Next week in London, England, Spink will open its sale of The Albert Hamilton Newfoundland Collection, which includes a “fine array of very rare items sure to set collectors reaching for their paddles.”
Among the top highlights of the 223-lot sale is Lot 123, a 1919 stamp produced for the first attempted trans-Atlantic flight, which is known as “The Hawker Attempt.” This three-cent brown stamp is overprinted with “FIRST TRANS-ATLANTIC AIRPOST, April, 1919,” which was provided by Newfoundland Postmaster General J. A. Robinson, who initialled it “J.A.R.” on the reverse.
According to auctioneers, 200 stamps were produced, and this example has “large part original gum and is exceptionally fine and rare.” Of 200 overprinted examples, only 87 remained unused. This example—accompanied by a 1975 A. Diena certificate of authentication—has a pre-sale estimate of £16,000-£18,000 (about $25,830 Cdn.-$29,060 Cdn.).
According to Gilbert Penny’s 1967 article, “Newfoundland’s Air Posts,” in BNA Topics, this stamps is “a rarity of the Philatelic world, as it was issued for an attempted (first) non-stop flight over the Atlantic from Newfoundland by pilot H. G. Hawker and his navigator Grieve. For this flight, Postmaster General Robinson had 200 copies overprinted at the ‘Daily News’ office.”
“Ninety-five of these copies were actually used on mail; eighteen others were either destroyed or damaged; eleven were presented to officials; and, seventy-six mint copies were sold to the general public for $25.00 each, with the money going to the Marine Disaster Fund,” continues Penny.
Also of note is Lot 124, an April 19, 1919 “Martinsyde” flight cover to London marked “Per Aeroplane Raymor, by kindness of Major Morgan.”
After two attempts, the flight was abandoned; however, the cover still bears a “well-centred” three-cent brown caribou stamp with a manuscript reading “Aerial/Atlantic/Mail” and initialled “J.A.R.” The cover includes a St. John’s, Nfld. machine date stamp as well as a London circular date stamp (July 1, 1920) on the reverse.
Following the failed attempts, Captain Frederick Phillips Raynham sailed for England on the SS Grampian with the Martinsyde mailbag. Of 30 overwritten examples of the stamp which were created, only 16 are believed to have been used as Martinsyde postage.
“It is here that PM Robinson demonstrated his faith in the future of ‘air mail,'” wrote Penny in his 1967 article. “He had the overprint ‘1st Atlantic Air Post, Martinsyde, Raynham, Morgan,’ applied to the one-cent green; two-cent red; three-cent red-brown; five-cent ultramarine; and twenty-four cent bistre stamps (SAN, 3-7) of the 1919 Trail of the Caribou issue.”
Described by auctioneers as “exceptionally fine and rare” and accompanied by a 2010 Philatelic Foundation certificate of authentication, this lot has a pre-sale estimate of £15,000-£18,000 (about $24,200 Cdn.-$29,060 Cdn.).
For more information or to place a bid in the Sept. 18 sale, visit spink.com/auction.aspx?id=17038.