Unique Australian stamp collection goes to auction
Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 26th October, 2015
Arthur Gray was a giant of a man with a personality to match. A highly successful corporate lawyer with BHP who later joined merchant banker Kleinwort Benson before acquiring Russells health foods from Blackmores, Gray had enormously deep pockets – which enabled him to pursue his favourite philatelic pastime without worrying about anyone ever getting the better of him.
The result was the establishment of the most extensive, valuable and important collection of Australian stamps ever formed.
The collection is so good it is superior to the Australian section of Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Collection in London.
In 2007, by this stage well into retirement, Gray sold his beloved Kangaroo stamps in New York for a cool $7 million – making it the most valuable single issue collection ever sold in the world.
Now, aged 76, he is dead and his passing has left a gaping void in the Australian philatelic landscape.
Before he died, Gray asked Mossgreen to auction his King George V heads and commemorative stamps – a collection of 502 lots representing two competitive exhibits, both of which were awarded international Large Gold medals (signifying grading at least 95 out of 100).
Many of these stamps are either unique or “unique in private hands” and, reflecting its worth, Mossgreen has placed a $3.5 million to $4 million estimate on the collection – to be auctioned from 10am on Friday October 30 at 926-930 High Street, Armadale.
Mossgreen philately specialist Gary Watson believes the auction will attract many collectors who left the market in recent years frustrated at Arthur Gray’s dominance and overseas recognition as the face of Australian philately.
This undoubtedly reflects Gray’s wish that, despite his largesse, in time other collectors would have the chance to acquire his treasures.
None more so than the unissued 1913 Twopence KGV and Shilling Black Swan stamps of which there is only one other example of each – in the Australia Post archives – carrying respective catalogue estimates of $75,000 and $125,000.
Other remarkable items are the engraver De La Rue Proofs including the unmasked die proof with blank tablets and incomplete crown and die proofs of the completed design of King George V’s head.