In philatelic terms you’d have to have been off the grid to miss the news that shoe designer to the stars Stuart Weitzman is selling two of the world’s most expensive stamps at auction. The famous 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, and the USA icon and unique plate block of 1918 24c Inverted Jenny’s go on sale June 8th 2021. The pre-sale estimates for these are $10 to 15m and $5 to 7m respectively, with the proceeds going to his charitable foundations. It’s a marvelous story.
However, although these two stamps tend to attract more than their fair share of philatelic attention, particularly the One-Cent Magenta, it’s not the front of them which has caused heads to turn, or specifically it’s the back of the One-Cent which has fallen into the spotlight. You see, Mr Weitzman has employed a bit of ‘reverse psychology’ to the world of stamps, and controversially, in some quarters, left his owner’s mark on the back of the stamp in pencil.
This practice is not unusual, John E du Pont signed, pictured right, and Irwin Weinberg initialled it, also in pencil, but the genius or vandal depending upon your view point, is that fashion designer Weitzman has drawn a stiletto shoe with his initials “SW” placed at the toe end between the two strikes of Count Philipp von Ferrary’s ‘inked’ circled trefoil. Other famous marks such as Arthur Hind, with his four leaf clover hidden by his wife’s seventeen point star (deliberately over the top of his), and Frederick T. Small’s comet are all the far worse manifestations of owner marks because they are ink*.
Given that the Inverted Jenny Block is unblemished, and he’s respectively used graphite instead of a pigmented liquid, we can view this as a bit of dressing up for the cameras. A ‘stamp in a stiletto’ doesn’t perhaps have the same sparkle as others who have worn ‘SW’ footwear, such as Beyoncé, Kate Moss, Kate Middleton, and Taylor Swift. But that’s now the attractive Hollywood line-up our rather unattractive stamp envoy now keeps thanks to its new shoe. Dare we say that stamps might become fashionable now one of them wears the mark of a style icon? We’ll wait and see.
In other news away from the sunny hills and glitz of Los Angeles, and nestled snugly in amongst the Alps and lakes of Geneva, we at David Feldman SA, using ink and pencil and maybe the odd stiletto, are busy making our own star studded line-up for a philatelic red-carpet event, and can bring you the hot gossip on who is currently backstage in production but will soon be taking the auction stage in our upcoming sales, June 14th to 18th 2021. Here is peek at what you are going to see:
June Auction Highlights
France & Colonies
A chic place to begin is our France and Colonies auction which includes an international award winning collection of “Ballon Montés”, which you’ll already know is “Balloon Mail” from the siege of Paris in late 1870 and the start of 1871 during the Franco-Prussian war, and if you haven’t already read, No Fish on the Menu, then we highly recommend the elephant consommé or roast camel.
This catalogue promises to satisfy even the most elegant of palates and will be seasoned with juicy morsels from what was one of the largest empires in history with colonial influences as far and wide as Africa, North America, the Caribbean and India, and of course the ‘F’ in France is for fashion what with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent to name just a few designers. You never know a French fashion icon might be the next owner of the One-Cent Magenta. Stranger things have happened. What would the One-Cent look like with a handbag to match its shoes?
Russia & Soviet Union
All World & Collections
Taking the slightly convoluted Northern Sea Route from Russia, instead of the hop across the channel, we can legitimately mention, before taking to the water, that our All World and Collections catalogue has a rather important section of Belgium included within this sale. Epaulettes might not be in fashion anymore, but the stamps look pretty sexy. And if you’ve ever taken the plunge in one of our auctions when we have a stop in the closet of ‘Collections’ then you’ll be accustomed to the Grand Bazaar feel to it, and no doubt a little Turkey will be on the menu, but crucially there is a more frenzied interest in these lots, which indicates that if you are going to find a stamp or cover worthy of a pencil stiletto it might be in one of these lots, if not tucked away in the All World.
As with a lot of things in our hobby, close examination of this catalogue is the best way to avoid disappointment later. .
Great Britain & British Empire
Taking to our craft and bobbing to a stately selection of Great Britain and British Empire, you’ll be treated to a solid Line Engraved selection which includes the “Quercus” Collection, that is adorned with rare and eye-catching material and no GB catalogue would be fitted-out properly if it didn’t don other classics, which this does, and providing the very best glimpse of the culture we have the majestic “Laurenzi” collection of Seahorses, a stamp which reigns supreme as a portrait of stamp fashion.
And there will be no setting of the sun on the British Empire in this sale, with stamps, covers and collections from the historical dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled by the British from Queen Victoria through the four Kings to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It is worth saying that King George V who features a lot in this section, with his profile plastered over the Seahorses and who was claimed to have been one of the underbidders when Arthur Hind purchased the One-Cent Magenta at the Ferrary sale in 1922. Now had he been successful we would not have had any of this stiletto business to contend with. However, we wouldn’t be having nearly as much fun as we are.
One place that the Brits had a post office, as did many other countries including France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Russia, is Egypt and we will be showcasing Part IV of the Joe Chalhoub collection in a dedicated catalogue and it isn’t too late to read our special preview on Foreign Post Offices in Egypt & Egyptian Offices Abroad, where we selected five standout pieces from the 275 lots available to give you a taste of what will be on the table.
Never a bland lot, and with the world’s great and good utilising this strategically positioned country for their communications, there will be a cover which crisscrosses your collection or the collection of one of your clients. The mixed country frankings do feature more in this catalogue than perhaps any others, so look carefully for the country or stamps you seek, because it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that GB stamps are on a French cover.
Persia and Saudi Arabia
Along the same exoctic lines we have two special catalogues in the transcontinental region of the Middle East, which always deliver a gulf of colour and the historical. The sales include The Joe Youssefi Persia collection (Part III), and The von Uexkull Family Collection (Part II) of Saudi Arabia. These two sales offer the truly beautiful and often mystical blend of sophistication and simplicity, with the backdrop of the kingdoms, kings, rulers, and the often nomadic nature of the culture which it has to be said never has roast camel on the menu.
In our Rarity of the Week article we have featured an item from our China catalogue which includes the Post Offices of France and Germany from the The Max Mayer collection. This will certainly provide a spotlight into the customs and habits of the relevant postal authorities of the period, but also the collectors and experts who have enjoyed acting as custodians of the rare material that forms the very fabric of this popular area of collecting, and although this is a country that at one time was the ivory poaching capital of the world, there is very definitely no elephant consommé in this offering. But there might be the odd pencil signature on the back of a stamp or cover.
Lastly, roll-on June 14th to 18th when we will hopefully be free from some of the restrictions currently in place, and will be able to experience firsthand just how fashionable our hobby has become in the aftermath of our stamp envoy’s participation in the Hollywood catwalk event mentioned above. If it sells for the pre-sale estimate along with the Inverted Jenny Block, then we will all be basking in a whole new limelight, and will have to admit that maybe a bit of reverse psychology isn’t a bad thing. Not that we are suggesting you put a stiletto shoe on your prized material. Everyone knows shoes, even stiletto ones, come in pairs.
*The pencil ‘FK’ is Finbar Kenny, manager of Macy’s stamp department, who brokered the deal to Frederick T. Small. Not mentioned in the above on the basis he never owned it.