Bill Gross's Canadian stamps bring $1.9m
Two $0.25m 1851 black Canadian 12d lots led one of the biggest philatelic sales of the year
One of the major philatelic events of the year took place in Dallas, Texas on Thursday (November 19), when Bill Gross's British North American postage stamps collection went under the hammer at Spink Shreves.
Gross's status as the leading bond trader in the world (some refer to him simply as "The Bond King") is nearly matched by his fame as a stamp collector.
The overall amounted netted by the sale of Gross's British North American collection was $1.9m. It sold alongside his 81 Confederate stamps, the sales results of which have yet to be published.
Unsurprisingly, the top sale from the peerless collection was a legendary classic rarity: an 1851 12d Black on laid paper, bringing an astonishing $260,000.
Originally, only 1,450 12d Blacks were ever sold as the stamp's limited usage for specific postal rates made it unpopular. All the others were believed to have been destroyed.
Selling for a slightly lower $250,000 was an 1851 12d Black on a double-rate 1852 cover addressed to New York City.
Regarded not only as one of the most important covers of British North America but of the entire world, and with only three or four genuine editions in existence, the stamp justified its quarter of a million dollar selling price.
Leading the five-figure selling stamps was a petit mourning cover addressed to "HM's 9th Regiment" in Madras, India, adorned with a pair of 1851 1/- Dull Violet stamps - aka the so-called "cold violet" - and a single 6p Yellow green.
One of the stand-out gems in an already exceptional collection, the cover sold for $85,000.
Meanwhile, an 1851 6p Slate violet and laid paper, acquired by Gross when he bought the legendary John Chapin collection of US and Canadian stamps in 2003.
Boasting an exceptional proof-like colour and impression on fresh paper, with distinct laid lines and large margins all around, the extremely fine stamp brought $65,000.
A slightly older an immensely rare 1855 6p Slate gray on wove paper sold for a slightly lower $60,000. Also exceptionally fine, the stamp was bought by Bill Gross for a then-record $19,800 in 1994.
Also among the big sellers was an important classic 1857 1/- Scarlet vermillion, with outstanding colour and an incredibly intense deeply-etched expression. One of the few completely sound original gum examples of the 1857 One Shilling Scarlet vermilion in existence, it sold for $50,000.
The results released by Gross's Confederate stamps collection had yet to be published at the time of writing, and will likely include big sellers to match the hugely successful British North American sale.
As we previously reported, Gross will donate the entire proceeds of the sale to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.
To find out more about Bill Gross - the man, his life and his love of stamps - a special feature has been included in this week's Paul Fraser Collectibles free newsletter.
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