1150 lots of Great Britain and Commonwealth stamps went under the hammer on Sunday 16th March during Apex Philatelics Public Auction 130. The sale was held in glorious sunshine at Lingfield Park Racecourse, where 125 bidders contributed to a sale total in excess of £400,000.
Two of the rarest items in the sale were the Mafia Island 1915 hand stamped 1r and 3r mint issues. Mafia Island is part of the Tanzanian Zanzibar Archipelago. Under the treaty of 1890 Zanzibar allowed Germany to take control of the island when Germany purportedly paid Sultan Sayyid Ali bin Said al-Said of Oman 4 million German marks for it, plus a section of the mainland. In January 1915, during the First World War, Mafia Island was taken by the British and used to launch an attack on the Imperial German Navy light cruiser, Königsberg.
The British restored the postal facilities immediately after taking control and used the Foreign Post Offices for military mailings and overprinted local stamps for civilian mail. As can be seen from the stamps offered here the local stamps of the time were stamps of German East Africa, overstamped with G. R. Mafia. Lots [991 and 993] the stamps sold for £7,735 and £8,330 respectively.
Results achieved from another fine section of stamps from Great Britain proved the continued strength of this market, in particular for fine quality and scarcer items. A scarce 1d red pl 11 on 'Dickinson silk thread' paper realised £4,641, against an estimate of £3,000 - £3,500. Dickinson paper was produced at Apsley Mill, Hemel Hempstead and the original die for these stamps was engraved by William Wyon, Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint since 1816. Each stamp was printed independently on coining presses using Dickinson silk thread paper in sheets of 20, 24 and 40. [Lot 513]
Of the later Queen Victoria, the finest used example we have seen of SG 88, the 9d 'Abnormal' sold for £5,950, against an estimate of £4,000 - £4,500 [lot 553] and a mint £5 orange was knocked down for £4,046, having been estimated at £2,500 - £3,000 [lot 589]. Other notable results included £3,332 paid for the very scarce 1911 1/2d green SG 325a sideways watermark fine used [lot 665]
The first of the Mike Holt QE2 lots were offered in this sale and again, strong demand was evident. Most noteworthy was the 1966 Birds 4d phosphor block unmounted mint with missing bright blue, one of only three such blocks known, which sold for £3,570. [Lot 756]
As with GB, the Commonwealth market remains very buoyant. Significant realisations here included a Newfoundland Columbia Flight 50c on 36c 'Caribou' mint. The Government printed just 300 of these for use on the flight, 100 of which were used on covers. Having flown 2,650 miles the flight was forced to land on Tresco Island on the coast of the UK but the Columbia was eventually able to conclude the flight, landing at Croydon Airport on October 13 1930. The stamp sold for £4,165 having been estimated at £3,000 to £3,500 [lot 871]. A group of scarce Indian items also sold well, with the 1865 Elephant watermark 2a orange imperforate pair, used, fetching £3,213. [Lot 947]
As ever the collections and boxes were keenly contested, with only 12 lots remaining unsold from the opening section of 139 collections and boxes which included a well filled Commonwealth Ideal album which sold for £16,065. [Lot 26]
Full results and details of unsold items from this sale can be found online at www.apexstamps.com
. Apex Philatelics are currently accepting consignments for their next sale, Public Auction 133, which will take place on 27th July 2014, entries close on Friday 9th May.