The unique block of six unissued 2-penny King Edward VIII stamps of Australia, whose fascinating origin and provenance were detailed in Linn’s, around the time of the block’s sale, has been broken up.
The block had lain in the Vestey family’s possession ever since it was fresh off the presses in 1936, when the 1st Baron Vestey received it as a memento from an Australian politician. After Edward VIII’s abdication, the entire press run of the new 2d definitive and all the design materials pertaining to it were destroyed, making the block sent to Vestey the sole surviving vestige of the abandoned issue.
It resurfaced as part of the Lord Vestey collection of British Empire stamps offered in a series of auctions over several months by Spink in London. Last October 16, the block sold for £240,000 (about $387,000 at the time), including the 20 percent buyer’s premium, setting a record for an Australian philatelic item.
On July 17, Phoenix Auctions, a Melbourne-based firm, offered a single from the block. It realized $172,913 Australian dollars (including the 19.25 percent buyer’s premium Phoenix adds to all lots), or about $123,600 in United States dollars.
The scarlet stamp, perforated gauge 13½ by 14, is from the top-left corner of the block. The design is centered somewhat to the left, and the perfs on the left side appear to have been cut with scissors, most likely at the time the block was removed from the original sheet. The stamp has never been hinged.
The auction firm noted: “Of the remaining five units, the vendor has advised that a block of four will be bestowed to an institution, with the vendor retaining the remaining single.”
The subsequent definitive issue for Edward’s younger brother, who ascended the throne as King George VI, follows the design of the unissued stamp very closely. The Edward VIII stamp is unlisted in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue or any other major worldwide catalog, although it may soon be added as a footnote in the Scott Standard catalog.