Stamp collectors often focus in on particular projects, trying to complete a set of stamps with a very particular theme. This might be a set of stamps with a particular sort of error, such as the Pierron collection of colour omissions which sold this week.
Clive Smith concentrated on Malta, and the 1860-1884 1/2d stamp in particular. Yesterday 305 philatelic lots themed on the 121 sq mi island sold for £179,780, often improving significantly on their expected sale value.
Of the lots we looked at, the 1867 'supply 9' block of 18 orange-brown stamps doubled its lower estimate to be taken home for £5,000 (excluding buyer's premium), and the fine black die proof on a glazed card, marked 21/6/59 went for £6,500 against the same estimate.
The surprise performer of the sale was a complete letter sent in December 1860 with a brown-ochre 1/2d stamp neatly cancelled by an 'M' obliterator. This is the earliest known use of the stamp, not to mention the only use of the cancellation which can be tied to a date. Bidders ignored the £1,000-2,000 listing, and it sold for £5,800.
The expected top lot, the block of six brown-ochre specimen overprints, the largest block known to exist, also improved on its expected price of £4,000-5,000 to go under the hammer for £6,500.
However, one lot topped this: the 1883 proposed colour change which presented a green sample 1/2d alongside a 1/2d of the existing colour. Valued at £2,500-3,000, the attractive lot proved of great interest to bidders, and finally sold for £7,000.
A very encouraging auction for anyone investing in stamps, perhaps showing the effect of the increasing numbers of stamp collectors in recent months. Anyone investing in rare stamps should take a look at our Tyrian Plum.