Auction review: New Zealand rarity highlights recent Mowbray sale

Realizations do not include buyer’s premium

A New Zealand rarity hammered down for $62,000 NZD (about $55,785 Cdn.) at an auction in the country’s capital of Wellington earlier this week.

Offered by New Zealand’s John Mowbray International, Lot 694 was a mint 1949 three-pence HMS Vanguard stamp with a pre-sale estimate of $50,000 NZD. The stamp belongs to a set of four stamps (including two-, five- and six-penny denominations) printed by Waterlow and Sons, of London, for the New Zealand Post Office. The issue commemorated the royal visit of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret announced by Buckingham Palace on March 6, 1948, aboard the HMS Vanguard.

A total run of 39 million stamps were printed before the royal visit was cancelled in November 1948 after the king fell ill. He eventually died in February 1952 and was succeeded by his eldest daughter, Elizabeth II, who became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in September 2015.

Most of the issue was destroyed; however, in the 1970s, several examples were discovered.

This March, Mowbray’s sold another of the seven known examples in private hands for $63,350 NZD—the highest price ever realized for a Vanguard stamp.

Lot 676 realized $84,00 NZD.


Other highlights include Lot 676, three 1906 one-pence Christchurch Exhibition claret stamps on a folded cover addressed to “E Righton, Exhibition” and cancelled on April 20, 1907. According to auctioneers, this cover was last seen in New Zealand on display at Kiwipex 2006. It bears three of the 12 known used examples of New Zealand’s penny claret stamps.

Since Mowbray’s last sold this cover in 1998, no other used examples have appeared on the market.

This lot realized $84,000 NZD (about $75,625 Cdn.), topping its pre-sale estimate by about $4,000 NZD.

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