Click To Go Back To The Main Stamps Homepage

 Welcome! You are visitor  free counter to


Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

July 2009




It pays to check your KILOWARE!


In late 2007 German metal worker Thomas Boche purchased a large box containing thousands of envelope clippings with stamps on them (i.e. “kiloware”) through ebay, and paid 55½ Euros.

When Boche looked through the box he found a number of stamps suitable for his collection, and one German stamp with an Audrey Hepburn design which he did not recognise.

In the beginning he did not pay much attention to this find.  Only months later did he search for the unidentified Hepburn stamp on the internet, and found newspaper articles mentioning a record sale price for it in 2006


$A132,122 kiloware find


He contacted the auctioneer of the previous Hepburn discovery, Ulrich Felzmann of Dusseldorf.  Boche lived nearby and made an appointment for the next day. 

Felzmann’s offered his stamp (now called copy #4) illustrated nearby, at the “IBRA” Essen auction on May 9, 2009 where it sold for 75,932 Euros when taxes and buyer fees were added.   Or $A132,122 as this was typed.

The stamp bears a cancel from the “Briefzentrum 13” (Berlin-North in Hennigsdorf) sorting centre.

I am advised by email from an executive at Felzmann’s, that the buyer is the owner of a well known family business company, located in one of the bigger cities of Lower Saxony.


Copy #5 auctioned 2 weeks later

By remarkable co-incidence a fortnight later on May 26, Berlin auctioneers Schlegels offered yet another example – copy #5.  It sold in the room to an agent for 53,500 Euros. 

After commission and sales tax etc was added, the invoice price was 67,000 Euros or approx $A116,583 as this article was filed. 

In Associated Press reports carried by many newspapers around the world, auctioneer Andreas Schlegel said that the sellerwished to remain anonymous.

Schlegel added: “He’s worried that if his picture is printed in the newspaper his friends will come to him and say, ‘Hey, you got that stamp from me."

That stamp has part of a double ring cancel in lower corner – proving once again Germans no NOT like undated cancels, and hence the $A15,500 lesser price than a fortnight earlier.


Auctioneer Elisabeth Schlegel and copy #5


The story of the Hepburn stamp began in 2001 when the German post office (Deutsche Post) prepared to issue a set of semi-postal stamps featuring movie stars, including Audrey Hepburn.

They were to be issued as panes of 10 (two of each of the 5 stamps) and a booklet pane that resembled a souvenir sheet. Some 14 million Hepburn stamps were printed.


Hepburn’s son objected


At the last minute one of Hepburn’s sons, Sean Ferrer objected to the stamp design and refused copyright approval.  Reportedly as an image of his mother smoking a cigarette was not one he approved of.  (Hepburn died of cancer in 1993.) 

A 37¢ Hepburn stamp (without cigarette) was issued without incident in June 2003 by the USA by way of comparison.

The German post office ordered that all the Audrey Hepburn stamps be destroyed.  The issue was re-designed and eventually released October 11, 2001.

A Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman stamp in the original German set was also withdrawn around this time. The issued set quickly substituted stamps depicting Greta Garbo, and a reel of film.

The other 3 issued stamps depicted Marilyn Monroe, Jean Gabin, and Charlie Chaplin.

Three panes of 10 stamps each had already been sent to the German Ministry of Finance, but it is believed that they were not returned and not destroyed. 

The whereabouts of all these 30 stamps today is not known.  I presume the 6 x Bogart/Bergman stamps must also exist in kiloware from these same 3 sheetlets?

Three years later, in late 2004, the first used example #1 of the Hepburn stamp was discovered by Werner Duerrschmidt, a stamp collector and mailman in Bavaria, a German state. 

He found the 110+50 pfennig stamp in a mixture of used on-paper stamps sent to him by friends.

Duerrschmidt’s example was cancelled Berlin, October 14, 2003.




'Sensation Perfekt!'


This was reported as front page news in German stamp magazines dated February 2005 calling it a 'Sensation Perfekt!'.

The stamp became quite a media hit, and dealer and collector bodies reported the widespread mainstream press has proven very positive for philately in Germany. 

