Perhaps if you don’t follow stamp collecting and its related auctions closely, this will have passed you by. But, in just a few days time, there’ll be a momentous event in the hobby/business of philately – the sort that only happens once in a lifetime…
I’m talking about Spink’s sale of the first part of the vast and extraordinary Chartwell collection, one of the greatest hoardings of Great Britain and the British Empire stamps since a thumb first stuck a Penny Black (the world’s first adhesive postage stamp) to paper over 170 years ago.
The 1840 Penny Black was the world’s first-ever adhesive postage stamp
Sir Humphrey Cripps was the man behind it all. He was a successful businessman who supported charities, and also happened to be a passionate collector – or maybe ‘addict’ is a more accurate word.
After he died, Cripps’ children found a shoebox in a wardrobe which was filled with train tickets. Not just a handful of them thrown in casually as one might do, but every last train ticket used for a journey since his schooldays… in perfect chronological order.
That just gives you a faint hint of what the Chartwell collection is like.
You couldn’t stuff all of those stamps and covers in a shoebox, and you’d have to be mad to try. The collection specialises in the very finest examples of the very rarest stamps from all around. Many are little-changed from the day they rolled off the presses, in terms of quality.
You could say that Chartwell’s stamps are worth their weight in gold. Except that they are actually far, far more valuable than that…
Examples include a two pence ‘Post Office’ blue from the tiny island of Mauritius – the first stamps created in the British Empire outside Britain itself. It has been called The World’s Most Famous Stamp, and they are today exceptionally rare and valuable.
The World’s Most Famous Stamp… The Mauritius two pence ‘Post Office’ blue
Also appearing is “the Finest and Most Attractive One Penny Black on Cover in Existence” – a bona fide piece of philatelic history.
Other highlights include, from another tiny island in another corner of the globe, a handful of Perot First Issue Bermudan stamps. These were invented by a frustrated postmaster who became tired of missing post payments.
Elsewhere, there is a Virgin Island’s stamp missing the image of the Virgin Mary herself.
Visit our site for more details of Cripps’s great collection, and an up-to-the-minute rundown of the major sales as the auction takes place on June 28-29.
Make no mistake: this will be the biggest event of its kind for a generation.
Photos from Spink