… Buy a stamp, of course! This phenomenal price tag is how much an anonymous telephone bidder paid on June 28, 2011 for the coveted ‘Post Office Mauritius’ two penny blue stamp during a sale at Spink Auctioneers, making it the most valuable stamp ever sold in the UK. The stamp hails from the impressive Chartwell Collection, which contains over 80 stamp albums, collected by Sir Cyril Humphrey Cripps.
Sir Humphrey (1915-2000) was a successful English businessman and philanthropist. He began collecting stamps almost by chance in the 1950’s, picking the hobby up from his son, Robert. Robert eventually lost interest in stamp collecting as he returned to school, but his son’s fleeting interest in the hobby transformed itself into a life-long passion for Sir Humphrey. He studied philately and the existing marketplace, focusing on Great Britain and the British
Empire. In 1972, he purchased the ‘Post Office Mauritius’ 2d. blue for £29,000, which was quite expensive at the time. He was later offered an even greater sum for the stamp, but Sir Humphrey rejected it—proving that his love was the act of collecting and the collection itself, rather than the monetary value of what it contained. This extraordinary stamp became a part of his British Empire Collection, which contained stamps from primarily Bermuda, Mauritius, the Virgin Islands, as well as Canada, New Zealand and theTurks Islands.
The stamp collection also included the Great Britain Collection, from which hails other big items in Spink’s ongoing auction of Sir Humphrey’s stamps, which included several examples of 1840 Penny Black plates and an accepted die proof for the ‘One Penny Stamp’. You can see some related items from the BPMA collection: lantern slides of a proof sheet of the 1840 Penny Black and the original die used for the 1840 Penny Black’s production.
Sir Humphrey’s collection is said to be one of the finest British stamp collections in private hands, a statement only reinforced by the estimated £20 million that the collection is expected to bring in over the course of its auction within the next 18 months. But what is possibly more fascinating than the price that the Mauritius stamp fetched and the value of the objects within the collection is Sir Humphrey’s evident love of stamp collecting, a passion that has assisted with the preservation of Britain’s postal heritage.
If you’d like to have a further look at the above items from the BPMA Collection, feel free to have a look at our website or catalogue. For Spink Auctioneers and Daily Mail articles on the sale of the Mauritius stamp, you can find them here and here.
– Sarah Cooper, Intern