Over £1.8 million and 70% of the lots sold: these are the numbers of the two days of philately and numismatics organised on 24 and 25 September by Harmers of London, part of the Bolaffi Auction Group, at the Westbury Mayfair Hotel in London.
The top lots of the auctions were, for philately, the rare Indian series of 1948 “Gandhi”, overprinted with black “service”, protagonist of a lively battle between a participant in the hall and numerous bidders via internet, which reached £55,200 from a base of £10,000 (lot 351) , and, for numismatics, the extremely rare Gold 50 lire coin, 1864 of Vittorio Emanuele II, of which only 103 of these highly sought-after coins were minted, awarded at £156,000 (lot 335).
Among the great philatelic rarities of Great Britain, the British Empire and the Commonwealth, the lots with the best results were: an unpublished essay of the Treasury Competition designed by James Chalmers, probably the only specimen (£30,000, lot 32) ; the Italian States – an envelope with rare 40 cent and 80 cent stamps of the Provisional Government of Tuscany franked in advance (stamped Firenze 11 January 1860, lot 225); with Great Britain (1856/58) one Penny red addressed to the Lord of Bishop of Salisbury (on reverse arrival 17/01) – extremely rare combination franking. Certificate Colla (1999); an English Penny Red (£22,800); a 1912/25 George V 1,000 Purple-Red thousand rupee stamp issued for the English colony of Ceylon, unmounted, top sheet margin, superb and very rare, certificate B.P.A. and A. Diena (£21,000); and an 1840 Two Pence Blue, a specialized collection of more than 100 examples most of which are in very fine condition, including a few strips of three and four. Nice cancellation study. Four certificates included in lot (£46,800).
With regard to numismatics, it is worth mentioning the extraordinary achievements of the British coins, well represented in the catalogue by specimens of great rarity and preservation. The most brilliant results were achieved by the £5 coin of of George IV, purchased at £93,600 from an auction base of £20,000 (lot 224); the 5 Guinea coin of 1729 of George II, awarded at £31,200 (lot 219); and the Gold Proof £2 coin of 1887, a mirror base, minted for Queen Victoria’s jubilee, which fetched £23,000 (lot 231).
The two-day event represented the return to the Harmers of London auctions. After a few years of stand-by, the historical British auction house, founded in 1918, changed hands at the end of 2018 and today, thanks to the impulse of Bolaffi Auction Group who aims to become the reference point in England for stamps and coins, just as Bolaffi Auctions is for Italy.
Filippo Bolaffi, CEO of the Bolaffi Group, said, “Despite the great limitations imposed by the Covid-19 and the natural uncertainties for the new beginning, sales results were excellent and participation was very high with more than 300 collectors, 40% of whom were from outside the UK. Following the trends of the moment, many preferred to bid from home, via the internet or on the telephone, but the prestige of the selected venue and the great capacity of the two auctioneers, ensured that everyone present, live or otherwise, could still enjoy the typical electrifying atmosphere of a packed London auction hall”.