Phileas Fogg might have circumnavigate the world in eighty days with the help of his trusty valet ‘Jean Passepartout’ in Jules Verne’s book, but David Feldman will wager you that we can go ‘Around the World in Five Days’ with the aid of a technological ‘passeport’ and a tiny bit of tinkering with our intrepid adventurer’s itinerary. Because being candid Phileas went around the timelines a bit and didn’t have the benefit of our Swiss ability of being ‘partout’ – or if you prefer English; being ‘everywhere’. So this is your passport to everywhere.
Don’t worry, we’ll still be crossing borders and encountering the passage of time, but instead of beginning in London and heading to Suez which Fogg and Passepartout did, we are setting off our five days of globe trotting at 2pm on Monday 30th November in the imperial dynasty of Persia, where the sun is rising on these 1868-1879 Nasr ed-Din Shah Lion Issues which are lot 10119 of the 610 lots covering all aspects of postal history, to Indian Postal Agencies and of course the rich tapestry of the Shah’s, to rebellions and occupational issues, censor mail and collections.
Now, if you’ve read the book you’ll know Fogg and Passepartout took a seemingly sensible steamer across the Indian Ocean next, which we will do but not until day four of our adventure when we take in the delights of the Indian Princely States in a sweltering 675 lot auction, so hold that thought, because ‘La vie est belle’ and day two Tuesday 1st December we have fashioned a fantastique morning taking in France and Colonies, with 669 lots of histoire postale and French timbres, a particularly eye catching example available on the day is this beautiful 1849 cover with an exquisite combination of a red grid on Ceres 20c black, and there are lots of French classics on and off cover, but no long lunches on this colony packed itinerary from Algeria to Wallis and Futuna, a total of 28 countries and 160 stop-offs, before we give our undivided attention to France turning the clock back to 1849 and the Ceres issues and tip-toeing through the French reigns from the Empire through to the Wars of 1870-71 and on to the 1900’s and taking flight with airmail and a proper cargo of collections.
Then after a very efficient lunch hour, day two’s afternoon travel take us appropriately across the west border into the clear air of Switzerland where there are 265 lots with numerous philatelic lakes, villages and the high peaks to challenge your restraint, which let’s be honest wouldn’t be very hospitable of us at David Feldman unless it at the very least featured a bit of Double Geneva and despite the rarity of this issue our itinerary does indeed take in these little green nuggets of twinning, the featured example a show stopping 1843 5 + 5 c on a complete folded letter with that perennial red rosette of a cancel setting the heart racing.
But Switzerland isn’t just about Geneva, and this adventurous auction takes in the Rayon Brands with 71 points of interest on our way to the Seated Helvetia and then a blizzard of topics from Postage Dues to Postal Stationery, before we gently get to the confluence of Swiss collections to climb through.
Now, whilst we’ve been enjoying this philatelic fondue, Phileas is still bobbing around the shark infested oceans, and although it takes him the best part of a month to rattle and steam his way from Calcutta to Victoria, and onto Hong Kong, which includes a stopover in Singapore, we are only at the start of day three and nearing the mid-point on our epic auction expedition, and having left the Alps we plough-down into Europe in the morning and the first part of the afternoon of Wednesday 2nd December, we feature 565 continental lots from Armenia through to Yugoslavia with a Parthenon full of Greece material some of which we featured in our recent highlight of The Large Hermes Heads of Greece article, but there are also some sights from the Ionian Islands which allow for basking in Kefalonia and Ithaka, then bathing in Korfu and Paxos, and some Butes (excuse the pun) in Zakynthos.
We’ve also done a good Italian job, with Italy, Italian States and Italian Colonies making up a spaghetti of over 200 lots with the featured item coming out of the rich territory of Sicily – Lot 40311 – in the Italian States section – a rare opportunity to bid on a 1859 1/2gr Orange, plate I on porous paper, in this L-shaped strip of 6. If you need a shot to wash all that down, then we’ve Russia and the Soviet Union distilled into an absolute ethanol of 53 lots from Imperial through to Zemstvos. Scandinavia gets a reliable and practical selection with Sweden making up 20 stops, Norway with 7, and although Denmark has a humble 2 lots, there is this rather colourful 1865 (April1) Cover from Aalborg to London which is lot 40031.
Quick intake of breath. Now, it’s no coincidence that as we move into the afternoon of the third day and venture further Overseas and to Latin America, Phileas at the corresponding time was on board the ocean going ‘General Grant’ having set off from Yokohama endeavouring to get to San Francisco, in the United States, which we also feature along with Mexico, however we continue the latin feel by traveling on an A to Z of this region, quite literally, with tours of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru, Salvador to Uruguay and Venezuela. It’s a lot of stops, and we’ve not even mentioned Asia which in auction catalogue terms appears alphabetically, hence why we can defy physics and pick-up a take-away of tasty Chinese lots which includes this 1912 Republic of China Provision of Neutrality overprint on $5 myrtle & salmon, that is Lot 41019. There is a sushi sized portion of Japan as well, and parts of Africa including 74 lots from Egypt, and a run in Ethiopia, and the middle east including Israel, Palestine, Yemen and among others Iraq and Lebanon. In fact there are so many countries that it’s not possible for us all to get out and take a wonder in the time allotted here, needless to say that Tibet is highlighted in our Everest article and has 51 mountainous lots to marvel at.
