William H. Gross Puts Unparalleled U.S. Stamp Rarities Up for Auction This September
First of four sales to be held in September 2018 by leading stamp auction house, Siegel Auction Galleries
This September, Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries (Siegel) will hold the first in a series of four sales of William H. Gross’s incomparable United States stamp collection, returning to the market the largest and most valuable private collection of U.S. stamps in the world. The auction is expected to break the $9.1 million, single-day record for the highest grossing stamp auction set in 2007. The September 2018 auction will return to the market items not available for decades and cultivate a new generation of stamp collectors as stewards of these iconic treasures. Estimates for the individual items in this historic auction range from $5,000 to $1 million.
“Bill Gross has been an ardent advocate of stamp collecting, both through his own collection and through his support of the philatelic community itself,” said Siegel Auction Galleries President Scott R. Trepel. “The auction of the Gross U.S. collection provides an unprecedented opportunity for collectors from around the world to strengthen their holdings with rarities that have seldom been available on the market.”
Many of the iconic stamp rarities in Gross’s collection (valued in the tens of millions of dollars) were discovered before World War I. The first auction will feature approximately 150 items, with hundreds more to be sold at the three subsequent auctions.
“I have had the privilege and enjoyment of acquiring many of America’s most iconic stamp rarities over the past 25 years or so,” said Mr. Gross. “During that time, I have always thought I was a temporary curator of these treasures and that one day, others should have the opportunity, honor, and responsibility of becoming the new collectors.”
Highlights from the first William H. Gross U.S. Stamp Collection auction in September include:
• Unique Block of the 24¢ 1869 Pictorial Inverted Center (estimated value $750,000-1,000,000), discovered on a package wrapper with two other invert error stamps in Liverpool, England, during the 1880s and sold to a local stamp collector for £5. It soon was purchased and subsequently sold by the president of Crocker National Bank and Ryohei Ishikawa before ending up in Gross’s collection.
• 2¢ Blue Hawaiian Missionary (estimated value $500,000-750,000) broke records when it sold in 1963 for $41,000. Deemed one of the world’s rarest stamps by Life Magazine, calling it “pound for pound...the most valuable substance on earth.” Previously owned by famed Parisian collector Philippe de Ferrari, the 2¢ Blue Hawaiian Missionary earned Hollywood fame in the 1963 motion picture Charade, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
• The “Bible” Block (estimated value $500,000-750,000) is the largest unused block of 10¢ 1847 first issue stamps, discovered in 1912 between pages of a bible owned by the Rives family of Virginia. Only three unused 10¢ blocks are known to exist because few were left in public hands after they were demonetized in 1851.
• Pony Express Cover to Prince Edward Island (estimated value $300,000-400,000) is the only known cover that was sent to the remote island via Pony Express mail. Its existence had been rumored for decades, and in 2004 it made its first and only appearance in the auction of the legendary Pony Express collection formed by Alfred F. Lichtenstein.
• Largest Known Multiple of Pan-American Inverted Center Stamps (estimated value $300,000-400,000), hidden in a Boston bank vault until 1976, is one of the largest multiples of a postage stamp invert error to remain intact.
• Civil War Sanitary Fair Cover (estimated value $30,000-40,000) is a richly illustrated cover depicting a wounded soldier being treated on the battlefield and bears a stamp issued for the Great Central Fair, a charity event to provide relief to sick and wounded soldiers.
• Pro-Railroad Propaganda Cover from Gold Rush California to Germany (estimated value $15,000-20,000) was a means to rally public and government support for the transcontinental railroad, and this was a very rare instance where the cover was mailed to Germany.
• Waterbury Fancy Cancellations (estimated value $5,000-50,000) are hand-carved cancellation designs used in various 19th-century post offices featuring the unique American folk-art style of Waterbury Postmaster John W. Hill.
Additional lots being sold by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in the auction are available here. Charles Shreve and Tracy L. Carey brought the William H. Gross collection to Siegel for the auction, and Shreve partnered with Siegel Auction Galleries in 2012 as a director of the company to lead the firm’s international stamp auctions.
ABOUT WILLIAM H. GROSS
A prominent bond investor, William H. Gross was the second person, after Robert Zoellner in the 1990s, to form a complete collection of 19th-century United States postage stamps.
In 2013, Gross provided The Smithsonian National Postal Museum with a $10 million gift to create the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, the largest stamp gallery in the world. The 12,000 square-foot gallery dramatically increased exhibition space and public access to collections. It displays rare philatelic treasures such as the 1918 “Inverted Jenny” airmail stamp, and hundreds of pullout frames, containing more than 20,000 objects that provide opportunities for visitors to view noteworthy stamps that have never before been on public display.
Gross is a Portfolio Manager at the Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Bond and Total Return Fund. Gross co-founded PIMCO in 1971 and served as managing director and chief investment officer until joining Janus in 2014. He received his MBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles and his bachelor’s degree from Duke University. He lives in Newport Beach, California.
ABOUT ROBERT A. SIEGEL AUCTION GALLERIES
Since its founding in 1930, Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries has become one of the highest-grossing stamp auction companies in the world and is the leading auctioneer of U.S. stamps. Since its first signature “Rarities of the World” auction, designed to bring together a small number of extremely rare and valuable items for a major annual auction event, the company has not only sold many of the world’s rarest and sought-after stamps, it has spawned entire generations of collectors. The first Rarities auction featured a unique centerline block of the 24¢ “Inverted Jenny”—one of the most famous and expensive stamps in the world. Under Scott R. Trepel’s leadership as president, Siegel Auction Galleries has generated over half a billion dollars in sales. Trepel is an authority in philately, producing thoroughly researched catalogues for auctions of some of the most prestigious stamp collections in the world, including the
Honolulu Advertiser Hawaii collection, the Robert Zoellner U.S. collection, the Alan B. Whitman U.S. collection, and the Twigg-Smith Pony Express collection. The firm’s website is also a valuable research platform for experienced and novice collectors alike, offering census data for rarities, scholarly research articles, pricing data, and additional information. For more information on the firm and upcoming sales, please visit siegelauctions.com.