The exceptionally large British Empire & Foreign Countries auction, a three day sale of nearly 2,700 lots, achieved an impressive final total of £858,935.

Proving itself the star lot of the sale, the set of Orange Free State postal fiscals and postage stamps in full sheets with values to £5 [lot 2424], were brought to England after the Anglo-Boer War by Major Sir John Hubert Ward KCVO who served as an aide to Major Gen. John Palmer Brabazon during the hostilities and later as an equerry to four successive monarchs. This unique group almost doubled its estimate, rising to £47,120.

The star section was a presentation of historic letters from the period of the 1857 Indian Uprising, commonly known as the ‘Mutiny’. Among the correspondence to and from Judge-Advocate Colonel Keith Young were many striking contemporary accounts. From this group an 1850 mourning envelope, a scarce item of official mail with the  double-arc “KURRACHEE/FREE” datestamp and heart-shaped Sind Dawk mark [lot 1776] soared to £9,360.

Malaya & Borneo featured the collections of David C Meekie and attracted enthusisatic bidding. Featured on the front cover of the sale catalogue the striking Brunei 1931 First R.A.F. Air Sea Survey Flight cover with multiple strikes of the large boxed “AIR MAIL/BRUNEI” cachet [lot 403], one of ten carried, achieved a very strong price of £5,760. The scarce used Straits Settlements 1884 4c. in black on 5c. blue [lot 461] reached £4,560.

The Mike Brown collection of Atlantic islands received great attention but mixed results. From Ascension an entire 1829 entire to Perth, Scotland [lot 637] written at Mountain Station contained particularly fascinating contents and additionally showed Garratt & Gibbons of Portsmouth forwarding agents’ cachet, sold for £2,728 and the highest price paid among the Great Britain stamps used on the island was for the K.E.VII £1 [lot 692] with Ascension c.d.s., reaching £5,580.

An important section of classic Australian States included the extremely rare New South Wales Official 1890 20s. perf. 10 watermark “5/-” mint, overprinted “OS” in black, a major exhibition item and one only three known, a significance duly recognised by the £6,820 realisation. From a strong Egypt section, the 1932 King Fouad 100m. on £1 used on a registered advertising cover [lot 1470], is one of just two covers recorded bearing the provisional stamp and well exceeded expectations at £6,000.


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

News item published on: 21 March, 2024