'Extremely rare and colourful' Sydney-Bologna stamp cover sells for £13,000

Spink's sale of the "Alvarado" Collection, held in association with Millennium Philatelic Auctions, was a success last week (May 19) grossing a total of £166,270 in sales.

The auction's biggest highlight was an extremely rare and colourful franked Italian cover from 1860, registered from Araluen, Australia to the Papal State of Bologna, Italy. The envelope is partly opened with a missing side flap.

According to Spink, the cover left Sydney on April 22 and arrived at Galle on May 16. The enveloped was marked "via Marseilles", but this later deleted. The cover reached Southampton, UK, on June 16.

Affixed to the envelope's bottom right corner is a 1d orange-vermilion, with a straight left edge. (A single #1 issue of this stamp, unused without its gum and exceptionally rare, previously sold at Christie's in 2000 for $15,448.)

It appears alongside a 2d blue vertical pair (affixed over the top page), and three 6d grey-brown stamps (one affixed over the top edge - see picture, below).

This cover left Sydney on April 22, and arrived at Galle on May 16, 1860

The 6d grey-brown stamps, blue pair and orange-vermillon have each been cancelled by a "225" hand stamp. Elsewhere, the envelope is marked by various manuscript rate markings, including a circular framed "PD" stamp over the handwritten "Bologna".

Amidst these markings is an oval red datestamp: "Registered London" from June 18. On the envelope's reverse is a despatch datestamp, Braidwood (New South Wales, Australia), April 18, and arrival datestamp, Sydney, April 20.

Billed by Spink as "an extremely rare and colourful" franking, the cover offers an exceptional illustration of the 1/5d rate to a destination plus a 6d late fee and one shilling registration fee beyond London.

This example is just one of three covers recorded with the through registration fee paid. Formerly of the Davis and Forster collections, it appeared in Spink's sale with a modest estimate of £3,000-3,500.

The Italian cover not only far exceeded its estimate, but easily emerged as the top lot in Spink's May 19 auction. It sold for a final price of £13,000, including Buyer's Premium.


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