Strong showing for China postal history in winter Spink sale

Mar 2, 2018, 4 AM

Auction Roundup — By Tim Hodge

Not surprisingly, China is still leading the market with lofty realizations. Spink China, based in Hong Kong, presented two auctions on Jan. 21: the Manhattan collection of Sinkiang postal history, and a general sale.

The highlight of the Manhattan collection was one of only two covers known bearing a Hami provisional airmail stamp. These stamps were issued in Sinkiang when the China-to-Europe airmail routes through northeastern China were blocked by the Japanese invasion. The alternate routes established service through Sinkiang.

As no airmail stamps were available in Sinkiang, the Chinese characters equivalent to the term “airmail” were overprinted on existing stamps.

This unique and important 1933 double-registered cover bearing four of the 15-candareen denomination (plus additional stamps) was carried on the 10th regular flight. It sold for the equivalent of $276,329, including a 20 percent buyer’s premium.

The general auction featured a unique complete sheet of 25 of the 1882 1c China Large Dragon stamp, wide setting (Scott 4). Spink China found it a new home for the equivalent of $598,712. Although there was a second sheet recorded prior to World War II, it has not been seen since and was likely destroyed.

The largest known multiple of the 1883 5c stamp in setting IV (Scott 9) exists on the cover that also is recorded as bearing the most Large Dragon stamps.

Because of heavy weight, it is franked with 135c, or 25 times the normal postage rate to Rome. This massive franking is composed of a block of 15 of the 5c stamp, another block of nine 5c, and a block of five 3c (Scott 8).

Additionally, there are three disinfection slits, making it one of only three Large Dragon covers with disinfection slits, and it is one of two Large Dragon covers addressed to Italy. The spectacular rarity garnered the equivalent of $460,548.

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To pair with the Large Dragon cover, the highest franked Small Dragon cover was also offered. Its 132c franking consists of a pane of 20 1888 5c Small Dragon stamps (Scott 15), an additional block of five and a single of the 5c, and a pair of the 1888 1c Small Dragon (Scott 13). This is 14 times the then-current rate plus a registration fee. This spectacular cover realized the equivalent of $291,680.