Rare Norwegian letter with foreign postage is priced $24,000

Swedish auction house AB Philea's "Quality auction #287" is set to take place this Saturday (May 15), featuring sought-after philatelic gems from around the world.

Among the auction's highlights is this rare Swedish cover, a Facit 2f Mountain Post letter dated July 23, 1857 and originally intended for delivery to Repvåg in the Norwegian mainland.

Interestingly, the cover is addressed to John Wolley, a travelling English ornithologist. The letter's content concerns a consignment of bird's eggs, due to be received by Wolley.

Here, the details are somewhat complicated. Presumably because Wolley was always on the move, the letter was posted to Hammerfest, Norway, and then redirected to Muonioniska near Lapland, his then-permanent address.

The only known Swedish letter posted outside of the country bearing a
blue fyraskilling banco stamp (Click to enlarge)

The letter was posted from Hammerfest at 5 shillings (4 +1 sk.), entered as "12g / 5" on the envelope's reverse.

Despite this, the cover also failed to find its intended recipient in Muonioniska. It was then sent over to Stockholm, Sweden, where it was successfully obtained by Wolley.

The cover's complicated history is evident upon its surface (although it of course remains a mystery as to whether Wolley ever received his bird's eggs).

In addition, expert Martin Mörck was commissioned to carry out a private study in order to confirm that the letter was sent to Stockholm before the "Alten 26.8.57" hand stamp was applied.

The cover is one of very few known Norwegian letters with foreign postage, and is also the only known Swedish letter posted outside of the country which bears a blue fyraskilling banco stamp.

(The blue stamp, pictured top right, happens to be a relative of the highly collectible $2.33m Treskilling Yellow.)

This exceptional and singular piece of Scandinavian philatelic history will auction at AB Philea with a reserve of 175,000 Swedish Krona ($24,500).


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