British Guiana 1850 2c stamp auctions with 90% increase in Du Pont sale

An 1850-51 2c stamp from British Guiana has seen outstanding results as the remainder of John du Pont's legendary collection crossed the block at David Feldman on June 27 in Geneva.

The Cottonreel issue was hastily produced

The stamp is a classic rarity, the scarcest of the so-called Cottonreels, which was the first issue in British Guiana. It realised $254,585, making a 90% increase on its $133,992 estimate.

The price represents a 3.0% pa return on the initial purchase price of $88,434 back in 1978. The auction was 100% sold, with many lots achieving far beyond their estimated price.

"In 40 years as auctioneer, I have never had the experience where every single lot was underbid to an astonishing multiple of the original estimate, leaving no lot unsold!", said David Feldman at the end of this historic auction.

The Cottonreels were produced after the British government established an inlaid postal system, intended to start on July 1, 1850.

However, postage stamps had not yet been produced and the postmaster was forced to visit the local newspaper and ask them to print imperforate stamps that became the unofficial first stamps issued on the island.

The first issue from London came in 1852, but was still beset with problems, with the colony's motto DAMUS PATIMUS QUE VICISSUM (we give and expect in return) misspelled. It wasn't until 1853 that the area got stamps of a decent quality.

Also starring in the sale was another stamp from the Cottonreel issue - a 4c black on pale yellow stamp on cover, printed on perlure paper.

With the initials of a postal offical, sheet corner margins and a central Demerara datestamp, it is described as "exceptional…probably the largest margined Cottonreel in existence". It sold for $214,387, making a 33.3% increase on estimate.

The sale follows on from the astonishing record sale of Du Pont's unique British Guiana 1c Magenta, which made $9.5m at Sotheby's on June 18 to set a new auction record for any stamp.

Paul Fraser Collectibles specialises in sourcing exceptional stamps for our collectors - see the full selection here.

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