Auctions

By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent

Priciest lots in Grosvenor’s Great Britain sale should come as no shock

December 07, 2016 05:00 PM

  • The Nov. 8-9 auctions by Grosvenor included this unused 1878 10-shilling Queen Victoria stamp with Maltese Cross watermark from Great Britain. It sold for roughly $15,000.
  • A 1997 booklet of British flower stamps with an intact color-missing error pane sold during the Nov. 8-9 Grosvenor auction for $15,385.

By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent 

Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions, of London, held a sale of specialized Great Britain on Nov. 8 and British Empire and worldwide material Nov. 9. As usual, the top prices went to classics of Queen Victoria’s reign and to modern errors of Queen Elizabeth II.

Among the former was an unused example of the 1878 10-shilling Queen Victoria stamp with a Maltese Cross watermark (Scott 74), in a pale shade and with large part original gum. It sold for about $15,000, including the 22.8 percent buyer’s premium added by Grosvenor to all lots.

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The stamp shows an anomaly that sometimes occurs on Victorian high values: it’s a little short, a natural result of imprecision in the settings of the perforation equipment. Affected stamps always have the letter A in the lower left corner, indicating they came from the top row of the sheet.

A momentous color-missing error from a much more recent issue was shown wrapped around the front and back covers of the auction catalog.

In 1997, Britain issued a booklet of 10 Flowers stamps with 20 smaller labels (Scott BK1195; the pane of stamps is Scott 1722a). Each design shows an extreme close-up of a different exotic bloom, with the queen’s profile and the denomination “1st” (then 26p) in gold in the upper right corner. The labels continue the flower motif.

Half a dozen booklet panes are known missing the gold, as well as the phosphor, and lack the blue-green color from the labels. Of that half-dozen, three panes have been separated. The intact pane was sold by Grosvenor for $15,385.

Announcing the results of their sales, Grosvenor concluded with the following comment:

“Once again the stamp market has failed to panic at a time of worldwide financial uncertainty and continued to confound analyses which have suggested that a shrinking base of collectors will lead inevitably one day to a downward tumble in prices. Any such judgment day, when at the sound of the last trump all will change, seems still very far away.”