Lovely pair of 1st issue 50-cent bisect documents

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March 11, 2017

1st-3rd issue bisects on document is one of my favorite areas to collect. I've been maintaining a census of bisect documents for several years.

Scott lists and values bisects only in the most arbitrary manner. Their pricing is based primarily on denomination rather than actual type, and frequently bears little correlation to actual scarcity. Since they won't adjust values unless there are reported auction sale results, and most large auction houses don't lot bisects as single lots since the existing catalog values are so low, there aren't results to report to cause the values to increase. A vicious catch-22 frequently found in back-of-the-book material.

With the exception of one of the 5-cent bisects that was sold in a high-profile auction and several of the second- and third-issue bisects, none of them catalog for very much, despite many of the 1st issue types being far more scarce and several being unique. With a few exceptions, Scott treats low denomination bisects as the cheapest and high-denomination bisects as the most expensive... which is inaccurate. Scarcity and value is not determined by denomination; it's more complicated than that.

Using the denomination model as a gauge, 10-cent and $2 denominations are, in my opinion, the ones most frequently seen. Then 2-cent and $1 slighly less frequently. Then there is a huge gap to any other denominations which are far more rare.

There are two 50-cent bisects listed in Scott, the Foreign Exchange (R56f) and the Original Process (R60e). Prior to last month, I had been unable to find any reported examples or auction results of either. The only two examples in my census were a well-known dealer contrivance from the 1930s and a horribly bogus item with a bad cert. There are no legitimate 50-cent bisects in the Philatelic Foundation search, APEX search, Stamp Auction Network archives, or Siegel power search. I asked Richard Friedberg about 50-cent bisects and he said he has never had any in over 40 years. I'm still awaiting a reply from Eric Jackson.

So when the pair of documents below came up on the block at Siegel on March 2, I was waiting. Bidding was somewhat spirited (their estimate was laughably low), but I ultimately won the lot. It's a pair of school district trustee's bonds from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, dated 21 days apart, each with half of the same stamp, paying the 25-cent tax.

Sets of matched bisect documents (two halves of the same stamp) are not unknown. This is the 10th reported set across all 1st issue denominations and types, the vast majority of which are $2 denominations.

An image of the 2 documents follows, along with an image of the two stamp halves superimposed showing that they are, in fact, two halves of the same stamp.

Are there other 50-cent bisect documents out there? Almost assuredly... in collections that have not come to market or where the documents have not been reported to the census. I have no idea if this is the Scott listing example or not. But as of right now, these are the sole reported legitimate examples of a 1st issue 50-cent bisect.

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