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Bill Gross Buys Rare Provisionals

Bill Gross, probably the top U.S. stamp collector today and the most prominent bond investor in the U.S., purchased seldom-seen Postmaster Provisional stamps at the March 28 Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries.

VSC member Bantz1 posted in our message board that he sat behind Charles Shreve, an auctioneer who often acts as an agent for Gross, at the Siegel auction.

"It was clear in the room that he was representing Bill Gross because he jumped the bids by 50,000 once and I don't know of anyone but Gross who could have authorized such gigantic jumps," Bantz1 said. It was certainly exciting to watch."

Postmasters Provisionals were produced from 1845 to 1847 by eleven local postmasters before the federal government began printing stamps in 1847.

The stamps came from the collection of the late Rep. Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). Many of these provisionals had disappeared from public view; Frelinghuysen's identity had been kept secret when he purchased them from the Lapham collection.

"We knew the 'postmasters' were rare, although we didn't realize quite how valuable," Frelinghuysen's son Fred told The New York Times.

The Postmasters Provisionals purchased this week might be on display at the National Postal Museum in a few years: Gross has donated $10 million toward construction of a new gallery, to open in 2013. The William H. Gross Gallery is already slated to include several other rarities from his collection.

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