I’m a bit behind again… Surprisingly there were a few nice things that popped up on Ebay in August (normally a very quiet month as everyone is on holiday or out and about), but there was nothing of note in September so I’ve cheated and combined the two months.
When I accidentally came across this item when I was searching for something else in the British Commonwealth category, I was excited as I thought I might get a bargain here if no GB collector sees this Leeward Islands 2d postal stationery envelope which was sent to England then redirected to Italy with a 2½ Jubilee then redirected back to London. The excitement didn’t last long unfortunately, as well before the deadline it had crept up to £129.80. Never mind.
This is a cut-out from a Smyrna Parcel Post / Customs Declaration form with five unoverprinted 6d Jubilees cancelled by a Smyrna cds. Intact forms are very scarce. This sold for £12.50.
This privately printed Parcel Post label from a company called Pryce Jones, in Newtown, Wales, is a little bit grubby but a scarce item. Despite its condition, it sold for £47.98.
Absolute bargain of the month was this cover from Stevenage to Bulawayo, Matabeleland, in Southern Africa. It is addressed to “Colonel Plumer’s Column”, which was a force organised to break the Siege of Bulawayo during the Second Matabele War (also known as the Matabeleland Rebellion). The Rebellion was officially over by 22 October 1896 (less than a month after this cover was sent), which saw the disbandment of Colonel Plumer’s column. Perhaps explaining why it had to be redirected to Johannesburg, as it has a Boer “ADVERTISED” hs and I think (I’m not sure) an “Unknown” hs at lower left. I was going to bid strongly but forgot and missed it so it only sold for £22.57… I think if you put a 2 in front of that, the right person would be happy to pay it.
And finally my surprise of the month was this registered envelope fro British Levant with the 40pa on 2½d sent from Beirut to Hong Kong. I know that destination mail to Hong Kong and China from GB is popular, but I was still surprised to see this sell for £160.
Top 5 Items of the Month
I’ve got a bit behind again with my updates and work on the website after a hectic start to the year (and breaking fracturing my arm snowboarding…) but I’m going to try and catch up over the next week because there have been some nice Jubilee items on Ebay and in the major auction houses.
We kick off with this ½d vermilion “E” control block of six from setting 3 (showing the broken squared corner marginal rule). I have plenty of control marginal singles in my collection but I really want to collect these controls in blocks of six. Knowing that they are popular, I went after this rather strongly but someone else still wanted it more than me and paid £104 for the pleasure of owning it.
This cover I noticed was part of a lot in Cavendish’s March auction. Although it’s a little bit tatty, it’s unusual in that it’s paying the quadruple UPU rate with a block of four of the 2½d and it’s going to Aden. Only one person wanted it at the £19.99 asking price.
This British Levant 40pa postal stationery envelope shows the inverted overprint variety. Uprated with a 40pa on 2½d Jubilee to pay the registration fee, it was sent from Beyrout to Constantinople. It sold for £130.
This Army Official pair has one stamp showing a constant variety “short foot to L”. Although not listed by Gibbons it is recorded by Wiseman. It sold for £42.46.
And finally we have a 1s green with type 12 SPECIMEN overprint. Although a little toned, it sold for £69.61. The type 12 is much scarcer than the type 9, however SG still don’t price the different types of Specimen overprints individually. Fingers crossed they do for a future update of the Queen Victoria Specialised Catalogue
There may have been nothing on Ebay since the start of the year but there was plenty of material to interest a Jubilee collector which came up in the British auction houses.
Lot 1541 in Spink’s latest offering from the never ending “Lionheart” collection (part 7!) included a Bechuanaland Protectorate 4d on 1/2d with inverted surcharge, which inspired me to publish my census of all the examples I have come across. This example has a small wrinkle at the lower right, and sold for £1’100 plus 25% in fees.
Also from Spink but from their January Philatelic Collectors Series was lots 1032 and 1033, two British Levant covers with “Express D’Orient” labels.
As far as I’m aware, these labels didn’t pay for any postal service and are basically vignettes/cinderella stamps which were likely created by the enterprising Postmaster of the Constantinople office for collectors. Note that both of these envelopes come with his Post Office cachet and I believe are in his handwriting. The black label is rarer and this cover fetched £950 plus commission. The envelope with the red label was in better condition (and looked better in the flesh than it does in the scan) and sold for £850 plus commission.
Among a nice selection of Niger Coast (of which many items were ex Sacher) in Grosvenor’s March 1st sale was this attractive item. With two 2d and two 1/2d tied by orange-red Benin circular rubber cancels, I couldn’t resist bidding on it. Estimated at £500-600 I guess I was the only bidder as I got it for £500. Unfortunately it was liable to 5% import duty, so commission on the hammer price was 29% (gulp!). They also wanted to charge me £18 for submitting the bid through their website but I’m not going to be paying that!
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.
Top 5 Items
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.
Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. Hope you’re enjoying your chocolate eggs!
I’m starting this month’s eBay report with probably one of the top items that will turn up on eBay this year. This 1s green & carmine has a very rare Halifax Cricket Ground cancellation. These cancels were used by reporters to submit their match reports to their office by telegraph and are highly sought after by cricket thematic collectors. As there are so few, I have started a database of known examples as an aside. This example sold for £1’561.95.
