Spink's auction of rare stamps from China and Hong Kong concluded on Sunday, and one of the biggest sellers was a big surprise.
A block of 9 imperforate 1898-1910 red and yellow Chinese Imperial Post stamps had been estimated at HK$20,000-30,000 (US$2,570-3,860). The stamps show three denominations: $1, $2 and $5, three of each in rows.
The relatively low estimate may have been due to the imperfections: a small tear reaching up to, but not into the upper right hand corner stamps, a fragment missing from the lower right margin corner and some other minor imperfections.
Nevertheless, the block is fresh, attractive and distinctly rare in having neither a printer's handstamp nor a punch hole. Pencil markings indicate that it was used for display purposes.
For these reasons, the lot greatly excited philatelists present, and they quickly buffeted the price up all the way to HK$220,000 (US$28,300).