This page last updated: 14 February 2002


::: AUCTIONS :::

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Over the past few years, four extensive collections of Hawaiian stamps and postal history have come to auction. First to auction was the vast Honolulu Advertiser collection in 1995 (Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, sale number 769, dated November 7-11, 1995). Next was the Charles J. Pietsch III collection in 1996 (Shreve Auction Galleries, Inc., September 27-28, 1996). Third was the Shreve Auction Galleries "Champion Collection," another part of the Pietsch collection, (Shreve Auction Galleries, Inc. June 6, 1997). Finally, the Christian Aall collection was auctioned in 1998 (Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, Inc., sale 805, November 11-12, 1998). At no other time in the history of stamp collecting has such a wealth of Hawaiian material been introduced into the marketplace within four years. The catalogues of these auctions are "musts" for the philatelic library of any serious collector of Hawaiian philately. A few other great "name" sales of Hawaii include the Ryohei Ishikawa Sale by Sotheby-Parke Bernet Stamp Auction Co., November 18, 1980, the Adm. Frederic R. Harris sales of April 27, 1954 (Part 1) and October 4-5 (Part 2) by Harmer, Rooke & Co.. the Ferrars H. Tows Collection by Carl E. Pelander on October 7-9, 1948, and the Charles Wilson Collection by H. R. Harmer on May 11-12, 1943. With some patient searching, you can pick up copies of these catalogues from major philatelic literature dealers. The prices are irrelevant (unfortunately) but the photographic plates are invaluable.

So what's next? Nothing approaching the Advertiser Collection's scope and depth exists today. Nonetheless, collections approximating the size and depth of the Pietsch or Aall Collections could come to market, some of them containing material passed from generation to generation without ever being offered in the marketplace. For very high end material, the market is still trying to absorb all of the stamps and postal history unlocked in the mid-'90's. However, fewer of the lots offered in the Advertiser, Aall and Pietsch collections are resurfacing and it seems most of it is in the hands of collectors who are retaining it. More importantly, lots realizing $1,000-$10,000 in those auctions are now seeing significant advances when they are auctioned now. Also, as the recirculation of what we saw in the great auctions of the mid-90's has dwindled, other material is coming to market.

Looking past material fetching tens of thousands of dollars, recent auction trends show there is significant interest in the market for Hawaii and one cannot expect significant savings in sound VF stamps. The Advertiser Collection included material locked up in collections since the 19th Century. Some of the roots of the Advertiser Collection began in the Henry J. Crocker formed from the 1880's to 1910, whose widow sold his Hawaii collection to Frank Atherton, who donated a part of his collection to the Honolulu Academy of the Arts, who sold the Atherton Collection, as it had become known, to the Honolulu Advertiser (now I see why the Book of Genesis was so tedious for me). Atherton also acquired significant pieces in addition to the Crocker Collection. The Advertiser, in turn, acquired significant material from Al Ostheimer and Thurston Twigg-Smith. The Advertiser Collection was like a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up almost all of the significant pieces in Hawaiian philately. Unlocking this material gives other collectors an opportunity to own pieces once thought to be inaccessible.

eBay offers a venue for selling material on a daily basis. So far, Hawaiian stamps have tended to be in the low-end material, with some excellent quality pieces. Other than eBay, there is no good vehicle for selling the low end stamps and covers and the buyer participation in eBay seems to be enthusiastic. However, look out for "Numerals" because the vast majority of Numerals being offered on eBay are fakes. Also, the 5 Boston Engraved stamps offered are sometimes misidentified - Scott Nos. 5, 9 or 8 are often the much lower valued Scott No. 10. Look for certificates on these items.

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