Two-day Philip Weiss auction realizes record $5.2 million

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – Rare stamps, original Peanuts comic strips, rare books, autographs and more combined for a dizzying $5.2 million gross at a two-day sale held May 17-18 by Philip Weiss Auctions. “Not long ago, $5 million would have represented an entire year for us,” said Philip Weiss, “and we did that in a single weekend. I’m tired, but it’s a good tired.”

In all, about 1,000 lots were offered at the weekend event, held in Philip Weiss Auctions’ showroom. Around 150 people attended the auction over the course of the two days, plus there were strong online bidding components, with 1,500 registered phone and absentee bidders.

Following are highlights from the sale. All prices quoted include a 13% buyer’s premium.

The top lot of the sale was a 1908 2-cent vertical coil pair, with original gum (Scott Catalog #321). Valued by Scott at $375,000, the stamps – the rarest coil in U.S. philately, with only four pairs known – sold for an astounding $644,100. The stamps, depicting George Washington, had been graded Extremely Fine. A small crease didn’t deter bidders, who were impressed by the exceptional centering.

The second top lot was another coil pair – two 4-cent stamps from 1908 depicting U. S. Grant (Scott Catalog #314A) – that changed hands for $497,200. The horizontal pair, with original gum, had been graded Extremely Fine and was one of only six unused pairs known. And of those, this is the finest centered pair. The last time a pair hit the auction block was 1975 (hammer price: $30,000).

Two lots realized identical prices of $440,700. One was an 1875 Continental special printing of a 5-cent stamp featuring an image of President Zachary Taylor (Scott Catalog #181). The stamp, graded Extremely Fine, is one of only nine 5-cent Continental special printings in existence (a tenth is in The Miller Collection). This example was perfectly centered, top to bottom and side to side.

The other was a 5-cent American special printing of an 1880 stamp, also depicting Zachary Taylor. The stamp (Scott Catalog #204) was graded Extremely Fine and had been printed on soft, porous paper, adding to its desirability. It is either the finest or the second-finest centered example of the 18 that are recorded. Only a tiny margin nick prevented it from commanding an even higher price.

The Chesapeake Collection comprised more than 50 super U.S. albums, loaded with foreign mint sets, singles and other premium material. Additional stamp, coin and paper money lots crossed the block – all on May 17 – in addition to The Newport and Chesapeake Collections. Part 3 of The Newport Collection, in September, will feature more ultra-rare U.S. stamps. Philatelists take note.

The May 18 session was more eclectic, with many fresh-to-the-market offerings in a broad range of categories. As in many Philip Weiss sales, this one included more than one original “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles Schulz. A Sunday page, dated 6-3-62 and featuring a classic kite flying scene, sailed to $79,100; and a daily strip, dated 1-11-64 and showing Snoopy in the doghouse, hit $36,160.

An early Kentucky long rifle, made and signed by S. Miller in the early 19th century, hit the mark at $8,756.50. The all original rifle, exhibiting just a little edge wear, was about 57 inches in overall length. Also, a large edition copy of Big Game Hunting by Theodore Roosevelt (Putnam, 1899), signed by the former president and #457 of just 1,000 copies printed, changed hands for $5,650.

An original Disney production cel from the classic 1930s film “Fantasia” achieved $5,085. The cel, featuring an image of the Pegasus family, measured about 13 inches by 9 inches (framed, 24 inches by 19 inches), with a certificate of authenticity attached to the back. Also, a signed studio photo of Humphrey Bogart, black and white and taken by photographer Henry Waxman, gaveled for $2,835.

Philip Weiss Auctions’ next big sale will be a three-day event scheduled for June 20-22. For more information call 516-594-0731, e-mail phil@prwauctions.com or visit www.prwauctions.com.

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