InterAsia Auctions

Our June 26-29, 2016 auction realises US$ 7 million

With the once in a decade international philatelic exhibition in the United States taking place in late May in New York City, June became the principal month of Spring sales for Hong Kong auctioneers. Once again, Interasia's four day sale proved to be the most important auction of the season. Comprising over 3,800 lots showcased in five catalogues, the auction realised a market-leading HK$54,122,910 (US$6,983,479; all realisations include the 15% buyer's premium), well surpassing the HK$37 million pre-sale estimate and far eclipsing all other auction firms. The auction demonstrated the seemingly insatiable demand for rare and unusual items, as well as a steady market for material at all price levels, notwithstanding the adverse economic winds and uncertainties buffeting world markets, and the Chinese and other economies. Keen interest in elusive postal history often resulted in multiples of the pre-sale estimates.

The T.S. Yang collection of the 1878-97 issues of China, featuring a fascinating array of cancellations and interesting postal history, kicked off the series of sales to great interest, alone realising HK$4,440,610 against a pre-sale estimate of HK$2,750,800, with the unused 1897 New Currency small figures surcharge on Dowager first printing 2c. on 2ca. surcharge double (ex Paul Hock) bringing HK$126,500 (pre-sale estimate HK$40,000), and the 1897 Canton to Shanghai envelope bearing the Red Revenue large figures surcharge 2c. on 3c. showing the "Postage already paid/Do not demand, do not pay" framed handstamp finishing at HK$115,000 (pre-sale estimate HK$30,000).

The Qing Dynasty in the General Sale elicited similar competition. The celebrated unique Large Dragon cover from Taiwan, originating at Customs Tamsuy, which has graced great China collections of the past, realised HK$2,875,000, standing out among the small but powerful group of Large Dragons covers. The 1881 Large Dragons envelope from Tientsin to the U.S. through the Japanese Post Office and the 1886 Tientsin envelope to Denmark through the French Post Office each brought HK$483,000, while a select group of Large Dragon essays and proofs from the Jane and Dan Sten Olsson collection demonstrated the continued desirability of the first postage stamps of Imperial China, with the 5ca. imperforate proof corner pair bringing HK$161,000 against a pre-sale estimate of HK$60,000. The specialised section of the Dowager Empress 60th Birthday and 1897 New Currency surcharges showed complementary interest in rare stamps, with the 1894 Dowager first printing 9ca. and 24ca. panes of 25 soaring to HK$230,000 and HK$575,000 respectively (HK$70,000 and HK$200,000 pre-sale estimates), the unused 1897 small figures surcharge on Dowager first printing 10c. on 9ca. double surcharge soaring to HK$368,000 (HK$250,000 pre-sale estimate), and the large figures surcharge 1.5mm. setting on Dowager third printing 2c. on 2ca. inverted surcharge attaining HK$ 97,750.

The 800 lots of the People's Republic of China and Forerunners constituted most of the second day of the auction, realising a total of HK$15,842,112 against a pre-sale estimate of HK$9.2 million. The section commenced with a significant offering of the Liberated Areas, with the 250 lots of forerunners alone bringing HK$2,859,935, including the 1931 West Hunan-Hupei Red Post 10c. marginal example at HK$138,000. A similar marginal example had in comparison sold for HK$27,600 in August 2010, demonstrating the strong market for these forerunners. The General Issues of the People's Republic continued the trend of substantial price differentials for the earlier issues which saw stamps of superior quality commanding high prices. Rarities were keenly sought after, with the two unissued 1964 Peking Opera Masks — the 8f. Monkey King and the 20f. Zhang Fei, both of which were in fact the actual examples illustrated in the Yang Catalogue, realising HK$747,500 (HK$300,000 pre-sale estimate) and an eye-catching HK$1,380,000 (HK$400,000 pre-sale estimate) respectively. The realisation for the 20f. Zhang Fei was one of the highest realisations ever for a value from this rare set. The immaculate mint 1968 "Whole Country is Red" was knocked down for HK$850,000 (HK$977,500 with premium) to a telephone bidder after strong competition, while a pristine 1980 Year of the Monkey complete sheet brought HK$1,495,000 and a second sheet finished at HK$1,380,000. The rest of the complete sheets for the 1965-99 period continued the recent popularity and demand for these post office fresh intact multiples, with the 58 lots yielding a total of HK$769,350.

The Republic of China, which included a diverse offering of important proofs, rare multiples and exceptional postal history, saw some truly astounding prices. Among the more notable realisations, a very early 4 October 1897 usage of the I.C.P. stamps on cover to the U.S.A. through the Japanese Post Office brought HK$103,500, the unique assembly of 1948 75th Anniversary of the China Merchants Steam Navigation Co. proofs (ex Woo Lo-Yuan) realised HK$161,000, and the block of four of the Hankow surcharge $2,000,000 on $20, one of the many interesting items from a specialised study of the Gold Yuan issue, sold for HK$46,000. The 1949 (24 Oct.) envelope from Tehwa to Peking (8.11) bearing a Fukien Province 2c. on $2,000,000 strip of three with the lower stamp bisected, was among the number of more esoteric Silver Yuan covers producing phenomenal realisations, this alone bringing HK$92,000. The outstanding study of 1937-1948 Military Post cancellations from the Beckeman collection was a highlight of the substantial offering of later issues and special studies from these renowned collectors, being fiercely competed for at HK$228,100.

