2019 has kicked off with some beautiful Jubilee items already this year up for sale in auctions and not only in the UK! I spotted this rarity come up in the Spink China in their sale of The Lam Man Yin Collection of Small Dragons, Dowagers and 1897 Surcharges on January 18th. This cover (lot 685) was sent to the French Legation in Peking, China, and franked on arrival with a 2ca Dowager tied by a Tientsin seal in blue with Customs circular datestamp below. As China was not a member of the U.P.U., all incoming mail (usually arriving at Shanghai, but occasionally at Tientsin) required Customs postage to be added or a “To Pay” handstamp was used for transit within China, with the recipient paying in cash. Noted by the auctioneers as being one of only 26 incoming covers, it was estimated at HK$50’00-60’000 (around £5’000) and was hammered down for HK$180’000! (about £17’500). Almost certainly making it the most expensive 1/2d vermilion franking in existence!
This beautiful cover from the famous King Harman correspondence depicting a Robin on a holy branch was sold by Spink in London for £1’500 plus commission (lot 2466, January 22nd-23rd), which was a strong price even compared to the results of the Ramsey collection of hand-painted envelopes they sold last year.
This rare franking from British East Africa was sold by Grosvenor on February 21st (lot 539) and is apparently one of seven philatelic frankings by Whitfield King which bears the complete set of the overprinted GB stamps. Unfortunately I was the underbidder and it sold for £1’350 plus commission
One cover I did get though was in the Magpie Postal Auction on February 27th. Lot 409 was a 1/2d vermilion going to Guadeloupe, sent underpaid and franked with 40c of French Colonies postage dues on arrival. British mail to the French Colonies in this period is surprisingly scarce and this is the only cover I’ve seen going there. Estimated at only £25, I was very pleased to get it for £143 including fees.