1880 5c Special Printing stamp sees $210,000 at Gorham auction

The 5c blue stamp from the American Bank Note Company's 1880-1883 Special Printings has sold at the top of the David W Gorham Collection.

1880 5c Special Printing stamp auction
The Special Printing was only sold by the third assistant postmaster general's office

Held yesterday (December 10) in New York, the auction saw the stamp realise $210,000 to lead among Gorham's offerings. Also featuring was the 1875 reprint of the 1857-1860 issue, the first designs and colours from the 1861 issue and both the American and Continental Bank Note Company Special Printings of 1875 and 1880.

The Special Printing program was initiated in 1875, with the US postal administration granting permission to recreate stamps from previous issues in anticipation of collector demand. Beginning with the Continental Bank Note Company, the stamps were sold at the same time as the regular issue, but only through the third assistant postmaster general's office.

The program then continued under the American Bank Note Company from 1880-1883, with a total of 16 different stamps produced. These examples can be distinguished from the Continental printings by the soft paper and ungummed state.

The 5c stamp is regarded as one of the finest of the 18 copies known to exist. One of the most coveted of the Bank Note Special Printings, the stamp boasts near-perfect centring, rich colour and a sharp proof-like impression. Only three or four of the recorded examples can claim decent centring.

1861 90c blue first design stamp
The stamp is the second rarest first design from the 1861 issue

Also selling well was a stunning example of the 90c first design stamp, which is the second rarest of the 1861 first designs and colours. With only six confirmed in sound condition, the stamp sold for $65,000 - a 30% increase on its $50,000 valuation.

Paul Fraser Collectibles specialises in sourcing the finest investment-grade stamps available. Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more of the latest news from across the philatelic community.

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