The China postal stationery featured a specialised section of the third issue 1c. green vertical format card. A very rare intact 1908 Chinese Imperial Post letter sheet registered to Belgium was the highlight of the Chinese postal stationery section, finally being knocked down for HK$200,000 (HK$230,000 with the buyer's premium), against a pre-sale estimate of HK$100,000.

The final portion of the Robert Farquhar Collection of Manchuria that Interasia has sold parts of over the past few years, encompassing Manchukuo, Northeastern Provinces and the Liberated Area issues, highlighted the third day of the auction and elicited significant interest from around the world. This, the largest part of this outstanding collection, garnered HK$2,721,820 (pre-sale estimate HK$1,017,900), with the postal history attracting particularly strong interest, while the unique presentation folder of the Manchukuo Money Order "Specimen" stamps brought a remarkable HK$184,000. The 1937 registered envelope to Tientsin bearing the wide space 6.5mm surcharge on Second China Mail lithographed 13f. on 12f. and on Third China Mail engraved 2.5f. on 2f., one of only two envelopes bearing the Second China Mail wide space surcharge 13f. on 12f., brought HK$ 80,500, while the 1945 (4 July) registered airmail censored envelope from Military Post Office "302" to Japan, representing a rare military mail usage with the 1 yuan stamp, soared to HK$ 86,250.

One of the true highlights of the day among the other Chinese Provinces was the censored 1915 Republic of China Flag design 1c. stationery card used from Sochefu (Yarkand) in Sinkiang, in combination with Romanov 4kop. cancelled at the Russian Post Office in Kashgar, to Sweden, which brought a staggering HK$437,000 (against a pre-sale estimate of HK$60,000). A rare Tibet 1912 0.5t. imperforate plate proof in blue on native handmade paper affixed to a contemporary record sheet brought a riveting HK$115,000 (pre-sale estimate HK$35,000).

The "Nostalgia" collection of French Mail to and from the Far East proved to be one of the most important sales of this subject in recent years, attracting interest from around the world, with strong participation from European collectors, realising a total of HK$1,668,190, well exceeding the HK$1.1 million pre-sale estimate. Among the highlights, the 1862 Second Opium War forces' registered envelope from Bureau C to Paris fetched HK$138,000, while the 1878 Customs Post envelope from Peking to France from the Vapereau correspondence mailed prior to the issuance of the Large Dragons stamps sold for HK$207,000.

Highlights of the other Foreign Post Offices in China included the original 1902 signed documents for the establishment of the Italian Concession in Tientsin (HK$ 86,250) and an 1879 envelope from the Japanese Post Office in Foochow to the U.S.A. showing one of the finest strikes extant of its rare Postal Agency handstamp (HK$115,000).

The Other Countries included a British Empire collection formed by a local collector, suitably lotted, as well as the largest offering of North Korea ever to appear at public auction. Featuring the first part of the Dr. Taizo Maeda Gold Medal collection, the North Korea attracted keen interest from South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, as well as the U.S. and Europe, selling for a total of HK$1,066,740 (against a pre-sale estimate of HK$860,600). The 1946 Kim Il Sung 50ch. mint block of ten brought HK$40,250, while the iconic 1953 Eighth Anniversary of Liberation 10w. Soldier mint pair was knocked down for HK$40,000 (HK$46,000 with premium), reflecting the strong prices for this philatelically obscure but intriguing country.

The Hong Kong and Treaty Ports comprised the final day of the auction and continued the market-setting results, bringing a total of HK$5,103,527 (against a HK$3.2 million pre-sale estimate). A remarkable group of Queen Elizabeth II errors and varieties highlighted the Hong Kong stamps and was keenly competed for with many exceptional realisations, reflecting the emergence of a new generation of important collectors, as well as the strong market for rare Hong Kong stamps. The undoubted highlight was the 1961 Hong Kong University missing gold error first day cover, one of five recorded, which realised HK$207,000. Other outstanding results included the 1975 Hong Kong Festivals $1 black omitted requisition block of four at HK$74,750, the spectacular 1983 Hong Kong by Night $1 Fireworks in Harbour silver omitted inscription block of ten for HK$103,500, and the 1987 Historical Scenes $1.30 dark blue omitted corner plate block of four similarly bringing HK$103,500.

The outstanding postal history offering, featuring the collection of Mick Goldsmith, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Study Circle, was also well competed for, with exceptional realisations for the rarest items, including an 1858 entire believed to emanate from Macao showing the elusive Hong Kong single arc datestamp (Webb type 12) selling ultimately for HK$195,500 (HK$60,000 pre-sale estimate) after fierce bidding from two telephone bidders, an 1884(c.) local envelope with the 2c. adhesive cancelled "62B" (believed to be the only known "62B" local usage) knocked down for HK$65,000 (HK$74,750 with premium), and the extraordinary 1840 letter from Canton to London via the Persian Gulf route (one of only a handful believed known) ultimately realising an astounding HK$172,500 (HK$50,000 pre-sale estimate). One of the finest known strikes of the "Shanghae" double arc origin datestamp (Webb type 2) on an 1860 envelope to U.S.A. brought a remarkable HK$86,250. The sale concluded with interesting sections of Philippines and Macau, much of which was Hong Kong-related postal history.

All realisations include the 15% buyer's premium.

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