British Guiana 1850 Cotton Reel off market since 1935 in Nov. 7-8 Cherrystone auction

Oct 19, 2023, 12 PM
This unused British Guiana 1850 12¢ black stamp on blue paper, one of the famed Cotton Reel issues, will be up for bids during Cherrystone Philatelic Auctioneers’ Nov. 7-8 sale of rare stamps and postal history of the world.

By Charles Snee

Cherrystone Philatelic Auctioneers will offer bidders more than 1,200 lots of rare stamps and postal history from around the world during a sale to be held Nov. 7-8 at its gallery in Teaneck, N.J.

The two-day auction will take place over four sessions, with sessions each day at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

During the afternoon session on Nov. 7, a rarity of British Guiana will cross the auction block: an unused example of the 1850 12¢ black on blue paper (Scott 5). The circular stamp, which has been cut to shape, and its 1850-51 counterparts (1-4) are known as the “Cotton Reels” because they look like the top of a cotton reel, or spool, used to wind cotton thread.

The 12¢ Cotton Reel in the Cherrystone sale has been off the market since the Oct. 30, 1935, Harmer Rooke sale of the Arthur Hind collection.

Just four Cotton Reel stamps, three 12¢ (including the one in the Cherrystone auction) and one 8¢ (Scott 4), are recorded unused.

“The stamps were produced with the values in italics in the center and ‘British Guiana’ around the edge inside a circle, made from printer’s brass rules bent to shape,” Cherrystone said in the auction catalog. “The stamps were printed in black on colored paper to facilitate easy recognition of the values (2c on rose, 4c on orange, 8c on green and 12c on blue).”

The Cotton Reel stamps were initialed before use by the deputy postmaster general or by one of the clerks of the colonial post office in Georgetown, the capital of British Guiana.

The stamp up for bids bears the initials of E.T.E. Dalton, the deputy postmaster general. Other Cotton Reel stamps were initialed by E.D. Wight, G.B. Smith, H.A. Killikelley and W.H. Lortimer.

In its lot description, Cherrystone notes that Dalton “was responsible for issuing the official notice announcing the issue.”

“However, when he saw the stamps prior to their issue, he was very aware of their lack of sophistication and felt that some additional form of security was necessary,” Cherrystone said.

“As they could be imitated in any printing office, I was obliged to counter-sign them,” Cherrystone quotes Dalton as saying at the time. “They were of the most ordinary workmanship.”

The initials on the stamps provided an extra layer of protection against forgery.

Accompanying the 12¢ Cotton Reel are 1935 and 2023 expertizing certificates from the Royal Philatelic Society London. The 2023 certificate states that the stamp is from the Hind collection.

In used condition and cut to shape, the 12¢ Cotton Reel is valued at $11,000 in the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940. No value is given for the stamp in unused condition.

In the sale catalog, Cherrystone lists this unused British Guiana 1850 12¢ Cotton Reel with an estimate of $25,000.

One of the more eye-catching items among the United States offerings in the sale is a complete left pane of 100 of the 1861 3¢ rose George Washington stamp (Scott 65).

The pane has been hinged in the top selvage, and all 100 stamps are in mint, never-hinged condition, according to Cherrystone.

The top, left and bottom selvage margins bear the imprint of the National Bank Note Co. of New York City. The bottom selvage imprint also shows that the National Bank Note Co. used plate 37 to print the pane.

In general, the stamps are centered to the top. Cherrystone notes that there are some perforation separations.

A single 3¢ rose Washington in unused condition is valued at $125 in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers. The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog does not value the stamp in mint, never-hinged condition.

Cherrystone is offering this complete pane of 100 of the 1861 3¢ rose Washington with an estimate of $7,500.

The sale concludes with 250 large lots and collections. Here bidders will find single country albums, specialized collections and large cover lots offered intact, according to Cherrystone.

An 1851-1970 Belgium collection mounted in a Scott album includes early used issues up to 1900 and unused issues thereafter. Cherrystone notes the collection includes complete sets and souvenir sheets, semipostal stamps from the 1920s, and parcel post and postage due stamps.

Against the consignor’s stated catalog value of $7,500, Cherrystone is offering this Belgium collection with an estimate of $600.

The catalog for the Nov. 7-8 worldwide stamps and postal history sale can be viewed and is available for download on the Cherrystone website, with online bidding options available through Cherrystone and Stamp Auction Network.

Information also is available from Cherrystone Philatelic Auctioneers, 300 Frank W. Burr Blvd., Second Floor, Box 35, Teaneck, NJ 07666.

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