A collection of Australia
Kangaroo stamps will be
auctioned next month and I have
little doubt the invoice totals
for them when the "Buyer Fee" is
added will be in the $A10
As far as I can determine this
will be THE
most valuable "single issue"
stamp collection ever sold.
From any country, in any era, by
Solely Kangaroo stamps - not the
Brazilian "Bulls Eyes", or
Switzerland Cantonals, or
English 1840 Penny Blacks and 2d
Blues, German States, or USA
imperfs, Hawaiian "Missionaries"
or "Inverted Jenny" Airmails.
The fact this is a totally 20th
Century issue about to set such
a record is even more
remarkable, that it outranks in
dollars all the great 19th
Century "Classics" collections
sold in the past.
auctioneer selected to
handle the task is Shreves
Galleries of New York. The
sale will be held over 2
days in their Manhattan
offices - February 22 and
I will fly across and cover
the sale for this magazine.
And hopefully buy a little
portion of it too! I will
also be bidding in
person for several clients -
let me know if you wish me
to act on your behalf.
Mark my words - this sale will
put "Kangaroo" stamps on the
global philatelic stage. It
will raise awareness of the
issue - and prices - like no
other single event in history,
since their issue date in 1913.
A lot of collectors overseas who have never
looked twice at this issue will show interest,
and some will buy them and start to collect
them. Prices for the better Kangaroo material
will continue to rise - just as it has risen
very strongly and steadily over the past decade.
All stamps being much less than 100 years old
there has been a perception among many
philatelic purists overseas that these
Kangaroos are "modern" stamps.
Readers of this column who have nice pieces in
their stock, or in their collections, can smile
inwardly as this sale just increased your nett
The collection owner, 67 year old Sydney
based Arthur Gray has collected for 55 years. He
recalls cycling around as a young lad to every
post office in his area buying up corner
"Imprint" blocks with his pocket money.
He told me one
kindly Postmaster handed
him some imprint blocks
one day from under the
counter and said he
could have these at face
value - the 1937 "Robes"
issue high values.
Young Arthur broke an
Olympic cycling record
getting back home to
raid his piggy bank and
negotiate a fast
unsecured loan with his
Gray had a long business
career as investment
banker, and later on in
the health food/vitamins
business, and slowly
pieced together this
The Kangaroos collection
is nearly entirely mint,
and for the issue is
- with proofs, essays,
imperfs, and all the
major plate flaws and
I took photos and ran
them in magazines, of
David Maiden presenting
Arthur with the
Australia Post "Grand
Award of the
Show" during the hugely
99" in Melbourne.
GOLD, GOLD, GOLD
These Kangaroo stamps won Large
Golds the three times they were
exhibited internationally in FIP
events. London 2000, Philanippon
2001 and PhilaKorea 2002.
After that point of perfection, one
cannot exhibit competitively any
more, and it was thus shown in the
Championship class in Thailand
during 2003. It won the "Grand
Prix" in Perth in 2004. I last saw
it in the Court Of Honour at
"Pacific Explorer" in Sydney in
2005, and spent an hour drooling at
the superb range on display.
Several of the pieces on display
there I sold Arthur over the
decades, and it is great to see
such a vast array of mouth
watering Roos back on the open
Much of this material will not
be offered again for another
generation. World interest will
I will be howled at by many
purists here, but MANY of the
medal winning exhibits at large
Internationals bore me to bears.
Frame after frame of the
dreary Registration labels of
Zanzibar, the censored and
underpaid POW military mail of
the 1868 Bolivian/Ecuador War or
whatever, and pages and pages of
the first issues of Saxony or
Spain give me the serious yawns.
Frames of bright and colourful
bi-colour Kangaroos really does
catch the eye when mixed among
material like the above, let me
Gray has the bi-colour printer
monogram pieces for every stamp
possible. Several are expected
to challenge the $A six figure
mark in this auction, including
the "JBC" monogram 1913 £2 Roo
illustrated nearby - the only
one in private hands.
This stamp WITHOUT the selvedge
monogram marking would not sell
for even close to 10% what this
copy will bring. Making this
tiny piece of paper the most
valuable selvedge in the
world! The selvedge itself is
worth more than
most major world rarities when
you think on it. In NO
stamps is this true.
