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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Stamps fit for Royalty lead the way at Spink's British African auction

Next week's sale is led by an early Mauritius classic and a stamp block from the Royal Collection

A large proportion of collectors concentrate on collecting stamps from some section of the British Empire or Commonwealth, and next week Spink is offering an excellent range of stamps from two collectors who did just that, specialising in parts of British Africa.

Although only part of the great Vestey collection of British Africa, together with the Wilkin collection of British West Africa it swells the catalogue to an impressive 1,300 lots.

Three lots stand out in particular:

A block of six deep blue 1d stamps with selvedge produced for the Cape of Good Hope in 1900 to commemorate the Battle of Mafeking. It shows the cracked plate variety, and is a fresh and fine unused example with large part or full original gum.

It's an extremely rare multiple with only three complete sheets recorded, one of which is from an early printing prior to the deterioration of the plate. But best of all is the provenance: It was part of the Royal Philatelic Collection until 2008.

This makes it a rock-solid investment and well worth anything close to the estimate of £15,000-18,000 ($28,000).

The two expected top lots are a set of plate-proofs and an example of one of the most famous stamps in the world.

The former is a series of Gambian 1886-93 issues: a 1/2d. grey-green, 1d. crimson, 2d. orange, 2 1/2d. ultramarine, 3d. slate-grey, 4d. brown, 6d. olive-green and 1/- violet. With a large part of their original gum intact and margins from the foot, this is a superb set and well-worth the £15,000-20,000 ($31,170) listing, especially as it comes from the celebrated collection of Dale Lichtenstein.

Mauritius Post Paid
Mauritius Post Paid

Also on offer at $18,000-20,000 is a Mauritius 2d blue stamp. Mauritius was famously the first country in the British Empire outside of Britain itself to produce stamps, albeit in very small numbers to provide invitations to a Ball. Some of the greatest collectors including Ferrary, Kanai and Chand have prized these stamps.

Originally the stamps bore the text 'Post Office'. Those are beyond the reach of most collectors, but the stamps bearing 'Post Paid' are also very valuable if fresh and unused, as the one in this sale is.

Spink's auction takes place in London on December 7.