Tag Archives: Illustrated Covers

January & February 2019 Auction Report

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.

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The Dr Paul Ramsey Collection of Hand-Painted Envelopes

On the 8th and 9th of May, Spink sold the magnificent collection of hand-painted envelopes belonging to Dr Paul Ramsey, which featured many exquisite covers bearing Jubilee frankings from the famous King Harman correspondence. The collection was in fact gifted to the Royal Philatelic Society and sold on their behalf, in order to help finance their “Tomorrow’s Royal” appeal and the refurbishment of their new premises.

The prices realised were strong, as I noticed some fetching more than double what they had realised in recent years. Lot 125 for example, the cover depicting a horse rider in front of Gibraltar Rock sold for £480 plus commission in 2011, but realised £1’300 plus 20% this time.

A couple of my favourites included lot 132, which depicted an African warrior on camel back which sold for £800 plus 20% commission. Siegel sold this cover when the offered the Grunin collection in 2010 and it sold for $350 plus commission.

As well as lot 127, which depicted a stranded paddle steamer in the desert. An image very much reminiscent of the stranded ships you see on the “Skeleton Coast” of Namibia (hammer price £1’000).

The envelopes were addressed to the wife of Sir Charles Anthony King-Harman, who (according to thepeerage.com) served as Colonial Secretary in Mauritius between 1893 and 1897 and Administrator of Saint Lucia from 1897 to 1900. The artist was Lt-Col Hugh Rose, 24th of Kilravock, CMG, who commanded the 1st Battalion Black Watch and fought in the Nile Expedition 1884-1885, the Boer War 1901-02 and WWI (again, according to thepeerage.com). According to the Siegel catalogue of the Grunin collection, Captain Rose developed a close relationship with the King-Harman family while he served as aide-de-camp to Charles King-Harman in Mauritius during the early 1890s.

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Spink offer strong selection of Boer War

The Spink sale on 12th January 2011 had a strong selection of Boer War material, and with it, a number of fine usages of the 1887 Jubilee issue.

The first interesting item was a strip of six of the Mafeking Siege 1d on 1/2d vermilion, which is one of only two known multiples showing the complete setting. Estimated at £400-500, it sold for £650, and was quickly placed on David Brandon’s website for £1600!

Also from the Mafeking Siege issues was a block of six of the 6d on 2d green and red, which only fetched £500 against an estimate of £600-800. Multiples of these issues are very scarce and I’ve not seen any larger than this one.

Next, was my favourite item from this sale (pictured). A 1/2d vermilion with “ARMY / OFFICIAL” overprint tied to an envelope by a blue “LADYSMITH SIEGE POST OFFICE” datestamp. The Army Official stamps are very scarce on cover anyway, and are much under catalogued by Stanley Gibbons. So it was no suprise to see the estimate of £150-180 get smashed by a realisation of £400. Throughout all the catalogues and literature I have scoured, I have only seen this franking once, in a book about the Boer War. So I was very happy to have snapped this one up!

Unfortunately for me, not all my bids were successful, and a cover bearing five 1/2d vermilions tied by the temporary “VOLKSRUST” cancel in violet escaped me. Although it had some minor faults, the cover fetched £400 against a pre-sale estimate of £250-300.

The last item worthy of note from this Boer War section, was an unusual cover bearing a 3d purple on yellow tied by a Harrismith cds, along with a strip of five Natal 1d stamps cancelled by a manuscript “Harrismith”. Estimated at £150-180, it unsuprisingly fetched £380.

And finally, the last item to peak my interest was a beautifully hand illustrated cover from the famous King Harman correspondence, showing a man riding a horse in front of Gibraltar rock, and bearing five 1/2d vermilions. These covers always command good prices, although they appear on the market relatively frequently. It was sold for £480 against an estimate of £400-500.

Please note that all prices realised are subject to a further 20% commission

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