'Deal/Ship Letter' handstamp to lead British covers at $158,500

The legendary "Deal/Ship Letter" handstamp cover is to lead bids on September 13, when the Gavin Littaur Collection of British Postal History comes to auction in London.

Deal/Ship Letter handstamp cover
The piece de resistance of cancellations on line engraved covers

The sale will focus on selected rare covers from the period 1840-1853, with Littaur himself describing his collection's appeal:

"Stamps with full marginal inscription; brilliantly coloured cancellations; covers travelling abroad; distinctive Maltese Crosses - especially the unique; stunning illustrated envelopes and letters from Rowland Hill on philatelic matters," he says.

One of the items which Littaur cites as his favourite is the "Deal/Ship Letter" cover, featuring the famed cancellation and a unique usage of the 1840 2d blue. Hailed as "the piece de resistance of cancellations on line engraved covers", the letter was originally sent as an ordinary inland letter from Funchal, Madeira to Devonshire on October 1, 1840.

The only applicable handstamp available to the agent at the port of Deal, UK to cancel the inland postage to Plymouth was the "Deal/Ship Letter". It was never intended for use as a cancellation, making this the only recorded usage in existence.

Boasting good to huge margins all round and in very fine condition, this extraordinary rarity will sell for £80,000-100,000.

Also featuring will be the only recorded example of an imperforate stamp on the "telegraphic despatch, by submarine telegraph" envelope, which comes complete with a telegraphic cross-Channel message. Sent just over three months after the submarine communications line was opened in 1852, the cover is of major importance to transport and communication enthusiasts and will sell for £50,000-60,000.

Paul Fraser Collectibles also has a fantastic selection from Britain's early postal history for sale. Our collection boasts an annotated 1840 Rainbow Trial presentation sheet, as well as a 1d black that stands as one of the rarest of all the Officials.

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