One of Europe's oldest stamps priced at $129,000 in 'sale of the Century'

While the stock markets remain uncertain, stamps are increasingly proving themselves as safe and long term alternative investments.

Several billion dollars are exchanged for stamps every year throughout the world, according to market estimates, while price curves for stamps are rising sharply.

This is largely because only a few stamps from the 19th century have survived in a quality sufficient for trading and investment.

With this in mind, Peter Rapp AG's June 1-4 stamp auction is being billed as "the sale of the century" by Forbes and other sources - and a number of record-breaking sales are anticipated.

This particularly applies to the lost "Ticino" stamp collection, a formerly missing assortment which dates back more than 100 years...

The Ticino stamp collection

The near-mythical collection comprises some of the most valuable philatelic specimens in history, and remains one of the most legendary stamp collections from the period 1843-1854.

Peter Rapp is billing the collection's sale as a "once in a century event," and predicts that it will sell for more than 13m Swiss francs (just over $11m).

Investors and collectors from more than 24 countries are expected to participate, with another several thousand joining in by telephone or online.

Among the lots already causing a sensation among global experts is the collection's centrepiece: a fantastically beautiful cover bearing three "Neuenburg" stamps, dating back to 1852.

It's thought that this cover alone will realise more than a quarter of a million francs (or over $232,000). It was last sold in New York back in 1956.

The three-of-a-kind Zurich four rappen (4 cent) cover
(Click to enlarge)


The Ticino collection also includes several spectacular Swiss postal history covers, each expected to achieve more than 150,000 francs (almost $129,000) at auction.

The Zurich 4s and 6s

Among these is a highly coveted Zurich cover from 1849 (pictured above). Zurich was the first canton of Switzerland to issue adhesive stamps only months after Great Britain issued the world's first, the Penny Black.

Zurich would become Europe's second postal authority to issue adhesive postage stamps on March 1, 1843. Initially, two valued stamps were issued, the four rappen and the six rappen (4 and 6 cents).

The designs were produced by a lithographer named Esslinger, based in Zurich. In order to produce the stamps in sheets of 100, Esslinger multiple-copied rows of five hand-drawn stamps.

Because the initial five hand-drawn differed slightly, they became known as "Types".

Peter Rapp's 1849 Zurich example features two Zurich 4 cents stamps, a Type III and Type IV, the latter of which has been bisected in half from top to bottom.

The letter is addressed to the mayor's office in Wettschweil, with the address tied with a datestamp, "ZURICH NACHMITTAG," "25 SEPT 1849".

The only known cover to bear a rosette hand stamp, along with a whole and half 4 cent stamp, was posted only a month prior to the introduction on new Swiss federal tariffs in October 1849.

Of only three such examples are known to exist this, according to Peter Rapp, "by far" surpasses the other two letters in terms of quality.

This 1849 cover will go under the hammer with an estimate of 100,000-150,000 Swiss francs (roughly $86,000- 129,000).

It is selling with certificates from Cueni (1947) and Eichele/Marchand (2009) confirming the accurate and excellent preservation of its brands and franking.

While so-called Zurich 4s and 6s are the oldest stamps of the European continent, the second oldest is the Double Geneva, issued by the City of Geneva.

A Double Geneva cover will also appear for sale in Peter Rapp's sale, which we previously reported on here, carrying an estimate of 150,000-200,000 Swiss francs ($139,275-185,700).

All price translations are shown in US dollars.


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