Scarce German colony issue on piece auctioned

Dec 9, 2014, 8 AM

An example on piece of a scarce 1897 German South West Africa stamp brought $23,500 at Christoph Gaertner’s sale near Stuttgart in October.

Christoph Gaertner, near Stuttgart, Germany, held an auction Oct. 6-10 featuring some 28,000 lots from 1,400 consignors around the world. More than 3,500 bidders took part, according to the firm.

Among the more interesting items was a German South West Africa 50-pfennig Eagle stamp of 1897 (Scott 6) postmarked on piece. The stamp is a basic German definitive, overprinted diagonally with the name of the colony, which was mandated to South Africa after World War I and is now the independent country of Namibia. On the first issue, the colony’s name was written “Sudwest-Afrika,” a designation later changed to “Sudwestafrika.”

The 25pf and 50pf values with the first spelling variant were never sent to the colony, being sold only to collectors at the main post office in Berlin. Enterprising philatelists nonetheless managed to send a few examples to the colony and have them either favor canceled or returned home on mail.

The example in the Gaertner sale, tied to a piece of an envelope by a partial circulardatestamp from the small settlement of Keetmanshoop, sold for the equivalent of $23,500, including the firm’s 22 percent buyer’s premium.

Two modern rarities from the People’s Republic of China also appeared in Gaertner’s sale: a mint, never-hinged example without faults of the withdrawn 1968 8-fen “The Entire Nation Is Red” stamp (Scott 999A) sold for $82,000, while an unissued 8f stamp from the same year, showing Mao’s inscription to Japanese Labor Friends, unused without gum, went for $79,000. The unissued 8f stamp is described in a footnote after Scott 998 in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue.