The first airmail cover ever carried in China has smashed its estimate at a postage stamp auction in Lugano, Switzerland.
The 1920 cover, sent from Foochow to Shanghai, and featuring a Chinese 3c stamp, sold for €65,000 ($85,520), 30% above its €50,000 estimate.
The specimen, dated May 2 and addressed to the British Consul in Shanghai, is marked "On His Britannic Majesty's Service".
It was the undoubted star of the Fiorenzo Longhi Collection of airmails and aerial memorabilia on March 15, and is a reminder to collectors of the current buoyancy of the market for the rarest investment-grade stamps from the Far East.
Items such as this superb specimen. Dubbed the "greatest treasure of Hong Kong philately", this Hong Kong 96c Olive-Bistre Unique Block of Four is currently available through Paul Fraser Collectibles.
The value of the most collectible Chinese postage stamps is up 46% pa since March 2009, according to figures from the China 100 Stamp Index, which tracks the auction performance of 100 of the most in-demand stamp sets.
A 1927, 60c. black Newfoundland stamp, also easily bettered its estimate at the auction, selling for €32,000 ($42,100), 28% above its €25,000 valuation.
The stamp is rarely found this well centred, and is very fresh, having been beautifully preserved with its full original gum intact.
It is one of just 300 stamps printed. Four are known to have been damaged or destroyed. 255 were used, while 33 mint specimens are recorded, of which this is arguably the finest in existence.