1886 US Offices in China cover up 7.9% on estimate in Switzerland

A US Offices in China 1886 cover has supplied one of the highlights of a major stamp auction in Switzerland, which took place from February 28 to March 3.

The cover, sent from the USS Palos / Asiatic Station to Washington DC, sold for $28,535, 7.9% above its $26,434 high estimate.

Small Dragon US combination stamp
The third earliest recorded Small Dragon / US combination cover sold for $28,535

The reverse of the envelope displays a pair of 3c lilac Small Dragon issue stamps, tied by the Tientsin seal, while the front features a 5c brown Garfield with oval killer bar.

Its strong price is a product of the item's considerable rarity. It is the third earliest known Small Dragon / US combination cover and one of just 13 Small Dragon covers from 1886 recorded by Dr Kong Shiu-Ping.

Harmers Auctions described the lot as "an extremely early and highly important Small Dragon / US combination cover of exhibition quality".

The USS Palos saw active service 1870 and 1893, the majority of which was spent in Japanese and Chinese waters.

French offices in Yunnan Fu
This 1903 French Offices stamp is one of just three known of its type

The sale also featured a strong performance for a rare 1903 French Offices in Yunnan Fu 75c deep violet on orange, bearing an inverted "Indo-Chine". The example is one of just three known.

Unused, and with the added attraction of its full original gum, the lot sold within estimate for $14,801.

View our rare stamps for sale.

Leading the auction was a collection of prisoner of war correspondence from the Boer war, which included a variety of philatelic rarities from across the world.

It sold for $38,039 against a $7,924 high estimate.

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