Stunning array of previously offered U.S. material sold at Rarities Week

Jul 30, 2015, 5 AM

As in previous years, Rarities Week, the series of sales conducted June 22-26 by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York, included several name sales as well as an assortment of notable items from around the world.

The week kicked off with something of a do-over: a sizable assortment of better United States stamps and covers that had appeared in four previous sales, but whose winning bidder then failed to pay for them. The firm noted that it was still pursuing legal action against the errant bidder.

Among the choice items was a glorious plate-number and imprint block of 12 of the 2¢ Post Rider stamp (Scott 113) from the 1869 Pictorial series. 

Most plate blocks issued since the 1930s, when collecting them began to catch on, tend to be fairly common (the rule of thumb is that a plate block of four is worth five single stamps) but plate blocks of earlier issues can be highly elusive.

Siegel notes that, aside from a partial sheet of 70, the firm has offered only two plate blocks of six of Scott 113 in the almost quarter-century since it began keeping computerized records, and neither of those was as well-centered as the block of 12 in the June sale. In addition, four of the stamps in this block are mint never-hinged, and the block was cut from its sheet so as to retain parts of the adjoining stamps on all sides, making it visually all the more impressive.

The block sold last December for $92,000, including the 15 percent buyer’s premium levied by Siegel on all lots. This time, it went for $63,250.

Some items in the sale, however, did better the second time around, such as the 1875 reissue of the 2¢ Black Jack Andrew Jackson stamp (Scott 103) in mint never-hinged condition with a grade of Superb-95. Likely unique in that superlative state, it sold for $32,200 on June 22, against $25,300 last year.