tradition and experience in classic philately since 1919


World-class rarities at Corinphila Auctions in Zurich (28 May to 2 June 2018)

An ‘Inverted Swan’ from the Australian State of Western Australia and a ‘Small Dollar’ of China are the outstanding items in the forthcoming Corinphila auction series, which will be held in Zurich from 28 May to 2 June 2018. Admittedly, to refer to ‘world rarities’ in philately can sometimes exaggerate the importance of rare stamps. However, this terminology is certainly appropriate in regard to these two stamps from Australia and China. Also, in addition to these two top-class items, collectors once again will find an outstanding selection of attractive philatelic and postal history material from all over the world. The auction itself will present, in five catalogues, the most comprehensive range of material of recent years - both in terms of the number of lots and the value of the material being sold.

‘Small Dollar’ – the ‘King’ of Chinese philately

The Chinese ‘Small Dollar’ has for decades been regarded by collectors as the ‘King of Chinese Philately’. It is a bright red Chinese revenue stamp of 1899, which was issued with a face value of 1 silver dollar in 1899 as a provisional postage stamp. The provisional issue of new stamps became necessary when the Chinese Post Office was taken over by the state administration from the customs authorities. This involved a change of currency from the candarin to the silver dollar, which was the clearing currency with foreign postal administrations in cross-border postal exchanges. A new stamp issue was ordered by the Chinese Post Office, but the delivery was delayed. They therefore resorted to provisional overprints on the hitherto unissued red revenue stamps.

After overprinting the first sheets, those responsible found that the value ‘One Dollar’ in Chinese characters was too small. The printing was stopped and a new printing with large Chinese characters was made. To date, only 32 copies of the ‘Small Dollar’ have become known, many of which are in museum collections. The few ‘Small Dollar’ stamps available to collectors have been hugely popular for decades, especially as in Chinese mythology the red colour of the stamp is considered the colour of good luck.

The copy coming up for sale at Corinphila has an exclusive provenance, that is, a ‘pedigree’ of previous owners. Until the 1930s, the stamp was the top item in the China collection of the famous American collector Arthur Hind. When the Hind collection was auctioned in 1935, the collector Adolphus Dierking of Shanghai acquired the ‘King of Philately’. Twenty years later, in 1956, the Dierking collection was sold by auction in London. Then in the 1980s, the ‘small dollar’ went via a detour to being auctioned by Corinphila in Zurich, where it was sold an unnamed Swiss philatelist. The starting price is now set at 300,000 Swiss francs. It will be interesting to see how much more a lucky collector will have to pay for this world rarity.

The ‘Inverted Swan’ – an icon of Australian-philately

It is not actually an inverted swan! In fact, the frame with the inscription WESTERN / AUSTRALIA / POSTAGE / FOUR PENCE was printed upside-down in relation to the central swan vignette. However, this was unknown even decades after it was first discovered. It was not until the discovery of the printing stones of the Western Australia Four Pence about half a century ago that it was confirmed that one of the stones actually had an upside-down frame, while the swans in the centrepieces of the stamps were all upright. But because for over 100 years the concept of the ‘inverted swan’ had become so well-known in philately, this remains the case today even with this ‘typographically’ incorrect name. To date, only 14 examples of the ‘inverted swan’ have been discovered. Half of them are inaccessible to collectors in ‘eternal captivity’ in museums and institutional collections such as that of the British Queen Elizabeth II.

Of the seven examples in private ownership, four are in one collection. The example which will be offered for sale at Corinphila in Zurich on 31 May 2018 has - as is expected with real world-class philatelic rarities - an exclusive provenance. Philippe la Rénotière von Ferrary probably acquired the most attractive of the seven privately-owned examples between 1890 and 1917. In the sale of the Ferrary collection as ‘war reparations compensation’ from the German Reich to France in Paris in 1923, E.H. Collins acquired the stamp. In the 1930s, the Australian world rarity was in the collection of the prominent French collector Theodore Champion. At an auction in Geneva in 1981, the ‘inverted swan’ found its way into the collection of an unnamed philatelist. After the death of the last owner, the heirs have now decided to re-offer this world rarity on the philatelic market. The bidding competition for the ‘inverted swan’ will begin from a starting price of 100,000 Swiss francs.

