By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent

Baden Land-Post Porto-Marke covers in Gaertner’s February sale

April 10, 2014 06:50 AM

  • One of two covers from the Grand Duchy of Baden franked with special country-post due stamps and auctioned as a single lot by Cristoph Gaertner near Stuttgart, Germany. As a pair, the covers sold in February for more than $300,000.

A multipart sale by Christoph Gaertner near Stuttgart, Germany, Feb. 10-14, featured stamps and postal history from around the world.

The top lot was a pair of legendary covers from the Grand Duchy of Baden, which issued its own stamps from 1851 until German unification two decades later.

Because Baden lacked a rural free delivery service, letters sent to the countryside carried an extra charge. This could be prepaid, but was often charged to the recipient.

Three stamps were issued in 1862 for this purpose, inscribed “Land-Post Porto-Marke” (country-post due stamp) in denominations of 1 kreuzer, 3kr and 12kr (Scott LJ1-3). Unused, these stamps are inexpensive, but with genuine cancels they are scarce. (The cancels are often forged.)

The 12kr value saw the least use and has a value in the 2014 Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 of $35 unused but $20,000 used, rising to $32,500 on cover.

Two covers, each bearing the full set of Land-Post stamps, were offered as a single lot in the Gaertner sale. One has three examples of the 12kr stamp, together with a 3kr and four 1kr stamps, while the other, illustrated here, has four of the 12kr and two each of the other values.

Both covers are addressed in the same hand and were mailed on the same day. The comparatively high frankings were needed because the partially preprinted envelopes contained tax remittances.

Only two other covers are known with such high frankings of this issue, and both are faulty. The present covers, world-class rarities once belonging to such illustrious collectors as Baron Rothschild and John Boker, sold for the equivalent of $302,800 (all Gaertner results include 22 percent buyer’s premium).

A Hong Kong 3¢ postal card, sent from the British consulate in Bangkok to New York in 1884, is one of just two items of Hong Kong postal stationery known used in Thailand, and the only one with the consulate’s circular date stamp. It sold for $58,800.

An 1863 cover from the Ibrahim Pasha collection of Turkey, with a tete-beche block of 12 plus a tete-beche pair of the 20-para stamp of the Ottoman Empire’s first issue (Scott 6a) featuring the sultan’s tughra, or monogram, was described as the largest block known of that issue.

Said to have been owned by the same family since 1863, never exhibited and sold now for the first time, it brought $35,300.