The little monkey that could... A swarm of 1980 stamps set a World Record price

A rare and greatly coveted set of 1980 'Red Monkey' stamps to celebrate the Year of the Monkey was sold for a record $184,000 at a Hong Kong auction on Sunday, the organiser said.

The stamps had been estimated at HK$1.1m-1.2m (US$141,000-154,000) but they were bought by an Asian collector for HK$1.44m when the hammer fell, auction house Zurich Asia said.

The auctioneer said the sale broke a previous world record when a similar set of the stamps was sold for HK$1.2 million in the southern Chinese city, which has been going from strength to strength as a centre for stamp auctions (amongst many other collectibles).

A portion of the 1980 Red Monkey stamps
A portion of the 1980 Red Monkey stamps

The previous sheet had sold at Interasia to a phone bidder, and the sale was greeted with the "amazement and applause of a packed room of stunned and frenetic bidders."

Interasia will no doubt be sorry to lose the World Record, but encouraged that the juggernaut that is the Chinese stamp market is showing no signs of abating. No one will be betting against them setting more records in their upcoming auction.

The year of the monkey stamps are curious in that they are not of high value individually as a large number were realised so they are not rare. But the attractive design from the especially lucky 'Golden Monkey' year of 1980 has made them much sought after.

In total Zurich Asia's mid-August auction made HK$24m (just over US$3m).


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