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!
Top 5 Items of the Month
May was a quiet month for the Jubilees on eBay so I only have four items for you…sorry. First up is this attractive British Levant commercial cover sent from Beirut. The 40pa on 2 1/2d is tied by a crisp hooded circle ds on Beirut which is much less common than the cds of Constantinople and Smyrna. What made it that extra bit special, was that the reverse had transit marks of both the British Post Offices at Smyrna and Constantinople! So it sold for an impressive £51.00.
Inverted watermarks on the Jubilee issue don’t pop up often on eBay (except for the 1/2d values). This used example of the 5d purple and blue is catalogued at £1’000 in the latest SG Queen Victoria catalogue. Although described as very fine, a small wrinkle at the lower left obviously put people off and it sold for £104. That’s 10% of the catalogue price…
To compare, the 1/2d vermilion is catalogued at £50 used, and sold for £42.00 this month. That is 84% of catalogue. As the Americans say, go figure…
I’ve chosen this Board of Education official overprint on the 5d purple and blue as another reminder to readers about the danger of forged overprints. Catalogued at £4’500, the fact that the seller was happy to let this mounted mint example go for only £303.55 should be a clear indication. ALWAYS buy these stamps with a certificate. Dealers know this. So if you’re offered one without a certificate of authenticity from a respected expertising committee such as the BPA or RPS, just walk away.
And finally there were several control strips of three just like this one which appeared this month. Prices showing that there is still a strong demand for these items even for the more common O, P and Q controls. This one is slightly more unusual in that it is doubly perforated in the margin. It sold for £31.70 despite some tone spots.
Top 5 Items of the Month
We start of this month with Bechuanaland Protectorate. This attractive example has the larger and scarcer “Protectorate” overprint (19mm wide). In used condition, it is catalogued by Stanley Gibbons at £425. It fetched a good price at £165.95.
Next is this registered British Levant cover. It features a pair of 5d Jubilees cancelled by the “REGISTERED / SMYRNA” oval ds, which is much scarce than the standard cds. Even though it is slightly toned and has a portion of the address crossed out, it sold for £82.62.
This 1s green single franking is one of the more scarce (only the 1s green and carmine and 9d purple and blue are more so). This one is paying four times the UPU rate of 2 1/2d to France plus a 2d registration fee. It sold well for £91.59.
This attractive cover quite appealed to me, but not enough to pay more than the £28.51 that it realised. As you can see, it commemorates the anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Victoria and the Coronation of King George VI, and bears stamps from Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King Edward VIII and King George VI. A very attractive souvenir.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, ALWAYS BUY OFFICIALS WITH A BPA OR RPS CERTIFICATE!! I have my doubts about this one, but someone still paid £216.08…
Cavendish’s auction on 5th December 2012 saw a nice collection of British Levant go up for sale, including a few nice Jubilee pieces. Of note were three mint and one used example of the “40 PARAS” double overprint on the 2 1/2d. Lot 221 (pictured) with a 1964 RPS certificate sold for £750 plus commission. Also of note was a strip of five of the 40pa provisional overprint on the 1/2d vermilion. Observant readers would have noticed that a different strip of five in perfect unmounted mint condition was hammered down at £9’000 plus commission. Lot 226 was a mounted mint strip, which has a good deal of separation on the right hand stamp, sold for £1’400 plus commission. Emphasising the importance of collecting top quality stamps! These two are the largest know multiples.
On 2nd May 2012, Spink sold “The Adriano Landini Collection of Fine Covers of the World”, including a few covers of interest to the Jubilee collector.
The largest known multiple of the 1893 40pa on 1/2d vermilion provisional is up for sale in Grosvenor’s 7th-8th March 2012 sale of British Empire and Foreign Countries. The high opinion of the rarity of this unmounted mint strip of five is underlined by the £10’000-£12’000 estimate. Catalogued by Stanley Gibbons at £425 each, that means they are estimating at well over 4 times catalogue!
Better news for the modest collector though, as there is also a selection of the British Levant Jubilee issue with Specimen and Cancelled handstamps.
Top 3 Items of the Month
This attractive unmounted mint block of four of the 6d purple on rose-red sold for £107.22. What makes it more interesting is that it shows the marginal marking signifying the middle of the sheet.
The Jubilee issue stamps used in Salonica are scarce, and the 1s green and carmine is the most scarce of them all. It is catalogued in the Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth catalogue at £190 and fetched £111.90.
This attractive piece bears the Niger Coast 2 1/2d and 5d tied by the oval cancel of Old Calabar (SG type Z1) in violet, and is in fact only recorded used on the 2 1/2d by the Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth catalogue. It sold for £148.
Top 3 Items of the Month
As can be seen from my census of the 1s green and carmine on cover, there are less than 60 covers known. So while this cover has the most common rate of the 1s green and carmine frankings, and the condition isn’t fantastic, I still expected this cover to easily reach £300. Amazingly I was proven wrong and it fetched a measly £113.04. What a bargain!
The 40 PARAS overprint on the 1/2d vermilion is dogged by controversy due the misappropriation of the handstamp and subsequent use to create mint stamps and philatelic covers. This cover however appears to one of the few genuine usages. Not only that but it was sent registered with the 80pa on 5d paying the registration fee. So although the cover is quite foxed, competitive bidding saw this cover fetch $189.00 (about £120)
This quite scruffy cover fetched £266.50! Sent from Braintree to Shanghai, China, with the manuscript “To be left at the Post Office till called for”. Sent June 19th 1895, a look at the back shows that it remained at the Shanghai post office for nearly 10 months!! Hence the “Dead” manuscript at top left. Very interesting, but worth £266.50?