London is to offer The Philatelic Collection of Lord Steinberg, in a series of two sales on 6-8 September and 21 September 2011. The first three-day sale comprises British Empire Mint Multiples, and the second sale on the 21st will feature Great Britain Mint Multiples exclusively. The unique characteristic of the collection is that it contains only mint blocks of four or larger multiples. The significance of blocks is of paramount importance to collectors, since many stamps which are comparatively common are transformed into major rarities when in blocks of four or larger. Sotheby's two auctions will be an unrivalled opportunity for collectors to acquire gems from an exceptional collection, and this is the first sale of its kind in almost a century**. Together, the sales will feature 2,068 lots and the collection is estimated in the region of £4 million.
Lord Steinbergs family have decided to donate proceeds from the sale to a number of causes and charities with which Lord Steinberg had been associated in his lifetime, including the fund he started with the aim of helping to rebuild Old Trafford, home of his beloved Lancashire County Cricket Club.
Lord Steinberg of Belfast died in London on 2 November 2009 at the age of 73. He was one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of the post war era. The grandson of immigrants who turned a single unlicensed betting shop at the back of his father's Belfast milk counter into the Stanley Leisure Group, a chain of 640 betting outlets and 45 casinos which employed 7,000 people, Lord Steinberg also became a peer, deputy treasurer of the Conservative Party and president of Lancashire County Cricket Club.
He was recognised for his generous philanthropy on behalf of a wide range of both Jewish and non-Jewish causes. Lord Steinbergs contribution to the leisure of others is well known from the history of his companies. His own leisure time, however, was intriguingly hidden from the wider public view. Over the course of his life, he assembled 33 stamp albums, with each item on a separate page meticulously written-up by a skilled calligraphist. The exacting nature of stamp collecting was of great appeal to Lord Steinberg, and he approached the task of building up his collection with the same rigorous patience that he applied to his business acquisitions. He accumulated vast reserves of knowledge in the field of stamps, and would pursue his desire to possess mint blocks of four and larger multiples with a determination unmatched by rival collectors.
Richard Ashton, Sothebys Worldwide Philatelic Consultant, comments: Looking through Lord Steinbergs stamp albums was not only a joy but a unique occasion. Lord Steinberg collected Great Britain and British Empire, with a real twist. Sothebys has had the privilege of auctioning outstanding collections formed by Sir Gawaine Baillie and Lady Mairi Bury, each of them distinctive in the owners style of collecting. The present collection is equally remarkable.
Speaking of Lord Steinberg, Harry Dalmeny, Deputy Chairman of Sothebys and one of the main auctioneers for these sales, said: This is the private passion of a self-made man who became a public figure and even survived an assassination attempt by the IRA. Most bookmakers are only interested in Post when horses are going to it; not Lord Steinberg, one of Britains greatest modern-day philatelists and founder of the Stanley Leisure chain of betting shops and casinos. His evenings were often spent poring over new acquisitions or researching the whereabouts of rare blocks of stamps, while in his latter years he could often be found racing from the House of Lords to stamp auctions where his fierce determination to see off other bidders meant he secured the greatest prizes in philately, before returning to vote on affairs of state.
Jim Cumbes, Chief Executive of Lancashire County Cricket Club, said: Lord Steinberg was an ardent and passionate supporter of cricket, and in particular he was a keen patron of Lancashire County Cricket Club and was determined to help his beloved Old Trafford redevelop into a modern Test match arena. He once said that the greatest honour he had bestowed upon him was to be invited to become President of Lancashire which he did in 2007. He was elected for a second term in 2009, but sadly never saw it through. It is through his drive and determination that Old Trafford is set to become one of the very best Test Match Grounds in cricket. It is no surprise to us that both his and Lady Steinberg's benevolence to the Club continues after his passing.