On 23 September, in our salerooms in the Strand, we held our 50th auction. In part because of the reputation we have been able to establish over the years, we were able to offer an exceptional sale to mark the occasion. The final total achieved, £799,225, was a satisfying return for the efforts of all involved; it also amply demonstrated the continuing strength of the British Empire market.
There were many highlights. Among them were lots from the remarkable collections of Johore and Perak formed by Frank Laycock, FSPH, forming part of a very strong section of Malaya. British Empire high value stamps in mint multiples tend to be exceptionally scarce. The high prices paid for the plate blocks of four of the Johore 1922–40 $50 (lot 1017, £4,095) -and $100 (lot 1018, £6,786) reflected this. Among a number of scarce and attractive covers in the sale, the large 1894 envelope registered from Johore to London, believed to be the largest rated cover bearing stamps used in combination with Straits Settlements issues, climbed well above its estimate (lot 931, £3,825).
The Falkland Islands and Dependencies have featured strongly in our auctions in recent years, and in this sale a section of over 270 lots, including items from the collections formed by Roger Mazillius and others, attracted enormous interest. Star lots were the imprint blocks of eight of the May 1891 printings of the 1⁄2d (lot 387, £4,543) and 21⁄2d (lot 409, £4,543), both first printings from the Bradbury Wilkinson archives. The issued stamps from these printings were lost when the S.S. Neko sank.
The New Zealand section, which incorporated part of the fine collection formed by John Sussex, RDP, FRPSL, achieved strong results. Particularly successful were items from the King George V period, including the rare plate block of four of the scarce carmine-lake shade of the 1915–60 recess printing 6d (lot 1414, £3,586).
An interesting Great Britain Used in Cyprus item caught the eye of many bidders. The 1878 piece bears two examples of the 1870 11⁄2d plate 3 together with two of the 1864–79 1d plate 206, each cancelled by the “942” numerals of Larnaca (lot 307, £4,446).
As well as specialised single items, a good range of larger collections featured throughout the auction. Notable among these were the accumulation of China (lot 281, £21,519) and Indo-China (lot 650, £13,210). Both were strongly contested and rose well above their pre-sale estimates.
At just before 6pm the gavel came down on the 76,283rd lot to be offered at Grosvenor since its foundation in 1997. In the past twelve years, stamps and postal history sold through the company’s auctions have in sum realised over £36.2 million. The day’s total of 1,834 lots became the highest number of lots to be offered in a single day. This was only the first in a series of outstanding auctions planned for the 2009–10 season.
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