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SOTHEBYS 'A' : Sotheby's To Sell The Philatelic Collection of Lord Steinberg

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07/27/2011 | 07:51am EDT

Press Release London

For Immediate Release

London | +44 (0)20 7293 6000 | Matthew Floris | matthew.floris@sothebys.com

Matthew Weigman | matthew.weigman@sothebys.com

Sotheby’s To Sell The Philatelic Collection of Lord Steinberg

--British Empire and Great Britain Mint Multiples--

--Sale To Benefit Causes and Charities Associated with Lord Steinberg in his Lifetime, Including The Fund To Rebuild Home Ground of Lancashire County Cricket Club--

The unique mint block of the 1927 De Pinedo Air Mail 60c. black, Estimate £120,000-150,000*

WEDNESDAY, 27 JULY, 2011 --- Sotheby's London is to offer The Philatelic Collection of Lord Steinberg, in a series of two sales on 6-8 September and 21 September 2011. The first three-day sale comprises British Empire Mint Multiples, and the second sale on the 21st will feature Great Britain Mint Multiples exclusively. The unique characteristic of the collection is that it contains only mint blocks of four or larger multiples. The significance of blocks is of paramount importance to collectors, since many stamps which are comparatively common are transformed into major rarities when in blocks of four or larger. Sotheby's two auctions will be an unrivalled opportunity for collectors to acquire gems from an exceptional collection, and this is the first sale of its kind in almost a century**. Together, the sales will feature 2,068 lots and the collection is estimated in the region of £4 million.

Lord Steinberg’s family have decided to donate proceeds from the sale to a number of causes and charities with which Lord Steinberg had been associated in his lifetime, including the fund he started with the aim of helping to rebuild Old Trafford, home of his beloved Lancashire County Cricket Club.

Lord Steinberg

Lord Steinberg of Belfast died in London on 2 November 2009 at the age of 73. He was one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of the post war era. The grandson of immigrants who turned a single unlicensed betting shop at the back of his father's Belfast milk counter into the Stanley Leisure Group, a chain of 640 betting outlets and

45 casinos which employed 7,000 people, Lord Steinberg also became a peer, deputy treasurer of the Conservative Party and president of Lancashire County Cricket Club. He was recognised for his generous philanthropy on behalf of a wide range of both Jewish and non-Jewish causes. Lord Steinberg’s contribution to the leisure of others is

well known from the history of his companies. His own leisure time, however, was intriguingly hidden from the wider public view. Over the course of his life, he assembled 33 stamp albums, with each item on a separate page meticulously written-up by a skilled calligraphist. The exacting nature of stamp collecting was of great appeal to Lord Steinberg, and he approached the task of building up his collection with the same rigorous patience that he applied to his business acquisitions. He accumulated vast reserves of knowledge in the field of stamps, and would pursue his desire to possess mint blocks of four and larger multiples with a determination unmatched by rival collectors.

Richard Ashton, Sotheby’s Worldwide Philatelic Consultant, comments: “Looking through Lord Steinberg’s stamp albums was not only a joy but a unique occasion. Lord Steinberg collected Great Britain and British Empire, with a real twist. Sotheby’s has had the privilege of auctioning outstanding collections formed by Sir Gawaine Baillie and Lady Mairi Bury, each of them distinctive in the owner’s style of collecting. The present collection is equally remarkable.”

Speaking of Lord Steinberg, Harry Dalmeny, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s and one of the main auctioneers for these sales, said: “This is the private passion of a self-made man who became a public figure – and even survived an assassination attempt by the IRA. Most bookmakers are only interested in Post when horses are going to it; not Lord Steinberg, one of Britain’s greatest modern-day philatelists and founder of the Stanley Leisure chain of betting shops and casinos. His evenings were often spent poring over new acquisitions or researching the whereabouts of rare blocks of stamps, while in his latter years he could often be found racing from the House of Lords to stamp auctions where his fierce determination to see off other bidders meant he secured the greatest prizes in philately, before returning to vote on affairs of state.”


