British stamps collection of 'the finest lady philatelist' makes $4.7m

The sale of one of the world's finest collections of British postage stamps concluded at Sotheby's on Friday, having significantly exceeded pre-sale expectations.

'The Great Britain Philatelic Collections of Lady Mairi Bury' reached an impressive sale total of £3,045,924, beating its estimate of £2.6m.

Described as a "collector's collector", Lady Mairi Bury was one of the finest lady philatelists of our time. Her collection represented her excellent eye for quality and rarity as well as the unusual, and the three-day sale saw packed auction rooms with collectors from around the globe vying for its treasures.

The sale's top lot was 'The Balance of Lady Mairi's collection of King Edward VII' stamps', a comprehensive collection of 91 pages housed in two Frank Godden exhibition boxes and arranged by order of value from ½d. to £1. It contained several specimen stamps, numerous plate flaws and a superb range of blocks of four. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it smashed its estimate of £20,000 - £25,000 eventually selling for £66,000.

'The Balance of Lady Mairi's collection of King Edward VII'
stamps' sold for £66,000

Other notable lots included a rare unused 1840 Two Pence Blue, Plate 1 which sold for £43,200, more than four times its high-end estimate of £10,000, and a 'VR' Official Penny Black which sold for £36,000 (far beyond its £15,000 - £20,000 estimate).

Stamp expert Adrian Roose, who dealt with Lady Mairi on many occasions, said:

 "She was a truly dedicated philatelist, who gave real love and care to her collection. She knew the benefits of investing in the best quality stamps, and this collection is a testament to her passion."

The auction, which achieved a sell-through rate of 83% by lot and 84% by value, was hailed as a great success and an indicator of the continuing strength of the market. 2010 has seen some record-breaking stamp sales, with figures proving them to be better investments than traditional stocks and shares, and many collectors are already gearing up for an equally-exciting 2011.


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