By Tim Hodge
InterAsia Auctions in Hong Kong will conduct a series of eight public auctions over the course of four days, Dec. 4-7, including five named sales.
Commencing the sale, on Dec. 4, is the second installment of the Jane and Dan Sten Olsson collection of the Large Dragons of China. Starting off with more essays and proofs, this sale consists of 47 lots, more than a dozen of which are estimated at more than HK$200,000 (approximately US$25,600).
The cornerstone of this offering is the earliest recorded Large Dragon cover to the United States, which is also the earliest recorded Large Dragon-Japan combination cover.
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The 9-candareen rate seen on this cover was in use for only 15 days before dropping to 7c. InterAsia estimates the value of this cover between HK$1.2 million and HK$1.5 million (US$153,700 and US$192,000).
The Paramount collection of stamps, postal history and postal stationery of China, 1878-1912, follows, presented in 319 lots.
Highlighting this collection is the “renowned and extraordinary” block of four of the “Red Ruby,” the 30c-on-24c red Junk on the Yangtse stamp surcharged in 1897 (Scott 64). Fewer than 25 examples are known to exist, with only two blocks of four recorded. The stamp has an estimated value of HK$2 million to HK$2.5 million (US$256,100 to US$320,100).
The next day, Dec. 5, the MacArthur collection of the 1897 red revenue surcharged stamps and postal history starts the auction. With only 33 lots, this is small sale charged with many high-power items. The finest among these is an “outstanding” example of the 4c-on-3c double surcharge in violet and black. A single pane of 25 was lightly surcharged in violet, but as this was not especially prominent, the pane was then surcharged in black along with seven other panes.
Only 17 unused examples currently are known. The estimate is between HK$700,000 and HK$900,000 (US$89,600 and US$115,300).
Aaron Li’s collection of the 1897 red revenue surcharged stamps directly follows with 95 lots.
The jewel is another 4c-on-3c surcharge, this one only in black. About 200 stamps were originally surcharged. InterAsia is offering a mint never-hinged example with fine centering, with an estimate of HK$250,000 to HK$300,000 (US$32,000 to US$38,400).
The final named collection is identified as the “Treasures of the Silver Yuan Stamps and Postal History” from the William E. Jones collection, with 77 lots.
Jones was the designer of the 1941 Hong Kong Centenary issue (Scott 168-172) and the 1946 Hong Kong Victory Issue (174-175). Although he died in 1975, his family is only now selling off his collection.
The highlight of his Silver Yuan collection is what InterAsia describes as “an exceptionally rare and outstanding commercial usage” of the Watlam provisionals, a set of Gold Yuan stamps overprinted with a provisional surcharge. It is expected to garner between HK$150,000 and HK$200,000 (US$19,200 and US$25,600).
On the afternoon of Dec. 5, the highest value lots are presented in the People’s Republic of China and Liberated Areas session. This offering includes a unique set of blocks of four of the unissued 35th anniversary of the Russian revolution, estimated at HK$2 million to HK$2.5 million (US$256,100 to US$320,100).
Three panes of 80 of the 1980 8-fen Year of Monkey stamp (Scott 1586) are on offer as individual lots, with two unfolded panes estimated at HK$1.1 million to HK$1.3 million (US$140,900 to US$166,500) each, and a third with a single horizontal fold estimated at HK$1 million to HK$1.2 million (US$128,100 to US$153,700).
Examples of an unused and a used 1968 8f Whole Country is Red stamps (Scott 999A) are estimated at HK$300,000 to HK$400,000 (US$38,400 to US$51,200) and HK$250,000 to HK$300,000 (US$32,000 to US$38,400) respectively.
Probably the greatest rarity of the entire sale is the unissued 1967 stamp marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Jing Gangshan Revolutionary Base. The stamp depicts Chairman Mao and Lin Biao on a podium overlooking Tiananmen Square with blue sky behind them.
All examples of this issue were ordered destroyed; however, a few entered the marketplace. This is a cut example, being only the right half of the stamp. Despite the damage, it last sold through InterAsia Auctions in January 2010, realizing the equivalent of US$285,000. The current estimate is $HK2.2 million to HK$2.8 million (US$281,700 to US$358,600).
The last two days of the auction will offer general China and other Asian countries, and the Hong Kong and Treaty Ports sales. These sessions also contain many appealing items, but none with the rarity of the other sales. With the majority of the estimates conservative, we can expect many large realizations.
The auction catalogs can be viewed online.