It's time for philatelists and investors everywhere to sit up and take notice as Spink has confirmed what has been rumoured for some time: that it is to sell the legendary Chartwell collection, assembled by Sir Cyril Humphrey Cripps.
The extraordinary scale of the collection means that it will have to be spread over several auctions and will be an ongoing story until the end of 2012. As it contains what is undoubtedly some of the finest material for Great Britain and the British Empire ever offered, record-breaking sales are guaranteed.
A managing director and later Chairman of the family firm, Pianoforte Supplies Limited, Sir Humphrey is remembered for his special dedication to the family philanthropic fund the Cripps Foundation, which has made great donations to universities, schools, churches, colleges and museums.
He is also remembered by his family as having an incredible mind with a photographic memory which proved invaluable in his collecting passion, which was originally sparked when indulging his son Robert in his stamp collecting hobby. The son's interest faded, but his father's intensified.
Some of the greatest highlights of the collection include the finest 'Post Office' Mauritius 2d blue which Cripps picked up in 1972 for £29,000. He was almost immediately offered £39,000 for the rare stamp, but refused.
There is also a remarkable corner marginal example of a Tyrian Plum and the original 12 Nissen reconstructions of the 1d black plates which were used to produce the Nissen plating book of 1922, regarded as one of the greatest philatelic masterpieces ever constructed.
These are just a few of the breathtaking highlights on offer. As Oliver Stocker, Chairman and CEO of Spink, puts it: "I have never seen my team of seasoned experts, who have seen so many of the best collections in the world, coming back to 69 Southampton Row with such sparkles in their eyes."
Watch this space for more news on this extraordinary series of sales, which will begin in June 2011 and are expected to bring over £20m ($32.6m).