As seen around this time last year, treasure continues to turn up in unlikely places.
A collection of rare stamps was discovered in old church-donation envelopes stored in a cigar box in the loft of a house in the Cotswolds area of England. The 35 Chinese stamps, were originally bought by an English missionary in Shanghai in 1882 and lay undiscovered for more than 100 years.
The lot was thought to be particularly valuable because within the collection was an uncut sheet of nineteen ultra-rare ‘candarin’ stamps, which had been kept by the English missionary for day to day postage use. The rather insignificant-looking unused yellow stamps, printed on very thin paper, feature a dragon design. They are known in the stamp world as ‘5 candarin ochres’.
They were sent to an auction in Winchcombe, in Gloucestershire, where they were given an estimated value of between £800 and £1,000. However, they were purchased – to the amazement of the owner and all present at the auction – for an astonishing £79,000 by international stamp dealer Allan Grant, who received a tip-off that the stamps could be worth a fortune. Grant had formed a partnership to bid for the stamps with American stamp dealer Laurence Gibson, co-chairman of Connecticut-based Daniel Kelleher Auctions. Their intention was to then sell the stamps in Hong Kong, where they believed interest in old Chinese stamps would be greater. Gibson is a world-renowned expert on Chinese stamps and he is also President of Kelleher and Rogers Ltd, auctioneers with offices in Hong Kong.
Mr Gibson said: ‘I’ve had a long career specialising in Chinese stamps. And this is by far the biggest and most unparalleled find of my life.’
Consequently, the stamps were placed up for auction in Hong Kong on May 22nd 2015 and indeed attracted great interest, with bidders pushing the sale price up to $927,000, including commission. The winning bidder was a well-known young Chinese collector.
So, keep your eyes open, don’t throw old boxes away without checking their contents – you never know what you might find. If you’ve ever made a strange philatelic discovery, we’d love to hear your story.
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