I struggled to find much of interest in February and March on eBay and it wasn’t for lack of searching, but the few things I did find were all interesting items.
Darth Vader would surely say “I find your lack of knowledge disturbing” if he ever quizzed my on my expertise of the postal history of the Boer War. As an example, I don’t know what the code “3MB” stands for in the centre of this large circular datestamp, surrounded by “ARMY POST OFFICE / SOUTH AFRICA”. Perhaps Mobile Box? From my quick internet search and what images I’ve saved on my computer, I know there are several different codes and some with the town name in its place (Barberton, Komatipoort and Machadodorp, as well as Volksrust instead of South Africa). But what I do know is that it’s a nice piece to have bought for £82.09.
November had an interesting a mix of items appear on eBay for sale. I managed to buy three small things but nothing as interesting as the following items unfortunately.
This plate proof on buff paper rarely surfaces on eBay, although I see it reasonably regularly on dealers’ stock lists. Multiples do exist and I don’t think it’s particularly scarce. However it definitely comes up less than the ½d green plate proof so I think it was reasonably cheap at £54.
Controls letters on the ½d vermilion and ½d green stamps are popular and are more valuable with Official overprints. The Army Official overprint is the most common, and even though used examples are rare, they don’t seem to be appreciated. This example sold for only £46.76.
Quadruple UPU rates are reasonably scarce. Single 10d frankings can be found for between £50 and £100. This example is more unusual as it features a 4d and 6d Jubilees to make up the 10d rate. What’s also nice are the cds cancels. A very nice franking for £31.95.
This postcard depicts Lieutenant General Sir George White VC, who as you might expect from his name, had quite the stellar career in the British Army. He was stationed at Peshawar during the Indian Mutiny, won a Victoria Cross for his bravery in two battles during the Second Anglo-Afghan War, commanded a brigade during the Third Anglo-Burmese War, commanded the forces in Natal at the opening of the Second Boer War and refused to surrender when instructed to when he commanded the garrison at the Siege of Ladysmith and went on to become Governor of Gibraltar. This card was produced by the famous postcard producers Raphael Tuck & Sons, presumably in honour of his heroics at Ladysmith. I’ve not read the message on but it’s one of the more creatively written that I’ve seen, spiralling into the centre (I wonder if he practiced that before hand!). It sold for £28.06.
I go through phases with my searches on eBay. Sometimes I have the energy to trawl through all the mint and used stamps looking for plate varieties not noticed by the sellers. This stamp was one such find and shows the clipped lower left corner to the right hand duty tablet, and is listed by SG in the specialised catalogue as K39e, although it doesn’t show the crack at the bottom right (but does show an extension of the white frame line and some other damage in the same area). Someone else must have spotted it and it sold for £47.35.
There is a bit of a theme of Officials (or Departmentals as I believe they should be more correctly known as) for this month’s report. As I write this in December, Stanley Gibbons have already brought to the market the magnificent collection of Michael Astley, which includes many of the major items of these Official issues and indeed some of the most valuable of the Jubilee issue.
Starting with my favourite, the ½d vermilion; this is a rare control marginal strip of three from the first setting (without Jubilee lines) and control letter “B” with the I.R. Official overprint of the Inland Revenue, of which 4’949 sheets of 480-set were printed (i.e. 9’898 control Bs were printed). Although there’s some toning and minor perforation separation, it sold for £94.40. But this strip is the only example of the “B” control I’ve recorded on my computer, and there wasn’t even an example in the brochure of Astley’s collection (although I don’t have my library at hand to check the other major sales of Officials).
These two Postal Stores Department parcel labels with Government Parcel stamps, one with a 1s green and the other with a 6d and 9d, were the bargains of the month, selling for only £29.88 and £38.99 respectively.
The Specimen overprint (type 15) on the 1/2d blue-green is very scarce if not rare (I thought I had one in my collection but just looking at it now I realised it’s a forgery unfortunately). So a block of four is very unusual, although Specimen multiples don’t float my boat. Looking at the Astley collection however, Stanley Gibbons also had a block of four in very fine condition priced at £1’950 (which has since sold). This example which has two heavy creases, sold for…£78.60. So I think this trumps the two parcel labels above for bargain the month!
