Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Monday, March 19, 2018

The possible sale of an icon - Stanley Gibbons on the auction block?

Logo for Stanley Gibbons A BBC article passed by my desk yesterday afternoon that raised my eyebrows a bit - World's oldest stamp business Stanley Gibbons up for sale.  SG and/or part of the business may go be sold as the owners look for fresh capital to expand into new markets. As you will see, it's all a bit of a mystery. 

It's a bit hard to say which part, if any, of the Stanley Gibbons Group will be sold off. There are quite a few businesses under SG umbrella, including coin, wine, antique and book auction houses.  It was a direct result of their little buying spree to acquire such diverse holdings plus close to a $39 Million (US) loss last year alone, that led SG to a comprehensive restructuring of the business. So, when the headlines screech Stanley Gibbons up for sale, it might actually mean they might just shed some of their auction houses or the entire business. If the June 12, 2017 Strategic Review is anything to go by, it looks like SG is trying to refocus on it's core strengths of stamp and coin dealing and are actively looking for a buyer.

The SG Group muddied the waters with talk about a possible buy out offer when they posted online they had been approached by Disruptive Capital Group. However, Disruptive is disputing it made any type of take over bid. In a statement relased on June 9, Disruptive states " Disruptive Capital Finance LLP ("Disruptive") confirms that it is not making an offer for Stanley Gibbons Group plc." Regardless, as of June 13, SG posted the following update on the London Stock Exchange page:

Following the announcements of 12 June 2017, Disruptive Capital Finance LLP ("Disruptive") has requested that it be allowed to participate in the Formal Sales Process announced by the Company yesterday morning. The Company has agreed to this.  Disruptive has also agreed that its participation is conditional on any offer for the Company, which may or may not be eventually made by it, being recommended unanimously by the Board of the Company.  This statement is made on behalf of both the Company and Disruptive.

RNS Number : 9503H
Stanley Gibbons Group PLC
13 June 2017

Who knows what is actually going on. We'll have to wait and see. It's pretty clear Stanley Gibbons board wants to sell, just what and to whom is the question.  

Over 100 Zeppelin LZ 127 covers coming up for auction this month

I spotted a couple of interesting covers up for auction. If you’re a Zeppelin collector, Daniel F. Kelleher auction house might be worth a quick look. Hell, even if you aren't looking to buy, go look anyway. 

The first one is a nice US Lakehurst to Lakehurst cover with an excellent US airmail/ Zeppelin cancel and Eckener cachet.  The current bid is sitting at $100 with the estimates between $200 and $300. The cover lacks Zeppelin stamps but the cachet and cancel make it worth a bid. If you're just starting your Zeppelin collection, this would be a great starting point. 

Zeppelin cover US Lakehurst to Lakehurst - image Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions

Read more: Over 100 Zeppelin LZ 127 covers coming up for auction this month

A Canadian stamp that collectors dream of having - rare stamp emerged for auction

Canadian stamp collectors had a rare chance to see the first British Columbia & Vancouver Island stamp go to auction last week. Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions, a US house, handled the sale of 21/2 pence imperforate stamp. The catalogue price lists it for $25,000 Cdn. It was described as F to VF condition with “brilliant, deep color”.  Kelleher Auctions estimates were far more conservative than the catalogue price – placing estimates between $10,00 to $15,000.    

Some interesting things about the stamp:

Vancouver and British Columbia stamp that went to auction May 2017

Read more: A Canadian stamp that collectors dream of having - rare stamp emerged for auction

Nifty present for stamp collectors - mail them a balsa plane

Have any airmail stamp collectors on your Christmas list? I've been lurking on the Suck UK website again and found the ultimate philately related gift.

Airmail balsa plane from Suck UK mail order

Is this cool, or what? Write a brief message, throw on the appropriate postage on and pop it in the mail. The actual item, before it's constructed is an decent replica of an old style airmail envelope - when airmail was an exciting thing to receive. The design is charming, right down to the iconic red mail box on the front:

Balsa plane mail pack front

If you're interested in buying one, Suck UK ships around the world. They're a pretty inexpensive gift for any philately fan. But, I'd get 2 because one would be for the display and one for play: No idea who Suck UK is, but they have the funkiest gifts I've seen in a long time.

Awesome balasa airmail plane pack


Before there were drones .... oat driven parcel post

We read, almost daily, about plans to deliver everything from pizzas to parcels via drones. Forecasters see the skies filled with drones dropping off orders. I find it all a bit amusing. Back in the heyday of the big super malls, people crowed home delivery is dead, there's no need for it. Just hop down the road to the nearest mall and everything will be there - one stop shopping. Mail order catalogues, a staple in every house, struggled to find a niche, with many folding by the end of the 1970s. Funny how things didn't work out the way people envisioned. It's also surprising how many malls are now abandoned and rotting away and there's been a resurgence of catalogue driven purchases. Companies like Etsy, Amazon and Ebay ushered in a second life for catalogue shopping and the internet changed how we look at catalogues and the convenience of shopping. Until there are enough drones to fill the gap, old fashioned mail delivery will remain alive and well, despite the futurists predicting its demise. Eaton's Christmas catalogue cover 1903

Read more: Before there were drones.... oat driven parcel post

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Catpaw with a pint & a typical bad haircutTime for a new look - the venerable cat on a postage stamp is now retired. As much as I loved him, it was time for a face lift - bad haircut & all. 

"The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself."

- Albert Camus

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