With the vast array of material we handle each year, it is hardly surprising that we find the occasional rarity or previously unrecorded variety, often hidden in the most unassuming childhood album, or loose in a cigar box etc, having laid dormant for many decades. Of course we do not have the time to fully examine most of our worldwide albums and ‘mixed lots’, so be encouraged... there is much more yet to be found!
Over the last few years we have been lucky enough to find four examples of the very rare Rowland Hill “CANCELLED” hand stamps on classic Ceylon, Mauritius, New South Wales and Newfoundland stamps, of which only six (or less) of each were produced and are great rarities. Watermark varieties are always a delight to find because it takes a little effort to identify likely stamps and check them in the first instance (after all, we can’t check every stamp!) We have been lucky enough to find several of the missing watermark letters on the Dominican KGVI stamps, also a great many inverted & reversed watermarks turn up from time to time and we have found hundreds of rare perforations, plate flaws & unrecorded postmarks including the MAURITIUS ‘MISSING LINK’ cover we offered recently.
There is a lot of fun to be had in our ‘stamp room’, friendly rivalries abound amongst the team as we find unexpected gems. A stamp will be held aloft “inverted watermark, cat £200, ha!” a few hours later and another stamp is held aloft “my Extra Flagstaff beats your inverted watermark!” followed by catcalls and laughter. All these discoveries are made possible with a bit of knowledge, some luck and some great lots - we would encourage all collectors to build a small library of handbooks and auction catalogues for reference purposes, we spend a lot of time with our own library when we come across something (often a postmark, or perhaps we are not sure if a normally common stamp is actually rare in a block?) that we don’t recognise.
Recently, two notable finds have turned up from innocent looking old collections,
SICILY - EXTREMELY RARE DOUBLE PRINTING the 1859 20gr slate grey, a mint example of this classic first issue, showing stunning DOUBLE PRINTING (Doppia Stampa), listed in Sassone as 13e and described as being only partial, this stamp shows the doubling at right side, although listed it remains unpriced (Sorani states that he has never before seen an example). Sorani 2012 photo certificate accompanies. Also note that the 1gr is the only value that Sassone prices (at €8,000 mint), there are believed to be at least ten known. OF CONSIDERABLE RARITY - POSSIBLY UNIQUE and in fine condition.
To be offered in our November series of sales.
And of lesser value but still a gem, is the STRAITS SETTLEMENTS 1891 10c on 24c yellow green, showing the variety narrow “0”, in combination with an INVERTED WATERMARK, and unlisted as such, and adding to the scarcity, it is cancelled by a French Mail boat postmark !
To be offered in our 6206 sale lot 4986 estimated at £400
Keep searching, and enjoying your stamps, you never know what you are going to find !!