Hong Kong 96c Olive-Bistre Unique Block of Four Postage Stamps
For Sale: £960,000.00
The unique 96c olive-bistre right margin block of four with full original gum, superb centring and exceptionally fresh colour.
block shows the original streaky gum associated with all stamps printed
at this time. This gum is usually lost if treated at all. There are two
pencil marks on the margin which have been on the block for a long
time, their origin is unknown.
Typical hinge remainders on the reverse and the fourth stamp has a small natural paper inclusion.
The block also shows the variety error of watermark, which is centred unusually low, with the letters "C C" appearing above the crown and at the top of the stamps.
Without question the most important item of Hong Kong philately.
the success of the Great Britain Penny Black stamp in 1840, and the
subsequent successful adoption of the pre-paid postal system in other
countries, the first stamps of Hong Kong were issued in 1862.
first issues of 1862 included seven values; 2c brown, 8c yellow-buff,
12c pale blue, 18c lilac, 24c green, 48c rose, and 96c brownish grey.
There were two printings of the 96c totalling 138 sheets, with 240 stamps per sheet.
1863, De La Rue, the British printers, changed to a new paper and
introduced the Crown over CC (Crown Colony) Watermark as an additional
Further printings of the 96c stamps were not
required until March 1864, when another 52 sheets were printed and
despatched to Hong Kong.
On delivery, the Hong Kong Post Office
failed to notice this new supply of stamps had been printed in an
olive-bistre colour, as opposed to the correct 'brownish grey' shade.
error of colour was discovered when the stamps were first needed at the
Post Office counters, but it was too late to prevent the incorrect
coloured stamp from being used.
An order for the supply of stamps
in the correct colour took six weeks to reach the printers and a
further six weeks to be printed and despatched to Hong Kong. During this
period old stocks of the 96c brownish grey were exhausted and a few of
the olive-bistre colour error had to be circulated.
olive-bistre had a very short life. The colour errors were circulated
around January/February 1865 until the correct brownish grey stamps
became available in late July/August 1865
Only 48 unused examples have been recorded, including this block of four.
block of four is the only unused multiple of the 96c olive-bistre. It
is thought that only one other multiple exists - a used pair.
is the importance of the stamp that detailed records are now being kept
of all the unused examples and the names of famous collectors, past and
present, appear on this roll of honour.
The key to the rarity of
the 96c issue lies with the postal rate of the time. In 1865 the rates
for a letter weighing under ½oz, posted from Hong Kong, were as follows
To U.K. via Southampton 24c
To U.K. via Marseilles 32c
To U.S.A. via Southampton 46c
To U.S.A. via Marseilles 54c
Local and regional letters 8c
Hence there was limited demand for the 96c denomination stamp explaining why only two examples on cover are known to exist.
unique block of four has rarely changed hands or been offered for sale.
It has graced only the most important collections of Hong Kong.
noted philatelist from New York, George Burghard assembled specialised
collections of Hong Kong and early Switzerland. He sold the 96c
olive-bistre block privately circa 1961. He signed the roll of
Distinguished Philatelists in 1960.
Ryohei Ishiwaka Collection of Postage Stamps and Postal History of Hong
Kong and Treaty Ports was sold by Sotheby's in December 1980. The 96c
olive-bistre block of four was displayed in pride of place on the front
cover of the auction catalogue.
Richard C.K. Chan
C.K. Chan compiled an extensive collection of Hong Kong Philately which
encompassed every aspect of Hong Kong philately. His love of the
philately of Hong Kong and the Treaty Ports spanned over 30 years.
similarities between the number of unused examples known to exist means
that it is inevitable that the 96c olive-bistre is compared to the
Small Dollar of China.
Both stamps are considered to be key in any collection, and there is only one block of four existing of each issue.
last single example of the Small Dollar of China to appear at auction
sold for HK$3.5m (Approximately £300,000) at auction in September 2010.
on this latest sale price, and given the rarity of the single known
block of four in existence, one could conservatively expect it to sell
for upwards of HK$17.5m (Approximately £1.5m) should it appear at
Chinese stamp market
Stamp collecting was actually banned by Chairman Mao and since his death in 1976 the hobby has thrived.
in 2000, the Chinese government reportedly made it an official policy
to foster stamp collecting in youngsters - mainly as a way to foster
interest in national history.
Elementary and high school teachers
were encouraged to organise clubs. Today, the country is believed to
have almost 50,000 philatelic associations, and universities in Fujian
and Jiangxi offer elective courses in stamp collecting.
size of the Chinese population is key to its large - and growing -
representation in the global philatelic community. There are now an
estimated 18m stamp collectors in China (one third of the worldwide
Stamps are recognised as an easily traded currency; they
are tangible assets that are highly portable. The rarest stamps are
considered to be important cultural icons and treasures - just like art.
The popular 1980 Year of the Monkey 8f stamp is a fair barometer of the market, having increased in value by 373% since 2006.
Large collections are now being formed as the great and classic stamps are being repatriated by a number of wealthy collectors.
previous provenance shows - the collection that features the unique
Hong Kong 96c olive-bistre block of four, the jewel of Hong Kong
philately, will likely be considered the finest.
This item qualifies for our layaway plan.
Stock Status:In Stock
Product Code: PT260