5/- Sideways Watermark
Some stamps are unique - in and out of private
and public collections. One such stamp is the
5/- Kangaroo with sideways watermark illustrated
nearby. Only one example has ever been
In fact for way over half a century leading
dealers and collectors firmly believed it did
not exist, as it had been reported in 1919, soon
after issue, but never seen afterwards.
Catalogue value is $A50,000 and I suspect it
will be invoiced at double that figure.
I have little doubt the invoices for the
sale will run to about $10 million when
buyer fees etc are added. I have spoken at
length many times to auctioneer Charles
Shreve and Arthur Gray about this sale, and
they are both upbeat about the success of
The pre-sale estimates are about $US5
million (approx $A6.4 million) and are very
conservative they tell me.
Shreves are known for handling many superb
collections, and yet this sale will gross
more than their highest ever auction result
in my view. That result was the William
Floyd sale of classic USA in 2001 which had
a hammer price of about $US5.5 million.
Why New York?
Why choose to sell the stamps offshore?
Gray told me he was introduced to Charles Shreve about two
years ago at an World Stamp Championship where he was
exhibiting, in September 2004 in Singapore.
Shreve is known for handling many fine "one country" Gold
Medal type collections, and expressed genuine interest in
the Kangaroo stamps, and said he would be delighted to have
a chance to discuss offering them if they were ever for
Charles Shreve told me in conversation when he first saw the
Gray Kangaroo collection he was "knocked out" by the beauty
of the bi-colour Kangaroos, and had not realised what
enormous "eye-appeal" this series could have when massed
together, especially in multiples.
"The Most Beautiful"
Arthur Gray told me in his view the most
beautiful Australian stamp ever issued was
the 1913 £1 Brown and Blue Kangaroo, and I'd
have to agree with him. And always have.
That single printing (unlike many of the 3rd
watermark issues) was uniformly in deep
vibrant colours, and it really is the
visual highlight of their entire series for
certain - in mint condition most especially.
Shreve bought out part of the amazing Bill
Gross USA collection to "Pacific Explorer
2005" in Sydney, and the Kangaroos sale was
discussed further. Shreve and Gray met
again at Washington 2006, and had more
With a background in senior management
Arthur Gray is not a man easily impressed by
a sales pitch, as anyone who has met him
will readily concur.
He told me: "Charles flew out to see me
in latter 2006 to make his final pitch, and
bought with him no less than eight different
full colour front cover graphics for the
front cover of the sale should they be
favoured with it. These were detailed
and very professional mock-ups done by their
graphic designer, and to go to that length
really impressed me."
"Charles Shreve has at all times been
polite and businesslike. Most importantly,
he has also shown a genuine passion and
knowledge for these stamps I'd collected for
a lifetime" he said.
"Live" internet auction
Gray told me he also was impressed with the
leading edge computer internet technology
Shreves have used successfully for recent
auctions where bidders can sit at their
computer anywhere in the world, and take
part in the "live" auction as it occurs.
Bidding on your keyboard just as if you are
sitting in the sale room. With sound and
photos of the sale room and auctioneer.
"I am near computer illiterate
myself, but can see that this feature gives
the auction using it a massive advantage
over ones that do not" Gray told me
For these and other reasons the stamps
were consigned to New York, although not
before leading local auction houses were
actively invited to outline their
marking plans and thoughts to Arthur
Gray - and several did.
The auction is notably strong in proofs
and essays. Prices for this material has
gone ballistic in recent times on
As I reported and illustrated in my June
2006 column a single 2½d Kangaroo essay
was auctioned by Prestige Philately
Melbourne in April this year for
$A172,500 - on an ACSC catalogue value
of "only" $75,000. That is near
$100,000 MORE than full
catalogue value. That stamp was
consigned by Arthur Gray.
The essay in bright blue is on thick
ungummed unwatermarked paper roughly
rouletted percé en scie gauging
14½. This same design is known to exist
in several different colours.
Sold for $A172,500
Shreves have set the Gray Auction start to be 2pm NY
time each day, thus suiting Australian bidders - as it is wake up time
in the morning here. Each day about 450 lots will be offered, in a sale
that will take about 5 hours each day.
For all budgets
The sale does not of course contain only
6 figure items. Charles Shreve assures
me there are many lots of nice
material that have estimates of around
$US150, so there is material to suit
every budget in the sale. Gray
consigned 500 x large written-up pages,
so there is all manner of group lots on
Descriptions have been meticulous,
taking a month of work, and leading
Kangaroo experts have assisted the
Shreves team describe each item. This
guarantee of fine detail was another
reason Gray chose Shreves.
