three-day auction of The Great Britain Philatelic Collections of Lady Mairi Bury concluded today, bringing the exceptionally strong total of £3,045,924, significantly exceeding pre-sale expectations of £2.6million. The auction established sell-through rates of 83% by lot and 84% by value.
The top lot of the sale was 'The Balance of Lady Mairi's collection of King Edward VII' stamps, mounted on 91 pages to the highest exhibition standard and housed in two exhibition boxes. Comprising an exceptional comprehensive collection arranged by order of value from ½d. to £1, this lot more than tripled the pre-sale low estimate to sell for £66,000 (est. £20,000-25,000, lot 2069). An exceptional unused 1840 Two Pence Blue, Plate 1, sold for £43,200, soaring above estimate (est. £8,000-10,000, lot 472). A complete sheet of 120 2d. blue stamps, unique in this configuration, also performed extremely well, doubling the pre-sale estimate to sell for £30,000 (est. £12,000-15,000, lot 1303). The Penny Black which achieved the highest price was an Imprimatur from the Second Registration Sheet, known as the 'VR' Official Penny Black; it made £36,000 (est. £15,000-20,000, lot 469). This stamp was prepared for Official use in April 1840 but remained unissued. A Plate 1 Two Shillings Brown, the very finest of the few known pairs, and exceptionally rare, brought £36,000 (est. £30,000-35,000, lot 1564).
Commenting on the strong results of the three-day sale, Richard Ashton, Sotheby's Worldwide Philatelic Consultant, said: "Lady Mairi formed one of the finest Great British postage stamp collections to appear on the market in the last quarter of a century, both rare in content and in impeccable condition, with superlative examples of the penny black and two-pence blue among an extraordinary array of items of philatelic interest. Throughout her remarkable life, during which stamp collecting was just one of the many pursuits she tackled with the most incredible detail, Lady Mairi seeked out items that added anything of interest to her collection. Something for £50 gave her as much pleasure as something one hundred times that amount. The auction has afforded collectors the opportunity to own philatelic objects associated with a leading light in the stamp world, as Lady Mairi was duly esteemed in her field and honoured with numerous philatelic awards. It is pleasing to think that collectors can now derive the same enjoyment from these stamps as Lady Mairi did."