Emerald Ladies charm bidders to HK$3m in exceptional rare stamps sale

Interasia, the leading specialists in Asian rare stamps, completed their summer auction over the weekend with over 2,200 lots of Chinese, Hong Kong and Asian stamps and postal history going under the hammer.

In fact, it was really three auctions in one, as the Large Dragons of China, the Jane and Dan Sten Olsson China 1897-1941, and the "Mosaic" collection of 19th Century Hong Kong and Asian Mails were all offered to bidders.

With their February auction having set world record prices for stamps, both Imperial and from the Communist era, expectations had been raised very high for this sale, but Interasia did not disappoint.

One of the key lots was actually quite a recent stamp, or rather a multiple: a complete sheet of 1980 Year of the Monkey 8f stamps. In unmounted mint very fine condition, with bright colours and white gum, the piece had been listed at HK$700,000-900,000, but easily surpassed even this, selling for HK$1,265,000 (US$163,000).

Performing even better against their estimates were two Red Revenue small figures surcharge 4c on 3c.

The first, boasting excellent colour and outstanding centring within large margins with a 50% complete strike of bold "Amoy" dollar dater of "27 Oct 97" in brown, is one of just three examples with the cancellation, and certainly the finest.

The second, also with beautiful colour and centring is a fine unused single with much of its original gum intact. It is one of just 25 which were originally surcharged in violet before the decision was taken that this was too light and black was also applied.

The two examples were estimated at HK$500,000-600,000 and HK$750,000-1,000,000 respectively, but both sold for a stunning HK$1,495,000.

Top lot status however went to the only known cover with a multiple of the so-called 1897 'Emerald Lady'.

Emerald Lady pair cover
The only known multiple, and appearance on a cover, of the Emerald Lady

The first-printing 2c on 2ca green horizontal pair is the only recorded multiple example of the Emerald Lady, and the only recorded example on cover - rightly described by Interasia as "irrefutably the most important Dowager cover extant, of the highest exhibition calibre."

It went under the hammer with an estimate of HK$2,500,000-3,000,000 and sold nearly beat even this, selling for HK$2,990,000 (US$385,000). In total, a triumphant auction demonstrating the unstoppable onward march of Chinese rare stamps.


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