After the national media circus that this initial find predicated, another copy was found, postmarked Berlin November 2, 2003. 

This example #2 was discovered by a collector in Frankfurt au Main.  It was found among stamp clippings he received from the incoming mail of a company in Wolfsburg, Germany.



Stamp number #2 discovered.


This latter stamp #2 was invoiced for Euro 69,437.60 (then approximately $A112,000) when it was auctioned June 1, 2005 by Heinrich Kohler in Wiesbaden, Germany.  That stamp was on the front cover of the August 2005 "Stamp News".

The €20,000 estimate proved super conservative.  I emailed the Auction firm and Dieter Michelson told me: “final invoice price for the stamp was 69.437,60 Euro, which includes a 17% commission and 16% VAT on the commission.”


Price went UP not down!


A third stamp discovered SHOULD have meant the price of all three went down, not up, as each new discovery lessens the potential value of all copies - that is the conventional thinking.

Wrong.  Another copy of this 110+50 pfennig German stamp was later discovered in kiloware and sold for over DOUBLE the June 2005 price! 

As television cameras recorded the occasion, this #3 example of Germany’s unissued Audrey Hepburn stamp was hammered down October 7, 2005 for 135,000 Euros.


$A272,000 auction price


With commissions and taxes, the buyer paid a total of 169,000 Euro (then $A272,000).  This realisation easily breaks the price record for a post-war German stamp. 

Indeed I imagine it is easily a price record for ANY single stamp or even multiple issued anywhere post-war.

As a data point,  my column last month reported the highest auction price for ANY British Commonwealth QE2 era stamp was achieved this year – and was “only” about $A75,000 for a Cyprus 1960 used 30 mil.

That Hepburn stamp #3, was the star lot in Ulrich Felzmann’s 111th auction held October 5-8 in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

Felzmann is not to be confused with the similarly named David Feldman Auctions in Switzerland, who also sells many rare pieces.

The stamp was purchased by Gaby Bennewirtz, acting on behalf of her husband Gerd Bennewirtz, an investment manager and stamp collector - also living in the Dusseldorf area.


The most attractive example


Gaby Bennewirtz later told the German press: “he would actually have been willing to pay a bit more.”

It is the most attractive of all the copies I think, and being on piece with corner sheet margins, and with a superb dated cancel, is as good a copy as you could ever hope for!

Hence the massive price I imagine.  Germans will always pay top money for top quality.


“I’d have paid more”


Shown nearby is winning bidder Gaby Bennewirtz holding the now famous $A272,000 stamp.

That example of the unissued Audrey Hepburn stamp #3 has part of the top left hand corner selvedge attached from the pane of 10.  The stamp is cancelled Feb. 11, 2004, at Kleinmachnow, a suburb of Berlin.

According to the lot description in the auction catalogue, the stamp was found in kiloware.  All over the world, such stamps are often sold unsorted by the kilogram as sourced by charities etc, hence the name. 


Great for Philately


On the day after the auction, the news of this record hammer price had been published in 122 German newspapers.  Great for stamps.

I have a very large business sideline selling such "kiloware" material I get from charities etc, as do many other dealers, and I sell over a ton weight a year:  

Collectors seem to love the fun of fossicking through it, and with a potential $270,000 “find” possible - little wonder.  All 5 copies found of this stamp came from kiloware.

So the May 9, 2009 copy #4 sale at 75,932 Euros - whilst a truly massive sum, is well down in Euros on the previous sale, but about 10% higher in Euros than copy #2 sold for. 


Auctioneer Ulrich Felzmann with his prize


The 67,000 Euros sale of copy #5, a fortnight later on May 26 was a whisker short of the price of copy #2, but lower than #4 obtained.

Proving once again that German collectors INSIST on dated cancels - the neat “corner CTO” type cancel on #5 would have delighted most Australian collectors!


Germans LOVE dated cancels
  Fetching 8,932 Euros (=$A15,500) less than #4 when sold a fortnight later in the same country, really goes to prove how important those dated cancels are.

As this only is the fifth copy discovered, I can only again urge all readers to CHECK your kiloware!

