The '96c Olive-Bistre Block of Four' is regarded as the most sought-after item in Hong Kong philately
A true rarity will make its way to auction early next year, with the announcement that Spink will sell "Hong Kong's most important philatelic item" - the '96c Olive-Bistre Block of Four'.
Regarded as a unique treasure amongst collectors, the item has only seen auction twice in its lifetime and is certain to attract huge attention from across the world.
The block of four has graced some of the most important collections of Hong Kong including George Burghard of New York, Ryohei Ishikawa of Tokyo and Richard C.K.Chan of Hong Kong.
According to Spink, "This block has been the crown jewel in all of these collections, enabling each collector to be the king of Hong Kong philately."
Its rarity has often been compared with the 'Small Dollar' of China because of the similarity in the number of unused stamps and the existence of only one block of four in each issue.
This rarity is due to the short life of the stamp and a mistake in its printing. It was originally issued in 1863, printed in a brownish-grey, but when a second batch of 52 sheets was ordered in January 1865 they arrived printed in an incorrect olive colour.
A new supply printed in the correct colour was available in July of that year, and today only 40 unused examples of the stamp are thought to exist.
This will mean the auction, which takes place in Hong Kong on January 23 next year, will be the centre of excitement for collectors and should expect some movement from the heavy-hitters of the philately world.