A September 1868 Vancouver Island cover was among the highlights of the latest sale by Swiss auction house Corinphila.
Crossing the block as Lot 5513, it was offered as part of the Dubois Collection, which featured worldwide British post offices across more than 300 covers.
The 1868 Vancouver cover was franked with an 1864 British one-penny red stamp (plate 79) plus an 1865-67 six-penny lilac stamp (plate six), both tied by a black “D61” barred obliterator. It was mailed from the HMS Scout at Esquimalt, Vancouver, and carried on the RMS Tasmanian, which docked at the port city of Plymouth, England, on Sept. 29. It was then carried about 50 kilometres east to Torquay, a nearby seaside town. The front of the cover is endorsed “Pd. England” at the top. The reverse includes a black Torquay arrival circular date stamp dated Sept. 29, 1868.
It was sent to the sister of William E. Fitzgerald, an officer aboard the HMS Scout. Naval and official mail from Vancouver Island was directed to W.L. Booker, consul and British post office agent in San Francisco and then routed via Colón, Panama.
Described by auctioneers as “an extraordinary cover … this being the sole recorded usage of this obliterator,” the cover is discussed at length in John Parmenter and Ken Gordon’s 1994 book, GB Used Abroad: Cancellations and Postal Markings.
The lot sold for 5,000 Swiss francs (about $7,210 Cdn.).