At 10am on July 17, after 121 days of enforced absence, the traditional public stamp auctions at GROSVENOR were finally back and the enthusiastic response that greeted their return confirmed that they had been much missed during the period of confinement. The two all-day sales that followed had been postponed from their original dates in April and May in order to hold true to Grosvenor’s promise to vendors that no corners are cut in the effort to ensure the highest possible prices – and that guarantee could not be met unless buyers who wished to do so were able to both view lots beforehand and participate in the saleroom in person.
The auctions achieved a remarkable total realisation of £1,146,114, a figure that owed greatly to the anticipated surge in bidding received via the internet. Grosvenor’s online bidding service is unusually rapid, the auctions not greatly slowed by its introduction, allowing the competitive (but friendly) atmosphere of the traditional London stamp auction to continue unharmed. It is free for clients to use without additional charge.
In the Specialised Great Britain auction highest realisations were achieved by lots presented as collections or selections whilst collectors and dealers fought strongly for fresh material to sort and enjoy. Top price in this sale was the £12,400 paid for a stockbook of varied, unusual material offered on behalf of the Tearfund charity [lot 69, estimated £4,000-£5,000]. A specialised selection of shades and varieties of the 1912-24 Watermark Royal Cypher 4d. [lot 854, estimated £1,500-£2,000] rose to £4,712.
Notable individual prices included £6,448 for a marginal mint 1935 Silver Jubilee 21/2d. Prussian blue [lot 926], £9,000 for a rare mint full pane of twenty of the 1887-92 Jubilee 10d. [lot 659] featured on the catalogue front cover, and £3,720 for a superb example of the very scarce ‘chrome’ shade of the 1915-18 De La Rue 2s.6d. Seahorse [lot 883]. The trend toward previously fringe areas of interest continues with a rare set of the 1885-86 Military Telegraph stamps, produced in Cairo and with “Specimen” in manuscript [lot 105, estimated £500-£600], fiercely contested to a price of £4,200.
The British Empire & Foreign Countries auction held on July 18 presented an interesting mixture of all world material including an exceptional offering of Egypt from the collection of John Sears, FRPSL. Many prices surprised including £1,980 achieved by a fine unused example of the 1931 10m. Colossi of Memnon postal stationery card [lot 2418], and the £6,000 paid for the 1951 Royal Wedding miniature sheet variety with black inscription and crown double [lot 2406]. The ‘Marc Poupre’ covers flown by the French aviator from Cairo to Khartoum in 1914 are classic pioneering airmail items but condition is always a factor and the £3,600 paid for the example [lot 2440] displayed on the front cover of the sale catalogue was a fair price.
Elsewhere in the auction we noted in particular the attractive 1857 cover from Nova Scotia to Glasgow franked by a 3d. strip of three with one bisected [lot 2276] that climbed strongly to £2,852, the £4,712 price paid for the India 1852 1/2a. blue ‘Scinde Dawk’ [lot 2631] despite slight imperfections, and the £2,100 paid for the strip of three of the Cyprus 1934 1pi. imperforate at top [lot 2381] which did not seem at all excessive, this being the largest strip that remains, a single sheet only having showed this striking error.
Full listings of the prices realised may be downloaded from the Grosvenor website www.grosvenorauctions.com. Contact Tom Margalski for further information.