The February 22/23 auction catalogue
itself will be a keenly
sought collectible for decades to come.
It is a large, thick, very heavy coffee
table size tome, hardbound, and hand
stitched. As you would expect it has
detailed descriptions and superb
illustrations. Copies cost $US75 or
$A100 or £40 by Express Courier Mail.
Orders should go to
firstname.lastname@example.org who accept
credit cards, and they will be something
that is always sought in the future as
the ultimate Kangaroo reference book.
The Shreves website of course has the
entire catalogue on-line, for those who
do not need the printed reference
catalogue or are too late to secure one
Even the pre-sale advance notice
brochure for the sale, with heavily
embossed cover, waxed interleaving and
page of glorious photos was more lavish
than MOST regular auction catalogues!
For anyone who collects such things
please let me know as I have a few
spares. These Americans certainly know
how to present these "Name" auctions.
This brochure went to a bunch of serious
and very wealthy collectors who to this
point have never purchased one Kangaroo
stamp in their life. Some spend
literally millions a year on stamp
purchases. Even just one of two of
those taking an interest in buying here
will add a new market dynamic.
Charles Shreve told me he has
already set up a stand-alone
dedicated website to remain in
place for years after the sale,
will feature the stamps, the
prices realised, local
anecdotes, photos from the day,
and links to stories in this and
other magazines and
media covering the sale.
Prospective vendors of major
collections should note such
small but very important points,
as it ensures their carefully
assembled material is on view
for eternity to interested
students and fellow collectors -
worldwide. More power to
Shreves - I wish all auctions
did that for name sales.
I am a firm believer in the
power of the internet for
selling and promoting stamps.
My website recently passed the
visitor mark - a first for any
dealer in the Southern
I still see some of Australia's
VERY largest stamp dealers with
awful websites that most outback
Boy Scout sub-branches would be
ashamed to call their own. A
few four year out of date pages
is their sole contribution to
on-line philately in the 21st
Sadly many large auctions (the
British in particular) also have
appalling websites, and often do
not archive past sales, which
does not assist students or
researchers referring back on
them for much needed detail and
information, and prices and
Such "lazy" sites offers little
in the way of a permanent
testimony to sellers of fine
collections, of their
A $75,000 paste-up!
The Australian auction to come closest to
recognising the importance of good presentation, and
archiving past sales for posterity is Prestige
Philately in Melbourne. It was no surprise to me to
see Gary Watson's company is a consultant to this
sale. Watson assures me adding earlier sales to the
archive is "an active work in progress."
My own website has well over 300 separate pages. My monthly stamp
columns for 10 years are all archived there on glenstephens.com/column
- in many cases offering the ONLY web record worldwide of the
details and photos from those stories, discoveries, auctions, sales,
Most especially since Linn's Stamp News removed their own
superb archive resource, which was very sad to see vanish, when
leaving it up as it stood was presumably of totally negligible cost,
as all the work had already been done.
The Gray Collection stamps are scheduled to be available for viewing
in Australia in Sydney and Melbourne and London and New York before
the sale, and the times and locations are found on
Why Sell Them?
I asked Arthur Gray the
obvious question -
"why sell them?"
He is a very active
collector and I was
interested why he wished
to sell such a superb
collection. It seems he
wanted to devote his
energies to his many
other world class
had found there was
little new to add to the
The "Kangaroos" are
only the tip of
"KGVI Issues of
won Gold in November
at Kiwipex 2006.
Arthur Gray has
won top end medals
not only for his
King George VI, but
1904-1973" his "King
Heads Australia" and "Australian
1927-1936" - all
during the past
year or so alone.
I saw the latter
where it gained high
acclaim - and Large
Gold recognition in
the very toughest
company. Several of
those items I also
"The best person to
decide on the sale of
any collection is the
person who formed it. I
was keen to be part of
the selling process"
Gray told me today.
these stamps all my life
and enjoyed every moment
of assembling them. I
was desirous that others
might have that pleasure
of owning and exhibiting
them, and thus wanted
them sold on the open
market, and not locked
up in a vault or dusty
safe in some
"I was disappointed
when Ray Chapman's
superb collection was
purchased by Australia
future collectors will
never have the chance to
own those stamps. I was
determined the same fate
would not befall my
Kangaroos, and Shreves
will disperse them to a
new generation of keen
collectors, and the
thought of that delights
Realisations of some areas will be of
interest to all the trade - and collectors. In some cases there is no
guidance whatever on market value - as it has been decades since they
were last offered.
