An 1841 cover sent from the Canton River, China to the decidedly less exotic environs of Weston-Super-Mare in the UK is offered at Spink.
It’s set to star in a major sale of Great Britain Stamps and Postal History in London on July 26.
The letter was written aboard the HMS Rattlesnake
The letter was written aboard the HMS Rattlesnake, where its author (a Clem A Edwards) served during the first opium war.
It’s one of only two letters sent from China to the UK bearing a Penny Black stamp.
This was not added in China.
As China did not yet have its own stamps, the letter was sent to the addressee – who would ordinarily have been expected to pay the postage out of their own pocket.
That didn’t happen in this case.
The addressee mislaid it and didn’t open it until two months after receipt.
They then took it to the post office in Clifton, Bristol where a stamp was bought, attached and cancelled with a Bristol date stamp.
It’s valued at £40,000-50,000 ($51,651-64,564).
A set of 10 overprinted 1882 ½d to 1/- Temporary Unified Series Essays carries an identical estimate.
Spink comments: “This magnificent exhibition item is one of the great rarities of Great Britain philately.
“Only seven surcharged sets were originally produced and only four remain in private hands.”
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