Black Honduras stamp could deliver $100,000 for the Santa Fe collection

Devotees of our stamp coverage will remember that Cherrystone held a highly impressive auction at the end of last year anchored by great rarities from the Santa Fe collection. Classic inverts and other errors from the USA, China, British Commonwealth and Europe went under the hammer.

You might think that that would be it. Well, think again.

Cherrystone is beginning 2012 with the Santa Fe Collection of South America. As Cherrystone's own Josh Buchsbayow told us: "The Santa Fe Collection represents a lifelong accumulation of worldwide rarities [...] There are countless rarities included in the collection."

Indeed there are. But there is no doubt about which particular rarity is the highlight of the 227 lot auction: the legendary Black Honduras.

Black Honduras 1925 airmail stamp
The legendary Black Honduras 1925 airmail stamp

The 1925 25c on 10c black is unused with a large part of its original gum. It bears a hinge remnant and is signed by Herbert Bloch of Scott Stamps and Coin Company, Cole etc., with a 1974 Philatelic Foundation Certificate.

At Interphil '76, held at the Civic Centre in Philadelphia, the Black Honduras was one of the Aristocrats of Philately. In 2002, the copy offered now was one of only two known, the "Ustaritz BlackHonduras", being the other (offered in Cherrystone's January 2002 sale).

As with many other storied stamps, tragedy stuck: the Ustaritz example was lost by its buyer (left accidentally either in a New York City taxi or a restaurant) and never recovered. The Santa Fe copy offered now is therefore the only surviving example of this iconic stamp.

On February 27, 1961, the Black Honduras fetched $24,500 at auction in New York City. It was at the time, the highest price ever paid for one stamp in a public auction in America (it was exceeded only by the British Guyana price in the Ferrary sale in Paris in the 1920s).

Henry Goodkind, editor of the Collectors Club Philatelist (publishers of "The Black Honduras, The World's Rarest Air Mail Stamp") and himself a famous collector of Airmails, concluded that this very valuable stamp has a unique distinction of having recorded and documented history from its cradle to the date it was sold for a record price over 50 years ago.

Since that time, it has graced several important collections and remains "a classic," despite being of the 20th century. It is expected to sell for around $100,000 in Cherrystone's auction which concludes on January 11 in New York and online.

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