The auction at a glance

In addition to the two world rarities of China and Australia, many other international collecting areas are on offer at Corinphila. Due to the large amount of material the auction will take place from Monday to Saturday, over just one week from 28 May to 2 June 2018. There are five auction catalogues: in addition to the main catalogue of ‘International Philately and Postal History’ there are four special catalogues, ‘Switzerland Classical to Modern’, plus ‘Switzerland - The Jack Luder Collection III’, and also ‘Romania’ with the specialised collection of Eduard Cohen (untouched since the 1960s, stored in a London vault!). In addition there is a special ‘Australian States’ catalogue.

General collection of Germany from 1849

In the main ‘International Philately and Postal History’ catalogue there is, among other areas, a particularly high-quality offering of German philatelic material for sale. Over 400 auction lots are being offered, from Germany’s first postage stamp of 1849, the ‘One kreuzer black’ of Bavaria, to modern issues such as the unissued ‘Olympic Games 1984’ stamps of the GDR. This includes such top-class rarities of German States as an unused lower marginal pair of the ‘Saxony Three’ with a starting price 10,000 Swiss Francs and an unused corner marginal block of four of the ‘One kreuzer black’ of Bavaria.

Other highlights of the main catalogue

Other important items include Latin American countries with rare Brazilian ‘Bull’s Eyes’ of 1843 and a special collection of classical Peru, a special offer of Greece’s Hermes Heads, also France and over 130 lots of a specialised ‘Cape of Good Hope’ collection. But high quality and interesting offers are also available from almost all other countries. A look at the catalogue, fully available on the Internet, is definitely worthwhile.

Special catalogues

In the special Romania catalogue, the most important cover with the popular lithographed issues of 1865-1872 is being offered. It is the most important and at the same time the earliest recorded use on cover of the emergency issue of 1872, a 50 bani with the ‘King Carol with beard’ design. Three examples and an additional franking are used on the front and back of an international registered letter. Fritz Heimbüchler knew only of an old black and white illustration of the letter in his handbook on Romanian philately. Now it is being offered after 50 years as part of the Eduardo Cohen Collection. Starting price 40,000 Swiss francs.

In the special Australian States catalogue, the second part of the ‘BESANCON’ collection once again offers top-quality philatelic material, including the well-known ‘Inverted Swan’

Two special catalogues ‘Switzerland’ and ‘Classic Switzerland – the Jack Luder Collection’

Once again, Swiss material from the classic to the modern issues is of the highest quality. The top item is a ‘quartering’ of a Rayon II 10 centimes stamp used as 2½ centimes along with a 5 centimes Rayon I on cover, with a starting price of 125,000 Swiss francs. From the Jack Luder collection the title piece of his EDITION SPÉCIALE book comes up for sale, the ‘dream cover’ with the Rayon I light blue cancelled with the blue diamond of Bellelay, as well as an unused block of eight of the “Vaud 5” of Geneva.

Special viewing at NABA in Lugano from 17 to 20 May 2018

All single lots of Switzerland including the Jack Luder collection can be seen at the large Corinphila exhibition stand at the national stamp exhibition NABA 2018 in Lugano. This exhibition, which also commemorates the 175th anniversary of the first issue of Swiss stamps in the Canton of Zurich, will feature the most important Swiss collections that exist today. For any serious philatelist interested in collecting Switzerland, a visit to Lugano is really indispensable. However, a visit to the Corinphila exhibition stand and viewing the Swiss material in the upcoming auction should also be high on the list of priorities.

All the catalogues are on the Internet / Bid ‘live’ online in the auction

The complete auction catalogues are available on the Internet as ‘PDF catalogues’ (the same as the printed version) and as online catalogues with a handy keyword search feature. At, those interested will also find many additional illustrations, including photo certificates, selected backs of covers and a large number of collections and bulk lots, all or parts of which have been included. For anyone interested who is unable to travel to Zurich, but would nevertheless like to bid directly at the same time against the room during the auction days, the proven system for online live bidding at is recommended.

Further information and catalogue orders from: Corinphila Auktionen AG, Wiesenstrasse 8, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland, Telephone: + 41 (0)44 389 9191, Fax + 41 (0)44 389 9195, Email:, Internet: