Rare tete-beche stamp pair achieves $190,000 at Spink Shreves

Bill Gross's collection of European themed stamps was sold yesterday at Spink Shreves' Auction Galleries.

The auction was a relatively small one by the standards of the modern maestro of philately, but several of the 159 lots were truly exceptional.

Under the heading of France and Colonies, German Offices and Colonies, Italian States and Spain, the sale was dominated by the domestic French pieces, especially those from the 1849-50 Ceres issue.

The top lot for the sale was, as expected, the tête-bêche 1849 1Fr carmine-on-yellow horizontal pair, with the inverted head facing its partner. A tête-bêche, or head-to-tail, pair is where a joined pair of stamps is printed with one stamp inverted relative to the other.

One of four known to exist, and one of the most coveted tête-bêche pairs of its kind, the ex-Ferrary piece sold for $190,000.

Light Carmine On Yellowish Tete Beche Bill Gross
Light Carmine On Yellowish tête-bêche

The two other lots to sell for over $100,000 were also horizontal multiple: a strip of three 1849 1Fr Pale vermilion "Vervelle" on yellowish and an 1850 40c Orange on yellowish strip of five.

The former piece boasts manuscript notations in the sheet selvage mentioning the printing dates of the 1Fr Vermilion and is of bright and fresh impression. A unique piece, and one of the most important multiples in French philately, it brought $130,000.

1 Fr Pale Vermilion Strip of three
1 Fr Pale Vermilion strip of three

The latter is the only strip of five of its kind known, and comes from the lower right corner of it original sheet, as shown by the margins. Another ex-Ferrary piece, it achieved $100,000 exactly.

Bill Gross and his wife Sue are donating all the proceeds from the sale to the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières Emergency Relief Fund.


  • More news on Stamps
  • Enjoy the read? Don't forget to sign up for your free newsletter with exclusive content


Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock