stains on top and bottom,

      (28x30 mm ex-Brazer) with “NH” on back, die cut through paper on lower, inner oval, no watermark

d.   red on buff                                                                                       500.00

e.   violet brown on white, no watermark                                                   500.00

      (27x31 mm) with “NH” on back, die cut through paper on lower, inner oval, ex-Brazer

f.    red on white                                                                                     500.00

      (28x31 mm  ex-Brazer) with “NH” on back, die cut through paper on lower, inner oval


1  ex-Brazer items from Greg Manning Auctions, Apr 11, 1991


Postmaster General comments on essay:

Post Office Department                                                                    Finance Office, 23rd Dec, 1852


      The Postmaster General is of the opinion that the impression of the head of Washington on the specimen envelope presented by you today are not sufficiently plain and bold.  The figure does not come out sufficiently, nor does it present the likeness of Washington with characteristic force.  These defects in the die must be remedied, and approved specimen must be sent here before a precise or specific order will be given for the envelopes… 

J Marron. Third Asst. PM Genl 















ex-White (130% actual size)


1857 (Aug. 15) George F. Nesbitt & Co.


E12A              DESIGN OF 1851 THREE CENT COIN, Essay, embossed


Both obverse and reverse side by side, 3¼ x 2 inches (80x50 mm) card, no watermark.

a.   gold on white card                                                                            3000.00†


Originally with George F. Nesbitt letter to Hon. John Marron, Third Assistant P.M.Gen., Aug 14th, 1857:

“As per understanding, I called at the United States Mint yesterday, but did not see Mr. Snowdin; he had left the city to be gone several days.  I saw his representative who introduced me to the Chief Die Sinker – Mr. Longfield.  Mr. Longfield informed me that there was no head of Washington at the Mint that he thought suitable for the purpose, nor could he tell me of any one capable of producing what I required.  He thought that the death of Mr. C. C. Wright had left a vacancy in that branch of art not easily filled.

Mr. Longfield recommended the enclosed as a suitable mark for the Three Cent Envelopes and suggested that if it was used he would like credit for originating the idea - I told him I would forward the card and his remarks to you.

I shall make all diligent exertion to procure a head that will please, and will inform you as early as possible how I progress.

Very Respectfully, George F. Nesbitt”











Front and back of 1854 3¢ coin

The design is of a six-pointed star enclosing a shield with seven horizontal lines on top and 10 vertical lines on the bottom.  Below the star is the year of issue and surrounding the star is “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”  The back is a “C” enclosing the Roman numeral III with a branch above and three arrows wrapped in a ribbon below.  (The last two items left off the essay as with coins produced from 1851 to 1853.)  The “C” is surrounded by 14 stars.