It would have been perfect to have another Official as my fifth item, but this 1s green & carmine with a nice strike Field Post Office “17” cancel from the British Army in South Africa during the Boer War deserves the mention, as it sold for £76.60.
And I always forget to mention this, but apologies for the adverts below which get attached to my blog posts by the website provider. Unfortunately I can’t choose which ones they show and I’ve noticed some have been a bit bizarre…
There wasn’t much of note to write about which sold on eBay in November or December so I combined the two this time. I did find a few things at least!
Hot on the heels of my previous post, I came across three varieties of the Müllheim-Deutz-Köln local stamps, showing pairs of the 10pf, 40pf and 50pf with the “unfrankirt” overprint missing on one stamp. They are actually listed in the Michel specialised catalogue of local stamps, priced at around €20-30 if I remember correctly. They sold (on German eBay) for €18.50, €22.18 and €14.28 respectively.
Another bit of fun is this ½d vermilion with a rather unusual violet cancel depicting the Queen between “1837” and “1897”, presumably to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I’ve never seen this before, and can only presume that it is a commercial cachet (of a company presumably in Bayswater) that would have been applied when the stamp was used on a receipt for revenue purposes. If anyone has more of a clue than me then I’d be pleased to hear!
This book, “British Army Postal Cancellations of the Anglo-Boer War 1899 to 1902” by Peter Prime looks like a valuable reference work for a Boer war collector. It’s missing from my library and if I hadn’t have missed it I would have bid more than the £15.80 it realised. I’ll save an eBay search for it so I get an alert the next time one comes up!
Bygones of Bridlington offered quite a few Jubilees with Board of Trade perfins. I still haven’t quite worked out how to identify genuine perfins from fake perfins yet. I have noticed certain cancellations which are consistently found on Board of Trade stamps, and often the perfins are inverted, reversed, inverted and reversed, and sometimes show missing pins. So if this stamp is the real deal then at £19.86 it wasn’t at all expensive.
Finally this slightly ugly cover with a 4½d Jubilee with washed colour sold for £56.70! Unusually, it was sent in 1911 from the British Post Office in Constantinople in British Levant. This stamp isn’t listed by SG as being used in British Levant, and the fact that it was sent to Oswald Marsh, the famous stamp dealer, suggests that it is a philatelic concoction. But it is only the second example I have seen (the other being sent in 1910).
We start of this month’s report with a very recent discovery for me, when in the course of describing a collection for our next auction at David Feldman SA, I came across a presentation album of German local stamps which was produced by a German dealer in the 1940s. When I looked closely, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that some of these stamps were copied from the design of the 1887 halfpenny Jubilee! Since then, I have had an Ebay search saved to alert me when these stamps pop up again, and it wasn’t long before two pages cut out from the album came up. There was only one bidder at the asking price of £19.99 each. So now I need to find out some more information about whether these were actually ever used or just philatelic concoctions (I’m assuming the latter).
This attractive block of four with the hexagonal “ARMY POST OFFICE / STANDERTON / NATAL FIELD OFFICE” cancellation used during the Boer War fetched a surprising £114.55.
But even more surprising was this Midland Railway invoice sent from Hitchin with a ½d vermilion tied by a Hitchin squared circle cancel. Even with a spike hole through the stamp, it fetched £48.95.
This very attractive four-value franking was sent by the Continental Night Mail service to France, paying a total rate of 9d. I was a bit put off by the peripheral discolouration to the envelope, but someone else was happy to pay £78.89.
And finally this item struck me as unusual. It appears to be part of a parcel card, that I think would have been retained and destroyed by the receiving Post Office (if anyone knows better then please let me know in the comments section below). As far as I can recollect I haven’t seen a piece or a complete example before so £24.90 might be very cheap, especially as the stamps are so neatly cancelled.
