Auction News

Bill Gross sale will be major stamp event


Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

The latest sale from the William H Gross collection is one of the most important stamp auctions in decades.

Bill Gross, known as the Bond King for his successful investment business, is cashing in a collection that he considers completed.

To assemble an almost full record of US stamps is an extraordinary achievement. The Gross collection is the third such collection and may be the most complete assembly of US stamps ever.

The two-day auction at Robert A Siegel in New York is predicted to realise up to $20 million.

If it does hit that amount it will be a record for a US stamp sale.

An auction house spokesperson said: “This collection promises to set a new high-water mark for stamp collecting when it crosses the auction block.”

A probably unique in private hands Z Grill stamp is the star item. It is likely to set a new record for a US stamp. An Inverted Jenny sold for $2 million in November last year and is currently the most valuable single US stamp at auction.

The Gross Collection Z Grill will probably break a record this week.

The 1868 1c Benjamin Franklin stamp was impressed with a raised pattern that was used in a short-lived attempt to protect stamp revenues.

These grills, designed to better receive postal cancellations, went through a number of shapes and the Z Grill is the most valuable. The experiment was abandoned quickly, making most grill stamps very rare.

Siegel is selling the blue Benjamin Franklin stamp with a $4 million to $5 million estimate.

Gross got the stamp by trading a block of Inverted Jennys (probably the US’ most famous error stamp) for it.

It was last publicly sold in 1998, when it realised $935,000. The 2005 trade with Gross’s Jennys was probably worth around $3 million.

The other such stamp was part of the Benjamin Miller Collection and is now owned by the New York Public Library, to whom Miller donated it.

Gross’ Z Grill is a standout in a catalogue full of similar rarities, including 3 A grills, a B grill, a C grill, 2 D grills, and 6 Z grills.

Siegel consider the sale a significant event in the history of philately: “For the first time in three decades, many of the rarest and most iconic U.S. stamps are passing to a new generation of collectors. Just as a garden springs to life after a long winter, the U.S. stamp market will thrive as more collectors have the opportunity to pursue their own goals.”

It perhaps rivals the sales of the Ferrary collection after it was broken up at the end of World War I. That put many of the world’s greatest stamps in new hands and Friday’s sale will do the same for US stamps. Who buys them will determine when and whether they will ever be available again and have a big impact on the entire top end of the US stamp market.

The sale begins at 6pm (New York time) on Friday, June 14, and the grill stamps will be sold that evening.

Just Collecting