Discovered in an eBay lot I purchased last month. 1st issue silk papers are one of the areas I focus on, as they (1) are a virtually impossible set to complete, (2) are frequently misdentified, both falsely positive and missed entirely, and (3) are very “cherrypickable”, even from established and knowledgeable dealers.
I’ve put together a reference page for identifying 1st issue silks.
One of the things that adds to the difficulty of collecting silk papers of the 1st issue, beyond the scrutiny required, is that many you see are beat to hell and back due to the time period they were printed and used. The silk paper was not used until early-to-mid 1870, by which point herringbone and circular cut cancels had become increasingly prevalent as a cancellation method. Also, the circular and oval handstamp styles of the late period tended to be applied a lot heavier and muddier than those found applied to early- and middle-period stamps. So many examples you find have less than optimal condition or appearance.
This example is uncancelled. There is a minor perf tear at bottom. R53d is one of the more scarce silk papers, listed but not priced up until the 2011 Scott U.S. Specialized came out, at which point it was priced at $575.00.
It remains one of the tougher, but definitely not the toughest of, the 1st issue silk papers. That honor is reserved for either the newly listed but unpriced R28d, the R80d ($300, but I’ve never seen one), or the R1d ($150, I’ve never seen one, and Richard Friedberg does not believe it exists as he has never seen one in over 40 years of dealing exclusively with U.S.