Review of Spink's 2011 Auction of "Walter Bickly's Labuan & N. Borneo Collection"



On July 14, 2011, Spink London held an important philatelic auction of Walter Bickly's Labuan and North Borneo collection. Of the 722 lots auctioned, 475 were North Borneo lots and 247 were Labuan. There was a wide array of lots ranging from a single stamp to important covers and specimen stamps. Of note was the De Saumarez cover, one of the earliest known covers from Labuan. But this didn't even come close to the most expensive item sold during the auction.

Of the 722 lots auctioned, only 47 lots (6.5%) remained unsold at the conclusion of the auction. Cumulative price realisation excluding buyer's premium was £508,025. The most expensive lot in the whole auction was the 1904 $10 Labuan stamp (SG142) which managed to topped the list with an eye popping figure of £32,000. The cheapest lots sold in the auction was £40 (several lots).

The Spotlights:

1. 1904-05 $10 Brown Labuan Stamp with RPS Certificate

Sold for: £32,000
Description: Officially the rarest and most expensive Labuan stamp known. This fine unused stamp comes without gum as usual. The stamp also comes with RPS certificate no: 18,949 - perhaps the reason why the stamp sold for £7,000 more than the catalogue value in Stanley Gibbons. This one piece of paper, being the most coveted material in the auction, would need an average middle class worker to work for at least 3-5 years before being able to afford for such a gem. At £32,000 this piece of stamp can buy 1 kg of pure gold at a current market price! It also tripled the estimated price of £10,000 at the start of the auction.

2. Strip of 1883 stamps with 3 cents surcharges

Sold for: £10,000
Description: Described by the auctioneer as being extremely rare. This strip of three stamps with provisional surcharge of 3c. on the pink 4c. stamps shows a small "3" in the middle stamp, being neatly cancelled by oval of bars and part of the red circular date stamp. Auctioneer estimated the price to be between £4,000-5,000 but this rare gem managed to eventually push the hammer price to a staggering £10K. Although the perforations look dodgy and the fact that the stamps are cancelled with the 'hated' oval of bars, this strip of stamps reached an amazing final price nonetheless.

2. North Borneo 1918-30 Postage Due stamps in block of 6.

Sold for: £10,000
Description: This one shares the second place with the strip of three stamps above. Although £2,000 below the minimum estimated price, this lot reiterates the tenet of stamps collecting - "To err is Divine". The more obvious and major the error is, the more expensive the stamp becomes. In fact, the most expensive stamp in the world also follows the same basic rule. This lot consists of a block of six postage due stamps. The middle row however has the overprint ommited making it one of the rarest North Borneo philatelic collection. It is also great for a showpiece and perhaps should be displayed in a major philatelic museum!

For the complete list of items auctioned, click here.


Anonymous said...

Hello marcel,
There maybe another tale in the $10 Labuan stamp. Can you see the faint black ink at the bottom of the stamp that looks like another LABUAN overprint? Or is it my eyes? Could that be an albino overprint? Only the lucky winner will be able to tell.

Marcel said...

Hi GE,

You are right, there are some faint black lines at the bottom...The pattern seem to form a word, which could very well be another "LABUAN" overprint. Brilliant observation! Perhaps the winner can come forth and share with us the actual fact about the stamp...which should be interesting to hear.

On the other hand, this 'most expensive' Labuan stamp reminds me of the legal documents about an island's ownership that you featured in the SSS journal last spring. That whole document IS probably the most expensive philatelic item from Labuan. :)


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