The only known examples of a 1936 unissued Australian King Edward VIII stamp will be offered at auction Oct. 16 by Spink London at its auction house at 69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London.
The stamp is one of many Australian Commonwealth items being auctioned from the Baron Vestey collection.
The unissued Australian rarity comes with great provenience and is described by Spink as “undoubtedly the greatest rarity in Australian philately.”
The block of six has the initials of the governor of Victoria written in the margin and the date Sept. 29, 1936.
The governor, William Charles Arcedeckne Vanneck, the fifth Baron Huntingfield, visited the stamp printer that produced the stamp issue and received a full sheet as a memento of the visit.
After King Edward VIII abdicated the throne on Dec. 11, 1936, Australia decided not to issue the stamps. On Dec. 16, a letter was sent to the governor’s secretary requesting that the stamps be returned.
Lord Huntingfield returned the sheet of stamps, minus the block of six that exists today. His letter indicated “sheet sent back less 6 stamps 17.12.36 H.”
The printer then requested that the six stamps be returned as well, but the governor stated that he had sent the block to England and was doubtful that he could get it back.
The block carries a presale estimate of £200,000 to £300,000 (approximately $324,000 to $486,000 in U.S. dollars).
Spink states in the auction description that the block of six stamps “are the only examples known, and in all probability, the only examples which can exist.”
The block was exhibited at the Royal Philatelic Society London in 2009 and in the Australia 2013 World Stamp Exhibition court of honor.
The auction catalog and details about live Internet bidding can be viewed online at www.spink.com/files/catalogue/14032.pdf.