May Millions

The All World and specialized Great Britain auctions held by Grosvenor over four days in May 2008 realized an exceptional combined total of £2,187,567.

“Postage Stamps and Postal History of the World”, held on May 22nd/23rd was a truly international offering of exceptional groups of material from around the World. Unusual specialized collections of Foreign countries, including Poland (formed by Alan Blunt, Switzerland (formed by the late John Mitchell), as well as Wenden and China,   all attracted great interest.

The second day featured three important British Commonwealth collections:

Falkland Islands included the first part of the collection formed by Malcolm Barton, one of the most highly respected experts in this fascinating area. Featured on the front cover of the catalogue was an 1891 envelope to Newcastle upon Tyne -(lot 1979), the only known example carrying a surcharged bisect of the 1d. value together with an unsurcharged 1d. pair, which realized £6,670 against a pre-sale estimate of £2,000-2,500, whilst a corner block of four of the 1933 Centenary 5s. black and yellow-orange shade (lot 2078) reached £9,801.

A newly discovered variety (found recently by Grosvenor director, Nick Mansell, in a client’s collection 30 years after the stamp’s creation), the South Georgia 1977-78 50p. on 10s. with watermark inverted, realized £7,057 as a block of twenty (lot 2996) and, even more impressively, £2,470 when in a block of four (lot 2297).

Gilbert & Ellice Islands is rarely offered in depth and so the offering of the fine collection formed by the late Ken Smith provided a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire some of the scarcer items in this area. The 1934 £1 used on cover (lot 1679) is rare indeed and sold here for £3,680. Postmarks from the smaller islands of this group can be very tricky to find and the attractive local stamps produced by Christmas Island have a good following, a 1933 envelope bearing a vertical pair of the Second Issue 5c. imperforate horizontally (lot 1796) demonstrating this once more by selling for £805 (estimate £200-250).

The collection of Ireland formed by the late Colonel W.P.”Bill” Fletcher, a former Honorary Dental Surgeon to HM the Queen, contained many unusual items including Forerunners, Essays and some very scarce full sheets of the overprinted Seahorse high values. The 2s.6d. sheet of the “abnormal” setting of the Saorstat overprint (lot 1601) reached £15,291 and a 10s. sheet (lot 1613) climbed to £7,646. The 2d. die II with Thom overprint inverted (S.G. 34 variety, lot 1542) in a control number block of thirty found a new owner at £9,998, having previously been in the collection of the Marquess of Bute.

The “Specialised Great Britain Stamps and Covers” held on May 29th/30th was again a powerful auction with many top prices, realizing a sale total of £1,245,49.

Strongly featured was the second part of the outstanding “Davenport” collection of Queen Elizabeth II errors. The 1976 Roses 13p. value omitted in a rejoined pair with normal (lot 4441), illustrated on the front cover of the catalogue, sold for an impressive £51,502. This rare item is the only example in private hands, two other copies (one mint, the other used) having been discovered but now held in the Royal collection. This is the highest price ever paid at auction for a Queen Elizabeth II error.

One of two known examples of the 1980 Railways 12p. strip with lemon omitted (lot 4467) achieved an excellent £31,050. The unique examples of the 1968 Christmas 9d. with turquoise-green omitted (lot 4339) and 1970 Philympia 5d. with grey-black omitted (lot 4367) sold for £17,167 and £14,715 respectively. The popular and attractive variety of  the 1966 Technology 6d.  with deep blue (the Jaguar car) omitted, offered in a vertical pair with the upper stamp also showing the car partially omitted, deservedly rose to £13,489.

Elsewhere through the auction it was noted that the very best prices were reserved for items of  exceptional quality. The finest known cover bearing the classic variety, the 1935 Silver Jubilee 21/2d. Prussian blue (lot 4127, illustrated on the back cover of the catalogue) climbed to £17,056.

Postal History and Line Engraved sections of the sale were a little uneven but Seahorses remain solid, a marginal block of four of the 1913 Waterlow paper trial for the £1 value (lot 4702), printed in an intense bright yellowish green shade and overprinted “CANCELLED” selling for £8,882.

Similarly strong interest was attracted by unusual specialised areas provided by the offering of- the fine collections of Dr. Michael Brooks (King Edward VII issues), Colonel W.P. “Bill” Fletcher and Sam Lawrence. A particularly enthusiastic response greeted a strong section of Private Telegraph Companies stamps, the British Telegraphic Company 18d. (1s.6d.) (lot 2618) achieving £824, no doubt much encouraged by the earlier held belief by specialists that this value was unknown.

The Grosvenor 2008 Spring/Summer auction programme continues on June 26th with the “Courtenay” auction of specialized Great Britain.

For further information please contact Glyn Page, Tristan Brittain or Charles Napper.

News item published on: 31 May, 2007