Rollercoaster Ride

 An impressive British Empire & Foreign Countries auction held on June 5th-6th brought the Grosvenor Spring Season to a close. The two-day sale of over 2,000 lots almost exactly matched its pre-sale estimate, achieving a sale total of £706,314.

This was a rollercoaster of an auction reflecting an increasingly uneven market. Some countries are demonstrably hot, others disconcertingly not.

There was an enthusiastic response to the section of the sale presenting the Cyprus collection formed by the late Mike Fulford FRPSL, long time Treasurer of both the Cyprus Study Circle and the Royal Philatelic Society. Star item here was an 1878 cover from Larnaca to Nicosia [lot 537], a rare early example of internal registered mail franked by three 1d. reds, that soared to £7,688. The mint 1881 30 PARAS on 1d. plate 216 showing double surcharge with one inverted [lot 559], with some imperfections but a key and highly elusive rarity, was fought to £6,448.

Contrarily (perhaps) another area that remains ‘hot’ is Antarctica. Two important collections were here offered intact and both sold well. The Gerry Pearce collection of the 1955-58 Trans-Antarctic Expedition achieved a price of £6,960 and the Karlhans Liebl collection of the 1946-47 Operation Highjump reached £8,640. The rare gold omitted variety on the British Antarctic Territory 1982 Gondwana 26p. [lot 1121] surprised with a realisation of £4,960 (S.G. cat. £3,750).

The auction contained a strong offering of Falkland Islands and the prices were disappointingly uneven, showing downturns in some areas. Two highly attractive registered Frank covers were here on offer, the Black Frank [lot 624] was featured on the front cover of the sale catalogue and sold for £5,580, the Red Frank [lot 626] for £7,440.

Further South Africa material from the collection of the late John Shaw attracted significant interest and many strong prices. A specialised study of the 1927-30 Union Buildings 2d. [lot 1916] reached £3,968 and another of the iconic 1d. Ship [lot 1910] was contested keenly to £7,192.

Malaya and India continue to sell well. Among other prices of note were the £4,200 paid for a mint block of four of the India 1882-90 1/2a. showing double impression [S.G. 85a, lot 1356] and £4,800 for the mint 1866 Official 8a. [S.G. O18, lot 1379]. Unsurprisingly, £4,200 needed to be paid by its new owner to acquire the Straits Settlements 1912-23 $2 with watermark sideways. Unlisted by Stanley Gibbons, only one other example is recorded and shows a similar cancellation.

Realisations quoted include buyer’s premium. For further information please contact Tom Margalski at the Grosvenor London office.

News item published on: 13 June, 2024