Top 5 Items of the MonthWell I’ve broken my mini spell of talking first about an item I’ve bought. This is an item that I absolutely should have bought and is my biggest regret in the last few years. People who regularly read these posts will know I have an interest in recording all the usages of the 1900 1s green and carmine I find. So this item caught my attention especially because it was sent from the British Army Post Office during the Boer war. But as it’s a bit ugly (it’s reduced at the top and some of the backflap is missing), it’s philatelic and I have nicer usages of this stamp from South Africa, I put in a miserly bid of £75 and it sold for £77.50. It was only when I came to include it in my listing did I notice the date. The stamp was issued on July 11th 1900. This cover is clearly dated JU 15 1900. Even presuming that the month on the handstamp should be July and not June (unfortunately the arrival backstamp is missing the date entirely), it is the earliest recorded usage of this stamp, and to be sent only 4 days after issue 5’000+ miles away in South Africa is extraordinary.
Surprise of the month goes to this Lunn & Co., “Tennis, Cycle, Croquet, Golf, and Cricket Manufacturers” printed advertising wrapper. It sold on ebay.com for $309.29. Golf evidently a highly popular thematic for stamp collectors!
This group of Jubilees affixed to card come from a butchered 1884 “Before and After the Stamp Committee” presentation book by De La Rue, of which only thirty six were produced. Consisting of three pages, the third page featured the original issue of Jubilee stamps plus the 1881 1d lilac. Part of me can understand dismantling the book, but why someone would then cut up a perfectly attractive page is beyond me. And I’m pretty sure the information at the top of the page is incorrect. The Jubilees were not line perforated for this book (some other stamps in the book were), they have comb perforations as normal. It sold for £185.50.
The type 15 SPECIMEN on the 1900 1s green and carmine is catalogued by Stanley Gibbons at . This one, described as having small faults, with no explanation or scan of the reverse, sold for only £20… I think, not just because it was poorly described, but because it is a fake specimen overprint. There’s two or three discrepancies in the appearance of the shape of the letters when compared to the reasonably common 10d with type 15 specimen overprint (the curvature of the “S”, the central point of the M descends all the way to the baseline). But I’m not an expert. I had somebody recently just point out two Specimen forgeries in my collection that I’ve had since I first started collecting Jubilees, and never thought to question them as when I looked at the time they were identical to the illustrations in the SG catalogue. Unfortunately I’ve come to realise that the illustrations are misleading and should be corrected!
And we finish this month with what looks to me like another forgery which cost someone £110.77. I think a regular stamp with a Crown watermark has been bleached white and on it someone has printed the 1900 1s green and carmine design upside-down to create an inverted watermark variety. It could be the poor clarity of the image, but the definition of the stamp looks blurred, which is especially noticeable at on the side ornaments which appear as red blobs with a dash of white (I’ve conveniently put this stamp after the specimen stamp so one can compare). There also appears to be different shades of green in the lettering and the white area inside the frame is definitely not white like the perfs around the edge.
Grosvenor managed to come up with a couple of Jubilee gems in their November 29th sale, which unfortunately I got outbid on. Lot 214 was a complete pane of the Bechuanaland Protectorate overprint on the 4d. This is the third example I have seen so far (ignoring the different settings) and it sold for £500 plus commission. Lot 232 followed soon after; a complete pane of the British Levant 4pi on 10d which sold for £920 plus hammer and is the only example I have seen so far (so I should have probably bid more…).
Elsewhere, David Feldman in their Jubilee auction on December 9th had a scarce Mafeking cover (lot 60136) with a pair of the 6d on 2d green & red Jubilees which sold for £1’300 plus 20% commission.
And lot 2126 in Cavendish’s December 6th auction was a group of Boer war covers which included a scarce 1s green & carmine franking with two examples along with a 5d pair on a cover (the 83rd cover I have recorded with a 1s green & carmine franking). It realised £480 plus commission.
