Collecting News

The Philatelic Collection formed by Sir Gawaine Baillie, Bt

Please share on your social media

-The Most Important Collection of Stamps to be sold for 50 Years- -Unquestionably the most comprehensive collection of its kind–Estimated to fetch in excess of £11 million-

image002SOTHEBY’S is delighted to announce the sale of an extraordinary collection of stamps of international significance, formed by one of the most important collectors of the 19th and 20th centuries, Sir Gawaine Baillie, 7th Bt (1934-2003).

The sensational and vast collection of stamps, concentrating on Great Britain and her Empire, is undoubtedly the most comprehensive collection of its kind and the most important to be sold in more than 50 years. It is almost entirely unknown to international collectors and includes highlights that have not been seen on the market for several decades. The collection will be auctioned in a series of ten sales beginning in September 2004, each concentrating on a particular area of study. In all, it is estimated to realise in excess of £11 million.

Richard Ashton, Sotheby’s Philatelic specialist, said: “This is without question the most significant collection of its type currently in private hands, and it is certainly the most important stamp offering to have come up for sale in a long time. With its dispersal at auction, thousands of collectors throughout the world will have an opportunity to see – and acquire – a vast array of rare and wonderful items. The scope and enormity of the collection is in itself a testimony to the tenacity and dedication of this great collector.”

The Collector Sir Gawaine Baillie was brought up in a privileged world but his childhood was disrupted first by WWII and then by the early death of his father. His first years were at Leeds castle, the ancient fortress in Kent, which his mother Lady Olive Baillie had bought with her sister Dorothy Paget in 1928. With the outbreak of war in 1939, at the age of only five he was sent to live with his American cousins, the Whitney family. For five years he lived at Long Island on the enormous family estate, Greentree, staying with Jock Whitney’s sister Joan Payson and her husband, Charles. Within 18 months of his return to England his father died and he succeeded the family title, becoming 7th Bt, of Polkemmet, Linlithgowshire. He was educated at Eton and went on to read engineering at Cambridge and thereafter qualified as an accountant.

The Whitneys were all great collectors and benefactors of the Arts and Leeds Castle was filled with outstanding works of art collected by Lady Baillie. Sir Gawaine was an enthusiastic collector of stamps as a youth. After graduating from Cambridge he embarked on a successful career as an amateur motor racing driver using his own cars and did something that would be almost impossible in today’s highly structured, professional motor-racing world. He competed at the highest professional level with such legendary figures as Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorne and Jackie Stewart. At the same time he started a very successful engineering business, HPC Engineering plc which he owned and ran until his death in

image004Sir Gawaine (illustrated left) competed in numerous championships, including Le Mans 24 Hours, Goodwood, Aintree, Silverstone and the Tour de France. It was in the 1962 Tour de France, driving a 3.4 litre Jaguar saloon, that he careered 100 feet down a ravine, escaping with multiple cuts to the face. Later that year he switched to driving an American Ford Galaxie.

It was towards the end of his motor racing career that he achieved his greatest successes including his 1965 win at Longford, the notorious circuit in Tasmania. He achieved two 2nd places and a 3rd in the British Championship, driving a 4.7 litre Ford Mustang V8 and in 1966 he won his class in the British Championship, beating the future Formula 1 star Jack Oliver and three-time World Champion Jack Brabham. He drove a Ford Falcon, which he had fitted with a Paxton supercharger.

One of the characteristics of Sir Gawaine’s motor racing was the meticulous care and attention he paid to every aspect of the preparation of his cars for each race. He held the view that failure could not be blamed on the car but rather on his own ability. This attention to detail and quality stood him in good stead both in regard to his engineering company and his stamp collecting.

In 1966 he married Margot Beaubien who he had met when she came over to England from Canada to be maid of honour at Stirling Moss’s wedding.

In the years that followed he retired from motor racing, concentrated on building up his engineering business and returned to his boyhood passion of collecting stamps.

The Collection

Sir Gawaine – also a systematic collector in other fields – aimed to form a comprehensive collection of postage stamps of Great Britain and the British Empire, starting with the earliest issues of Queen Victoria through to the most recent of our times. His criteria were that the stamps should all be unused and in perfect condition. Considering that many of the world’s rare stamps are extant in single figures and of those, the majority are in institutional collections, he had chosen to embark on a massive and formidable project. By patiently reviewing auction catalogues for almost three decades, to the greatest possible extent, he accomplished his objective. In doing so he taught himself all the subtleties of at least ten areas of specialisation and acquired over 100,000 stamps, all of which live up to his
exacting standards. As well as having an exceptional eye for quality and colour, Sir Gawaine also had the ability to focus single-mindedly on highly complex subjects.

Sir Gawaine ranks among the greatest collectors of the 19th and 20th centuries: HRH King George V, Philippe von Ferrary
and Thomas Tapling (whose collection formed the basis of the unique holdings of the British Library). He formed one of the best collections of stamps to be offered in living memory. The provenance ‘From the Collection of Sir Gawaine Baillie, Bt’ will be a lasting memorial to what was achieved.

The collection, to which Sir Gawaine dedicated 4 hours each morning, includes particularly strong studies of Great Britain, Australia, the British West Indies, British North America, New Zealand and Rhodesia but also includes volumes of stamps from British Africa, the British Empire, as well as Forgeries by Sperati. It boasts numerous rare and unique examples of the highest quality in exceptional condition.

