Greca collection of Southern African postal history in Sept. 7 Spink sale

Aug 23, 2021, 8 AM

By Charles Snee

Specialists and students of Southern Africa and related areas will have the prospect of adding desirable covers to their collections when Spink presents the impressive Greca collection of Southern African postal history.

Spink will conduct the sale Sept. 7 at the Royal Philatelic Society London, 15 Abchurch Lane, Second Floor, London, England.

The 420-lot auction opens with a handsome cover featuring a three-color franking that was mailed Sept. 5, 1878, from Mafeteng, Basutoland, to Geneva, Switzerland.

Basutoland was a former independent native state that was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1871. In 1883 control was transferred directly to the British Crown.

Stamps of the Cape of Good Hope were used from 1871 to 1910 and those of the Union of South Africa from 1910 to 1933.

This 1878 cover is franked with three Cape of Good Hope stamps: the 1875 ½-penny gray black (Scott 23), 1872 1d rose (24) and 1877 6d bright violet (18). All three stamps feature the allegorical Hope and various symbols of the colony.

Three strikes of an indistinct barred numeral handstamp were used to cancel the stamps.

Postmarks on the front show that the cover transited through Cape Town on Sept. 14 and London on Oct. 8. Spink notes that a circular datestamp indicating the arrival of the letter in Geneva is on the back but does not specify the date.

Spink is offering this cover from Basutoland to Switzerland with a starting bid of £320 (roughly $443 in mid-August) and an estimate of £400 ($554) to £500 ($692).

Included in the Greca collection is an attractive assemblage of 33 covers franked with Cape of Good Hope Triangle stamps.

One of the more desirable covers was mailed in late October 1863 from Bloemfontein, Orange River Colony (Orange Free State), to Cheshire, England.

This cover, which came from the Hope correspondence, is franked with a pair of the 1855 6d grayish lilac (Scott 5b; Spink describes the color as slate-lilac).

Spink describes the pair as having “three clear to large margins, clearly cancelled by slightly heavy triangular obliterator and additionally tied by red crayon ‘11.’ ”

The cover is docketed “Per Cape Mail 20 Nov 1863” at top left. At top center is a Dec. 22 “Paid Devonport Cape Packet” circular datestamp. A Dec. 23 “London Paid” circular datestamp is visible to the left of the pair.

According to Spink, Nov. 9 Cape Town and Dec. 23 Birkenhead, England, circular datestamps are on the back of the cover (not shown).

Spink states that the cover has “a couple of minor imperfections” and once resided in the Maria de la Queillerie and Medina collections.

Spink estimates this scarce 1863 Cape of Good Hope Triangle cover at £5,000 ($6,920) to £6,000 ($8,305) and lists it with an opening bid of £4,000 ($5,540).

A used off-cover pair of Cape of Good Hope Scott 5b is valued at $2,150 in the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940.

Overall the Greca collection features breadth and depth across all aspects of South African postal history. Some of the more specialized areas include instructional markings, Official mail, taxed mail, military mail, garrison mail, combination frankings, the Transvaal Rebellion, the Mphefu War, the Bambata Rebellion, incoming mail from China, and more.

A catalog for the Greca collection of South Africa postal history is available as a downloadable PDF document. Online bidding options are available after registering in advance with the firm.

The catalog can be viewed on the Spink website. Click on “auctions,” then “by department” and then on “stamps” to locate the catalog.

For additional information, contact Spink London, 67-69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury WC1B 4ET London, England.

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