H.R. Harmer sells first piece of mail from the first German expedition to Antarctica

Jul 1, 2016, 1 PM

By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent 

Yes, the whole world came to World Stamp Show–NY 2016, or so it seemed.

Besides visitors, exhibitors, dealers, postal administrations and philatelic dignitaries from literally dozens of countries, there were auctions by international firms including Christoph Gaertner of Germany and the Global Philatelic Network consortium that includes H.R. Harmer (Tustin, Calif.), Corinphila (Switzerland and the Netherlands), Heinrich Koehler (Germany) and John Bull (Hong Kong).

In addition, American auction firms such as Schuyler Rumsey and Daniel F. Kelleher boasted international offerings, in the latter case the Alfred J. Capurro collection of worldwide mint stamps.

All told, visitors were treated to an unprecedented six days’ worth of philatelic auctions at the show. Linn’s Stamp News is breaking down a slew of them. 

Read all our World Stamp Show-NY 2016 International Auction Roundup:

Christoph Gaertner | Daniel F. Kelleher | Schuyler Rumsey

One of the less well-remembered Antarctic voyages from the heroic age of polar exploration, prior to the 1920s, was Germany’s Gauss Expedition, which took place in 1901. The expedition’s ship was named after mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss.

H.R. Harmer’s sale, on June 3, included a piece of postal history from this voyage. With a cancel reading “Deutsche Südpol Exped./Kerguelen Insel/Royal-Sound 9 NOV 1901,” this historically important postcard was the first piece of mail from the first German expedition to Antarctica.

It opened at a modest $1,000 and sold for $20,400, including the 20 percent buyer’s premium the Harmer firm adds to all lots.

Continuing with the German area, Harmer’s offered a 1900 postcard from Kiautschou (modern-day Jiaozhou, China) mailed to Stuttgart bearing a rare error of the 5-pfennig-on-10pf provisional overprint.

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Basic 10pf German Eagle definitives had been overprinted “China” with a surcharge of 5pf. A few stamps show a typo — “fP” for “Pf” — and a few of those errors received a second, larger “5 Pf” surcharge (Scott 9c). Only a handful of the latter are known, including two on cover.

The postcard in the Harmer sale, with a patriotic crossed-flags design on the reverse, fetched an impressive $57,000.

After you finish the International Auction Roundup, check out our U.S. Auction Roundup: 

1857 cover bearing five examples of remarkable stamp tops $250,000 in Siegel sale

Confederate postmaster’s provisional sells for $108,000 at Christoph Gaertner sale

Finest-graded Inverted Jenny sets record during Siegel's second day of WSS-NY sales

Inverted Jenny doesn’t set records, but still tops Schuyler Rumsey sale

German retail magnate’s collection dominates H.R. Harmer’s U.S. auction at WSS-NY 2016