Can Spink match its World Record price for an Indian stamp?

As we've mentioned, Spink is holding a major stamp sale before we are even two weeks into 2011. The London sale, known simply as the Winter Collector's Series Sale, comprises over 1,000 lots (the general title naturally bringing in a wide variety of stamp types).

Many are genuinely investment-grade pieces. We've already covered some stamps from the British mainland: a £1 brown-lilac with IR Official overprint and an example of Hume's comic envelope - the only known example of this caricature with an 1840 2d stamp attached.

But the stamps from elsewhere, notably the British Commonwealth/Empire are at least as impressive.

Indian philately has been going from strength to strength in recent years. We noted in October that a rare Indian stamp at Spink had quintupled its estimate to sell for £105,390 - a world record price for an Indian stamp.

The exciting news is that another example of the inverted head variety of the 1854 4 annas stamp is available in this auction - perhaps drawn out by news of the first sale.

Indian 4a invert stamp
Indian 4a stamp invert

Like its sibling, the first printing, head die I, frame die I stamp has been cut to shape. It bears a somewhat heavier cancel but the paper is a little fresher.

It was once found in an old album among a collection which was sent by the collector's heir for auction and sold three times during the 1980s before selling in a private treaty sale to an unknown collector, and is listed here at £40,000-50,000 ($77,500).

Surprisingly, this is not even the highest listed Indian lot in the sale. That honour belongs to an extraordinary cover sent to Ireland bearing a complete set of the first issue of Indian stamps in 1854.

The 1855 envelope from an unknown post office "Via Southampton via Bombay" to Carrickmacross, Ireland, bears the 1854 (1 Oct.) 1/2a. pale blue/blue Die I (2), 1a. red Die I (2), 2a. green and 4a. blue and red Second Printing, all neatly cancelled with diamond of dots.

1854 Indian issues cover
1854 Indian issues cover

Just one other cover, from the same correspondence, is known bearing a complete set of the first issue of India, this is now in the Singapore Postal Museum. Once part of the Emerald collection, this example is listed here at £60,000-70,000 (up to $108,500).

Its main rival for top lot status in the sale is an 1851 Twelve Pence Black from Canada (British North America). The imperforate stamp is unused with deep rich colour and sharp detailed impression.

The stamp, which proved to be quite unpopular with the public due to its limited usage for specific postal rates to distant destinations, is now extremely rare and highly sought after (two examples were the key lots in Bill Gross's sale of British North American stamps in 2009).

This example is expected to sell for £60,000-70,000 in the sale which takes place in London on January 12. Watch this space for the results.


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