The Grosvenor November auctions, held in London between the 19th and 22nd, realised a massive total of £2,989,465 including many record prices, this together with the sale of the Apollonia collection of Rhodesian double heads sold in October, brought the autumn total to an incredible £3,340,198.
The first two days were devoted to the Specialised Great Britain auction which brought an astounding £2,045,255. Many fine properties were included in this important auction and exceptional prices were realised throughout the sale. The Vivien Sussex collection of Express Mail brought spirited bidding, the highest price in this section being £4,469 for the first lot of the sale, a 1695 O.H.M.S. express letter.
Collections and mixed lots were as popular as ever, the top price being £28,230 for lot 97, an 1840–1951 collection in a Lighthouse album. The auction included an exceptional range of postal stationery essays and proofs which we believe has never previously been offered on the open market, the undoubted highlight of these were the three 1870 Newpaper wrapper 1/2d. bromide essays (lots 470–472) which realised a total of £6,360.
Fine Mulready and Illustrated envelope sections included a Mulready 2d. envelope redirected with an 1841 1d. (lot 525) at £10,821, and a virulently anti-Pope envelope (lot 541) sold for £1,437.
A very strong line engraved section included the first part of the Mike McKillip collection, proofs sold extremely well including the Rainbow colour trial sheet in blue (lot 928) at £34,500 and two die proofs of the 1870 11/2d. (lots 1143 & 1144) bringing £14,101 each. Fine quality brought astonishing prices, particularly for a superb mint corner copy of 1841 1d. plate 112 (lot 1023) at £4,705 and lot 1061 a superb Treasury Roulette on cover which sold for a staggering £22,348 against a current catalogue value of £12,500! Archer perfs. also brought record levels.
Surface printed again proved that quality counts, lot 1333, a superb used 1883–84 10s. on blued paper bringing £7,292 whilst an unused but defective example of the rare 1883–84 5d. with line under “d” sold for £4,469 (lot 1378).
King Edward VII featured a fine range of postal stationery die proofs and essays, lot 1501 a paste-up essay for the newspaper wrapper 1/2d. soared to £3,293. Issued stamps included a mint corner block of 16 of the 1911–13 Somerset House 2/6 (lot 1543) which sold for a heady £14,703.
King George V included a fine range of proofs and essays, a 1912–24 8d. Printex trial overprinted “ESSAY” (lot 1611) bringing £1,764 and an imperforate block of four 1912 Waterlow 2/6 dull blue-green (lot 1625) £14,703.
King George VI featured two highly important German Propaganda forgery items, the first (lot 1774) a presentation album soared to £11,527 and the following lot, the original hand-painted artwork for the 1937 Coronation forgery brought an extraordinary £9,410.
The Queen Elizabeth II section featured the first portion of the fabulous ‘Davenport’ collection of commemorative errors, records tumbled and catalogue values were ignored, highlights were £25,751 for the cylinder block of 6 1969 Christmas 5d. with 2 stamps showing brown, red, gold and phosphor omitted (lot 1967, cat. £18,000+), £24,150 for lot 2028 1974 Christmas 31/2p. with light stone omitted (cat. £20,000), £26,450 for the 1980 Sports 12p. with gold omitted (lot 2028, cat. £15,000), and an astonishing £28,750 for lot 2075 the 1990 Stamp World miniature sheet with black recess printing omitted (cat. £15,000).
The two day All World auction achieved £944,210 and featured a number of important specialised collections and individual rarities. Among the latter the £4,705 paid for a superb unused example of the Mauritius Lapirot 2d. with worn impression (lot 4026) and the £5,175 paid for the New Guinea G.R.I. “Kieta” label with missing stops (lot 4572) were of particular note. Strong bidding was seen for the John Sussex collection of Irish Overprints with a top price of £8,224 paid for the 1d. missing accent and final “t” variety in a mint block of six (lot 4038), whilst the handsome mint block of the 10s. with Thom shiny overprint (lot 4026), illustrated on the front cover of the catalogue, made £4,117.
An area rarely offered in depth at auction is the Leeward Islands and the Mike Spaven collection consequentlygenerated a great deal of interest. Among the notable prices, the 1897 Sexagenary 1s. used on a local “first day cover” (lot 4251) realised £1,995; the 1902 21/2d. with missing “A” variety (lot 4265) made £247 (S.G. cat. £225); proofs were in demand with £847 paid for a die proof of the 1928 10s. frame(lot 4294); whilst K.G.VI varieties remain popular, although the £3,335 paid for each of the 1938-51 £1 watermark sideways and watermark inverted varieties (lots 4408 and 4409) might suggest that this area of the market is rebalancing its levels.
The second part of the Sahgal collection of the 1935 Silver Jubilee Issues, which focused on their use on covers, was again well covered. A registered cover bearing the Malta 1s. “extra flagstaff partially erased” in a corner block of four (lot 2682) achieved £706; the Morocco Agencies Spanish Currency “CENTIMES” error in a block of nine on cover realised £2,588; whilst a Seychelles cover bearing 12c. and 20c. blocks of four both with “flagstaff on right-hand turret (lot 2728) made £1,176.
Important sections of Falkland Islands are now a regular feature of the Grosvenor bi-annual auctions and are always rewarded by an enthusiastic response. On this occasion specialised groupings of Censored Mail, Whaling Mail and Operation Tabarin material attracted much interest. Some interesting prices included a 1931 inter-island cover from Carcass to Stanley (lot 3555) which realised £1,235; an early World War II censored cover with label showing short “n” made £729; and a “Tabarin” cover from radio officer James Farrington on Graham Land to Port Stanley sold for £847.