Collectors and dealers across the World showed their continued confidence in the Stamp Market by contributing to a series of exceptional results in the two Grosvenor auctions held on May 18th and 19th, which offered important material from each of the Great Britain, British Commonwealth and Foreign Countries fields.
The specialised Great Britain auction, which proved to be the largest and most valuable of its kind to be held in London this Spring achieved a total of £1,011,645 (all prices quoted include buyers premium and VAT).
The highest single price in this auction was the £49,402 paid for the recently rediscovered example of the 1d black Master Die proof before the insertion of the corner stars (lot 271), which despite being cut small and having other faults attracted competition from many collectors. The amusing hand illustrated Mulready caricature envelope (lot 197) sold for £5,646. Line engraved sold very well throughout highlights being £11,762 for the strip of 1840 1d plate 4 with red Wotton-under-Edge Maltese Crosses (lot 350), whilst a single plate 8 with the same cancellation (lot 419) rose to £3,450.
Surface printed included some fine single items with an 1867–80 10d die proof from the De La Rue Striking book (lot 552) making over thirteen times catalogue value at £3,293, the reperforated 10d abnormal plate 2 (lot 554) sold for an impressive £4,729.
Officials proved as popular as ever, the regummed example of the KE VII 10s. with ‘raised stop’ variety (lot 595) making £14,115 and the mint £1 (lot 596) £12,983 despite a light crease and slight fading.
King Edward VII issues saw spirited bidding, the 1911–13 Somerset House 6d bright magenta (lot 644) fetching an astonishing £11,762.
King George V included the superb collection formed by John Sussex FRPSL, many items rising to prices never seen before at auction, the 1/2d ‘Cyprus’ green (lot 697) selling for £7,998 against a catalogue value of £7,500 and many others sold for close to or above full catalogue, the top price being £11,174 for the control strip of 21/2d indigo-blue (lot 789, cat. £9,000).
The Graham Booth collection of Queen Elizabeth II errors contained many rare and striking items. The 1965 Post Office Tower 3d. with olive-yellow (the Tower itself) omitted, contained in a strip of three (lot 1057) reached £2,470, whilst a block of four of the 1966 Birds 4d. with four colours missing (lot 1065), probably the most spectacular British missing colour error, achieved £8,234.
The Auction of All World Postal History and Postage Stamps and Postal History held on the following day realised a total of £850,882.
This mammoth auction, which lasted over eight hours, featured a number of rarities from the Falkland Islands collection of the late Dr. Bruce Marsden, including examples of both Red and Black Franks on cover which sold for £11,762 (lot 2571) and £7,057 (lot 2569) respectively. Among other excellent realisations, the earliest outward ite-m from the “Travis” correspondence (lot 2568) made £5,293, a cover addressed to his father from the then Lieutenant Canaris on board S.M.S. Dresden (lot 2685) reached £882, a piece from a rare 1934 Third Flight Mail cover (lot 2688) achieved £4,117, whilst the hammer was was finally brought down on one of only four known covers showing the West Falkland Crown marking at £4,705.
Persia is rarely offered in depth and quality, so the collection of the late Colonel Harvey, once the doyen of the Royal Philatelic Society in London, was always likely to attract a great deal of interest. Prices for material which has been “off the market” for so long are difficult to predict and the overall total of £163,511 for this section of 65 lots represented a trebling of the estimates. Spirited room and telephone bidding produced a series of top prices, amongst which the 1875 rouletted 1(sh.) and 2sh.) pair on cover (lot 3381) at £12,939, and the 1878 1kr. tête-bêche pair (lot 3419), one of seven known such pairs at £7,057 were notable. To offer three examples of the 1876 1kr. yellow error of colour in one auction was perhaps an embarassment of riches, however these sold well at £5,881 (lot 3398), £5,646 (lot 3399) and £6,469 (lot 3400) respectively.
There was much that could be highlighted in this auction and mention must be made of the good reception given to material from the Peter Longmuir collection of Barbados, as well as to strong sections of Niger Coast, New Zealand and Gibraltar, all of which were well viewed and covered by bidding. Top realisation in this sale indeed was for the block of six of the Gibraltar 1906-12 1d. with watermark sideways (lot 2829), a major rarity (the only other unused example being in the Royal Collection) and featured on the back cover of the catalogue, which sold for £24,842.
After two days on the rostrum and 3,146 lots having passed under his gavel, auctioneer Andrew Claridge was tired but delighted with the response that both auctions had enjoyed, proving to us that there is a good strength in depth behind recent price increases which has not simply been the result of the influence of stamp investors.