The British Empire & Foreign Countries auction held on September 21 and 22 contained many substantial collections as well as fine specialist sections, including the Dougie Elliott collection of Ethiopia. Fewer than ten covers (sent stampless) from the punitive British Expedition to Abyssinia, sent against Emperor Tewodros II in 1867-68, now survive. An envelope sent by an accompanying foreign correspondent from the Senafe base camp showing the distinctive expedition datestamp on reverse (lot 679) was well bid to £3,684.
The section of lots devoted to the Mike Sartori collection and stock of Cinderellas presented a fascinating range of material, rarely offered in a major auction, from stamps produced for the use of bandits in China to ‘interplanetary’ issues produced for the travels of Dan Dare. The rarity of the set of four ‘Mount Athos’ stamps, produced by the Allied forces in 1916 for use by the Greek monastic community (lot 158) was recognised by a realisation of £1,487.
A fine offering of Nauru received a strong response, including the £5,712 paid for a fine used block of four of the 1916-23 De La Rue Seahorse 2s.6d. sepia-brown (lot 1378), the block having a catalogue value of £6,400 but being also possibly unique.
The ‘Bougainville’ Falkland Islands, a single vendor auction held on September 22, was the finest collection of its kind to have been consigned to auction since the John du Pont collection in 2013. The exceptional response to its many treasures created a series of landmark results.
A rare block of four of the 1918-20 “WAR STAMP” overprint 1d. showing double overprint (lot 3159, above) rose to £12,524, whilst the handsome set of eight die proofs for the Dependencies Thick Map issue (lot 3240) climbed to £11,502.
The 1933 Centenary issue is considered by many collectors to be the most attractive ever produced for a Commonwealth country and auction prices are generally reliable, sometimes striking. Despite light hinging on the lower pair, a corner marginal mint block of four of the scarce 5s. black and yellow-orange shade (lot 3186, left) climbed on this occasion to £13,419.
The ‘Paid at South Georgia’ provisional covers are scarce and charismatic, those initialled “JIW” by James Innes Wilson being among the scarcest. A 1912 cover to Norway (lot 3215) showing these characteristics was fiercely pursued to £9,520.
Post-Brexit vote pessimism has created fears for the stamp market over the recent summer but the determined bidding and resulting prices witnessed in these two auctions have shown that early reports of the death of the stamp market have been greatly exaggerated.
Prices quoted include buyer’s premium and taxes.
Full listings of prices realised at each auction may be downloaded from the Grosvenor website. Contact Andrew Williams or Tom Margalski at Grosvenor for further information.