Now, by my reckoning day four is equivalent to Phileas hopping aboard a train heading for New York, and as we’ve already done the Americas, and as mentioned earlier we have reserved our Indian adventure until now, which is Thursday 3rd December, day four and a bright and breezy start at CET time 9am sharp, we’ll sail through the 675 lots during a five hour window of Indian Princely States. Don’t worry there will be time to take onboard some refreshments, but before we do it’s worth noting the artistry on show in Lot 50311 – Indian States – Indore which is covering the period 1927 to 1937, an exhibition collection of 19 album pages, with attractive plate proofs, blocks and errors.
Now, once refreshed and refueled there is a particular treat planned for Thursday afternoon with a doubleheader of goodies layed out for your pleasure and consumption. From CET 3pm you will need to take your places for 375 lots of Collections. Which is a bit like an around the World in one catalogue, with every part of the planet in some shape or form represented, and there is even Cinderellas & Vignettes, Picture postcards, and Literature. It’s a collectors and dealers paradise and also a potentially valuable opportunity to purchase a Large Gold Medal winning exhibit because tucked in amongst the All World collections is Lot 60278 – a specialist maritime mail Mauritius 1788 to 1914 display, intact and still written up on the original pages.
Then from the abundance of the collections to the rare and elusive we go, and it’s your evening wear for the charity event of the week, when at CET 7pm we go glossy and glamorous in the Rarities of the World auction in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with 130 lots of mouth watering morsels, which as I’m sure you are already aware the seller commission is being donated to the valuable work of MSF. If you were Phileas Fogg you’d have your valet Jean Passepartout polish your tweezers and buff up your magnifying glass, because this is the part of the adventure to savour what is being served up. It is like your travel bucket-list in philatelic form with material that is unique and comes from the world’s most famous collections.
And because of our need to press on to our final destination in Great Britain and the British Empire, I’ll highlight just a few delights from the Charity event and urge you to take your time examining the itinerary in detail. So, with Christmas so nearly upon us, how about the earliest recorded philatelic game from 1868, which is lot 70000, or the largest multiple that can exist of the GB 3d on 3d and 6d on 6d in unique Post Office Sheets lots 70068 and 70069, or the finest unmounted mint Candian Chalon Head known as The Black Empress, which features in our rarity of the week article, lot 70011. And there is Lot 70015 – Ceylon 1859 envelope from Pusilawe to England with a 1857 4d rose and 6d on blued paper, an extremely rare franking and an exhibition showpiece.
So, at the point that Phileas is on the home straight of his journey, and has run out of fuel whilst on board the steamer called ‘China’, which he boarded in order to try and get across the Atlantic ocean to catch a train from Liverpool to London, we stroll out onto the leafy roads, streets and country lanes of Great Britain for the final day of our adventure, with a whopping 1144 lots of GB and Empire material.
If you thought the sightseeing had peeked yesterday with the rarities on display, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise because this catalogue is especially blessed with philatelic wonders not least in the Great Britain section which has 403 lots, ranging from single stamps, multiples, covers and if the spectacular is your thing then Lot 80040, has two blocks of four penny blacks on a cover from Limerick, Ireland, to Hamburg, Germany, and when last sold in 2007 it fetched $150k. The estimate this time is £100-120k, and is the only known such franking of this kind.
Whilst the British Empire is comprehensively represented in this final day’s adventure, it is worth a special mention for the following well stocked Islands; Ascension which has 181 on show, St Helena with 106, Australia which has 104, Bermuda with 64 and Gibraltar with 50 stunners. And it is at the conclusion of this auction that we have successfully circumnavigated the world in a miraculous, star studded five days.
But a bit like the confusion at the end of Jules Verne’s book, Phileas arrives back in London and gets arrested, and by the time the misunderstanding is cleared up he thinks, mistakenly, that he is a day too late to win his wager. However, ‘Jean Passepartout’ comes to the rescue because, as I said at the start, he is a passport to everywhere, and figures out that they have in fact made it in time, the confusion arising from their travel across timelines, and the gaining of a day, when heading west to east. And, we too must do the same and go back through yesterday’s auction, day four the afternoon slot, where we can pick up our very own ‘passports’, because would you believe it that Lot 60091 in the Collections of the World is a mixed lot of seventy Passport pages. Incredible! Who needs a valet when you have everything you could possibly want for an ‘Around the World in Five Days’ auction tour and be everywhere in a click of the button.
To review the travel itinerary in detail and plot your own route through this auction adventure visit our website for more details. Auction details.