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You’ll recall Phileas Fogg and his trusty valet Jean Passepartout helped us illustrate the epic auction journey we were about to embark upon last week, which included nine catalogues, and propelled us on a wager ‘Around the World in Five Days’.

The original 1873 novel by Jules Verne, ‘Around the World in 80 days’, didn’t feature the heroes travelling in a Balloon, which is a common misconception. This was caused by the 1956 movie adaptation which featured English actor David Niven as Phileas, and Mexican Actor/comedian Cantinflas as Passepartout, when they did indeed use a balloon on their adventure, this subsequently became an icon of the story, even appearing on the book covers in recent publications.

St Vincent cover

Lot 40035: Finland 1866 5p error of colour black on buff paper, sold for €11’000

And fittingly last week our auction majestically took flight on Monday reaching dizzying heights for the beautiful material of Persia and was quite literally airborne from then on, one catalogue to country to the next, serenely gliding through the week with many ups to report, including tasty stops in France & Colonies, pure mountainous achievements in Switzerland, with numerous solid landings in Europe, and Overseas, before zippy and zesty Latin America dalliances, then a frenzied and at times riotous scuffle for the Collections, and generously and charitably floating above the clouds for our Rarities, touching every corner of the world until our final stop on Friday in Great Britain & British Empire, all expertly piloted in our Geneva gondola, by our very own Spanish performer, Fernando Martínez, and his English fellow Guy Croton, supported by the unmistakable French intonations of Gabriel Rheinert. Our three  protagonists shared the stage, screens, phones, computers, limelight and crucially the hammer in this extravagant trip around the philatelic globe.

So for your amusement here is a trailer scene by scene of what was captured when our trio of adventurers were cast into a live enactment of our ‘Around the World Balloon trip’ of the year. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Ricky Verra who chased around after the three of them all week like an intrepid Inspector Fix, keeping more than an eye on proceedings and maintaining law and order across the channels, and over the air and waves.

Persia

Mauritius Lapirot 1859

Lots 10073: Persia Indian Postal Agencies in Chahbar, 1914 envelope, sold for €2’040

Like a well organised production show, our clever cutting-room staff have already prepared a detailed article on this excellent catalogue, which offered for sale the Joe Youssefi collection of Persia, and this blog post provides more detail regarding the buoyant bidding and the excellent results. However, in brief here, this session set the scene for the week, in that it exceeded expectations and was colourful in both content and reaction from those on the Internet. The postal history saw strong participation in particular Lot 10001 (estimate €300, price realised €4’320). The ever popular group of Indian Offices in Persia was keenly competitive and highlights including Lots 10073 (estimate €500, price realised €2’040), 10075 (estimate €700, price realised €3’840) and 10087 (estimate €300, price realised €2’640).

All World & Country Collections
Our very own version of Cantinflas took the stage for this hotly anticipated session, to what can only be described as a packed boisterous audience, chomping at the bit to hear what Fernando was about to deliver, and as soon as the melody of his Spanish linguistic features left his sun kissed lips the reception he received was frankly raucous and at times riotous, albeit very good humoured.

Admittedly, there was more than one scrap over his offering, and it was only his eloquent Spanish syntax and good humour that calmed the stalls, with the assistance of Inspector Fix, aka Ricky, who kept any outburst decent. Plenty of lots went for many times their estimates, such as Lot 60133 which sold for EUR 11’000 against an estimate of EUR 3’000, and Lot 60057 which reached ten times its original estimate finally going for EUR 6’000.

As predicted in our highlights article two weeks ago, this catalogue was a collectors and dealers paradise, and as is often the case there can be trouble in such places, and the trouble was keeping up with the bidding on the various platforms. However, Fernando’s award-winning performance got the crowds in good order and we even saw prices rise further with Lot 600140 making a staggering EUR 50’000.  

Mauritius cover

Lot 60133: British Empire 1853-1930 archive collection
with Specimens, sold for €11’000

Switzerland

Lot 30037: Switzerland 1850  5c “Waadt” red and black, type 68, sold for CHF 1,900

What is crystal clear about this offering is that the results were excellent, with more than 80% of lots sold and most for well above their estimates. A few standout sales are Lot 30016, a gorgeous 1843 cover franked with 5 + 5 c Double Geneva’s selling for its estimate of CHF 60,000, and Lot 30035 a Basler pigeon on cover, estimated at 7,000 CHF sold for CHF 18,000. Also stamps were in demand with Lot 30037 a used 5 c. “Waadt” red and black, type 68, Sold for CHF 1,900 (estimate was CHF 800) and Lot 30042 an attractive 1850 Waadt 5c with Geneva rosette AW No. 3 achieved a clinical CHF 1’100 (estimate CHF 400). Even a almost complete Liechtenstein collection from 1912 to 2010, Lot 30264 Sold for CHF 1,400 estimate of against a 800. Strongly recommend a more detailed look at the prices realised on our website, quite aside from the prices it’s a beautiful selection of Switzerland material. Very encouraging.

