Newfoundland ‘Balbo’ flight surcharge brings nearly $30K at auction

The only known unused 1933 Balbo flight surcharge sold for nearly $30,000 at Cherrystone’s Dec. 15-16 sale.

The 1933 Newfoundland Air Post 75-cent yellow-brown “Labrador” issue was overprinted with $4.50 below “1933 / GEN. BALBO / FLIGHT” on three lines for a transatlantic flight led by Italian fascist politician Italo Balbo.

On July 28, 1933, under Balbo’s leadership, the 24-plane Italian Air Armada alighted at Shoal Harbour, Nfld., according to Winthrop Boggs’ 1942 book, The Postage Stamps and Postal History of Newfoundland. The armada was on the return flight to Rome from an exhibition in Chicago, Ill. The rate of $4.50 was agreed upon by the Italians based on the half-ounce letter to Europe, and the covers were back-stamped upon arrival in Rome on Aug. 12.

The example offered this December was described by auctioneers with the New York-based firm as a “partially doubled surcharge,” which is “clearly visible in the numbers of the date and value” with a “partial offset” of the surcharge on the reverse. Accompanied by a 2010 BPA Expertising certificate, the stamp was also described as “very fine in all respects.”

Listed as “C18iii” – but unpriced – in the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps, the stamp sold for $23,000 US (about $29,500 Cdn.) as Lot 4877.

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