The prospect of adding a unique item to a collection or exhibit always gives a special thrill. There are less than a handful of issued stamps which are truly "unique" AND listed by the major catalogues. Each would cost a fortune to acquire. There are more opportunities to acquire a one-of-a-kind item which is unique by virtue of being a one-off error during printing (for example a fold-over which results in a missing colour or missing surcharge). These are often listed in major catalogues and they are usually very expensive. Fortunately for collectors there are opportunities to add legitimate philatelic material which is more affordable while at the same time being unique.
It is reported that Queen Elizabeth personally approves the stamps of Great Britain which bear her portrait, and that the same is true in many of the Commonwealth countries. If one had the good fortune to acquire a sheet of issued stamps signed by Queen Elizabeth, it could possibly be called "unique," but the item would have no philatelic importance in an Exhibit. On the other hand, a proof sheet of the same stamp with the Queen’s initials or signature (indicating her approval of the design) and presumably other ancillary markings would have significant philatelic importance. It is even possible they might be valued about the same in an auction.
We illustrate three lots with unique items (one estimated at only $50) in our seventh auction.
Lot 1154 — Azores E/P Collection of Archival Proofs, total of 163 stamps (27 items) from the 1920s including imperforates, multiples and perforated blocks. Several have printer’s or Post Office notations and corrections either in selvedge or on the stamps. Some are missing denominations, have printing errors, etc. A wonderful addition to an exhibit. Fine-very fine. Estimate $1500.
Lot 1273 — Israel E/P Original Artwork for 1961 Airmail issue #C24 by Friedl Stern, accepted design is essentially the same, but has Israel on right, framing tree at left and Jerusalem is horizontal. Sold by Argyll Etkin of London for over £290 in 1996. Example of #C24 included for comparison. Estimate $50.
Lot 2022 — Portugal Collection of Archival Proofs, with a total of 120 proofs from the 1920s-1940s on 23 items including imperforate multiples and perforated blocks. Several have printer’s of Post Office notes either in selvedge or on the stamps. Some are missing denominations. All stamps have archival punch holes. A rare offering and a must have for the exhibitor of these issues. Fine-very fine. Estimate $1000.