Gems are on offer in the 'Sapphire' Holding of British India Stamps

The day after its sale of the International Award-Winning Joseph Hackmey Philatelic Collection of Classic Ceylon, Spink Shreves will shift its eyes just a little to the north, as it prepares to offer some of the great philatelic rarities of India.

The "Sapphire" Holding of British India Stamps and Postal History features over 250 lots, and will be sold in an unreserved auction.

It is a vast collection, delivered in over 20 large cartons, was amassed by a tenacious accumulator over many years from sources in North America, England and Europe. A wide range of material  is on offer, from pre-stamp covers to individual rarities, full mint sheets, proofs and essays, errors and varieties.

One of the highlights is an 1855 4 Annas Blue and rose-red, 5th printing, (head die III, frame die II), without gum as issued. The seldom seen mint vertical pair boasts fresh colours and large margins all around. It has a Stanley Gibbons catalogue listing of £13,000.

Vertical pair blue and rose 4 Annas

The top cover is probably one featuring a bisect of an 1855 4 Annas Black on blue glazed paper. A rare usage of a bisect from Singapore, with an octagonal postmark from that country, to pay the 2 Annas steamer rate, it is a very fine and rare example and is listed at £12,000.

Perhaps the key lot in the sale is an 1866 "Service/Postage" overprint in green on complete 2a purple Fiscal stamp inscribed "Foreign Bill" (at the time of production the inscription "Foreign Bill" at top and bottom was cut way from most). It is only one of two known , and recently listed sold at Spink in London for £15,000.

Professionals will be also be intrigued by the numerous large lots, including an intact collection offered with a presale estimate of $40,000-50,000, a Queen Victoria hoard of over 1,500 covers with an estimate of $10,000-15,000 and a large stock of mint and used stamps estimated at $7,500 to 10,000 to name just a few.

The sale takes place on October 23 in New York and online.


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