Romania 1858 Coat of Arms cover top lot at Harmers sale

Jul 2, 2015, 11 AM

By Matthew Healey

Harmers International held a sale of worldwide stamps and postal history at the Collectors Club in New York on June 6, including a numerous array of philatelic forgeries. The sale was previewed on the front page of the June 8 Linn’s.

The top lot was a cover from Romania franked with an 1858 54-parale stamp showing the classic bull’s head Coat of Arms design, neatly postmarked in Galatz and addressed to Jassy, which was described as a new discovery. It was hammered down for $10,620, more than double its opening bid of $5,000. All prices listed here include the 18 percent buyer’s premium added by Harmers International to all lots.

A pair of Britain’s unissued first Official stamp of 1840 (Scott O1), which is identical to the Penny Black save for the initials “VR” that appear in the upper corners in place of stars, was offered with the observation that pairs of this scarce stamp are even more elusive than blocks of four: six blocks are known, but only five pairs are accounted for. Notable collections of the past lacked any multiples at all. The sale catalog noted that some skillful repairs had been carried out in the past to enhance the pair’s appearance. The pair sold for $10,030.

Among the forgeries in the sale, the most spectacular — and surely one of the most convincing — was a block of four bogus Inverted Jennies. Produced by the (in)famous modern German forger Peter Winter, the stamps are engraved and printed in colors surprisingly close to those of the original. Supposedly only one sheet was printed, making the stamps as scarce as the genuine article. The block sold for $472.