France & Colonies


This authentic session was given a little va-va-voom by our French forward Gabriel Rheinert who took to the stage and dished up a very fine three course session, made all the more palatable by his flare for building the philatelic nest one lot at a time, or as the French say “Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid”.

Lot 20077: France 1869 5F Empire violet-grey imperforate block of 4, sold for €26’000

Particularly nourishing results include the: Lot 20077 a 1869 5F Empire violet-gray not serrated in block of 4, which exceeded its EUR 20’000 estimate selling for EUR 26’000, and Lot 20096 1871, Letter from Isigny for Grand-Camp (Calvados) franking Emission of Bordeaux 5c green in strip of 4, sold for EUR 600 (estimate 200), also the interesting 1871 Siege of Paris balloon mail cover Lot 20103 sold for EUR 1’600 (estimate 1’300), and it wouldn’t be French without the rather chic Lot 20119 which was a rare 1876, Type Sage 1c black on COBALT in strip of 5, that went for more than double its estimate, being swallowed up for EUR 2’200.

Europe
Even without France in the mix the landmass of Europe is quite a size and it took 565 lots to do this catalogue justice. And early doors the reindeers were flying overhead as we arrived in Finland, Lot 40035 a rare 1866 5p error of colour black on buff paper, sold for EUR 11’000 (estimate 6’000), and ever reliable were our travels on the Autobahn, Lot 40050 a Germany 1916 Second Series set of 8, which sped up to EUR 4’800 (estimate EUR 2’000).

Lot 40069: Greece 1861 Large Hermes Heads 30th September cover, sold for €95’000

And it isn’t just mythology that the Greek’s have gods, because lot 40069, the famous 1861 Paris printing Large Hermes Heads sent 30th September cover, sold for a celestial EUR 95’000 – note this cover is Ex. Argyropoloulos and Mattheos. The ever popular Hermes Large Heads as a whole performed well but this stunning cover the standout item of the week. And not to be outdone by their Greek neighbours the Italian State of Sicily cover Lot 40239 attracted a over estimate bid of EUR 2’800 (estimate 1’800), and Netherlands Lot 40399 a group of three 1593-1600 CORSINI covers, made a budding EUR 480 (estimate 200 to 300).

Overseas & Latin America
Now we didn’t quite have a great wall of China in this section more a terracotta army of material, which also had its softer side, with Lot 41039, a 1980 Year of the Monkey 8f mint stamp, very sweet, sold for it’s upper estimate of EUR 900, and when we arrived in Panama there was a fleet of covers out of the French Canal Company, Lots 42196 and 42197 both achieved EUR 1’100, and Uruguay tangoed as well with Lot 42262 a Maritime Mail selection which danced up from its estimate of EUR 750 to a energetic EUR 3’000, and also pushing the auction estimate up was Lot 42271 the hammer coming down at a staggering EUR 9’500 (estimate 3’000). Venezuela lubricated proceedings with Lot 42304 where the bids poured in, taking us from a starting bid of EUR 3’200 to a hammer price of EUR 8’500.

Lot 42271: Uruguay 1860, 120c. blue, subtype 6A, sold for €9’500

Lot 50433: Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir 1867 1/2a black, sold for £800

Indian Princely States
There were several auction wonders to be found in this specialised catalogue, and notable results include; Lot 50143 1915-41 2a sage-green, type C overprint OFFICIAL which made GBP 200, and a Bussahir 1895 2a orange-yellow imperf, Lot 50196 exceeded the GBP 190 and sold at GBP 300, and in the same Indian State Lot 50219, a 1899 12a green with monogram in red, sold for GBP 650 (estimate 440), and the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir, Lot 50433 produced a sizzling GBP 800 against an upper estimate of GBP 320. The state of Kishengarh, Lot 50584, which was a fresh 1913 1r mauve, unused imperforate pair with full side margins, achieved GBP 400, and a Nawanagar, Lot 50608, reached a healthy GBP 1’400.

Rarities of the World in Partnership with MSF

With the exception of the World Collections session this was probably the most entertaining slot, the common denominator being our charismatic and often comedic host, who brought the party spirit, not tequila, and danced through these glamorous lots in a rumba of quips and Spanish syntax.

