I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Years (at least as best as one could in the circumstances). I’m still playing catch up on my blog posts and I’m also behind on my reading, as I’ve bought three new philatelic books recently and not read a single one of them (except for looking at the pictures). One of which was John Davies’ “A Jubilee Reminiscence, A Philatelic History of the Great Britain 1890 Penny Postage Jubilee”.
This is a 1d postal stationery envelope printed for the 1890 Penny Postage Jubilee exhibition, which was sent registered and uprated with a 2d Jubilee with both cancelled by the special South Kensington exhibition cancel. It’s a particularly nice example as such and it sold for £164.99. Now I’ve had time to sit down and look at it properly, given that the addressee is a Lady Whitehead and the cover is initialled “J.W.” at lower left, it is very likely that the sender was Sir James Whitehead. Looking at John’s book, Sir James is referenced more than 20 times because he was in fact the Chairman of the Jubilee Committee (as well as being the Lord Mayor of London in 1888 and the High Sheriff of the County of London in 1890). So at that price it looks like a very good buy to me, considering that these envelopes uprated and used after the exhibition can sell for around £100. If only I’d taken the time to do some simple research! I also only just realised he references this very website in the Acknowledgements so thank you John! Will have to make sure to keep my section on the 1890 Uniform Penny Postage Jubilee updated now…
This ½d vermilion block of four may not look like much, but to a specialist/nutter like me, I get quite excited about this sort of thing. The big black arrow is slightly misleading because it’s pointing at the wrong thing, but there is in fact a major plate flaw on the top left stamp, which shows a crack which starts in the “Jubilee” line, continues through the “T” of “POSTAGE” and continues through the “E” of “ONE”. It is the variety listed in the SG Queen Victoria Specialised catalogue as K27j. It’s a very scarce variety and even with the lower stamp creased it’s worth considerably more than the £8.45 it sold for.
I’m not particularly knowledgable on rare GB cancels, but I had seen this “LIVERPOOL LANDING STAGE” cancel on one or two covers with one being offered by a dealer at £1’000 plus. So I was interested to see this very crisp example, albeit on a faded 1s green, sell for £31.65.
And finally this was the surprise of the month. It’s an example of GB stamps used in British Levant, with a ½d green pair paying the postcard rate. Normally retailing for about £40-60, it sold for £115.15.
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).
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.