Auction Roundup — By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent
Cherrystone Auctions held a sale in New York Feb. 28-March 1 featuring worldwide stamps and covers and showcasing the firm’s traditional strength in Russian-area material.
The Soviet Union was an eager pursuer of early aviation records, particularly those relating to distance and endurance.
One of the more impressive feats was the traversing of the North Pole by air, which happened twice in rapid succession in the summer of 1937: the first transpolar flight from Moscow to Vancouver June 18-20 and the second, from Moscow to San Jacinto, Calif., July 12-14, a distance of 7,100 miles.
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Both were nonstop flights that brought their Russian pilots fame and glory, not to mention philatelic commemoration.
On April 10, 1938, a set of four stamps honored the first flight (Scott 636-639) and three days later, another trio honored the second (640-642).
Like most early Soviet commemoratives, they are known imperforate, with varying degrees of scarcity. The 10- and 20-kopeck stamps (Scott 640a-641a) sold together for $920, including the 15 percent buyer’s premium added by Cherrystone to all lots.
The imperforate, never-hinged 50k stamp (642a), which is much harder to find, sold for an impressive $23,000.
A printed menu from a dinner June 30, 1937, at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, honoring the first crew of Soviet transpolar fliers, sold for $322.
In 1930, a pair of airmail stamps exhorted workers to fulfill the goals of the current five-year economic plan in just four years.
Somewhat incongruously, a German Zeppelin floats over the striving workers, a nod to the dirigible’s flight from Friedrichshafen to Moscow Sept. 9-10, 1930.
The stamps (Scott C12-13), exist with two kinds of perforation and imperforate. Specialists recognize more than one printing.
On the earliest printing, the photogravure impression is crisp, and the fine white line inside the frame is clear. On later printings, the image is blurrier and the white line indistinct.
A set of imperforate blocks of four (C12b-C13b) from the first printing, said to be the only ones in existence, brought a whopping $51,750.