Earliest Australian FDC
There is a
complete set of
Day Covers" to
5/- in the Gray
These are all
"Mr. L Winter"
NSW. The actual
first date of
SALE for most of
series is not
certain - even
to this day.
many to be first
but no-one will
ever know for
the same set -
only to 5d,
serviced by the
Hagen who mailed
this set as each
value came on
Those came from
the Bill Purves
cover except for
the 1d red - of
which about 12
(The ½d green is
recorded on a
Jan 14 postcard
to USA but I
this is a date
slug error or
In fact no other
Kangaroo on FDC
other than those
None exist from
amazes me. Not
even for colour
or major die
changes like 2/-
So here we have
a set of covers
readily sell for
all up - time
an exhibit of
who does not
collect the mint
stamps will need
these, as the
for the 1d) are
all unique in
A wonderful and
Kangaroos collection, the
sale of which
will probably do
more for putting
stamps on the
than any other
I would have
to say the printed Shreves Catalogue for
this sale must surely take the award for
THE finest stamp auction
catalogue ever published anywhere. By
anyone. At any time.
Over 25 years
I have received 100s if not 1000s of sale
catalogues from masses of auction houses in
Australia, Europe and the USA. Nothing is
talking a huge hard bound tome here,
near the size of a Stanley Gibbons
catalogue. It weighs in at 2½
pounds or 1¼ kilos.
grained leather-look dark brown front cover,
with cover and spine richly gold blocked and
embossed. The catalogue was HAND-BOUND
to ensure this high standard final finish.
My rushed digital photos here do it no
favourite stamp of all time - the 1913 £1
Brown and Blue Kangaroo is hand inserted
larger than full size on the front cover, in
a custom bordered recess.
archival art paper, and 280 large A4
sized pages. Key stamps often have
an entire page of detailed background detail
and description devoted to them. The
foreword itself is a fascinating read!
up on every lot. A reference treasure trove
for decades to come. Any collector
ANYWHERE with a top end collection
who sees this catalogue will not hesitate to
consign it to Shreves. They simply do the
job better than anyone else, and this volume
is proof of the pudding. The $A7
million+ final invoice price and
EVERY one of the 849 lots being sold
is further proof.
COLOR match on this catalogue is
the best I have ever seen for Kangaroos.
From anyone, anywhere.
Absolutely perfect in my professional
opinion. The ACSC of course
has as its major weakness that it is
monocolour. This volume is a "must
buy" if for no other reason that that - you
get 100% accurate COLOUR reference for every
Want to see
what a TRUE 1/- Deep Dull green 2nd
watermark looks like for reference? This is
the book for you. Ever seen an accurate
colour photo of the 9d, 3d wmk
Indigo Violet cat $A1,250 ACSC
#27Cba - well here is your perfect reference
copy. Both copies offered in Gray sold for
WAY above full cat, in fact one got
well over double ACSC, (=$A2,700
for a diabolically centred example)
so this book could repay handsomely, as few
know exactly what this stamp looks like.
To be honest
the years out of date "Kangaroos" Volume of
ACSC is now all but useless
as a pricing guide after this sale. MANY
items such as the 9d violet quoted above
got multiples of current full ACSC prices.
Some, like the £2 1913 Large OS sold for SIX
times full ACSC ($A60,000 for
$A10,000 cat.) The 1/-
Small Multi watermark inverted, cat $A20,000
with corner creases and a tear sold for
nearly $A40,000. I can quote you DOZENS
more similar instances, having sat in the
room for 2 long days.
Small Multi perf 'OS', cat $A4,000 sold for
$A20,000. Likewise the £2 - cat
$A10,000 sold for $A46,000.
Even "basic" stamps like a used 1913 £2
sold for $A5,625 - and I sold a far
superior one recently for $A4,000 -
So buying just ONE stamp off an un-informed
dealer by using this catalogue's prices
realised will save you MANY times the cost.
Even if you
do not really collect Kangaroos this book
will be a standard coffee table reference
for years to come. They will always change
hands at high prices. I urge you to order
your personal copy today direct from Shreves,
I have a few
copies left, and mine also comes with a copy
of the lavish pre-sale colour brochure -
itself a most expensive A4 production, and
of course I include a complete prices
realised list. Price $A125 the
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