Postal History at its Finest
Hi fellow collector
Yesterday, I was going through a collection we bought recently.
One item, in particular, caught my attention.
After more research, I am very excited about what I’ve just found.
It really is a special find.
You see, it is remarkable because:
1. It is unique
2. It is of exceptionally fine quality for a cover like this, sent during World War I
3. It was sent four days before the official date of issue
Take a moment to admire the quality of this superb cover…
New Guinea 1914 (Oct 13) cover to Mrs. R. J. A. Travers, Sydney from her husband Capt Travers, endorsed "On Active Service", franked by 1914-15 New Guinea 2s on 2m blue, 4mm space from setting I position 2, tied by very fine strike of RABAUL type 1 two line datestamp in violet, four days before the official date of issue (Oct 17), SG13.
On the reverse there is a typed certificate, "I hereby certify that the stamp attached to this envelope is one of the original stamps of the 16 sets issued by the Military Govt of New Guinea. Dated October 1st 1914", signed by Capt. Walter Fry, Treasurer.
One of only nine covers (all to Mrs Travers, and each with a different value) known with this pre-release type 1 cancel.
A superb piece of postal history and unique.
Provenance: Ex Gibbs and Creed
Accompanied with a British Philatelic Association (BPA) certificate of authenticity (1982).
A stamp tells part of the story, a cover tells it all…
The Brief History
New Guinea is famous for being the largest island in the world. It sits just below the equator, separated from Australia by the Torres Strait.
Under Chancellor Bismarck’s colonial policy, German New Guinea (now part of Papua New Guinea) came under German control in 1884 as a German Protectorate.
The capital was in Rabaul, a place of stunning natural beauty…
German New Guinea was composed of the north-eastern part of New Guinea and several neighbouring islands.
On the outbreak of World War I, Commonwealth forces were asked to capture the German held areas of New Guinea.
The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary force landed in German New Guinea in September 1914.
Following a small fight between the Australians and a mixed force of German and local troops at the Battle of Bita Paka, New Guinea came under the control of the British Commonwealth on 11 September 1914.
The Story of our Cover
The Post Office at Rabaul closed on 11 September 1914 and was occupied the following day by the Australian forces.
All the existing stocks of the German New Guinea Marshall Islands stamps found there were seized.
These stamps were overprinted with “G.R.I.” (Georgius Rex Imperator), referring to King George V. They were then surcharged with a value in Australian currency.
The “G.R.I.” stamp issues were surcharged on a small hand press, which could only accommodate one horizontal row of stamps at a time.
They were only used for a short period of time and are, therefore, very rare and most surviving examples have condition flaws.
These overprinted German colonial issues were not available for public postal use until the Post Office in Rabaul re-opened on 17 October 1914.
Our cover is dated 13 October 1914, 4 days before the official date of issue.
The sender, Captain R J (“Jack”) Travers, was an Army Intelligence Officer who was present at the German surrender.
It would seem our Captain Travers was given a special privilege of early usage of these stamps.
As such, not only is our cover the first sent with these new overprinted stamps, it is a pre-first day cover!
There are only 9 examples of this pre-release cover all sent to Mrs Travers in Sydney. Each cover bears a different value, making our cover unique with the “2 shillings on 2 mark”.
As fascinating as postal history is, there is a problem.
Most covers of historical importance tend to have condition issues such as soiling, tears, bends etc.
This is particularly the case for covers from this part of the world which, all too often, suffer from climate-related damage.
And, that’s why this World War I cover is such a treat…
It is the finest quality of its kind I have ever handled. Its conservation to this day is quite remarkable.
The icing on the cake with our cover is the very fine strike of the “RABAUL” datestamp. Other examples I have seen in the past are normally smudged.
Overall, it is a stunning display piece.
All the provenance you could ever ask for
The most valuable piece of provenance is the typed certificate on the back of the cover, which reads:
"I hereby certify that the stamp attached to this envelope is one of the original stamps of the 16 sets issued by the Military Govt of New Guinea. Dated October 1st 1914", signed by Capt. Walter Fry, Treasurer
I suspect our Captain Travers was himself a collector or maybe he was just financially astute.
He knew he would need this proof of authenticity to ensure these covers were valuable in the future.
Secondly, the cover has a reputable history of known ownership…
It was in the collection of Eric Creed, a famous philatelist from Melbourne and then sold in 1966 to Robert M Gibbs.
Gibbs is famous for producing the authoritative book on the subject of the “G.R.I.” overprints.
He sold his collection through Christie's-Robson Lowe, London in 1988.
We have waited 34 years for the chance to see this unique piece of postal history again!
Finally, the cover is accompanied with a British Philatelic Association (BPA) certificate of authenticity dated 1982.
Unique yet only commanding a four-figure valuation
Postal history is notoriously difficult to value as each item is unique.
As a result, comparable items on which to base a valuation are difficult to find.
Basic used examples of this overprinted stamp from New Guinea are rare. They are listed in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue at a value of £4,000.
Normally, first day covers are worth a significant multiple to the value of an example of the basic used stamp.
A high-profile auction last year in London of “G.R.I.” surcharges showed a strong result. It was evident from this auction that current collectors are willing to pay the biggest prices for rarities, but only when their condition is at a premium.
In the past five years I have witnessed key rarities of the New Guinea “G.R.I.” overprints sell for as much as $25,000 at auction.
You don’t need to pay that much. You can secure this unique piece of postal history today for just £7,500.
A Hot Area of the Market
Postal history has been one of the strongest growth areas of philately in recent years.
Collectors of postal history are becoming more and more specialised. They are focused on condition and obsessive on the layers of complexity a study in postal history provides.
When I attend stamp auctions there is almost always determined competition amongst collectors chasing the same unique pieces.
Chasing unique pieces of postal history is a challenging pursuit. That is why some collectors are willing to pay as much as they can afford to secure items they need for their collection.
- Unique World War I cover with this value
- Posted 4 days before the official issue date
- Superb quality and a stunning showpiece within any stamp collection
- Very important from a postal historian point of view
- Watertight provenance and authenticity
- Available at a price which could easily be trumped at an auction in the future
Call me immediately on +44(0)1534 639998.
Or email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are as excited as me about this find and want to reserve it before someone else does, please respond ASAP.
PS. If this is above your budget, I also have a much lower priced “G.R.I.” overprint rarity available just now…
New Guinea 1914 (16 Dec) Marshall Islands 8d on 80pf black and carmine/rose, 5mm space from setting XI position. 1, SG58.
A fresh mint example with large part original gum. Minor bends, which are barely noticeable and still of very fine appearance.
A rarity from this setting (rated by 'Peter Gibbs G.R.I.' p.274 at 10 x normal).
When the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force occupied German New Guinea in 1914, it overprinted existing stocks of the German New Guinea Marshall Islands stamps with the initials "G.R.I." (Georgius Rex Imperator), referring to King George V. They were only used for a short period of time and are, therefore, very rare and most surviving examples have condition flaws.
Available for: £475