Unique British cover sells for �30,000 at Spink's rare stamp auction

With their first sale of the season following the August lull, Spink has given us an opportunity to see if Great British stamps remain in good health, as first year results such as those at Stanley Gibbons seem to show.

Comprising nearly 300 lots, the sale naturally centred on the classic Penny Black and Twopenny Blue stamps, with the best lots easily matching or bettering their expectations.

There were some very interesting pieces on offer including a fresh and finecomplete sheet of twelve impressions of the 1841 Twopenny Blue from a small plate of the same number. The stamps appear without corner letters (which would normally indicate their position on a sheet).

It sold for £12,000, beating an £8,000-10,000 estimate.

1 shilling stamp proof (signed Ormond Hill)

A unique and attractive view into the history of a stamp's creation was offered by an 1855-57 Issue Die Proof essay of the 1 shilling stamp in pinkish-red on a glazed card.

It is a slightly different design to the issued type, endorsed in the hand of Ormond Hill (the cousin of Rowland Hill; the latter of course being credited with the creation of the postage stamp as we know it):

"This is the form approved by the Board 12 March, 1856. O.H. But the colour is to be green"

Listed at a rather modest £4,000-5,000 it prompted keen bidding from those present, and left the stage only for a grand bid of £20,000.

The top lot was as expected, however: an HE-IF block of four Twopenny Blues in a vivid, bright blue shade, used with an 1840 Penny Black Plate VI NE-NF pair on 1840 (28 Aug) cover from Inverary to Edinburgh.

Twopence blue block and Penny Black pair cover
Twopence Blue block and Penny Black pair cover

With large margins all round and dull red Maltese Cross cancellations, this is believed to be the only block of four used with a Penny Black on a complete cover to either an inland or foreign destination, including Mulready covers and was therefore listed at £15,000-20,000.

Bidders valued it higher still, however, and it was finally taken home for a grand £30,000.

Collectors and investors who regret missing out on this sale will be pleased to know that some classic rare British stamps are currently available.


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