Classic Australia in Mossgreen auction of Arthur Gray collection

May 3, 2021, 2 AM

Some of Australia’s great classic issues will head to the auction block when the Arthur Gray collection of King George V issues is dispersed by Mossgreen.

The sale will take place Oct. 30 at the Mossgreen gallery on the outskirts of Melbourne in Armadale, Victoria, Australia.

Online bidders should keep in mind that time in Melbourne is currently 15 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time.

The auction offers choice material from the extensive collection assembled over the course of four decades by Australian collector and international exhibitor Arthur Gray (1939-2015).

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In the introduction to the auction catalog, Mossgreen stamp and postal history specialist Gary Watson writes, “What you see in this catalogue is merely part — albeit the major part — of one section of the most extraordinary collection of Australian stamps of this generation, or any other.”

Watson added, “It seems unlikely that we shall ever again see such a collection that combines astonishing breadth and phenomenal depth.”

The auction is divided into two main sessions, encompassing King George V heads, including engraved issues, followed by commemorative stamps and pictorial definitives.

Some of the top items on offer come from the extensive selection of proofs that makes the catalog itself an essential reference for the interested Australia collector.

The catalog cover displays two proofs that Mossgreen states “are considered by many collectors to be the most important items of Australian Commonwealth philately”: the 2-penny King George V perforated plate proof in purple-black, and a 1-shilling Swan perforated plate proof in brown-purple, both representing unissued denominations.

The two proofs will first be offered provisionally as individual consecutive lots.

Once bidding is complete on those two lots, the two proofs will be offered together with bidding commencing anew at one bid beyond the combined total of the individual top bids.

If a bid is placed exceeding the combined individual bids, those previous provisional bids will be discarded, and the proofs will be sold together as one lot.

Only two examples of each of these two proofs are known, and one set is ensconced in the archives of Australia Post. The two proofs on offer, therefore, represent the only examples available to collectors.

The 2d proof is listed with an estimate of $75,000 in Australian dollars (approximately US$55,000), and the 1sh proof carries an estimate of AUS$125,000 (US$91,000).

The auction catalog observes that “Economic considerations — plus robust public condemnation and ridicule of the 1d design — were principally responsible for the decision to abandon recess printing in favour of the more economical letterpress printing method.”

Both of the proofs are printed on gummed unwatermarked paper.

In a catalog populated with many classic treasures, another standout is the 1932-33 2d red King George V Official stamp on small crown and C of A multiple watermarked paper, used with “O.S.” inverted overprint (Scott O8a, Stanley Gibbons O133a).

Mossgreen explains that the Australian Commonwealth Specialists’ Catalogue calls the stamp a great rarity with just three examples known, all used.

One is on a cover front, and the other is in the Australia Post archives, making this stamp the only off-paper example available to collectors.

Described as “one of the most outstanding items in Arthur Gray’s extraordinary collection,” it is offered with an estimate of AUS$60,000 (US$44,000).

The auction consists of more than 500 lots, with some single lots offered with estimates beginning at AUS$100 and opening bids at AUS$50

The Mossgreen catalog for the Arthur Gray collection of King George V is available in two formats for online for viewing at Online bidding is also available.

Mossgreen can be contacted by postal mail at Mossgreen Pty Ltd., 926-930 High St., Armadale, VIC 3143, Australia.