Postage stamps: 2017 auction review

2017 saw tens of thousands of stamps cross the block worldwide.

While we didn’t see the big ticket sales of the last couple of years, it’s interesting to note that many of the top results were for the stamps of India and China - indicating growth in these markets.

Top postage stamp sale of 2017

This year’s undisputed highlight was a rare strip of four 1948 Indian Gandhi stamps, which realised £500,000 ($668,510) in a private UK sale.

Gandhi stamps

The stamps are overprinted "SERVICE" as they were for government use only

It’s one of two multiples of this issue. 

The design was produced to commemorate the year anniversary of Indian independence.

As you might expect, it’s particularly popular with Indian buyers.

2017’s most important postage stamp sales


The CIA invert has an incredible story to it

The CIA invert is one of the most valuable modern errors, dating to 1979. It’s so-named because the sheet was originally acquired by a group of CIA agents, who got in a lot of trouble for trying to sell them off. The lot made $14,500 in January.

It does’t get much more All-American than the Inverted Jenny. An excellent specimen appeared at auction in February, where it pulled in $300,000.

China continues to be a growth market for postage stamps, as epitomised by the sale of the original Large Dragon essays for $266,342 in Hong Kong.

A new year, a new record for a sheet of 1980 Year of the Monkey stamps - the most sought after stamp in China. What makes it so popular? It features three good luck symbols (the colour red, number 8 and a monkey). The new record is $194,615, set in September.

Hawaiian Missionary stamps are among the most sought after issues on the planet. A 1c specimen achieved $15,500 this year.

The most unusual postage stamp sale of 2017


British Guiana stamps are particularly rare

You’ve probably heard of the 1c British Guiana, which set a $9.4m record for a stamp at Sotheby’s in 2014. But you might be less aware of the 2c Guiana “Cottonreel” (so named for its resemblance to the base of a cotton reel).

Only four are known, of which two remain on the private market. This specimen made £180,000 ($225,000) in January.

It was a breakout year for…

New Zealand issued some particularly attractive stamps during the 1940s.

New Zealand

This NZ stamp commemorates the 1949 visit of the British royal family

This 1949 New Zealand 3d HMS Vanguard became the nation’s most valuable stamp following its $47,000 auction in March.

It was a year to forget for…

Inverted Jenny

It's bad luck - but only a bit

The owner of the position 79 Inverted Jenny, which sold for $299,000 - just over $30,000 less than the one we mentioned earlier.

One you may have missed

New Orleans

Get an eyeful of those frankings

There’s so much to like about this very early New Orleans to Paris cover (sold for $25,000 in May).

En route it picked up a fascinating range of hand stamps, including examples from Spanish owned Cuba and the Windward Isles.

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