Jim Cumbes, Chief Executive of Lancashire County Cricket Club, said: “Lord Steinberg was an ardent and passionate supporter of cricket, and in particular he was a keen patron of Lancashire County Cricket Club and was determined to help his beloved Old Trafford redevelop into a modern Test match arena. He once said that the greatest honour he had bestowed upon him was to be invited to become President of Lancashire which he did in 2007. He was elected for a second term in 2009, but sadly never saw it through. It is through his drive and determination that Old Trafford is set to become one of the very best Test Match Grounds in cricket. It is no surprise to us that both his and Lady Steinberg's benevolence to the Club continues after his passing.”

The British Empire

Seventy-four countries of the British Empire are represented, and there is a notable range of blocks, some of the greatest rarity. Highlights of the sale include Australia with many rare Kangeroo blocks; the unique British Solomon Islands block; magnificent classic Ceylon; Falkland Islands with the 1933 Centenary set in marginal blocks of four; Hong Kong; India classic issues; a remarkable section of Newfoundland with the unique 1927 De Pinedo airmail block of four and the 1932 DO-X airmail block of four with the surcharge inverted, and an incomparable selection of Rhodesian Double Head issues, generally rare in blocks.

The 1927 De Pinedo Air Mail Unique Mint Block

The highest estimated item in the sale is lot 1118, the unique mint block of the 1927 De Pinedo Air Mail 60c. black (illustrated on page one). It ranks as the most important of all Newfoundland and World Airmail blocks, it is among the rarest 20th-century British Empire blocks and it is the rarest of any Italian blocks. It had always been accepted that only two blocks of four survived from the issue of 300 stamps. The other block was divided into singles, following its sale at auction over 30 years ago. This leaves the present example as the sole survivor. Estimated at £120,000-150,000, the stamps commemorate the 1927 flight to Europe by the Marchese Francesco de Pinedo, who is one of the most famous of all pioneer aviators and without equal among the elite group of Italians who took to the skies.

On 20 May 1927 the Marchese Francesco de Pinedo arrived in Trepassy in Newfoundland, on the return leg of his round trip flight from Italy via South America. Prior to his arrival, the Secretary to the Minister of Posts confirmed that de Pinedo had agreed to carry mail to Italy. In typical fashion, the Marchese responded with the message that “he would hop off this evening” in the Santa Maria II, his S.55 flying boat with

twin Isotta Fraschini aero engines. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs arranged for the issue of a specially


overprinted stamp to frank mail carried by de Pinedo. Records indicate that only 300 stamps were overprinted, and it seems that 230 were used on the mail, 66 were used for presentation purposes – many going to Pinedo – and four damaged copies were destroyed.

The British Empire – Newfoundland

In 1930, the General Post Office officially announced that a maximum of 160 letters would be carried on the airplane “Columbia” to London, with a weight limit of one-half ounce each, and a pre-payment of fifty cents. A special stamp was overprinted for the occasion. Sotheby’s sale will present one of the great Newfoundland and British Empire blocks, the

1930 Columbia Air Mail 50c. on 36c. sage-green (lot 1119, illustrated left). Only two mint blocks existed at the time of writing of Cyril Harmer’s handbook in 1953, of which this is one. Rich in colour and in fresh condition, it comes to the market with an estimate of

£15,000-18,000. Lot 1114 is an extremely rare block of the inverted overprint variety of the 1921 Halifax Air Mail 35c. red Setting I and Setting II, estimated at £12,000-15,000.

The British Empire – Australia

A group of the “Kangeroo” Issues are a highlight among the stamps made for the Australian Commonwealth and comprise the most important assemblage of their type to be offered at auction in recent years. Lord Steinberg’s collection includes one of the key Kangeroo pieces which are exceedingly rare. Lot 64, a 1913-14 First Watermark ½.d green Imperforate at the base is one of the four recorded ‘CA’ monogram blocks with this variety, and the present example is one of two that

remain in private ownership. It is estimated at £15,000-20,000 (illustrated left). Further rarities include lot 89, a 1913-14

First Watermark £1 brown and blue, the finest of the four blocks recorded (est. £15,000-20,000), and lot 90, a 1913-

14 First Watermark £2 black and rose, one of three mint blocks believed to be privately owned (est. £10,000-

12,000). A John Ash imprint of a 1931-36 Watermark Crown CA £2 black and rose (lot 171) is one of six imprint blocks known to exist, and comes to the market with an estimate of £15,000-20,000.

