Agathon Collection of Russian stamps brings $1.5m at Spink auction

Spink held an evening auction of rare Russian stamps last night (November 29) in the form of the exciting Agathon Collection of the First and Second Issues of Russia.

There have been some exciting results for early Russian stamps in recent years, as it seems that the country's newest high-net worth individuals have interests which include stamp collecting.

Two of the highlights were as follows: Firstly there was the 31st December 1857 Cover.

Adorned by a very fresh and fine example of a 10k blue and brown stamp with very good margins, it was sent on 1857 (31 December) entire from Tauroggen to St. Petersburg.

The stamps are tied by pen cross and the cover shows, on reverse, a red oblong despatch datestamp of Tauroggen and arrival circular datestamp for 4 January 1858 with an additional manuscript notation by addressee on the right flap "1858 Tauroggen 1 Janr".

From the manuscript date, we can tell that the cover was posted and franked on the 2nd of January, the first day of use of the first Russian postage adhesive.

The 31st of December 1857 was Saturday and the 1st of January 1858 was Sunday in Russia, therefore, the 31st of December framed datestamp of Tauroggen was very probably carelessly used at the Post Office on the 2nd January with the previous date of use.

A fabulous cover which is one of the most important Russian postal history rarities and once held pride of place in the Liphschutz collection (there is a certificate to this effect). It sold towards the top of its €180,000-220,000 listing at €210,705 ($281,000).

1858 Russian issue cover
A true gem - the 1858 Russian issue cover

Top lot status went as expected to another cover however. This was an 1858 missive using two stamps: a 10k blue and brown imperforate with clear to mostly large margins, in mixed franking with second issue 20k orange and deep blue.

Both are tied to 1858 entire from Reval (Estonia) to Port Kunda by framed "Revel/20 Apr. 1858" cancels, and each is additionally cancelled with a pen cross.

A unique piece, it is the only recorded combination cover of Russia's first and third stamps, a showpiece with tremendous eye-appeal and one of the most important and impressive gems of Russian philately. It sold within its expected range at €292,605 ($390,200).

Stamps and covers from the dawn of a country's adhesive stamp postage system are always coveted, which is one reason why we're so excited to be offering a Great British 1840 Rainbow Trial presentation sheet.

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