For this month’s digest we wanted to highlight some of the items and sections in our upcoming December 13th-16th auction. In order to keep it interesting I thought I would highlight examples of different types of philatelic items that people collect and in the order which often they would display them in a collection; starting with pre-stamp, then going through essays, proofs, varieties, usages and collections. For many people this is the driving force of their collecting; to tell the story of a country’s philatelic contribution through its postal history and the development of their stamps.


The GB & British Empire catalogue features an important section of Seychelles postal history; from pre-stamp, to Mauritius used in Seychelles, and then regular issues to KEVII. I’ve chosen lot 51546 to feature from the pre-stamp section. This entire from Mahé includes a most interesting correspondence (if you can read Italian) from a Papal Emissary during his tour of the Indian Ocean, reporting on the state of competition between the Papal, English and French missionaries, addressed to his Eminence, The Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred College of Propaganda in Rome.


Our Olympic catalogue features rarities from Manfred Bergman collection, including unique essays from the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. I’ve highlighted lots 20189, 20194, 20195 and 20196 as they show the evolution in the design of the issued 10c by artist E. Becker, which features a laurel-crowned athlete doing the Olympic salute; from lot 20189 showing his early design in pencil and black ink (which was used for photographic stamp size essays as seen in lots 20190 and 20191) with the value “25c”, “POSTES” at top and the stadium in the background placed horizontally; then lot 20194 in green crayon and ink (the issued colour) with the value changed to 10c and the stadium placed diagonally under the salute; and then to lot 20195 in pencil and ink with annotations in the margins in French indicating a switch in position of the value and “RF”, that the colour of the “RF” should be greyed and the “POSTES” and “10” in white, with the sky and the athlete in deep green and the terrain in light green; and finally lot 20196 which is a much more detailed and finished essay in black ink with etched lines and shows all the alterations based on the marginal notes on the essay in lot 20195.

Lot 20189

Lot 20194

Lot 20195

Lot 20196


Lot 31245 is this unique proof of a Lion issue from Persia, which shows a complete sheetlet of the 1878-79 5 Kran in black in a block of four on thick “Russian paper”. In the margin someone has written the different cliché types in red. Most interesting is the marking on the reverse which appears to be a printer’s archive handstamp in the shape of a diamond ring, with a serial number, what looks to be “…ILLUSTRATORS, LTD”, “…NOON & C” and a signature which as best as I can read appears to be “Donald Harb…”. Unfortunately it’s too difficult to decipher to be sure without tracking down this handstamp elsewhere. Nevertheless it is a highly important showpiece of these primitive issues.

Postal History

The France section in the All World & Collections catalogue features a fresh and comprehensive section of newspapers carried by “Ballon Montés” (air balloons) during the 1870-71 Siege of Paris. I’ve illustrated the contents of lot 30088 which shows “Le Ballon Poste” edition no.3 newspaper. The section also features newspapers entitled “Dépêche Ballon”, “Gazette des Absents” and “Journal-Poste”, which offer a fascinating insight into life in Paris during this time.


The GB & British Empire catalogue features an attractive section of GB modern errors from a collection more than 50 years in the making (they still had the receipts from the 1970s!). I’ve picked out lot 50241 because it is such a dramatic and iconic error, which shows the black ink omitted and hence it is missing the hull of the boat, the inscription, the value and the Queen’s head. I’ve also picked it because we made a mistake in the printed catalogue and illustrated the normal instead…


The Egypt catalogue includes the fifth part of the Joseph Chalhoub collection, which this time features his collection of booklets; including complete booklets, deconstructed booklets, usages, Royal “Cancelled” proofs and misperfs and so on. One of the highlights of this section is lot 10005, which is believed to be the only known example of this 73 milliemes booklet which includes all four panes of six of the 3m stamp and was the second booklet issued by the Egyptian Post Office.


The highlight of the collection section in the All World & Collections catalogue is certainly the Sperati archive of Switzerland forgeries, but since the collection and the man himself has been written about by Devlan in this digest I would like to highlight lot 40944; the fantastic Lebanon postal history collection offered intact. The better sections of the collection have been scanned for everyone to appreciate on our website (in fact many of the lots have complete scans, partial scans or videos for those who can’t travel to Geneva). The collection features over 1’400 items from the pre-stamp period and foreign offices (Ottoman, Austrian, British and French), including this very rare combination cover sent from the French Post Office in Alexandria, Egypt, via the British mail and franked at the British Post Office in Beyrout.