As cataloguing progresses and as each volume of Sir Gawaine’s collection is carefully examined and researched, the depth and scope of this extraordinary collection becomes ever more apparent.

Great Britain
Sotheby’s London – Part I: September 29 & 30 and October 1, 2004 and Part II: September 2005 This section represents the most important single country group within the collection and comprises a detailed study of the issues from the inception of postage stamps in 1840 through to the year 2000. It includes issues of Queen Victoria’s reign, in particular the 1880 2s brown in a unique pane of 20, one of the most famous items of Great Britain philately, which is estimated to fetch £200,000-£250,000. Other issues include the King Edward II 2d ‘Tyrian Plum’ – very few examples of which found their way into public ownership – which is estimated at £20,000-£22,000 (illustrated right). The section also includes varieties of Queen Elizabeth II issues from 1953, which are possibly the finest to have come to the market in the past 20 years.

British West Indies
Sotheby’s London – February 2005

This group is the finest collection of British West Indies stamps to come to the market as a single sale for many years and each
of the countries within this geographic group is well represented. For example, there is a superb range of the Bahamas ‘Chalon
Head’ design, important perforations and seldom-seen multiples of the Barbados ‘Britannia’ types and rare provisional issue
varieties from the Cayman Islands. Stamps from Bermuda include Queen Victoria rarities and a superb study of the King George
V and VI ‘Key Plate’ series. Examples from St Lucia, St Vincent, Jamaica and Trinidad are also present in the group.

The highlights of the section include the Falkland Islands multiple of the 1928 South Georgia ‘Provisional’ surcharge, which has not been seen on the market for decades. Also present is a fine example of the famous 1964 battle of the Falkland Islands 6d, with the vignette of HMS Glasgow instead of HMS Kent (illustrated above). It is one of the rarest stamps issued during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

Sotheby’s Melbourne – June 2005

Each series of stamps in this section has been studied in some depth, from the first issue of the Commonwealth Australia in 1913 through to modern times. Among the many fine examples, are good quality multiples from the popular ‘Kangaroo’ series (illustrated right), which have the printer’s marginal imprint of all values, many rare shades and plate varieties, and perforation variations, including the 3d value in block. Other highlights include the King George V ‘King’s Head’ series and the popular 5s stamp issued in 1932 to commemorate the opening of Sydney harbour bridge, in a complete sheet. Also present are issues of almost every known variety of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II stamps, including proofs.

British Africa
Sotheby’s London – November 2005

British Colonies on the African continent have some of the rarest regularly issued postage stamps of the entire empire. The range
of stamps from British East Africa includes all the perforation varieties, while Kenya is represented by colourful mint King George V stamps with high face values in Post Office condition. Among the Northern Nigeria stamps is a very good quality example of the 1904 £25 (illustrated right), which is one of the finest known. St Helena stamps include all the major Queen Victoria and King George V plate varieties. From Somaliland and Zanzibar are overprint varieties and from Zululand there are items that
have not been seen on the market for at least 30 years.

New Zealand
Sotheby’s London – February 2006
This group, of international importance, represents an exceptional study and overall is probably the best and most extensive ever
compiled. The spectacular first issues, known as ‘Chalon Heads’, include the finest known examples of the first stamps issued in New Zealand in 1855 and as a set, qualify as a national treasure.

Other issues studied in depth include rare perforation varieties of King George V. Among the commemorative stamps are the famous
1906 Christchurch Exhibition 6d claret ‘error of colour’ in a single example and an extremely rare pair, of which only very few are recorded.

British North America
Sotheby’s New York – May 2006

Canada is represented by some very studies of the issues from 1851 to 2000. The ‘Pence’ issues include 3d ‘beaver’ multiples and one of the finest 12d black in existence (illustrated left). ‘Cents’ issues include excellent multiples and both series have a wonderful range of proof and specimen stamps, often in complete sheets. The ‘Queen’s Head’ series includes stunning and unique multiples.

From the Maritime Provinces is a fine range of the classic issues of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, in each case, the finest known examples.

From Newfoundland is unquestionably the finest study to be seen at auction in recent years.

Sotheby’s London – September 2006

This group includes a fully comprehensive study of the 1910-13 ‘Double Head’ issue of Rhodesia. The series of stamps features the portraits of King George V and Queen Mary. The issue comprises just 18 values, each collected in great detail, and printed from numerous plates and combinations, which resulted in unusual printing combinations and a fantastic variety of shades. This section is truly a testimony to Sir Gawaine’s ability to master the difficult identification of extremely popular but highly
complex stamps.

British Empire
Sotheby’s London – Part I: November 2006 & Part II (including Sperati Forgeries): December 2006 This section features all the islands of the Pacific with numerous rarities. Of particular interest are the studies of the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Guinea and the New Zealand Dependencies.

Sperati Forgeries
The collection contains many of the incredible forgeries by Sperati, whose work was undiscovered for many years, and only came to light through a court case. The collection features over 500 ‘Die Proofs’, unused stamps and many hundreds of the ‘issued’ stamps, the majority of which are worth far more than the genuine stamps.

Great Britain – Part I
Will Be On View In London:

Monday, September 27, 2004: 9.00 – 16.30
Tuesday, September 28, 2004: 9.00 – 16.30
Wednesday, September 29, 2004: 9.00 – 16.30

For more information visit WWW.SOTHEBYS.COM

Visit the WCN Stamps information pages.

Please share on your social media