The Hong Kong auction of the legendary Mizuhara Collection of Korean Stamps has been highlighted by an 1897 Tae Geuk cover.
The January 13 auction saw the highly important cover sell for $116,093 as the top lot of the sale.
Meiso Mizuhara was a well-respected Japanese philatelist, who first developed a passion for the stamps and postal history of China. Building an unrivalled collection, he then turned his attention to Korea, where the lack of information provided a fitting challenge for his talents.
He also founded the Japanese Philatelic Society in 1946, which has since become one of the largest in the world. His collection - which spans Asia - won numerous accolades while he was alive, and has been sold through the same auction house since 2001.
The cover originates from Korea's 1895 Tae Geuk series, which was the first to be issued following the re-opening of the Korean postal service. The office originally opened in 1884, but was closed after just a few days when it was burned down during a revolt.
Bearing a five poon and 25 poon stamp, the cover was sent from the Border Committee of South Ussuriysk District in the Russian Empire to the Imperial Russian Diplomatic Mission in Seoul on January 28, 1897.
Paying the triple rate, the stamps are tied by very fine strikes of the type IIB Kyungheung datestamp with a further strike of an arrival circular date stamp.
Also featuring at the sale was a small piece bearing two horizontal pairs of the 5m rose pink and 10m light blue from Korea's Moon Issue - the very first to be issued before the post office was burned down. The only recorded multiples of the issue and in fantastic condition, the pairs sold for $54,177.