Bargain of the week goes to this cover sent registered within Cornwall with a massive 1s3d franking plus the 2d for the registration envelope. Sent to a bank, this was obviously covering the insurance on cash being sent in the post. Not something very advisable to do these days. Obviously because it finished during the Bank Holiday weekend, it sold for a paltry 14.05.
Showing how collectable marginal multiples are, this mint never hinged block of four of the 3d, showing “date cut” in the marginal line, sold for £143.01.
This block of six of the 6d purple on rose was probably used to pay for a parcel and is cancelled by the British Post Office cancellation of Salonica, at the time, an office in British Levant and now Thessaloniki in Greece. Items from Salonica are more difficult to find than the other offices in the British Levant, so I wasn’t surprised that this sold for £130.99 plus postage.
And finally the only item I bought for my collection this month was this attractive cover sent to New Zealand and redirected to Australia with three different instruction handstamps including “UNCLAIMED AT MELBOURNE” and “NOT KNOWN BY LETTER CARRIERS MELBOURNE”. I was the only bidder at £19.99. The second best bargain of the month!
Top 5 Items of the Month
So hopefully now that I have discovered this new web tool that removes the backgrounds rather easily from my images, you will all notice how professional my images look now! First up we have this unusual and attractive philatelic franking with a 4 1/2d red & green and a 10d purple & red in combination with German Empire Eagle issues all on a registered envelope to Germany and cancelled in England by a Cresham House London registered oval ds. It sold for £69.99.
Next up is a genuine usage of the 10d which is one of the most scarce values on cover from the Jubilee issue. Sent on an official cover from the foreign office, it was sent to the British Consul General in Vienna. Although slightly toned, you would expect to pay a bit more than the £42.98 it fetched.
This is a cover I missed out on for my own collection. This postcard was sent from the British Post Office in Constantinople via Alexandria and Singapore to Saigon in Cochinchine (modern day Vietnam). Although the condition isn’t great, it’s a rare destination and especially attractive with the transit markings. It sold for only £35.09.
And the final two items are the Office of Works overprint on the 10d. The first one, signed by known expert Koehler among others, sold for £350.89. The other is a blatant and ugly forgery that sold for £110.90. I don’t know what to say…
On May 21st, Grosvenor will auction the British Levant collection of Dr. Alan Huggins. The highlight (for a Jubilee collector at least) is certainly the cover pictured to the left which features the rare “Express D’Orient” label in red tied to a cover along with three 40pa on 5d. It is estimated at £800-1’000 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it fetched double.
Dr. Huggins MBE, RDP, FRPSL, is a renowned and highly respected philatelist who is a past President of the Royal Philatelic Society. He specialises in postal stationery so the sale features unique and very rare usages of newspaper wrappers, stamped envelopes, postcards and registered envelopes in the British Levant.
Top 3 Items
Literature! You can’t be a good philatelist unless you know what you’re doing! This month features 3 vital sources for the Jubilee collector all available on Bill Barrell’s website.
First off is an essential set of works for the British Levant collector (not just for those who collect the Jubilees) produced by the GB Overprint Society. They cover the Queen Victoria issues, Edward VII issues, George V issues, 1921-23 Overprinted issues, Postal Stationery, Cancellations & Cachets and Rates. If I could have found these when I was just starting out it would have helped me greatly. Snap all 7 up for only £25. And become a member of the GB Overprint Society while you’re at it!
The next important item of Literature is for Niger Coast collectors. Specifically of the provisional surcharges, entitled “The Oil Rivers and Niger Coast – Surcharge Provisionals and Bisected Stamps” by John Sacher. This is THE reference on these stamps, and given the expense of the rarest examples, vital for anyone considering to collect these issues especially for only £8. Also look out for the Ammendments printed in the “The London Philatelist” several months later.
And thirdly is a treatise by Hilary Wellsted about the Express mails service that began in 1891, and explains the various rates. Yours for £15.
I was fortunate enough to travel with work to Brasiliana 2013, the international stamp exhibition in Rio de Janeiro. Although the show was a bit of disaster, in my free time (and there was a lot of it because there were so few visitors), I actually managed to find some nice Jubilee items in the exhibits.
Two exhibits listed immediately caught my eye. The first I headed for was “The Siege of Mafeking” by Antonio Cucchiani. The collection featured several rare covers with Jubilee frankings as well as an example of the double overprint on the 4d. The collection was awarded a Vermeil medal.
And the other was “The British Postal Service in the Levant, 1857-1923” by Alexios Papadopoulos. Jubilee items of note included three GB 1s green on a parcel label, one of only 3 known covers with the single ring cds of Salonica and the cover pictured adjacent which is one of only 3 recorded with the 12pi on 2s6d. Interestingly the collection did not contain a QV 4pi on 10d on cover. The collection was awarded a Large Vermeil.
Individual items of note included this 1/2d postal stationery card uprated with a 1/2d vermilion sent to Argentina and forwarded on arrival with an Argentinian stamp, which I just happened to spot in a collection of Argentinian postal history.
And this cover belonged to an exhibition entitled “Swedish Militaries & Volunteers in war, Campaigns or in active service abroad 1582-1905”. Certainly not an exhibition I would expect to find a Jubilee cover, but in fact this envelope was sent to a Swede attached to the 5th Dragoons in the British Field Army in South Africa, and had a long journey to try and find its addressee!