A SET of postage stamps depicting Indian freedom icon Mahatma Gandhi have been sold for £500,000 – breaking all previous records for Indian postage – as collectibles from the south Asian country continue to grow in value.
The stamps were sold in a set of four in auction yesterday (19) by Jersey-based dealer Stanley Gibbons to a private collector-investor in Australia.
Stanley Gibbons sold a single stamp from the same series for £160,000 last year, to a collector in Uruguay.
The 10-rupee stamps depict Gandhi against a purple-brown backdrop, along with the dates of his birth and death.
The stamps were commissioned shortly after independence in order to commemorate the father of the nation. Before they were released, however, Gandhi was assassinated in January 1948, leading the series to be issued as a memorial on the first anniversary of independence.
Only 100 of these stamps, including the four recently sold, had the word “SERVICE” printed over them and were given to the governor general for his official use.
These particular stamps have become some of India’s most sought after postage, with only 13 known to be in existence – including four in the Royal Philatelic Collection and one in the Delhi Postal Museum.
The record-breaking sale comes during a surge in interest for Indian collectibles and rarities, largely driven by the increasingly wealthy Indian diaspora in the UK and around the world.
Last month, another rare Indian stamp from the 1850s, known as the “Four Annas”, was sold for £110,000.
Keith Heddle, managing director of investments at Stanley Gibbons, said: “The market for high-quality Indian rarities has been strong for several years and is supported by the on-going desire of the wealthy, Indian diaspora and savvy international clients to own these historic assets.”
Read the full story in Eastern Eye next week (28).