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Stamp Market Commentary

Special Commentary

William Gross’ UK Stamps
Sold for Charity
June 11,

In a remarkable act of generosity, the well known US bond investor Bill Gross and his wife put their outstanding collection of UK stamps up for sale for the benefit of the well known international charity, Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières.

Shreves Philatelic Galleries
The sale was conducted by Shreve’s Philatelic Galleries Inc in New York City. Shreves’ offices are located in Addison, Texas. According to a report by Bloomberg, the sale grossed $9.1 million, doubling the estimates. Gross is quoted as saying he bought the stamps for about $2.5 million

Bill Gross:
Bill Gross is Chief Investment Officer of PIMCO, which runs the world’s largest bond fund. Canadian Stamp News, in reporting on the sale, said that according to Forbes magazine, Gross is the 322nd richest person in the United States, with a net worth of $1.2 billion.

Here are some of the top realizations from the sale (all figures are in $US):

Lot 10
Reconstructed lot of 24 stamps
Estimate $430,000 - $540,000
Realized $1,000,000

Top block of 18
Plate 1b, the phenomenal mint block of 18 stamps with 10-17 mm sheet margin at left and inscription "ICE 1d. per label 1/- Per Row of 12. £ 1.. Per Sheet. Plac", "MF" has double letter "M", vibrant color, wonderfully well margined all around and with practically full original gum (ink mark on reverse of one stamp), a few minor thin spots and negligible traces of foxing often associated with this paper and characteristic of the gum; a wonderful multiple in every regard, being the largest mint Penny Black multiple still remaining in private hands, of the highest exhibition caliber, not only one of the gems of Mr. Gross' collection, but also one of the great classic rarities of Great Britain and world philately; 1996 BPA certificate; ex-Adams, "Daisy" and Pichai.

Strip of 6 at bottom
Plate 1b, the remarkable left sheet-margin horizontal strip of six with inscription "PR" that was originally part of the large block offered in the previous lot (once having been a block of twenty-four), all positions except PE showing re-entries or recut side-lines, unused, with full to large margins, ironed out horizontal crease, otherwise very fine; a rare and stunning unused Penny Black multiple in its own right that, after years of having been separated from the original multiple, was miraculously reunited by Dr. Pichai Buranasombati in the late 1990's and was one of the showpiece multiples contained in his Grand Prix winning collection of Line Engraved issues; ex-Tes.

Combined block of 24
The above two lots - the mint block of eighteen and the unused strip of six - will first be offered individually then as a single lot, if the bidding for the two units together exceeds the combined total each has realized individually, the two will be sold as one lot, creating the spectacular reconstructed block of twenty-four.

Lot 29
Margin block of 6
Estimate $50,000 - $75,000
Realized $260,000

Plate 7, a magnificently fresh and eye-arresting top sheet-margin block of six , showing "Addrefs and towards the RIGHT HAND SIDE of the" large part of the inscription, mostly large margins on other three sides, superb color and impression on brilliantly white paper, pristine full o.g. that is never hinged, small natural paper inclusion in the margin below position BH, light vertical filing bend/crease just just clips AF-BF in right margins, but not at all affecting this incredibly rare block's sensational overall appearance, very fine; 1972 BPA certificate; ex-Wills, Shaida and "Tes".

Lot 38
Margin block of 6
Estimate $75,000 - $100,000
Realized $320,000

Plate 11, a stunning partial top sheet margin block of six showing inscription "Addrefs and towards the RIGHT H", ample to large margins on other three sides, intense color, full clean o.g., lightly hinged (at least two stamps may be never hinged), some light bends/creases (mostly confined to the margins between the stamps) and are of little significance given this block's enormous rarity and importance; one of the premier mint multiples among the very few that exist from the elusive Plate 11; 1996 BPA certificate; ex-"Daisy".

Lot 45
Pair & strip of 3 on Mulready envelope
Estimate $40,000 - $50,000
Realized $450,000

AE-BE vertical pair and DC-DE horizontal strip of three, Plate 1, uprating a Mulready 2p envelope, a209, to India (slightly refolded at top to its original pre-use position), from Bristol (30 Sept. 1840) to Ajmeer redirected to Agra via Bombay and Cawnpore, both the pair and strip of three have ample to large margins and possess rich bright blue color, pre-printing or application wrinkles, clearly cancelled and well tied by Maltese Crosses in red, showing origin, transit, and arrival d.s. all on reverse; one of the great uprated Mulready covers and an exhibition item of the highest echelon, of the two recorded uprated Mulready usages to India this is by far the finer; 1996 BPA certificate; ex-"Daisy", Pichai.

Lot 53
The “Lady Louis” Mulready envelope to Malta
Estimate $75,000 - $100,000
Realized $650,000

The extraordinary "Lady Louis" uprated Mulready envelope to Malta, envelope (A151) addressed to Lady Louis, Malta and inscribed via Falmouth, bearing 1p Black, DA, Plate V (state 2) single, a 1p Black, PA-PD horizontal strip of four, Plate 1, plus 2p Blue FI, GI and HI singles, Plate 1, mostly with margins all around, all cancelled by striking and distinctive orange Maltese Cross cancels of Bristol and with corresponding "Bristol/JA 9/1841" backstamp, "No. 17" black handstamp on the front of the cover below stamps, two stamps slightly repaired and address panel a bit toned; this stunning and incredibly rare cover has long been regarded as one of the most important postal history rarities of Great Britain and is perfectly suited for exhibition; 1998 BPA certificate; ex-Grunin.

Bill Gross and the “Inverted Jenny”
Back in November, 2005, we wrote another article on Bill Gross, this one concerning his acquisition of a plate block of the famous U.S. stamp, the “inverted Jenny” for $2,400,000. Soon after the sale, he traded the block for the one stamp missing in his U.S. collection, the 1¢ “Z- Grill”. Click here to see our special commentary at that time.

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©2007, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada