A 'unique rarity', a never-hinged 1847 brown-orange 5c stamp stars at Kelleher

Daniel F Kelleher's sale of rare stamps and covers of the world concluded over the weekend. The auction covered much of the world in its philatelic scope, featuring classic Great Britain and Colonial issues rarities, along with select offerings and collections from worldwide nations.

The sale was a resounding success, with record 174 different live bidders taking away lots totalling $576,215.

The Great Britain & Commonwealth section alone featured nearly 1050 lots, but the most covetable pieces were to be found in the United States section.

The free franks and autographs section from the Beane collection was a particularly interesting one.Free franks, for those not already familiar with them, are marks or signatures made on covers as an alternative to payment on delivery and stamps (once the latter were invented).

John Adams Free Frank
John Adams free franked cover

British MPs and Lords had the right to send mail for free by use of their signatures following a 17th century act, and American politicians followed this idea too, so a number of covers show the signature of American Presidents and other key figures.

One nice example in the sale was that of a cover signed by John Adams, the second President of the United States. Clean, fresh and with an excellent signature, it slipped past its $2,000-3,000 estimate to bring $4,750.

A piece to interest literary collectors was an autographed letter (four pages long) signed by Charles Dickens which was accompanied by a cover addressed to Lenox, Massachusetts.

The letter boasted fine to very fine signatures and was expected to sell for $2,500-3,500, and in fact achieved $3,250 - near the top of that range.

Never hinged brown orange 1847 5c Stamp
Never hinged brown orange 1847 5c Stamp

As expected, however, the overall top lot of the auction was an 1847, 5¢ brown orange. Never hinged, with large to ample margins, deep rich true colour, crisp impression and full original gum the piece may be unique.

As the auctioneer put it, "[they cannot remember] ...having seen a never hinged single of any colour of the 5¢ 1847 offered in public auction, yet alone this unique rarity." and the piece sold near the top of its $15,000-20,000 range at $19,000.


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