The Specialised Great Britain auction held by Grosvenor on January 25th and 26th proved to be a major event in the philatelic calendar, with 2473 lots on offer. The final total of over £1,490,000 comfortably exceeded the lower estimate of £1,229,995.
The auction started on a high note with lot 1, the balance of the David Bradley collection soaring to £21,172, and the following mixed lots continued in the same vein. A new find of proofs offered throughout the sale included two sheets of Irish Dog License stamps, lots 157 and 158, each selling for £5,646. A Southgate caricature envelope used to India fetched £2,904 despite some staining.
A number of rare early machine cancellations featured with examples of the very rare Pearson Hill first and third experimental cancellations on cover lots 475 and 476 fetching £12,350 and £6,116 respectively. A superb silver-gilt example of the 1837 Wyon City medal (lot 486) rose to £4,905.-
May date covers were as popular as ever, the first day 1d. black cover (lot 493) fetching £19,996 and Mulready 1d. envelope (lot 494) making £7,645, a May 16th 2d. cover (lot 499) sold for £3,335.
Extensive line engraved featured the Robert Tomkins collection and properties from many other vendors. Top prices included £14,115 for the reprinted die proof in black of the first rejected die (lot 511), whilst the 1d. blacks included the earliest known use of 1d. black plate 1b on piece (lot 582) at a startling £5,646, an unused example of The Post Magazine bearing 1d. plate 4 (lot 652) made £2,875, the unused strip of five plate 7 (lot 778) made £18,820 despite the described comments of being ‘regummed and with some other imperfections restored’ and a fine example of plate 11 cancelled by red Maltese Cross (lot 839) soared to £15,291. 1841 1d. reds included a plate 9 with good margins except just touched at one corner tied to cover by the red Maltese Cross of Rugeley (lot 957) selling at £5,881. Two corner blocks of four of the 1841 2d. trial without corner letters (lots 1005 & 1006) sold for £4,705 each. The exceptional collection of die II alphabet II 1d. reds offered as 154 lots was a complete sell out, totalling an impressive £54,695, more than 55% over lower estimate. Later line engraved proofs brought strong bidding, the highlights being a vertical marginal pair of Royal Reprints in black (lot 1240) bringing over full catalogue at £4,940 and a block of four in carmine rose (lot 1240) £5,881. The block of ten of the 1d. plate 27 in black (lot 1241) prepared for the South Kensington Exhibition in 1872 brought £21,172 against a catalogue value of £8,000!
Fine and unusual Surface Printed attracted further strong bidding, the highlights including 1865-67 9d. plate 4 TF watermark error type 20b, used, (lot 1334) bringing an astonishing £6,116 despite minor faults,and the mounted mint corner copy of the £5 orange on white paper (lot 1418) brought £8,469. The popularity of fine used stamps was illustrated by the 4d. sage green plate 15 (lot 1447) bringing over double catalogue at £646.
Interesting and rare Officials sold very well, a KE VII O.W. 10d. overprinted “SPECIMEN” type 16 (lot 1558) making £5,293 (cat. £5,000) and a rather heavily cancelled example of the rare Govt Parcels 1900 1s. with overprint inverted (lot 1562) brought £3,528.
King Edward VII featured some superb mint blocks of high values, mostly selling close to or in excess of catalogue values with 1902-10 De La Rue 2s.6d. blocks of eight (lots 1587 & 1588) selling for £4,025 and £4,940 (cat. £4,300 & £4,600), 5s. block of eight (lot 1590) £7,057 (cat. £6,000), 10s. block of four (1591) £5,750 (cat. £6,000), and £1 block of four £8,233 (cat. £11,000).
A fine range of King George V including many proofs and essays attracted strong interest, notably the superb collection of the 1924-25 British Empire Exhibitions formed by Alan Sabey. The top prices here were for the die proofs (lots 1808-1811) bringing between £5,293 and £6,469 each and the 1925 11/2d. imprimatur (lot 1842) rising to £11,527.
King George VI included two examples of the very rare 1948 1s. booklet (S.G. BD6 & 6a), lots 1944 & 1945, ex the collection of Frank Daniel, each selling for £4,600.
The newly discovered proofs of the Emergency dies (lots 1946-1954) brought a total of £6,863. Queen Elizabeth II errors and varieties continue to demonstrate their rising popularity. Of the many highlights the following were outstanding, 1963 Cable 1s.6d. black omitted (lot 2049) £4,600 (cat. £4,000), five essays from the Goaman archive for the 1964 Botanical Exhibition (lots 2050-2054) brought £2,940 each and another for the 1969 Anniversaries 9d. (lot 2069) £4,469, which was particularly pleasing as all had sold at public auction a little over a year ago for between £1,117 and £1,412 each. The 1966 Technology 6d. with red (Mini cars) omitted (lot 2057) made £7,457 (cat. £7,500), a block of four 1967 Christmas 1s.6d., the lower pair with gold omitted (one with missing corner perf.) brought £12,938 (cat. £11,000). The 1989 Lord Mayor’s show strip with unissued 19p face values rose to £16,215 (lot 2084, cat. £13,500),
and an imperforate sheet of the 2001 Punch and Judy (lot 2091) £16,675 (cat. £12,500), a newly discovered pane of the 2006 Victoria Cross Anniversary with bronze and phosphor omitted contained in a complete booklet (lot 2096) rose to an astonishing £7,837.- A fine section of Machins including many imperforate varieties sold very well including £4,324 for the imperforate 2002 Walsall Barcode 6X1ST booklet (lot 2169).
A large collection of first day covers was offered suitably lotted and brought spirited bidding, the highest price being £2,300 for the 1934 photogravure first day cover (lot 2275)
The auction concluded with the fine collection of Jersey formed by Keith Barritt, the best prices included £2,470 for a 1646 letter from Charles Prince of Wales (later Charles II) (lot 2362), and £7,151 for the set of 1943-44 Views paste-up essays (lots 2426-2431).
The market remains at the strongest levels seen for many years. The next Grosvenor All World and Great Britain auction is scheduled for May 18th 2007, we are keenly seeking consignments for this and future auctions.
For further information contact Grosvenor Auctions at 399-401 Strand, 3rd Floor, London WC2R 0LT, Tel. 020 7379 8789, Fax 020 7379 9737.