Cherrystone's first auction of the year stars a $75,000 classic tete-beche stamp block

Following their successes in 2010 which included some spectacular Chinese and Russian rarities, not to mention an Inverted Jenny, Cherrystone may be expected to produce some more spectacular sales in 2011, so news of their first sale of the year is bound to excite stamp collectors everywhere.

Cherrystone's auction consists of 1,453 lots sold under the general heading of Rare Stamps and Postal History of the World - with properties of various owners and estates sold by their order.

Included are many 19th and 20th Century United States investment-grade pieces including proofs, essays and possessions.

The European Countries sections include classics from Austria, France with an Empire 20c Tete-beche block of four (one of three known), Germany with States, Colonies and Occupations, Italy with States and Colonies, Switzerland with extensive Cantonals.

Collectors and investors specialising in Great Britain and British Commonwealth stamps, South and Latin America and other popular countries such as Albania (with a further selection from the Lef Nosi archive), Poland with rare Postage Dues, Russia and the People's Republic of China will all have good reason to take part.

As usual, there is also an extensive section of Large Lots and Collections, many offered intact.

Naturally we'll bring you all the major lots before the event, but for now, let's just take a look at that classic tete-beche.

1853-1860 tete beche stamp block

A tête-bêche, or head-to-tail, pair is where a joined pair of stamps is printed with one stamp inverted relative to the other. These are occasionally produced in error during printing, or sometimes deliberately for collecting.

A couple of classic examples appeared in Bill Gross's sale of his European stamps.

This 1853-60 Empire is a 20c blue, of type II on bluish paper. The tete-beche is within a block of four with original gum, large margins all around and beautiful colour.

The lower right stamp has a faint thin but this does not affect either horizontal or vertical tete-beche which are fresh and very fine. One of only three 20c tete-beches known (all are unused) including the Burrus block of thirty (Burrus being one of the true greats of stamp collecting).

The piece is expected to sell for $75,000 in Cherrystone's auction which takes place in New York on February 8-9, 2011. Watch this space for more news of the sale.


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