U.S. 3c Orange Brown Type II Scott 10A Position 11-12L2E on July 30, (1851) 6c rate cover from Stockton, CA to Bennington Center, VT.
Dr. Chase, in his epic 3c reference book, "THE 3c STAMP OF THE UNITED STATES 1851-1857 ISSUE" wrote that Plate 2 was probably made in late July, 1851 and that the earliest known use of a Plate 2 Early stamp is Aug. 2, 1851. This example is clearly dated July 30th, 1851.
Dr. Chase revised his book in 1942, so almost 80 years ago. It is possible that someone else has discovered an earlier usage, but until I see it, I am going to call this the EKU - Earliest Known Use - of a Plate 2 Early example. (I might be wrong, but someone will correct me - they always do.)
Dr. Chase writes:
Chapter X, Page 93
PLATE 2 (EARLY)
"This plate was probably made late in July, 1851. It exists in two states, early and late, and each of the states will be described as though it was a separate plate.
The date of the earliest known copy from plate 2 (early state ) is August 2, 1851, and the plate was probably used continuously until late in the year 1851, when it was softened, to a considerable extent, re-entered , touched up a bit by hand, a number was added, after which it was re-hardened and again put in use, thus accounting for the second state of the plate. All of the stamps from the early state of this plate are in the 1851 (orange-brown) color."
"Approximately 4,169,800 stamps (20,849 impressions) were printed from the plate, hence they are rare. Had it not been for the fact that I was able to plate single copies of plate 2(e) from stamps of known position in plate 2(L) I might not have been able to complete the reconstruction of this plate. As it is, I have been able to complete it."
"The plate in this state showed ,no wear."
Scott's lists Plate 2E as having an EKU date of July 21st & I found another listing stating July 23rd. Scott's listing for the 3c Washingtons are not necessarily correct and I don't out much confidence in their listings. #128577;
Either way, this is a very early use of a plate 2 stamp.
This (CDS) cancel is identified and given a rarity "4" by Williams - which correlates to "Very Scarce" 50-100 known.
John H. Williams, in his 2 volume work, "CALIFORNIA TOWN POSTMARKS 1849-1935", lists a similar 31.5mm CDS to the "JUL 30 STOCKTON CAL" CDS on this cover on Page 1015 (Volume 2), identified as "SAJ-2320". His tracing has a period "." after CAL.
This example does not have any remnant of such a period, but I believe this to be the same marking. His listing shows the Earliest know use of this CDS is "30 NOV 1850". The next 31.5mm CDS from Stockton, California isn't until April 15, 1853 - and the location of the "CAL" is different, as well as the font.
The blue, 8-piece "pie" geometric cancel is unlisted as being from Stockton in Skinner & Eno and doesn't show up in Simpson's, either. Such cancels became more and more common as time went on, but such cancels on early 3c stamps is rare.
I will include a closeup of the pair - and this pair shows a stray vertical engraving line between the stamps. It is located to the left of the upper left rosette of the right stamp. Most examples of this stray line are lost when the stamps were cut apart and this examples shows it nicely.
Overall - this is a very nice cover and I am happy to add it to my dated cover collection.