Slow boat from China... Delayed Hong Kong cover makes four times its estimate

Spink's sale of the Robert Towers collection of the British Empire has concluded. Acting as a forerunner to the exciting Chartwell collection, there were fine and rare stamps from all parts of the Commonwealth.

Highlights included: a selection of 1861 Woodblocks from the Cape of Good Hope, also an interesting collection of 1854 used Indian stamps and a particularly impressive selection of material from New Zealand.

However, the most impressive performances in the sale were none of these. Perhaps this shouldn't really be a surprise.

Continuing the powerful upward trend for Chinese stamps (and Chinese collectibles in general), the top performers were two 19th century covers from Hong Kong, which will make strong alternative investments for the new owner(s).

Hong Kong cover
Highly attractive - the Hong Kong cover to Rugby

The first is an 1879 (21 July) envelope "By first mail" to Rugby, bearing an 1863-71 4c grey and 8c pale dull orange stamp sharing a fine "S2" obliterator and showing a superb "Swatow" circular date stamp.

The reverse sports a Hong Kong (22.7), Hong Kong Too Late (22.7, a very late date) and arrival (8.9) circular date stamp. The fine and rare cover easily surpassed its £2,500-3,000 estimate to sell for £10,000 ($16,400).

Following swiftly was another even more remarkable performance in the form of an 1880 (23 Mar) envelope, likewise "By first mail" to Rugby, bearing an 1863-71 2c brown (wing-margin) stamp and 8c orange stamp.

It shares a fine "S2" with equally fine "Swatow" circular date stamp alongside, with light Hong Kong (24.3) and arrival (29.4) stamps on the reverse, making this an attractive franking of the newly introduced 10c rate.

Fine and attractive it sped past its lowly £1,500-2,000 listing to achieve £11,000.


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