Vintage 1939 Baseball Centennial die proof hits home run at May 12 Harmers auction

May 2, 2021, 8 PM

Auction Roundup — By Matthew Healey

Harmers International held a sale May 12 at the Collectors Club in New York City that was previewed in the May 1 edition of Linn’s.

Among the outstanding items in the sale were some rare die proofs of popular 20th-century U.S. stamps.

These proofs were made as part of the production process at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Unlike their 19th-century counterparts, which served as commercial samples of the printers’ work, they exist only in tiny numbers — often fewer than a handful.

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A full set of the 1932 Washington Bicentennial die proofs (Scott 704P2-715P2), one of just four sets known, sold for $8,850.

A die proof in violet of the 1939 3¢ Baseball Centennial issue on white wove paper (Scott 855P2) handily outstripped its $800 Scott value to sell for $2,478, including the 18 percent buyer’s premium added by Harmers International to all lots.

A set of die proofs for the 1930 Graf Zeppelin airmail stamps (Scott C13P2-C15P2) was the standout item, bringing $88,500, while a die proof of the “Baby Zepp,” the 1933 50¢ Century of Progress Flight airmail (C18P2), featuring the airship sailing between a hangar and the exposition building in Chicago, brought a handsome $28,320.

Many of the other die proofs in the sale exceeded their Scott values as well. A die proof of the bicolor 6¢ Eagle airmail of 1938 (Scott C23P2), for example, went for $8,260.

Among the notable philatelic forgeries in the sale, a cover bearing an 1847 5¢ Franklin (Scott 1), tied by fake “Steamer 5” cancels, sold for $318, while a cover with an 1847 10¢ Washington (2) and fake “Hunstville Ala.” and “10” in a circle of stars cancels brought $737.

What about international stamps of interest?

The international items from the Kelleher and Harmers International sales are reported in the June 19 monthly issue of Linn’s Stamp News. Subscribing to either the print or digital edition is easy and fast.