by John Ineson
Like the Stock Exchange, stamps can also go up or come down in value, and this applies to a half sheet of six mint Mafeking Cyclist stamps, that were sold in December last year by Spink's of London. In my notes of July/August 2008, I mentioned that this same half sheet was up for sale at the same auction house in London when it made £16.000 (at that time US$ 31520, Euro €20000) against an estimate of £2-3000. As I wrote at the time, these stamps came from the Royal Collection which personally belongs to the Queen. The decision had been taken that duplicated material should occasionally be sold and the proceeds used to purchase other items for the collection. As there was already a proof sheet of twelve of the 1d cyclist stamps as issued in the collection, it was not considered necessary to keep the half sheet. This time the estimate was £15-18,000 but the final hammer price was £12,000 (US$ 18962 € 14297), a loss of £4000 in two years!
Much has been written in the philatelic press during the last few years concerning the number of new issues appearing on the market. In the February issue of Stamp Collecting, there is an interesting letter written by Nick Salter regarding Royal Mail sales figures. Although they are not happy to release the number of stamps printed, under the Freedom of Information Act, details are now available. He mentions that over 160 million 2nd class Christmas stamps were issued in 2007, while the shortest print runs that year was for the Scouting Centenary set. A total of 2,500,000 each of the 46p, 54p, 69p and 78p values were issued, while the 1st class stamp in that set amounted to 6,025,000 stamps. Times have changed as in 1957; the 2½ value of the Scout World Jamboree issue sold over 137,000,000 copies. It would appear that Royal Mail adjusts its anticipated needs depending on the likely popularity of the subject matter, as the 1st class Harry Potter stamps issued a few days before the Scout Centenary set, had a print run of 20,832,000 stamps.
There is not much Philatelic news to report this time, so I thought readers may interested in a batch of letters that I have recently purchased in auction. They have all been written by Lady Baden-Powell between 1938 - 40 with some of them on "The Outspan Hotel, Nyeri, Kenya" notepaper where they stayed (except for one last visit to the UK in 1938) until their new bungalow Paxtu was built. Shown on the letter heading is also Tree Tops where our present Queen Elizabeth went up as Princess and came down as a Queen in 1952. The Baden- Powell's bungalow Paxtu is shown on the far left of the buildings. Writing to "Jumbo" (I do not know who he was) on 8th January 1938, she reports that "Now that the Chief has got a nasty - a VERY nasty - go of lumbago coming down the last month, and it turned into a chill-cum-couch, cum bronchitis, and now he has rather a 'tired heart' as a result of it all". On 17th March she wrote "We sail for England again next month, but hope to return here again in October. In fact to make sure of coming back, we are arranging to have a bungalow built for us in this delightful place". By December 18th 1938 Lady Baden-Powell writes "You will be glad to hear that the Chief is VERY well indeed, and we are thrilled to be back in Africa again. He is never idle, and is busy writing and painting. He is fishing a bit too and loves going off to see big game near here". Nearly a year later on November 27 1939 she writes "We are so happy here and adore Kenya more than ever. The Chief is well and very busy painting some grand water colour pictures of big game (which are now in the Gilwell Park dining room). Another batch of letters were sent to Dr Pierskowski who treated B-P at Paxtu and who prescribed him some ointment so that on September 10th 1939 Lady B-P wrote "I just CANNOT describe to you what a relief it is that you have prescribed this curative stuff for him, and we can NEVER thank you enough for your helpfulness". Ten days later she wrote "The liniment always soothes it, and so, though he is a little impatient that is not altogether completely cured, he realises the itchiness IS able to be able to be kept in check. In November 1940, Dr Pierskowski was staying at the Outspan Hotel when he was called to inject B-P with a respiratory stimulant, as his health was gradually deteriorating. He agreed to stay on at the Outspan Hotel and secured the services of two nurses from Nyeri military hospital, who stayed with him until B-P died on 8th January 1941.