China, 1897 Large Narrow Surcharge on Dowager 1st printing 30c. on 24ca. rose-carmine, the magnificent block of four, lovely fresh definitive first printing colour, outstanding centring, very fine unused with much original gum, tiniest stray ink mark on reverse is virtually unnoticeable from the front, and there is the faintest trace of a tone at foot, neither of which is of any consequence for this wonderful and important block, which is one of the greatest philatelic items of China; of impeccable provenance and of the highest exhibition calibre. Chan 73. Estimate HK$ 2,000,000 - 2,500,000 Provenance: Sir Percival David, Robson Lowe (London), 22.7.70, lot 182According to the original catalogue entry, it is "a superb mint block from the one sheet found by A. Diercking at the Chungking Post Office."Jane and Dan Sten Olsson, Interasia (Hong Kong), 30.1.2010, lot 189. References: Chen Chung-Ching, "Briefing on the Major Modification and Surcharge on the Empress Dowager's Birthday Commemorative First Printing Issue 24 Cents Stamp," Journal of the China Stamp Society, Inc. (R.O.C. Chapter), Taipei, August, 2002, pp. 158-159.Tony T.W. Kwan, "Watermarks Studies of Empress Dowager Jubilee and its Surcharged Issues," Research on the Classic Stamps of the Ching Dynasty, No. 15 (2013), pp. 12-13. Illustrated. THE "RED RUBY" RANKS AMONG THE RAREST STAMPS OF CHINA. LESS THAN 25 EXAMPLES ARE BELIEVED TO EXIST.TWO BLOCKS OF FOUR ARE RECORDED - THE ABOVE BLOCK AND ANOTHER BLOCK WITH THE TOP RIGHT STAMP VARIETY INCORRECT CHINESE "THREE" (EX DIERCKING, KAUDER, BECKEMANS). The positioning of the watermarks establishes the block as positions 11-12/16-17 from the original pane of twenty-five, according to Tony Kwan's study cited below
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