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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

'Freshest set of Columbian proof blocks' kicks off Maryland sales of rare stamps

Matthew Bennett's first auction of the season also includes an exceptional Confederate cover

Later this month, Matthew Bennett International of Maryland is to hold a compact series of auctions filled with exciting pieces based around philately, but extending into other areas of collectibles.

The first auction, which includes well over 1,000 lots, is rooted in two long accumulated collections and so contains a fair amount of material not previously known to the market.

Specifically, the Jon A Branson collection of proofs, which offer some of the rarest card proofs known, and the Stephen C. Taylor collection of classic U.S. featuring numerous varieties such as most of the 5c and 10c 1847 double transfers, all 8 positions of the 10c perforated type IV (Scott 34), and an extensive offering of 19th Century shades.

It's difficult to summarise the sale, but perhaps a couple of choice lots give a flavour:

Firstly amongst a fascinating set of Confederate States Blockade Covers, a Captured John Breckenridge campaign envelope used in the Confederacy.

Confederate John C Breckinridge cover
Confederate John C Breckinridge cover
(Click to enlarge)

(John C Breckenridge, following his term as the youngest vice-President of the United States, fought for the Confederacy. When he concluded that surrender was inevitable, Breckinridge saw to it that the Confederate archives, both government and military, were not destroyed but rather captured intact by the Union forces for posterity.)

The cover, franked with a 5¢ green, pen-cancelled with manuscript "Rural Retreat Va., Feby 3rd" postmark, is addressed to Wytheville, Virginia and the rare usage is in very fine, attractive condition. If it sells at its $3,000-4,000 listing, it would represent a strong investment.

An exceptionally attractive lot can be found amongst the 1893 Columbian Proofs section: A complete set of 1¢-$5 1893 Columbian plate proofs on card represented as an incredibly fresh set of blocks of four.

Columbian Plate Proofs
Columbian Plate Proofs
(Click to enlarge)

All have large balanced margins except that the 10¢ and 30¢ are a little close on one side. The auctioneer describes them as ranging from fine/very fine to extremely fine, and also notes more simply that they are 'the freshest set of these proof blocks as we have seen'.

The first Matthew Bennett International sale takes place on September 21-22 with bidding available online, and we will be bringing you more details soon.