A Philatelic Bibliography of the British West Indies

Part 2: Public Auction Catalogues (Aug 2015) by Michel Forand and Charles Freeland

The objective of this listing is to provide guidance to specialised collectors who wish to compile or consult a representative selection of public auction (i.e. live auction) catalogues relevant to their areas of interest. Our selection is based on two general criteria - the number of lots and the “significance” of the material offered. The number of illustrations also plays a role, which, added to the release of important specialist material, explains the heavier incidence of more recent catalogues. As a rule, a minimum of 25 lots is required for inclusion in the list. In the case of some of the smaller territories, this rule has been applied loosely but, if an entry lists fewer than 25 lots, it can be assumed that it contains significant offerings. The concept of significance is obviously qualitative and subjective, but to minimize its arbitrary scope, the following criteria have been used to determine a significant collection:

  • a specialized representation of the relevant postal and/or fiscal issues (stamps, postal stationery, etc);
  • a good range of rare stamps that are conventionally viewed as enhancing the philatelic value of the collection;
  • at least 10 lots of rare essays, proofs and/or specimens;
  • at least 10 important lots of postal history.

The first five pages of the list cover “across-BWI” catalogues, defined as those containing material from the B.W.I. region as a whole or from at least three territories within it. These are followed by country-specific sections, including both single country sales and wider offerings that meet the criteria for the individual territory. No attempt is made to list private (eg study circle) auctions, retail or private treaty lists, even though a few such items would merit inclusion on grounds of significance. The only mail-bid sales included are a few name sales. At the end of the general section, a list of auction houses which have regular but less prominent offerings of BWI material is provided as a guide for those who wish to take a more comprehensive approach.

The information provided in the list includes (whenever possible) the following elements:

  • Auction firm - The sales are assumed to have taken place in the city in which the auction house is headquartered at the time. For example, unless noted otherwise, the sales of Harmer Rooke, Robson Lowe, Harmers, Sotheby’s and Stanley Gibbons took place in London. Robson Lowe became Christie's Robson Lowe (CRL) in 1984 and Spink and Sons in 1997. The name of Harmer Rooke London changed to Stanley Gibbons in June 1965, although ownership had changed earlier.
  • Date — In the case of sales held over two or more consecutive days, the date provided in the table is that of the first day of the sale, even when the material listed below was offered on a subsequent day.
  • Collection — Unless they are actually mentioned in the catalogue, the names of the owners of many collections are unknown or uncertain at best. The formula followed is to record the named owners of the specialised BWI material, putting aliases in parentheses. Anonymous owners are noted in brackets when known to the authors.
  • Number of lots — In the general British West Indies section, if only one number appears, it means that all lots in the catalogue are B.W.I.-related. If the catalogue also contains lots that are not related to the B.W.I. area, two numbers appear, separated by a slash (/); the first is the number of B.W.I. lots in the catalogue, and the second is the total number of lots. Under country listings, only the relevant number of lots is indicated.
  • Remarks — This column is primarily designed to provide a general idea of the contents of the material offered. Where nothing is indicated, the offering covers a broad range of material.

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