“I have not yet begun to fight.”

NEW YORK, NY -- John Paul was born in 1747 in Arbigland, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland – the surname Jones was added later. As a maritime apprentice at the age of 13, he quickly gained recognition as a competent mariner. In 1768, he was aboard the brig John when the captain and senior mate fell ill and died of yellow fever. He took command of the vessel, and navigated it and the crew back to safe harbor.

After an unfortunate incident involving the excessive flogging of a crew member, who later died, he added the surname Jones to avoid further prosecution and jail time. In a later incident aboard the Betsy, JPJ killed a crew member over a salary dispute. Both victims were from influential families, and fearing he would not receive a fair trial, he fled to Vicksburg, Virginia. Shortly thereafter, in 1775, he left for Philadelphia to join the fledgling Continental Navy.

It was aboard his vessel the Bonhomme Richard during his naval battle against the British ship Serapis that he spoke the memorable words, “I have not yet begun to fight”. Even though his vessel was destroyed, he won the day and was victorious, taking both ships home to port as a prize.

Once the Revolutionary War ended, the Continental Navy was disbanded, and he found himself without a ship. He therein traveled to Russia in 1782 and was appointed Rear-Admiral in the Russian naval campaigns against the Turks. His misbehaviors, or perhaps flagrant attitude, again landed him in trouble, this time with the Russian royalty. He was acquitted, and in 1790 he journeyed to Paris where he died in 1792.

It was not until 1905 that Jones’s remains were identified and exhumed from the lead coffin in which his body had been laid to rest, preserved in alcohol. In 1913 his remains were re-interned at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland.

As if by fate, the commemorative 15c. John Paul John stamp Scott 1789b issued in 1979 was found to be flawed. This perforation error, though not dramatic to the naked eye, is perhaps one of the few errors that commands respect due to its limited discovery.

Shortly after the perforation process began, it was discovered that wheels were damaged creating a new stamp with 11x12 perforations. Again the wheels were changed due to wear creating a perf 11x11 variety, thus the original issue became the rarity. They are listed in the Scott Specialized catalogue as Scott 1789, perf 11x12. Scott 1789A, perf 1 and the error a Scott 1789B with a catalogue value of $3,500.

A diligent philatelist who became aware of the perforation error started sorting through thousands of covers from a contest run by a Washington, DC newspaper. After diligently checking the perforations of hundreds of covers he discovered nine covers. He soaked one off the cover, similar to an example in Doyle’s November 7, 2017 auction. Subsequent examples including a full mint sheet of 50 have been discovered, but it still remains one of the Gems for Error collectors.


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Auction November 7, 2017
Exhibition November 4 - 6

The November 7 auction offers collectors the rare opportunity to acquire an example of the United States 1979 John Paul Jones Perforation 12, Scott 1789B.

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