Rare stamp collection expects to sell for £20million
Most valuable stamp collection to go under the hammer expected to fetch £20 million
Sir Humphrey Cripps was one of life’s hoarders. When he died in 2000, his sons found an old shoebox in the back of his wardrobe containing thousands of train tickets – one for every rail journey he had ever made.
The collection, which includes the best-known example of a penny black cover, similar to the one pictured above, will go under the hammer in nine different auctions
Luckily for them, however, his propensity for hoarding also extended to stamps, and over the course of 50 years the former chairman of Velcro built up a collection that would eventually become one of the finest in the world.
Sir Humphrey’s family have now decided to put all 80 of his stamp albums up for auction, in a sale that is expected to fetch £20 million, making it the most valuable stamp collection to go under the hammer.
The sheer number of rare stamps inherited by Sir Humphrey’s family has forced the auctioneers, Spink’s of London, to spread the collection over nine separate auctions over the course of 18 months to avoid flooding the market.
Philatelists from all over the world are expected to bid for the thousands of treasures, which include one of the world’s rarest stamps, the Post Office Mauritius twopenny blue, which is likely to fetch up to half a million pounds.
Sir Humphrey also owned the finest known “penny black” cover, from the beginnings of the modern postal service in 1840, which is estimated at £200,000.
Unlike most stamp collectors, Sir Humphrey, who took over his father’s business making piano frames and car parts, showed no interest in the hobby as a boy.
It was only when his son, Robert, inherited a stamp album from an uncle in the 1950s that the millionaire from Newport Pagnell, Bucks., was bitten by the bug.
After shrewdly buying up shares in Velcro, the nylon fastenings maker, the family fortunes increased, as did the stamp collection. As long ago as 1972, Sir Humphrey paid £29,000 for a single stamp.
Olivier Stocker, the chairman of Spink’s, said the collection was “one of the biggest ‘wow’ moments we have ever experienced.
“When the collection arrived in London it was amazing to watch as our specialists turned the pages of what may be one of the finest philatelic collections of our time to reveal treasure after treasure.”
The first auction, of British Empire stamps, begins on June 28.