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.
April not only brought us Easter, but also some interesting items and some strange results on Ebay along with it.
My favourite item was this cover from the Cardiff stamp dealer H. G. Hanson. I have seen many unusual and attractive covers sent by him with Jubilee frankings, with this being one of them. Not just because it has four different values including the 1s green, but because it has a corner marginal pair of the 4d from setting 4B (with the head duty rule cut away in the corner) and it’s rare to find marginal stamps on cover. It sold for the opening bid of £89.99.
This mint Mafeking 1d on ½d sold surprisingly well at £103 considering how poor the image is. It looks to be genuine but I’m not confident…
Bargain of the month was this Army Telegraphs ½d blue-green with SPECIMEN overprint. I think mostly because it finished on Easter weekend (and partly because of a few short perfs), it sold for a paltry £32.76. I’ve seen a mint nh example retail at £675 which the dealer presumably sold because he doesn’t have it any more!
This next item made my heart skip a beat! After calming down for a moment and requesting a higher resolution scan of the O. W. Official overprint on the stamp, it was quite clearly a forgery. Enough people obviously suspected the same and it sold for £140 (not that I would pay that much for a reference item). The only Victorian O. W. Official stamps on cover I have seen are the ½d vermilion, ½d green and 1d lilac, so this would have been unique if it was right.
And we finish with another stamp dealer’s cover. As attractive as it is, I was very surprised to see this sell for as much as £94 as there are plenty of them around.
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.
I’ve had more free time of late so I’ve been able to spend more of it looking through the eBay listings under Great Britain Victoria, Great Britain Covers and Great Britain Postal History in order to find some items for my collection.
The first is a stamp (for a change!) that I would have liked to add to my collection. As the 4 1/2d value was printed in 1892, it’s much more difficult to find with a SPECIMEN overprint than the stamps issued in 1887 (which are typically worth £15-40 each with the same type 9 overprint). Dealers tend to charge two to three times the realisation of £68.
So back to postal history. Although having said that I’m sure that this postcard is of more interest to postcard collectors, which depicts the Snowdon Summit Hotel. I know little about the scarcity of postcards, but I imagine to the right person they would be willing to pay at least double the 18.85 it sold for.
The scarcity of postal stationery is something I probably know even less about. So I was a little shocked to see that this had sold for £138.95. The 1 1/2d die has been uprated with a 3d Jubilee to pay the 4 1/2d registered rate to Germany and was sent from the Colombian Consulate in Jersey. Although this sounds exotic, there seems to plenty of mail to have survived from this consulate and in fact I have the same franking on a cover sent to Fiji which I know I paid too much money for but it was so attractive.
This cover was one I was annoyed to have missed because it’s a very uncommon usage of a single 4d: Sent to New Zealand at double the Empire rate of 1d and with 2d registration fee. I would have paid at least double the final price of £21.95
And finally another stamp to finish of this month. This Mafeking 1s on 6d sold for £67.75. Decent value in my opinion, probably helped by the poor photograph taken by the vendor.
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.
Top 5 Items of the Month
November was an interesting month for Jubilees on eBay. Unfortunately I missed all of it due to work commitments. So I cheated and spent an hour or so searching through the “Sold” listings.
First off we have a rare multiple of the Mafeking surcharge on the 1/2d vermilion. Not expensive at all at £115.48.
Secondly we had these two Zululand 1/2d pairs on pieces with near enough complete cancellations of Nondweni and Nkandhla. Very scarce. Sold for £45.01 and £53.51 respectively.
Which is nothing compared to this Bechuanaland Protectorate 1/2d. Catalogued by SG at £50, the clean strike of the Tati cds is the reason this sold for £398.90. Astonishing.
I tried by best to do a 1/2d vermilion “clean sweep”, alas this 6d pair was too interesting to pass up. Cancelled by two strikes of the Ben Nevis cds, intense bidding saw this sell for £66.00
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!
Argyll Etkin’s recent sale on 4th May featured (again) a strong section of South Africa, and even had some rare Mafeking covers which very infrequently appear at auction.
The best Jubilee item was a pair of the Mafeking 1s on 4d green and brown on cover to Bulawayo. Estimated at £1’200-1’500, it sold for £2’200 plus 17% commission.
However the one that I had spotted for my collection was the 1d on 1/2d vermilion cover estimated the same. Sadly I was outbid at £1’700 plus 17% commission. Although I did pick up a nice Bechuanaland cover which helped to take the bitter taste of defeat away