14th May 2012
Queen of the South
Forget the summer, October is just around the corner.
No, really, it is and we should know because we have already started work on
the two auctions that we will be presenting in the firstweek of that month, specialised Australasia and British Empire & Foreign Countries. These are to be held just after Stampex to facilitate viewing for our international clients visiting London at that time, particularly those from Australia who may wish to stay on an extra week before beginning the long swim home.
One of my colleagues was asked the other day why Grosvenor does not advertise ‘Collectors’ auctions. The answer was simple – we have yet to hold an auction that is not for collectors.
Although some lots that we present may have more obvious appeal to a stamp dealer, all lots are created with the intention of maximising the result for our vendors. Our judgement on how best to achieve this is based on our previous observations. With a general stamp collection this may sometimes suggest presentation as a single lot – but there is nothing to stop an enthusiastic collector from also pitching in on such lots, particularly as he may well be able to outbid the competing dealers who will hold to limits, due to their need to reserve themselves a profit margin.
If, however, a collection is of a more valuable and specialised nature, as for example the late Leslie Digby Nelson collection of Australian States, a further offering from which will grace our Australasia auction, there is much careful work and sub-division required. From just two albums of Dr. Nelson's collection of Queensland nearly 100 lots have so far emerged for our forthcoming auction.
The Australian state of Queensland issued its own stamps for the first time in 1860, adopting the popular Chalon design, regarded by many as the most attractive philatelic representation of Queen Victoria, after whom the state had been named. Only when the Queen reached her sixties was it felt that this design might need to be replaced, although it was retained for high values right up until the arrival of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Our offering in October from this uncommonly fine 'old-time' collection will include Dr. Nelson’s study of the Queensland Chalon issues between 1862 and 1881 and features a number of important rarities where lines of perforation are missing, or to be found in unusual combinations due to the usage of more than one machine.
These will appeal greatly to the dedicated specialist whilst perhaps leaving others a little cold. One man's meat . . . or rather, as the late lamented Robson Lowe provocatively suggested in Volume IV of his Encyclopedia whilst commenting on the compound perforations of South Australia:
"Some collectors have specialised in these various permutations, finding great pleasure in the discovery of a hitherto unrecorded combination. Others feel that it is a form of philatelic insanity."
* * *
Whilst we wait impatiently for what October will bring, here are three interesting facts that happened to be mentioned at Grosvenor this week:
– Alfred Edward Chalon, painter of the imposing 1837 portrait of Queen Victoria from which the Chalon design was taken, was in fact Swiss, having been born in Geneva in 1780.
– The maverick tone of Robson Lowe's career was set on his very first day at work for London stamp dealers Fox & Co. in 1920. When he explained that he had joined the company in order to learn how the business was run so that he could later start one on his own he was immediately sacked.
– People from Queensland enjoy being called ‘banana benders’ due, it is said, to their penchant for spending time reshaping this fruit.
There are greater insanities than the study of unusual perforations . . .