Looking through Lord Steinberg’s 33 stamp albums, with each item on a separate page written-up by a skilled calligraphist, was not only a joy but a unique occasion. In the recent past, Sotheby’s has had the privilege of auctioning outstanding collections formed by Sir Gawaine Baillie and Lady Mairi Bury. Each of those were distinctive in the owner’s style of collecting; Sir Gawaine collected Great Britain and British Empire and held production proofs and mint examples of the issued stamps with some blocks; Lady Mairi collected Great Britain and favoured primarily postal history, particularly of her beloved Ireland.
Lord Steinberg, like Sir Gawaine, collected Great Britain and the British Empire, but with a real twist. He only collected mint blocks of four or larger multiples. To see a comparable collection it is necessary to go back to the earlier period of the 20th century to a sale devoted purely to blocks of four which was held by Puttick and Simpson in London.
Collectors are only too aware of the significance of blocks. Many stamps which are comparatively common are transformed into major rarities when in blocks of four or larger. These sales will be an unrivalled opportunity for specialist collectors to acquire gems from this exceptional, unique collection.
Lord Steinberg (1936-2009)
Leonard Steinberg rose to prominence with Stanley Leisure, the company he founded in his native Belfast. His success ensured that it became the fourth largest bookmaker in the UK, with 650 shops and 40 casinos. The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1986. Awarded a peerage in 2004, Lord Steinberg was a keen Conservative and a proud friend of Israel. His great and varied philanthropic work included support of many UK and Jewish organisations. Stamp collecting was one of the many activities he enjoyed at leisure, alongside cricket and art. He was elected President of Lancashire County Cricket Club in 2007.
This remarkable sale comprises 74 countries of the British Empire. There is a most notable range of blocks, including some of the greatest rarity.
Highlights of the sale include Australia with many rare Kangaroo blocks; the unique British Solomon Islands block illustrated on the front cover of this brochure; magnificent classic Ceylon; Cyprus 1924-28 £5 block of four; Falkland Islands with the 1933 Centenary set in marginal blocks of four; wonderful Hong Kong; India classic issues; a remarkable section of Newfoundland with the unique 1927 De Pinedo airmail block of four and the 1932 DO-X airmail block of four with the surcharge inverted.
Like Sir Gawaine Baillie before him, Lord Steinberg developed a great passion for the Rhodesian Double Head issues. These are generally rare in blocks and within the sale is an incomparable selection.