Robert A Siegel auctions held yet one more auction of rare stamps last week in New York, following their sales of the Louis Grunin Collection of Illustrated Covers and of US Post Office in China stamps, featuring the John Thomas collection.
Rather than being a sale with a very specific theme, the auction simply presented an impressive 964 lots under the heading General Foreign Stamps and Covers, US Postal History.
The US Postal History section featured the Millard C Mack Collection of Presidential Widows' Free Franks, as well as other rare autographs and postal history. However, the most remarkable result came from Europe.
The Belgian cover has an impressive number of mid-19th century stamps, specifically the 20c Blue (horizontal strip of three, plus a single) and two variations of the 40c Carmine Rose in three pairs (two horizontal, one vertical) and a vertical block of 10.
These are affixed to a large size cover to Paris, tied by numerous strikes of numeral "62" in 17-bar grid. A double-circle datestamp coloured orange-red has marked the cover "Huy 26 Oct 1854".
It appears that the Huy datestamp was applied before the block of 10 was added, presumably to remedy insufficient postage. The cover also has red boxed "CC" (special messenger) and PD handstamps.
The cover has some creases and edge faults. However, these paled into insignificance for bidders considering the likely historical standing of the piece:
It is believed that this was a "Diplomatic" cover mailed during the crucial Sevastapol Campaign of the Crimean War, and has also been suggested that the contents were perhaps an effort to smooth the waters between France and Belgium as Belgium was neutral in the war and had to maintain diplomatic relations with Russia that evidently did not sit well with the French.
Originally estimated at €3,000-4,000, the cover sparked frenetic bidding, and finally sold for the spectacular sum of €45,000.
Collectors interested in philatelic rarities may wish to take a look at this very rare and valuable Tyrian Plum, whilst those interested in correspondence with historical significance might wish to take a look at this letter from Napoleon to the Duc of Feltre, which shows his concern at Prussia coming back into the war.