MSF logo
MSF logo

This being our red carpet charity event, and it witnessed the 1857 Crimea Nightingale cover we featured in a previous article, Lot 70059, sell for EUR 7’500 (upper estimate being 6’000), and the ex. Zachariades, Large Hermes Heads Lot 70082, exceeded it’s EUR 10’000 estimate by 3’000. Other noteworthy highlights were two Romanian cover, Lots 70108 and 70106 which were landed for figures in excess of their estimates, the hammer prices EUR 28’000 and 14’000 respectively, and the Russian Post Offices in Mongolia & China were the hot property of the night, with Lots 70110, 70111, 70112 and 70113 producing a magnificent combined sum of EUR 81’500. Lot 70110 features in our Rarity of the Week article this week, which is well worth a read. And appropriately the Everest 1924 GB Expedition cover Lot 70121, grabbed the headlines selling for EUR 11’000 against an upper estimate of EUR 8’000.  More important was the money raised for Médecins Sans Frontières, the sellers commission kindly being donated to their work against COVID19.

Lot 70082: Greece 1861 5L yellow green mint block of eight, sold for €13’000

Lot 80694: New Guinea 1915 Wmk 2nd “Crown / A”, sold for £18’000.

Great Britain & British Empire
Who else but our very own Phileas Fogg, British fellow Guy Croton took control of the gondola and hammer and meandered us smoothly over the Great Britain & British Empire philatelic skyline with a whopping 1114 lots, and just the minimal amount of tea breaks.

Some headliners were; an 1840 2d Blue cover Lot 80086 topped its estimate reaching GBP 1’100 (upper estimate 800), a Queen Victoria Surface Printed Lot 80204, an 1883 5s Rose on white paper “SPECIMEN” type 13 overprint, surprised a few people when it was competitively bid up to GBP 2’200 against an estimate of GBP 700, and the Jubilee section was very well supported, the star being Lot 80209, a Queen Victoria Jubilee De La Rue archive page which went for GBP 10’000, 2’000 over its estimate.

The postal history section performed as well, Lots 80237 1867 rare franking envelope to Mauritius, redirected back to Great Britain, went for GBP 850, more than twice its estimate, Lot 80238, an entire sent in 1867 to Massachusetts USA from Dundee with a 2s Blue and 1d Red franking, exceeding expectations as well, selling for GBP 300, as did Lot 80241, which sold for GBP 330 more than double the lower estimate.

King Edward VII wasn’t overshadowed and one stamp that followed the same format as the earlier Queen Victoria Specimen, Lot 80283, a 1911 Somerset House 6d bright magenta on Chalk-Surfaced Paper “SPECIMEN”, sold for GBP 2’200. The classic King George V Seahorses performed, Lot 80302 breached the estimate by some way selling for a hammer price of GBP 1’600, and Lot 80307, hitting its top estimate of GBP 1’200. The GB Officials section hit or exceeded estimates, Lots 80366 selling for GBP 850, 80367 selling for GBP 3’000, and 80368 a solid GBP 3’000. British Empire saw robust bids for all countries, especially Australia, and a particular high achiever, Lot 80598, a Tasmania 1853 Courier 1d reprint of the complete sheet in blue, hammer price GBP 1’700 (estimate 300), and the New Guinea 1915 Wmk 2nd “Crown / A”, Lot 80694, sold for GBP 18’000.

Lot 80959 a St Helena 1864 4d Carmine with DOUBLE SURCHARGE, reached GBP 9’500 (estimate 6’000 to 8’000), Lot 80919 Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika 1912 1c to 500R set of 20 in mint never hinged blocks of four “SPECIMEN” overprint, sold for GBP 8’000, and Lot 81136, (pictured below) Southern Rhodesia 1931 KGV 5s blue & green showing error of printing, sold for GBP 6’500, and finally a lovely set of 1961 Tristan Relief Fund set of four in BLOCKS OF FOUR with “ST. HELENA” First Day cds Lot 81052, was driven up to GBP 8’500. 

Lot 81136: Southern Rhodesia 1931 5s blue & green error of printing, sold for £6’500

It was a busy end to the five days, and despite the COVID19 pandemic, our philatelic adventures, with the aid of a imaginary balloon and a lot of technology and hard-work by everyone involved, was able to surge high above the dark cloud cast by the restrictions and risks, and this translated into healthy results, supported in particular by an increase in Live online bidding via our website and other Internet platforms, with collectors, agents and dealers utilising tablets and mobile phones to participate from the safety of their homes and offices, which enabled our three  protagonists, Fernando, Guy, and Gabriel to hammer this extravagant around the world adventure into the prices realised section upon our website.