By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent
Among British Empire stamps in the Dec. 11, 2015, David Feldman sale, top realizations went to a couple of early provisional stamps of Bermuda and a rare Official stamp of India.
Before the first proper stamps were provided to Bermuda in 1865, one of the local postmasters, William B. Perot, made do with provisional labels created by applying a “Hamilton, Bermuda” circular postmark to a small piece of paper, adding “One Penny” in manuscript and signing it.
These provisionals, produced from 1848 to about 1856, are rare: only a few exist of each type.
The example in the Feldman sale, on bluish-gray wove paper and dated 1849 (Scott X1a), attached to a fragment of a letter, is one of just two examples known of this type. It sold for $75,000.
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A second type of provisional made by Perot in 1861, based on the crowned-circle postmark and inscribed “Paid at Hamilton Bermuda” and struck in red on bluish laid paper (Scott X5), was offered by Feldman as the only known unused example (four are recorded used). It went for about $102,000.
India gained independence from Britain in 1947, after a decades-long nonviolent campaign led by Mahatma Gandhi, who is today called the “father of the nation.”
Gandhi was assassinated Jan. 30, 1948, and later that year, India issued a set of four stamps in his honor.
The top denomination, 10 rupees, was printed in rose brown and brown. It is slightly taller than the other three denominations and shows Gandhi in near profile.
A very small number of sets were overprinted “Service” for use on Official mail. In the case of the 10r denomination (Scott O112D), just 11 examples are known, making it “one of the most valuable modern single stamps in the world,” according to Feldman. The example in this sale, one of just two in mint never-hinged condition, brought around $170,000.