Engineering and collecting go hand in hand at Melbourne auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 4th May, 2022

Engineering and collecting appear to have been the two great loves of the late Lester Kingsley, who died in 2020 aged 95, and now his collection of stamps and postcards will be sold as part of Melbourne-based Leski Auctions forthcoming Stamps, Coins and Postal History sale from 12pm Tuesday May 10 at 727-729 High Street, Armadale.

Raised in a village in Sussex, England, Lester’s first collection as a boy was John Player cigarette cards featuring aircraft of the Royal Air Force.

An engineering cadetship with the British Army led him in 1946 to enlist in the Corps of Royal Engineers which meant service in India and Singapore where he fell in love with the tropics.

He returned to Sussex where local engineering and marriage in 1950 followed his army service before Lester became involved five years later in the building of South Australia’s South Para Reservoir.

In 1960, Lester joined Shell Australia and held several positions with the company before at age 50 he started his own engineering consultancy.

By this stage, stamp collecting had become a major passion and his daughter Helen remembers her father soaking and drying stamps between blotting paper to add to his collection.

After Lester retired aged 78 he began purchasing postcards at auction – fascinated by their social commentary, philately and geography.

Lester’s collection is featured from lots 615-700 beginning with Great Britain 1840 1d Penny Blacks, 1840 Tuppence Blues and various other stamps in the one lot (615) estimated at $3000-$4000.

The next lot (616) is a Great Britain 1867-83 10/- greenish-grey Watermark Maltese Cross followed by an 1867-83 also watermarked £1 brown lilac version (lot 617) and a £5 orange watermarked large anchor example (lot 618).

Lester’s postcard collection is equally fascinating with examples like a set featuring a fire at the South Australian Apollo Works on Christmas Day 1907 (lot 651) particularly appealing.

Other interesting postcards include Barron Falls in Queensland, the soldiers’ Monument at Cairns and the horseshoe bend on the Cairns Railway, both in northern Queensland (lot 650).

Another worthwhile lot, 652, shows early pictures of Melbourne during the cable tram era including Collins and Bourke Streets and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Much of Lester’s postcard collection is devoted to scenic venues and buildings throughout English counties including where he was born.

The auction has plenty of variety and includes a 1790 Spade Guinea (lot 19), an 1863 Sydney Mint Sovereign (lot 20), 1932 and 1934/35 Florins (lots 27 and 28) and a substantial holding of collectable investment grade gold and platinum.

The Australian stamp section features several collections from a highly specialised King George V 11/2d red study offered intact (lot 221) to a stock book of used Roos and KGV heads (lot 138).

Roos highlights include the probably unique or rarely seen 10/- first watermark with “double print of frame” (lot 172), a CTO £1 brown and blue (lot 192) and a MUH £2 third watermark (lot 195).

There are spectacular decimal era varieties (lots 309-311, 317 and 322) along with the recently discovered complete sheet of 20 cent stamps (lot 327) and $4 King sheet (lot 313).

The Australian colonial period includes several highlights (lots 458 and 459) –  New South Wales 1882-85 1/- black overprint double and 1891 1d grey overprint double  stamps – along with the Queensland 1/- strip with missing watermark error (lot 471).

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