Been a busy couple of months for me so playing catch up as usual. I’m kicking of this one with one of the most unusual Jubilee items I’ve seen. This 6d Jubilee was used in 1944 in conjunction with a 4d Manchester & Altrincham South Junction Railway parcel label, both tied by an Altrincham machine cancel. There was only one bidder at the asking price of £55. Certainly a conversation piece in a collection.
This 1890 Penny Postage Jubilee 1d postal stationery envelope was sent on the first day of South Kensington Museum Exhibition with the special datestamp, over-franked with a 2 1/2d and sent locally. It sold for £110. I may be wrong but I’m always surprised at how much these sell for as they’re not particularly scarce (although they are attractive). But as someone pointed out to me recently, they can “tick the box” of many different collectors (e.g. Jubilee issue, Exhibitions, postal stationery, horse thematics and history of stamps thematics to name the most obvious).
This fresh mint never hinged marginal block of four of the 1s green sold for a solid £741.
This attractive used marginal strip of three of the British Levant 4pi on 10d sold for £104. I have seen very few multiples of this stamp…
Finally, this cover was sent to a Irish Prisoner of War during the Boer War. Sent “Care of the Postmaster General” in Pretoria, it was then passed on the the US Consulate in Pretoria and struck with their cachet. The Consulate acted as the intermediary between the Boers and the British in the exchange of prisoner of war mail. It sold for £117.
I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year. Had some time to monitor eBay this month but still managed to miss some items I would have loved to have added to my collection.
First up is this impressive franking of the 2½d in a block of 8 sent from a Field Post Office during the Boer War. Used on a large OHMS envelope to a Captain in Pretoria and redirected to Kroonstad, I’m presuming it’s a philatelic franking as I think it should be something like 1d per oz for Military mail. Still it sounds a good buy at £45.10.
Next up is this very attractive parcel label with a pair of 4½d and ½d paying 7½d rate plus 2d registration fee. An unusual combination and another good buy at only £35.25.
I had a query this month about the largest known used multiples of the Jubilee issue. So it seemed appropriate to show this block of 8 of the 6d which sold for £52.10. It’s something I aim to publish in the future as I have always kept a track of large used multiples I’ve found in dealer’s stocks and online.
This block is definitely one I would like to have bought. It’s a bit unknown as it isn’t mentioned in the Stanley Gibbons Queen Victoria Specialised Catalogue, but this example shows the sheet watermark letter “B” in the right hand margin (at the far right located between the first and second rows, and only showing the left half of “B”). These watermarks are very scarce. Several different letters are known and listed by Wiseman in his essential book “The De La Rue Years 1878-1910“. This block sold for £20.88 but is worth much more to the specialist.
And I’ll finish with another Boer War item. This cover has the “MAIL SERVICE SUSPENDED” handstamp that was applied to incoming mail to areas in the hands of the Boers, as this was sent less than a month after it started. It sold for £56.
June brought us some attractive and high value items (compared to the usual eBay offerings at least). First up was this advertising parcel post label from the Thorton-Pickard manufacturing company. Unusually it has a 6d stamped-to-order die and is also uprated with a 2d Jubilee. Although a little creased, it sold for a healthy £155.
The surprise result of the week was this 4 1/2d marginal block of four with a crisp central Darlington cds (which was against the regulations as each stamp should have been cancelled individually). The green is slightly washed, but that didn’t stop this multiple fetching £217.47!
The item of the month that I missed bidding on was this scarce Mafeking 1s on 6d (with serif overprint) tied to small piece. With a RPS certificate and a catalogue value of £850 in Stanley Gibbons, it only sold for £217. Doh!
And to finish with we have a couple of incoming Boer War covers. The first with a 4d green & brown with “GONE – NO ADDRESS” handstamp struck on arrival in South Africa. It was then returned to the UK and a large “Officially Sealed” label of the Returned Letter Office was stuck on the reverse. It sold for £122.70.
And this cover was sent at the triple rate to a Prisoner of War in Pretoria. The cover was censored at the neutral United States Consul in Pretoria. Although the franking is a little tired, incoming mail to prisoners of war are very scarce, and this cover realised £164.