The Red King: How Australia’s Rarest Stamp Escaped an Inferno

The Red King: How Australia’s Rarest Stamp Escaped an Inferno

by  | theguardian.com

One of the six surviving Australian King Edward VIII stamps
One of the six surviving Australian King Edward VIII stamps. It will be auctioned in Melbourne on 26 June. Photograph: Mossgreen

On 29 September 1936, William Vanneck, the right honourable Lord Huntingfield and governor of Victoria, paid a ceremonial visit to the Commonwealth Stamp Printers in Melbourne to mark the first printing of a new twopenny stamp featuring an etched portrait of King Edward VIII in his naval uniform.

It was the first of a large run due to be released into public circulation by Christmas.

Several weeks later, to mark his appreciation, the printer, John Ash, sent a sheet of the unreleased scarlet stamps to Huntingfield as a memento.

It would have been an unremarkable gesture had the king not abdicated two months later. Instead it became a bureaucratic nightmare and, 81 years later, a philatelic wet dream.

The twopenny scarlets, known in the trade as KEVIII, are the rarest and most expensive stamps produced by the commonwealth of Australia. Neither Australia Post nor the Queen have one in their collections.

There are just six in existence. This month, one of the six has been listed for auction in Melbourne on 26 June. The story of its survival rests with Huntingfield.

Read the full article here.

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