Marcel and Daniel France airmail, Magnolia French Indochina, Rinkoff worldwide collections in Oct. 23-25 Siegel auction series

Oct 5, 2023, 7 AM

By Charles Snee

Three specialized name collections will be up for bids during three consecutive sales to be held Oct.23-25 at Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York City. The auctions are being conducted in association with Charles F. Shreve, director of Siegel International in Dallas.

First to cross the auction block, on Oct. 23 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time, is the Marcel and Daniel collection of important France airmail stamps and postal history.

Although the collection comprises just 98 lots, all are of the highest quality. Bidders will find rare multiples such as a complete pane of 25 of the 1936 50-franc airmail stamp with the red network overprint inverted (Scott C15a). All stamps in the pane are in mint, never-hinged condition.

Concluding the sale is a selection of 13 ballon monte covers mailed to uncommon international destinations during the 1870-71 siege of Paris.

The Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 lists and values these important artifacts of the Franco-Prussian War after the France airmail listings and provides a detailed note explaining their significance, part of which is given here:

“ ‘Ballons Montes’ are letters which left Paris between Sept. 23, 1870, and Jan. 28, 1871, toward the end of the Franco-Prussian War. Placed under siege by the German army, the French capital was isolated from the rest of the world. With all other means of communication severed, Parisians took to the air, inaugurating what many consider to be the world’s first air mail. Of the 67 balloons that were launched from Paris, 56 carried mail that passed through the Paris Post Office, including private letters, newspapers and official documents. While some balloons were unmanned, most carried at least a single person in addition to the 225-275 pounds of mail.”

One of the ballon monte covers in the Marcel and Daniel collection last appeared at auction during Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions’ July 31, 2021, Transportation sale, which featured the collection of ballon monte covers formed by Bernhard D. Forster. In that auction, the cover sold for $54,625, which includes Rumsey’s 15 percent buyer’s premium.

The cover, which was sent to Mexico City, was postmarked Jan. 13, 1871, in Paris and carried aboard the Jan. 15 flight of the Vaucanson. Postage was paid with an 1868 80-centime rose Napoleon III on pinkish paper (Scott 36) and an 1870 40c orange Ceres on yellowish paper (59).

According to Siegel, Vaucanson pilot Andre Clariot departed Orleans Station around 3 a.m. on Jan. 15 and touched down around 11 a.m. at Erquinghem-Lys after a flight of about 240 kilometers (150 miles).

Siegel said: “In the 2021 Rumsey auction of the Forster sale, they state [the Vaucanson cover] was carried on the R.M.S.S. Seine from Southampton on Feb. 2 to St. Thomas (arriving Feb. 18). Then aboard the R.M.S.P. Eider on Feb. 19 to Vera Cruz (arriving Mar. 2).”

Included with the cover is a Sept. 9, 2021, expertizing certificate from Alexandre Roumet stating that the cover is genuine and has not been repaired.

Siegel is offering this splendid 1871 ballon monte cover carried on the Vaucanson with an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.

The magnificent Magnolia collection of French Indochina postal history will be sold Oct. 24 in two sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Siegel’s gallery on W. 38th Street in Manhattan.

“The Magnolia collection of French Indochina is more than an assemblage of covers — it is a postal historical study of the French sphere of influence in Southeast Asia from the 1850s onwards,” Siegel wrote in the introduction to the catalog for the 398-lot sale.

Siegel provided a summary of the history of Indochina, which begins with British influence in the 1840s and subsequent French occupation of the area, which ended in 1954 with the splintering of French Indochina into the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), Vietnam (South Vietnam), Laos and Cambodia.

“ … the postal history of French Indochina provides significant insight into the communication lines between France and its colonial military and civilian outposts in Asia,” Siegel said. “As is true for all of the Magnolia collections, the collector gathered an extraordinary number of postal artifacts, including the most significant examples of postal markings and postage franking.”

One of the more eye-catching covers in the Magnolia collection is a March 31, 1867, folded letter mailed from Saigon, Cochinchina, to Port Louis, Mauritius.

Franking the cover are three French Colonies Eagle and Crown issues: a vertical pair of the 1862 5-centime yellow green on greenish paper (Scott 2), a vertical strip of three of the 1859 10c bister on yellow paper (3) and two singles of the 1865 20c blue on bluish paper (4). In combination, the seven stamps paid the 80c rate to Mauritius.

“There are very few three-color Eagle Issue covers from Saigon,” Siegel said. “This cover to Mauritius, with three different values and a 10c multiple, is one of the finest extant.”

Siegel lists this marvelous 1867 letter from Saigon to Mauritius with an estimate of $3,000 to $4,000.

Roughly a decade ago, Richard J. Rinkoff began forming his substantial collection of important worldwide postage stamps that Siegel will shepherd into new collectors’ hands on Oct. 25.

Shreve, in his introduction to the Rinkoff sale catalog, wrote that Rinkoff’s mother introduced him to stamp collecting many years ago. From modest beginnings collecting worldwide stamps from approval services, Rinkoff went on to build a notable British Commonwealth collection.

“Inspired by sales such as the 2011 auction of the Rolfe E. Wyer Collection of French Colonies, [Rinkoff] decided to branch out into the colonies and offices of various European countries and started the collection offered in this catalog,” Shreve said.

“This sale contains many rare and desirable stamps from British, French, German and Italian colonies and offices, in addition to Hawaii,” Shreve said. “Many stamps have graced the collections of ‘Besancon’, Burrus, Col. Green, Ferrary, Hind, Honolulu Advertiser, Kanai, ‘Scarsdale’, ‘Sovereign’, Tompkins, Venn, Wyer and many others.”

Included among the offerings from Mauritius is a lovely used example of the 1848 2-penny dark blue Queen Victoria stamp (Scott 4) featuring a light strike of a black barred oval grid cancellation.

Siegel describes the stamp, which comes from position 10 in the sheet 12 (four rows of three stamps), as having “large even margins all around, gorgeous rich color and sharp impression on pristine white paper.”

In a 2018 certificate accompanying the stamp, British Commonwealth expert David Brandon stated that the stamp is from the earliest impression of the 1848 issue (Scott 3-4).

According to a footnote in the Scott Classic Specialized catalog, “Earliest impressions … show the full background of diagonal and vertical lines with the diagonal lines predominant.”

In its lot description for the 1848 2d dark blue, Siegel provided a summary of the origins of the first stamps of Mauritius, which were issued in 1847-48:

“While postal services in Mauritius date back to 1770s, it wasn’t until 1846 that inland mail service was organized. Joseph Osmond Barnard, a local printer and engraver, was contracted to produce two stamps. He engraved both stamps on a single plate with the inscriptions ‘Post Office’ [Scott 1-2]. It is believed 500 were printed and were sold out almost immediately. For [the] second printing, from which the example offered here came, were engraved directly onto two copper plates of twelve (four rows of three), one for each value with the inscription ‘Post Paid’ [Scott 3-4]. The plates wore away relatively quickly, and so only a very limited number of impressions qualify as the earliest.”

Siegel lists this used 1848 2-penny dark blue Queen Victoria with an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000, against a Scott Classic Specialized catalog value of $24,500,

Three separate softcover catalogs have been prepared for the sales of the Marcel and Daniel, Magnolia and Rinkoff collections. Full details of the auctions, including downloadable versions of the catalogs and online bidding options, are available on the Siegel website.

For additional information, contact Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, 21 W. 38th St., Seventh Floor, New York, NY 10018.

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