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Lovely GB Lots


If you received our latest Sandafayre catalogue, or simply glanced at our homepage, it won’t have escaped your attention that we are offering some lovely GB lots.

A strip of 5 mint Penny Blacks, trial and imprimatur impressions of early line engraved stamps, a Penny Lilac with the “Pears Soap” advert on the back, a Seahorse imperforate colour trial, modern missing colours… the list goes on.

A few days ago a client asked me what my favourite GB lot was. Not a straightforward question!

I could be forgiven for naming any number of lovely and valuable items, for example in a forthcoming sale we have an 1841 Postal Notice bearing an unused Penny red and a Twopenny blue trial without corner letters… but in the end I plumbed for an elegant little cover with a fun twist!

Lot 8408 is an entire letter sent within Edinburgh bearing an imperf Penny Red. The first thing you might notice is that the actual stamp is in glorious condition. Any collector of the early line engraved imperfs will tell you how difficult it can be to find a nice looking 1d red on deeply blued paper with 4 large margins, so clearly an example still on a cover is many times scarcer.

Turning the cover over we find another nice surprise, a crisp 25th December 1848 cds! Had you ever considered what the Victorian postal service did on Christmas day? Well it appears they were busy working!

I shouldn’t be surprised, my own Grandfather, Arthur Green survived the Great War from almost start to finish having fought at the Battles of Somme and Passchendaele and in separate incidents was buried in a bomb blast and blinded (temporarily) by mustard gas. On returning from France he attempted to get a job as a postman. He was rejected “because he was too short”. Clearly even 80 years after this cover was sent, the GPO remained a tough employer.

“Not too short to fight for my country” was Grandad's pithy response, and he got the job.

But what was in the letter? It’s dated on Christmas Day so it must be a message of goodwill, perhaps the recipient elsewhere in Edinburgh would be charmed and impressed that someone would put nib to paper on a day surely set aside for relaxation and merriment, for dwelling on the birth of our Saviour, for goodwill to all men, the Goose with all the trimmings, Tiny Tim on the shoulders of Bob Cratchit laughing at the falling snow…

“…Dear Sirs, we have received your letter of 22nd. I shall call on you with a note to the adjustment of the account refunded to in it…”

Well, Merry Christmas to you too!

This miserable Christmas missive put me in mind of Charles Dickens who travelled to Edinburgh in 1841 to deliver a lecture. At some point he wandered through the Canongate Kirk graveyard and saw a headstone which read: "Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie - meal man". The description referred to his main trade as a corn merchant, however Dickens mistakenly translated it as "mean man" (this was probably due to simple graveyard wear and tear, poor eyesight or lighting). Though he was shocked by the description it gave him food for thought and two years later when “A Christmas Carol” was published in 1843, it featured Ebenezer Scrooge, a "mean man" I’m sure the Scrooge featured in the opening chapter of “A Christmas Carol” would have approved. Merry Christmas? Humbug!


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