Auction News

$150k in sight for rare US “f-grill” stamp block


a block of 15 1868 gray lilac George Washington stamps with f grills

Stamp buyers will focus on New York next week as a block of rare “f-grill” stamps is sold at auction.

The February 27 – 29 sale of United States stamps is the cashing in of a personal collection of some significance.

The stand-out item is the largest multiple of the 1868 24 c George Washington gray, lilac stamp with F grill known.

It is a block of 15, in magnificent condition, that can be traced back to a full pane of 100 stamps bought in 1893 for $300.

Grills were rows of indentations cut into the surface of US stamps between 1867 and 1873. They absorbed the ink of the cancellation (the hand stamp that signified a stamp had been used), and made it harder to remove the ink and reuse the stamp.

The sale catalogue, by Robert A Siegel Auction Gallery who are hosting the sale, has exhaustive provenance of the block, tracing it through several sales, and some of the most famous collections in American philately, including the Joseph T Lozier collection.

It was last sold in 2019, when it realised $106,200.

The block is being sold with original gum, and three are certified “mint, never hinged” while five more show no signs of hinging.

It comes with not one but two certificates of authenticity, from 1989 and 2019.

Siegel says, the block shows “magnificent centering, rich color and sharp impression and contains several of the finest examples known of the issue.”

While no estimate is being set for the sale, an accumulated catalogue value for all 15 stamps would realise over $150,000.

This unique Match & Medicine stamp could make over $40,000.

The collection features a large number of so-called Match & Medicine stamps, a US peculiarity that is somewhere between an official, government-issued stamp and a private tax collection scheme doubling as an advert and packaging.

One of these, a unique Maryland Match Co. 1¢ blue with a “USIR” watermark may make over $40,000 if it matches its catalogue value. It is again sold without an estimate, but with very detailed provenance.

Catalogues for all three days of sales are available online now and online bidders can apply to join the sale.

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