Peter Rapp AG's special philatelic auction in Wil, Switzerland proved to be a highlight in the schedules of several hundred stamp collectors and investors from all over the world, this weekend.
On the evening of Friday, June 4, Rapp's sale ended with an overall sales figures of over $14.9m, or 17.2m Swiss francs (CHF).
This total definitely exceeded all expectations - with initially figures projected at closer to $11m (around 13m CHF).
The sale in Wil also confirmed the upward trend of prices on the stamp market, which has taken hold and is continuing to ascend in 2010.
Emotionally charged and tense bidding skirmishes were fought out - including online - by several thousand potential buyers from roughly two dozen countries.
"It has been demonstrated that individual items and collections, especially high-quality objects, can realise top prices," enthused spokeswoman Marianne Rapp Ohmann after the sale.
Collection achieves quarter of a million
The "once-in-a-century" Ticino collection, previously believed to be lost, reaped proceeds totalling just over $3.9m (4.5m CHF) on the first day of the auction.
The predicted sale price had been between three and four million francs. And it turned out that the final day was all about high-end collections.
Demand was exemplified by the much-coveted Schloss Neersen collection. It sold for $246,682 (284,000 CHF); while its starting price had been $43,430 (50,000 CHF).
"The Schloss Neersen collection is probably the best European collection we have been able to bring to the market for about 40 years," said company head, Peter Rapp. "It includes almost all the top European values."
In addition, everyone present marvelled at a global collection with an original estimated value of $34,744 (40,000 CHF), all eventually auctioned for a healthy $201,515 (232,000 CHF).
The "lost" Ticino collection
Among the major highlights from the Ticino collection was a magnificent cover, previously thought "lost", bearing three copies of the so-called "Neuchâtel" stamp.
The stamps auctioned at Rapp were affixed to a beautiful 1852 cover addressed from Geneva (the second of the Swiss cantons to issue postage stamps) to the Canton of Fribourg.
This cover alone, dated January 1, 1852, was estimated to realise more than a quarter million Swiss Francs (CHF) - or over $232,000.
In the end, it comfortably exceeded this estimate, selling for nearly $252,000 (290,000 CHF).
Elsewhere, another major sale was the auctioning of Europe's third oldest adhesive postage stamp, the Double Geneva.
The stamp was issued by the City of Geneva, Switzerland in 1843, and is the oldest stamp of the European continent after the Zurich Fours and Sixes (in turn preceded by the New York Dispatch in 1842, and Britain's Penny Black and Twopence Blue in 1840).
This cover was formerly in the collection of Alfred F Lichtenstein, one of the most famous American philatelists. It bears a pair of "exceptionally fresh, exquisite quality" stamps.
Marked GENEVE 12 SEPT 44 and addressed to "Task Temple... Eaux-Vives," this exceptional cover surpassed its $139,275-185,700 (150,000-200,000 CHF) estimate. It sold for a final price of $235,000 (270,000 CHF).
Also among the auctions big hitters was another of Europe's oldest stamp covers: the three-of-a-kind Zurich four rappen (4 cent) cover from 1849.
Zurich would become Europe's second postal authority to issue adhesive postage stamps on March 1, 1843. Initially, two valued stamps were issued, the four rappen and the six rappen (4 and 6 cents).
Peter Rapp's 1849 example is the only known cover to bear a rosette hand stamp, along with a whole and half 4 cent stamp, and was posted only a month prior to the introduction on new Swiss federal tariffs in October 1849.
The cover went far higher than its 100,000-150,000 CHF pre-auction value (roughly $86,000-129,000), commanding a final price of $156,000 (180,000 CHF).
"Run" on gold coins
The coin auction held by Peter Rapp on Thursday afternoon also proved extremely popular.
Total sales of coins alone reached more than a half a million Swiss francs - a figure appreciably higher than that of the last auction organised by Peter Rapp AG at the end of 2008.
In particular, there was a "run" on gold coins.
The current market situation is once again causing many investors and collectors to increase their purchases of coins, especially gold coins, according to Peter Rapp.