Top-graded U.S. stamps and postal history treasures attract solid realizations in recent auctions

Apr 29, 2021, 5 PM

By Tim Hodge

The past month has seen an active stamp market. With numerous auctions offering a great quantity of strong material, it is impossible to do them all justice.

Matthew Bennett International from Boston, Mass., featured many graded United States gems at its 355th sale on Oct. 20-22. Three parcel post stamps took the prize, all graded superb 100 or 100J (the J standing for particularly large “jumbo” margins): with their 15 percent buyer’s premiums, the 3¢ Railway Postal Clerk stamp (Scott Q3) realized $4,025, the 10¢ Steamship and Mail Tender stamp (Q6) realized $9,200, and the $1 Fruit Growing stamp (Q12) realized $13,800.

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These magnificent results, all far exceeding published values for similar graded stamps, speak to the growing market for superb stamps.

Graded stamps also realized record prices in the Oct. 24 Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries sale of United States stamps. Features include a 10¢ Trans-Mississippi stamp (Scott 290) graded superb 98 realizing $17,700, including Siegel’s 18 percent buyer’s premium; and a 2¢ carmine lake Panama-Pacific stamp (Scott 398a), mint never-hinged and graded extra-fine-superb 95, realizing $15,340.

Siegel offered several examples of the Pan-American center inverts. The 2¢ (Scott 295a) with original gum, extremely fine centering and without faults went to a new owner for $42,480. Another invert sold by Siegel was the 1979 $1 Candleholder with engraved brown inverted (Scott 1610c); with only 93 sound examples existing, this one realized $12,980.

The highlight of Siegel’s United States Stamps sale was the $2 orange brown Trans-Mississippi stamp (Scott 293) as a block of four with top imprint and plate number. This desirable block with original gum found a new home for $50,150.

One of the greatest of all U.S. newspaper stamp rarities, with only 11 examples listed in the Siegel census, is the 1894 96¢ pink on unwatermarked paper (Scott PR99). An unused example with part original gum and hinge remnant sold for $14,750 through Siegel.

Also on Oct. 24, Siegel offered the Dr. Heimburger and Brody collections of classic Bureau issues.

The spotlight was on one of two known complete sets of the 1915 Panama-Pacific small die proofs for the 1902 issue in private hands, which brought $35,400.

A 1908 4¢ brown Grant imperforate stamp in fine condition with Schermack Type III perforations (Scott 314A) garnered $20,650. Only 32 used singles are known to exist based on the Siegel census.

The next value, the imperforate 1908 5¢ blue Lincoln (Scott 315) realized $24,780 as a used block of four.

Fancy cancels excelled at Siegel’s Nov. 8-9 offering of United States and Confederate States Postal History. A New York City Union Soldier’s Head fancy cancel of 1866 on cover to Palermo, Sicily, realized $59,000. This folded letter is the only known cover bearing the 1869 12¢ black Washington stamp (Scott 69) struck with this fancy cancel.

An extremely fine strike of the Beer Mug fancy cancel from Waterbury, Conn., a city famous for its numerous entertaining and unusual fancy cancels, brought $20,650 at the Siegel sale. The cover is franked with the 1869 3¢ ultramarine Locomotive stamp (Scott 114).

The City Dispatch Post operating in New York City issued the first postage stamps in the Western Hemisphere on Feb. 1, 1842 (Scott 6LB1). Two of the most attractive on-cover examples of this stamp sold for $15,930 and $24,780, respectively.