Growing and Getting Stronger

1482BRITISH EMPIRE & FOREIGN COUNTRIES, a specialised auction held at Grosvenor on 22nd and 23rd May, well exceeded its pre-sale estimate, achieving a grand total of £591,375.

Top price in the sale was the £9,578 paid for the unique proof strike in violet of the popular South Georgia 1928 21/2d. on 2d. Provisional Surcharge (lot 1482, left), which was accompanied by a letter from postmaster A.G. Nelson-Jones in which he confirms that “This copy would be the first to be surcharged & is undoubtedly the only one in existence with an indelible surcharge.”

1296 detailThis was just one of a number of scarce and important items offered within a notable and well-attended section of Falkland Islands & Antarctica that featured the A.G. Belfield Falklands 1938-50 Issues. This stunning collection, formed by a leading specialist whose research has done much to advance understanding of these attractive King George VI stamps, proved very popular. Starring on the catalogue front cover, the 1938 2d. black and violet in a vertical column of ten with the upper stamp imperforate between the stamp and the margin at top (lot 1296, left) is one of just three known examples and unique with the sheet number (“1944”) in the margin. Listed in the ‘Stefan Heijtz’ specialised catalogue, but not by Stanley Gibbons, this variety easily found a new home for £9,210 whilst a corner block of six (the largest known multiple) of the 1943 4d. black and reddish purple shade (lot 1320), another rarity as yet unlisted by Gibbons, climbed to £2,737.

Imprint blocks have long commanded premium prices but the potential value added to mint stamps and blocks by the presence of marginal sheet numbers was dramatically shown by prices paid for such lots as the 1937 10s. block of four (lot 1285, estimate £450-500) which rose to £1,249.

259Another important offering in this sale was the first part of the Dr. A.K. Huggins collection of British Levant postal stationery, concentrating on the period of unoverprinted items. This unusual material included an example of the 1d. pink envelope (lot 259, left) used from Constantinople to Wales with two 1d. reds cancelled by “OXO” barred ovals (only two such being recorded) which reached £3,070.

208Elsewhere, among many items that achieved notable results, a used example of the Bechuanaland 1885-87 1/2d. grey-black with overprint in lake instead of red (lot 208, left) achieved £8,568, whilst among an interesting group of early Trinidad multiples, a full sheet of the 1851-55 (1d.) purple-brown on blued paper (lot 1176) soared to £2,456. A significant section of India and States was rewarded by a great deal of collector interest, the Feudatory States achieving the strongest prices.

Realisations were strong throughout this auction, suggesting a significant overall firming of prices in the growing British Empire market.

Prices quoted include buyer’s premium and taxes.

Full listings of prices realised at each auction may be downloaded from the Grosvenor website Further information is available from Andrew Williams at Grosvenor.

News item published on: 28 May, 2014