More than £1 million was spent at the Grosvenor auction of British Empire & Foreign Countries on March 14th/15th by buyers excited by an attractive offering of ‘genuine’ material from a series of traditional collections compiled by their original owners over many years. This large sale brought to the market the greater part of the remarkable all World collection formed by Dr Brian Austen, South Atlantic and Falkland Islands compiled by the late John Newby of Essex, as well as an important group of India.

The section of lots devoted to India and its States proved to be a cauldron of bidding, received both pre-sale and live online. Sent in 1940 from his ashram by Mahatma Gandhi to his good friend in South Africa, Albert Baker (who never relinquished his hope that Gandhi might yet convert to Christianity), the historic postcard [lot 1282] was particularly popular, realising £5,040.

Rarely presented in depth, offerings of Barwani and Bhopal among the Feudatory States received an enthusiastic response. From Barwani the imperf. between pair of the 1927 very poor impression ½a. yellow-green [S.G. 21a, lot 1319] climbed to £1,860,  a full sheet of the 1923 ¼a. rose pin perf. 6 [S.G. 18b, lot 1314] sold for £1,922, whilst an interesting collection of seldom seen postal stationery [lot 1345] rose to £6,960.

From Bhopal the 1886 4a. yellow unused block of six [S.G. 24, lot 1361] achieved £4,200 despite some described imperfections.

Other notable lots and prices in this sale included the Graham Pound Collection of Maltese Postmen’s Handstamps [lot 1529], an exceptional gathering that merited fully its £4,560 realisation. From Egypt the 1866 entire to Constantinople with Lianos local post rose stamp affixed for tax [lot 647] achieved £3,720, and a very fair price of £9,920 was paid for the complete mint sheet of the popular Australia 1932 Sydney Bridge 5/- [lot 267].

Prices in the latest in a series of presentations of Falkland Islands & Antarctica, a regular twice yearly feature in the Grosvenor saleroom, were a little more erratic than usual, a few items surprisingly unsold but others achieving striking results. Remarkably, new discoveries among Falklands stamps continue to appear: the 1938-50 ½d. showing “A” of “CA” omitted from watermark variety [lot 824], this being the first such variety on a Falkland Islands stamp, reached £2,604. Another new find, the 1912-20 ½d. with watermark reversed [lot 782] achieved the very same realisation.

Featured on the front cover of the sale catalogue, the King Edward VII 2s.6d. essay in blue on yellow, design H [lot 740] found its new home for £2,294. Tied to a handsome piece by strikes of the South Shetland Deception Island oval the 1912-20 5/-, 10/- and £1 [lot 1048] soared to £5,535.

Patterns of trade in the stamp market continue to change but the strong demand from dealers and collectors for collections of substance remains solid. In response to this, auctioneers have traditionally suppressed estimated prices, confident that viewing will be extensive and bids encouraged by the possibility of a bargain buy. This can lead to excellent results, examples of which were the two albums of Australian States [lot 250] that here reached £16,120 against a pre-sale pitch of £7,000, whilst four albums of French Colonies achieved £8,860, having been given an estimate of £2,500.

Results include buyer’s premium and VAT. Full listings of the prices realised may be found here.

The final sale total for this auction was £1,081,538. For all further information please contact Tom Margalski or Bethany Pascoe at the London office.


News item published on: 19 March, 2023