Earlier this week, we reported on two of the exciting items coming up in a vast German stamp auction in just a few weeks time (February 6-10).
These were an extremely rare overprint block of four of the British Commonwealth - Newfoundland to be precise - and a 5c example of one of the most famous stamps in philately: the 1851 'Hawaiian Missionary'.
Coveted by the likes of Tapling, Ferrary and Burrus, the Hawaiian Missionary must be one of the most exciting single stamps on offer. But there is also a cover which those who collect Indian stamps will find more fascinating still.
This is a 1948 cover: The "Governor's Gandhi Service 8½ Annas cover" - a registered Air Mail cover, together with a two letter correspondence.
The correspondence concerns a point of great social contention, with a letter written by Dr. C. Rajagopalachari, the Governor General of India, to Sri Sathyananda Saraswathi Swamigal at George Town, Madras on 20th January 1949.
The cover (with printed crown and wax seal on reverse) was franked with pair of 3½a and single 1½a Gandhi Service stamps tied with the ''GOVERNOR GENERAL CAMP P.O. 21 JAN.49'' double circled datestamp, Registration and Air Mail label on front.
The content of the two letters written in Tamil is that "Sadhananda Swamigal was against the Temple entry by the Low Caste people and the Act passed by the Government permitting every citizen the equal right to enter the Hindu Temples.
"Swamigal forcefully invited the Governor General to withdraw the Act". The quality of the cover is authentic (traces of aging, toned, opened at two sides, and the stamps show corner creases and small perforation faults) - and part of the character of this unique item.
This is doubtless one of the most important and significant "Gandhi Service" covers and items of Indian religion and history in general, and the listing here of €50,000 doesn't seem excessive, given the remarkable results for Indian stamps and covers in recent times.
A record was set for a single Indian stamp in 2010 with an Inverted Head 4 annas selling for £105,390 (around $170,000), and that price was beaten twice in 2011 by another example of the same stamp as well as a rare Gandhi issue.