ALL copies offered of this stamp have sold for well over $A100,000 - indeed one fetched $A272,000. That is MAJOR world rarity price level for any single stamp, even for the imperf “Classics”.

The legendary 1854 Western Australia 4d “Inverted Swan” often attains lesser price levels than these.

Indeed, this is the only “Inverted Jenny” of our stamp lifetime, and I have followed this story keenly from day #1, and have done about 100 hours of research done on it.

This article is in fact the ONLY place that all copies are recorded and outlined in detail I believe.

There clearly are more copies out there – and presumably someone is yet to discover a Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman stamp from the same original German set.

Let me know if you find one!

Zimbabwe Inflation goes mad


Everyone reading this has of course heard that inflation in Zimbabwe has been insane in recent times.

However I am not sure if most folks realize just HOW crazy it got?

Zimbabwe issued the highest denomination banknote in the history of the world earlier this year. 

Stamp collectors have a HUGE crossover to banknote collecting.  Very similar 2 dimensional collectibles.

When I owned and edited and published the “Coin and Banknote Magazine” (“CAB”)  I was amazed at the STAMP collector names I could see subscribed to our stamp magazine as well, when we ran a data match .. around 25% overlap.

“CAB” is a quite superb publication, now in the very safe hands of John Mulhall.  I am sure if you mention this column he’ll mail you a recent copy –

It takes me a good hour to read most issues – wonderful and varied content, and highly recommended – he runs regular ads in “Stamp News”.  

Zimbabwe’s inflation rate reached 231 million percent in July 2008, the last annual rate published by their Government statistics office – and even that was woefully low many experts claim.


89.7 Sextillion Percent 


Independent currency experts have computed that the inflation rate in November 2008 was 89,700,000,000,000,000,000,000%  - or for those challenged by 20 zeros, that is pronounced as 89.7 Sextillion Percent.

And as we can see from the banknote shown nearby, it got far worse than that 3 months later.

This is a rather sharp increase on the figure of less than a year back in December 2008 where there was a “mere” 215,000% inflation! has tables of detailed data for anyone especially interested in checking if I am making up these figures!



Highest note EVER issued - ANYWHERE


The 100 Trillion dollar banknote depicted nearby was issued in early 2009.

I found the teetering rocks central icon very ironic ... it neatly summed up the country’s parlous finances.

Not even the legendary inflation of the German “Weimer Republic” in 1923 got anywhere CLOSE to that figure with a stamp or banknote.

I understand at time of issuance, this note was valued at approximately $US50.  There were 4 values in the set, with near identical designs on the front - Z$10 trillion, Z$20 trillion, Z$50 trillion and Z$100 trillion. was an offer on stampboards for members to buy them for about $5 each.

As you can see, there was an absolute stampede and the surprised seller “PeterS” needed to try and locate new supplies!

I sourced some, to hand out to friends and relatives.  I also bought a few 100 for stock and sell these per 10 or 20 to anyone wanting a fun party piece for your wallet.  All are completely genuine.


Lop off 11 zeros



Very soon after this note was issued, the Government lopped a swathe of zeros off the currency, to bring it back to where it had been, not many months earlier.

On 2 February 2009, the dollar was officially re-valued again, with Z$1,000,000,000,000 being reduced to Z$1 - i.e. 11 zeros were removed.

All in all, an amazing period of steroid inflation, that we will look back upon with wonderment in a few years time.


What about STAMPS?


That was currency ... how did they cope with STAMPS you might well ask?

The answer is that at first, the stamps kept being re-issued in higher and higher and higher face values.  They were often obsolete before the ink was dry.


$15 million did not cover postage!


There was a member based in Zimbabwe called “Colin2008” who mailed many of the interested members airmail covers festooned with these issues.

One such cover is illustrated nearby, with a $5 and $10 million denomination, and a $100,000 bird.  There is also an “E” stamp. More on that later.

Colin advised members that in April 2008 the PO decreed that no further stamps with denominations were planned to be issued, due to the hyper inflation.

Whether stamps were issued with higher than Z$10 million face value I am not sure, but we certainly had no reports of anything larger.

