Kelleher’s WSS-NY 2016 sale topped by high-denomination World War I-era overprint

May 1, 2021, 4 PM

By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent 

Yes, the whole world came to World Stamp Show–NY 2016, or so it seemed.

Besides visitors, exhibitors, dealers, postal administrations and philatelic dignitaries from literally dozens of countries, there were auctions by international firms including Christoph Gaertner of Germany and the Global Philatelic Network consortium that includes H.R. Harmer (Tustin, Calif.), Corinphila (Switzerland and the Netherlands), Heinrich Koehler (Germany) and John Bull (Hong Kong).

In addition, American auction firms such as Schuyler Rumsey and Daniel F. Kelleher boasted international offerings, in the latter case the Alfred J. Capurro collection of worldwide mint stamps.

All told, visitors were treated to an unprecedented six days’ worth of philatelic auctions at the show. Linn’s Stamp News is breaking down a slew of them. 

Read all of our World Stamp Show-NY 2016 International Auction Roundup:

Christoph Gaertner | H.R. Harmer | Schuyler Rumsey

The firm of Daniel F. Kelleher presented the worldwide mint collection of the late Alfred Capurro on June 2.

The firm touted the sale as emblematic of their operation: combining better singles and sets with country collections and lots more appealing to dealers.

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A rare World War I-era overprint on a high-denomination stamp from the former German colony of the Marshall Islands saw the sale’s top realization.

In 1915, as Germany’s overseas empire came under siege from the Allied powers, the island of Neu-Pommern, off the coast of German New Guinea, fell under Australian control and was renamed New Britain. Stamps of German New Guinea and the Marshall Islands were overprinted “G.R.I.” (“Georgius Rex Imperator” — George King and Emperor) and surcharged with a new denomination in pence or shillings.

The top denomination was a 5-shilling-on-5-mark overprint. There were two varieties: one in which the lines of the overprint are 4 millimeters apart and one in which they are 5.5 mm or 6 mm apart.

The wider-spaced overprint on the Marshall Islands stamp (Scott 67) was represented in the Kelleher sale by an original-gum example, slightly toned and with several signatures of authentication on the reverse, and said to be one of just two known. It sold for $34,500, including the 15 percent commission Kelleher adds to all lots.

A seldom-seen pair of examples of France’s 1928 10-franc overprint on the Louis Pasteur definitive showed both the regular and widely spaced settings of the “10 Fr.” surcharge and the bars covering the original denomination (Scott C4, C4a). The wide setting is five times scarcer than the regular; the sale catalog noted that from the original printing of 1,000 stamps, no more than a handful of pairs likely remain intact. The pair in the Kelleher sale sold for $23,000.

At the lower end of the spectrum in the Kelleher auction was a lovely set of Nepal’s first issue of 1881 (Scott 1-3). These charmingly primitive stamps, showing a crown and crossed khukris (curved-blade Nepalese knives), were printed on European wove paper and given pin-perforations to aid separation. (The same designs later appeared imperforate and on native wove paper.)

The unused set of three, denominated 1-anna, 2a and 4a, sold for $460.

One of the less well-remembered Antarctic voyages from the heroic age of polar exploration, prior to the 1920s, was Germany’s Gauss Expedition, which took place in 1901. The expedition’s ship was named after mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss.

After you finish the International Auction Roundup, check out our U.S. Auction Roundup: 

1857 cover bearing five examples of remarkable stamp tops $250,000 in Siegel sale

Confederate postmaster’s provisional sells for $108,000 at Christoph Gaertner sale

Finest-graded Inverted Jenny sets record during Siegel's second day of WSS-NY sales

Inverted Jenny doesn’t set records, but still tops Schuyler Rumsey sale

German retail magnate’s collection dominates H.R. Harmer’s U.S. auction at WSS-NY 2016