Rarities from the War Department were the stars of Robert A. Seigel's final stamp auction of 2010, to cap a fine year for the company.
Their sale of 'Specialized US Collections, Air Post, Foreign Stamps & Covers' featured a number of important single owner collections such as the Dr. David H. Lobdell Collections of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Issue and War Department Officials.
And it was a War Department stamp that took the top spot for the highest price of the auction. The extremely rare 12-cent War Department issue with a "sepcimen" overprint error was described as the only recorded example of its kind.
And its rarity and high quality meant it more than doubled its pre-sale estimate of $13,500, eventually selling for $29,000.
The next highest lots were a similar 90c War Department issue with the same overprint error which sold for $24,000, and the 15c and 24c issues (again with the overprint) that each sold for $23,000.
The other notable lot was a "phenomenal postal history rarity": a postal cover sent from Switzerland to Paris just days before the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War in September 1870. It was held in Paris during the siege, then forwarded to Belgium by Ballon Monte then forwarded yet again to England.
The remarkable cover had an estimated value of $7,500 - $10,000 but its uniqueness led to a winning bid of an impressive $19,500.
The sale featured a number of investment-grade stamps, and although the auction was relatively modest compared to their recent high-profile events it attracted a solid crowd of international collectors and investors.
With the company now preparing for 2011, philatelists can look ahead to a year in which the stamp market is set to go from strength to strength.
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