From that point onward, various design sets of stamps denoted by LETTERS would be the only issues on sale.

 “Z” paid for domestic mail, “A” for intra-Africa, “E” for Europe, and “R” for the Rest of the world.

Each PO then simply needed to update a chart each day on the wall stating “today the price of an E stamp is $51.7 million” – and so on.

The cover shown presumably had enough postage on it to cover the price gap between “E” and “R” rates.

Such commercial looking covers, used in period will be VERY sought after postal history of the future. 

Colin kindly sent me a few covers a year or so back that I gave to good clients, and I really wish I had chased up a few more.








Get my regular market update emails FREE.   Stamp gossip, price trends, record sale prices, and many one-time stamp specials, wholesale bargains,  and exciting offers and breaking philatelic news.  A mini stamp magazine in every email!   "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER".  The ONE stamp list you MUST be on,  to keep in touch with the rapidly changing world market.  One client made $65,000 profit in a few months after following my specific advice.  Sign up securely and quickly by clicking HERE  to access my automated data base.  And wiser still ADD your home AND work email, if I only have one right now.   Add a stamp friend's email address if you wish.  One short click and you are subscribed to probably the most read email list in the stamp world! 


Instant Currency Conversion
Universal Currency Converter
FREE! Just click here...

If you would like to be notified of updates to this website, Click HERE. If have any questions,
or comments regarding my site, please email me at


Search this site

Search all my 300+ web pages! Simply type in what you are looking for. "Penny Black", "Latvia", "Imprints", "Morocco", "Fungi" "Year Books", etc! Using quotes ( " ) is more accurf used with no quotes. Search is NOT case sensitive. Tip - keep the search word singular - "Machin" yields  far more matches than "Machins" etc.



I am a Dealer Member in Good Standing Of:

Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for over 25 years.

Life Member - American Stamp Dealers' Association.  (New York) 
Also Member of:  Philatelic Traders' Society.  (London)     ANDA. (Melbourne)    American Philatelic Society, etc



Time and Temp in Sunny Sydney!



Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for over 25 years.

Life Member - American Stamp Dealers' Association.  (New York) 
Also Member - Philatelic Traders' Society.  (London)  ANDA. (Melbourne)  American Philatelic Society, etc

 ALL Postage + Insurance is extra. Visa/BankCard/MasterCard/Diners/Amex all OK, even for "Lay-Bys"! All lots offered are subject to my usual Conditions of Sale, copy upon request BIGGEST STAMP BUYER: Post me ANYTHING via Registered Mail for my same-day cheque. Avoid the  GENERALLY 40%  Auction " Commissions" (15% + 17½ + GST, etc.) AND their five-month delays! Read this for details.

"Lothlórien4 The Tor Walk, CASTLECRAG (Sydney), N.S.W. 2068
Phone: (02) 9958-1333  Fax: (02) 9958-1444 (Both 25 Hours, 7 Days!)
Web Sites:  or

Sign up AUTOMATICALLY to my world renowned bi-weekly stamp gossip mailing list!

Click here to see MANY 1000s of stamp lots for sale at low $A Nett prices

Click here for all you need to know re SELLING your stamps for SPOT CASH

Click here for the current Monthly "Internet Only" special offers - CHEAP!

Click HERE to read all my recent International stamp magazine articles.

Click here to get back to the main Homepage

Click here to ORDER on-line ANY items from ANY of my dozens of lists

Click for all info on Conditions Of Sale, Payments, Shipping, Returns &c 

Click here for the complete library of my very unusual world travels!

How to PAY me.  I accept EVERYTHING - even blankets and axes and beads!

Australia Post Annual YEAR BOOKS - massive stock - '27% off' discount offer today!

Visit my new page on RARITIES - Roos & other expensive photo items.

Stampboards where Philatelists Meet..


Instant Currency Conversion
Universal Currency Converter
FREE! Just click here...

E-mail me at -

Every credit card shown is accepted WITHOUT fee.
Earn Frequent Flier points while buying at bargain prices!
ALL prices are in weak Ozzie Dollars. I charge NO nasty, nasty
"Buyer's Commission" on stamps like nearly every "Auction" does.