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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rare tiger stamp leaps to £34,000 in Singapore collectors’ sale

Torn in half, but rejoined into an atractive whole, the 5 cent blue is one of the great rarities of Pahang

At the weekend, Spink held two substantial auctions of rare stamps in Singapore, a growing centre for collecting.

The grandeur of the Stolz collection with its sale of a cover worth nearly £100,000 has slightly overshadowed the other. However, as it was too significant to overlook, it's time to redress the balance.

Although there were a couple of covers with Indian stamp used in Singapore (overlapping with the Stolz auction), the key lots in the collectors' sale were unattached rarities.

The first key lot was a strip of rare stamps from Brunei, specifically a strip of 1896 (1 October) overprints on stamps of Labuan issue. The black and vermilion strip of ten, being a complete vertical row of the sheet with margins at both top and toe has a 'two cents' overprint on each of the eight cents stamps.

Except that there is a slight variation in this case: The fifth stamp received two overprints whilst the final stamp received none. This is because the surcharging was made from a setting of fifty in two operations. On one sheet the misplacement of the plate resulted in the fifth row receiving a second surcharge, and the tenth row receiving none.

One of the greatest rarities in Brunie philately, the strip sold for S$27,000 (£13,006) - in the middle of its estimate range.

Another rarity sporting an overprint double is a block of British Military Administration 1945-48 Issue 25c dull purple and scarlet.

The multiple, numbering twenty (2x10) being rows three and four of the sheet with margins at left and at right, stamps 1, 2 and 10 in each row show the overprint double whilst stamps 4 to 9 in each row shows partial ink impressions of the overprint in reverse on the face.

Only a single sheet is known with doubling of the overprint, and this block shows the effect the best, which explains why it achieved a winning bid of S$46,000 (£22,158).

Reunited rare stamp bisect
Reunited rare stamp bisect

The top lot however is both attractive and fascinating, being a diagonal bisect of an 1897 Kuala Lipis Provisional from which the two halves have been reunited. The 5 cent blue has '3 c' in black manuscript on one half and '3c' on the other.

Fine and exceptional, with fresh colour and with part of its original gum, the unused stamp is unique and one of the great rarities of Pahang philately - even having graced the great collection of Count Ferrary.

The piece hit the top of its estimate range: S$70,000 (£33,719), and will make a fine investment for its new owner.