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Spink announces highlights from its classic auction of Great Britain Stamps and Postal History
A 1d. red block of six (3 x 2). Estimate: £10,000-12,000.


LONDON.- This November will see another classic auction of Great Britain Stamps and Postal History on the 27th November 2015. The sale contains a wonderful array of perforated line engraved pennies; ever a popular section amongst collectors. There are also many modern issues with very spectacular errors, including a 1963 Red Cross 3d. with cross omitted, a 1965 post office Tower 3d. with tower omitted and a 1991 Bicentenary of Ordinance Survey of“Ham Street” 26p. with an error of value (“26” instead of “28”). However amongst the errors, are some items that you couldn’t mistake for anything but wonderful pieces.

Early on in the sale is a very fine and intriguing piece of postal history which gives an incredible insight into the administration of the post office in the mid-19th century. Lot 2024, an 1840 (1 July) printed “Incidental Account.”, addressed to “Lieut. Colonel W.L. Maberly, General Post-Office, London”.

The reverse bears an account of the Post Master’s expenditure for sanctioning, one of which claims: “April-30 Marshall & Son / Composition for stamping letters 2/6” and “May-2 Jas Sims-2 New Letter Bags” totalling 7/6d. A filing note indicates that claims for stamping ink were not normally allowable: “The claim for stamping composition in this account being an unusual allowance, is humbly submitted for the Secretary’s consideration”.

This is a unique and highly important rarity, showing the inner workings of both the administration of the Post Office, immediately before the introduction of postage stamps on 1 May 1840, and the “composition” which in this instance was apparently very expensive and worthy of recompense. Lot 2024, estimated: £ 8,000 – 10,000

Also of great importance to postal history is lot 2058, a penny black cover dated 9 May 1840. It is addressed locally within Dublin and well tied by a red Maltese Cross cancellation with the Dublin Diamond of 10 May 1840 (first Sunday) on the reverse, the only example known used in Ireland on this date. This is a major Irish rarity, being the second earliest known Irish usage of the Penny Black (the first being 8 May 1840, from the Dieter Michelson collection).

However, that is not all this item has to offer. Along with its standing as the second known penny black used in Ireland, its contents are scandalously exciting too. It refers to the murder of Lord William Russell, who had been found dead at his home in London on 6 May 1840 with his throat slit. Far from being a Cluedo murder mystery, it was quickly ascertained that his valet, Francois Benjamin Courvoisier, had committed the murder due to some very incriminating gold and silver trinkets buried on the property and in the floorboards of the valet’s quarters. He was promptly convicted of his murder and executed at Newgate on 6 July 1840. Certainly news worthy of discussion and the use of a penny black. Lot 2058, estimated: £10,000-12,000

There is also lot 2277 which is worthy of mention. It is a 1d. red block of six (3 x 2), centred a little at the top as are all the known mint examples from this plate. The only other unused multiples from this plate are OE-OF, ME-NF and JE-LF. In 1980, the famous philatelist Mr. Robson Lowe, coiner of the term ‘postal history’, told the vendor of this block that “This is probably the greatest line engraved discovery of the 20th. Century”. A fine collector’s piece. Lot 2277, estimated: £10,000-12,000






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