Penny Black leads Australian stamp auction result

A bit like Australia’s 1930 Penny which was never meant to be placed in circulation, most people have heard of Great Britain’s 1840 Penny Black stamp.

So, it was no surprise when examples of each fetched the top results at Melbourne-based Abacus Auctions February sale – featuring Australian and overseas stamps, coins and banknotes, postal history and picture postcards, militaria, sporting memorabilia and other collectables – resulting in a hammer price of $1,304,226 with 86 per cent of the more than 2000 lots sold.

The 1840 Penny Black example (lot 1327) was a complete sheet reconstruction (AA-TL) and sold above its catalogue estimate for $34,000.

The 1930 Penny (2045) wasn’t quite as successful, bringing $13,500 against its $18,000 catalogue estimate, but nevertheless proving once again how popular this coin has become on the auction market.

Although the origins of the 1930 penny remain a mystery, it is believed they were issued as a memento – exchanged for pennies of other years by tourists who visited the Melbourne Mint at that time.

Among the many stamps on offer from all parts of the world, the Australian kangaroo can always hold its head high. This sale was no different as lot 85 can contest. A First Watermark

featuring examples from 10/- to two pounds (scarcest of the specimen stamps) it brought $12,000 against a $9000 estimate.

Military history is another strong area with lot 2009, a beautifully presented social history display of Australia’s first successful naval engagement – a World War I encounter between the cruiser HMAS Sydney and German raider SMS Emden off Cocos Islands resulting in the loss of the enemy ship – which sold for $9500.

An advanced collection featuring more than 200 different stamp numerals (lot 645) went under the hammer for $8000, four times its catalogue estimate, while another First Watermark kangaroo sheet (half-penny green to two pound black – lot 94) sold for $6500.

Third Watermark kangaroos also are well sought after by collectors and lot 177, with various denominations, did not disappoint at $5500 against its $4000 estimate.

South Australian registration labels, part of that State’s postal history, (lot 644) was another winner at $5000, more than three times its catalogue estimate – while lots 281 and 393, a single watermark first day cover with King George V stamp heads and a 1902-1960 issue of 6d, 5/-, 10/- and 20/- stamps, each brought $4600.

Many of the lots changed hands well above their catalogue estimates – in some cases like lot 700, an 1857-1863 rouletted 4d vermillion stamp that sold for $4200 – finishing at more than five times the listed figure.

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