The British Empire – Hong Kong

A group of stamps made for Hong Kong number close to 100 lots, including a famous and great Hong Kong rarity. Lot 912, an 1863-71 30c. vermilion Imperforate

Imprimatur, was previously owned by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and sold in April 1946


following his death. It is estimated at £10,000-12,000 (illustrated on page four). A further rarity comes in the form of lot 939, an 1898 Without Chinese Characters Surcharge $1 on 96c. grey-black (est. £7,000-8,000). Very few blocks are recorded in the typically pale shade of this issue.

Other British Empire Highlights

From the British Solomon Islands comes one of the most important error blocks of King George VI’s reign and the entire British Empire. Lot 492, a 1939-51 2½d. Magenta and sage-green Imperforate horizontally, is a unique multiple of this variety (est. £60,000-80,000; illustrated left). Ceylon is represented with a 1857-64

Glazed blued paper ½d. reddish lilac, thought to be unique as a block (lot 615). Estimated at £18,000-20,000, it is one of the foremost multiple rarities of the classic

Imperforate period of the entire British Empire and the rarity of this block is enhanced in the knowledge that there were no mint multiple in the incomparable collection of Ceylon formed by Baron Anthony de Worms.

An exceptional key multiple in Cyprus philately is lot 702, a 1924-28 £5 black on yellow, one of the two existing plate number blocks (est. £10,000-12,000). In superb condition is an outstandingly rare set in blocks of four relating to the Falkland Islands, the 1933 Centenary of British Administration ½d. to £1, estimated at £12,000-16,000 (lot 787; illustrated right).

Lot 980, an 1854 ½a. vermilion, comprises a superb block of the

first stamp of India prepared for general use (est. £2,000-2,500; illustrated left).

Among the Rhodesia Double Head issues is a very rare block of the 1910-13

Perforation 14 ½d. dull blue-green Imperforate (lot 1275), estimated at

£20,000-22,000 (illustrated right).


Great Britain

Highlights of the collection include an impressive mint block of nine of the world’s first postage stamp (lot 3), an 1840 1d. black Plate 4, estimated at

£150,000-200,000 (illustrated left). The penny black was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp of a public postal system. It was issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 1 May 1840, for use from 6 May of that year. One of the finest mint multiples of the penny black in existence is lot 11, an

1840 1d. black Plate 7 block of 6. This remarkable block, estimated at £130,000-

150,000, was discovered in 1972.

A lot containing a block of 12 two-penny blues (lot 22) is one of the largest unused plate two multiples known, with a flawless provenance. The 1840 2d. deep blue Plate 2 was originally in the Royal Philatelic Collection and is estimated at £80,000-

120,000 (illustrated right).

The “Seahorse” Issues produced during the reign of King Edward VII are among the most highly prized of the period. Lord Steinberg’s collection boasts a superb set of blocks in ‘post office’ condition of the

1913 Waterlow & Layton 2s.6d., 5s., 10s. and £1, the set of four in marginal blocks of four. The group is estimated at £10,000-12,000 (lot

377; illustrated left).

The 1935 Silver Jubilee series is notable for the ‘error of colour’. The correct issued colour of the 2½d. is blue and for many years it was thought that stamps printed in Prussian blue came from sheets of Colour Trials which had been issued in error. Colour Trials were, however, printed in a larger format than the issued stamps. The Prussian blue stamps are in the issued stamp format


so cannot be classified as Colour Trials but an issued ‘error of colour. Lot 435, the 1935 Silver Jubilee 2½d. Prussian blue, estimated at £25,000-30,000, is an extremely rare block of this famous error of colour (illustrated on page six). Four sheets in this colour were releases from the Post Office Stores Department on June 25, 1935.

# # #

*Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium

** Two sales devoted purely to blocks of four were held by Puttick and Simpson in London in October 1925 and

November 1926

Notes to editors

Sotheby’s has been offering stamps since 1872, when the company held the first ever stamp auction in Europe.

Sotheby’s staged the greatest single-owner stamp collection of all time, The Philatelic Collection formed by Sir

Gawaine Baillie, Bt. A series of 11 sales, held at Sotheby’s in London, New York and Melbourne between 2004 and

2007, achieved a total of £16.76 million.

Sotheby’s sale of The Great Britain Philatelic Collections of Lady Mairi Bury in London in November 2010 achieved a total of £3 million.


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