Inverted Pictorial Issue stamp could bring $20,000 at New York auction of US stamps

Following on swiftly from selling the section of the remarkable Scarsdale Collection devoted to beer stamps, a New York auction house is offering an impressive range of rare US postage stamps - over a thousand lots' worth in fact - ranging up to five figure sums on March 1-2.

One of the key highlights is from a short section of Officials, that is stamps designed to be used for official rather than private business by a government department or similar.

This is a block of 20 1c Executive stamps with 'Specimen' Overprint. The bottom imprint states it to be from plate no. 82, though '81' also appears, scored out. The anomaly is due to the fact that plate number "81" was engraved on before it was discovered that the number had already been assigned to the 30c War plate.

1c Executive Specimen Overprint stamp block
The 1c Executive 'Specimen' Overprint stamp block

With impressive selvage at sides, the block comes without gum as issued and boasts fresh, bright colour.

In fine condition, the block has been given the unusually precise estimate of $18,415, perhaps calculated from the sale of a block of 14, (comparable except missing six stamps including the selvedge from the right) which achieved $16,000 in the 2007 sale of the Starnes collection.

The likely top lot however is a classic inversion error from the 1869 Pictorial Issue. This is the 15c Brown & Blue, Type II with Centre Inverted (119b). A census suggests that only 92-3 of these stamps are in existence - a popular similar to that of the Inverted Jenny.

One of these is a part of the British Library's Tapling collection.

15c Brown & Blue Center Inverted stamp
The 15c Brown & Blue Center Inverted 1869 Pictorial Issue stamp

On this example, a light cork cancel allows a clear view of the frame and its inverted vignette visible. Excluding that area the stamp is fresh with rich colours and, despite light creases and tiny tears, remains of fine appearance.

Previously part of the Curie and Hoffman collections, it is expected to achieve $20,000.

Collectors looking for investment-grade stamps in this price range from the late 19th century should look at this Great Britain SG185 1884 £1 Brown-Lilac Postage Stamp which we have in stock right now. Collectors buying from us avoid any buyer's premium.

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