03 honegger philatelie Wissenswertes

The Gerold Emil Anderegg / William H. Gross collection

The time when G. E. Anderegg started his collection – it remains unknown to me. We were acquainted from some contact we had when I first stepped on the philatelic stage. At that time, he had already concluded his collection more or less. It was about 1965 when masses of people were heading to the Nabra exhibition in Bern. Switzerland has never before experienced such a wave of speculation, and then never again. This was not about serious collecting anymore. It was the reason for me to quit collecting (and speculating on) modern issues and tend to classic Swiss stamps instead. Aided by the lucky circumstance of knowing some excellent connoisseurs (Willy Bryner, Dr. Streiff, Josua Bühler, Werner Städeli) in person I was able to learn quite quickly and benefit from their vast knowledge.

Anderegg was commonly known as the biggest collector in Switzerland, especially ever since he bought the legendary Double Geneva block of six for a philatelic world record price of CHF 522,250 including fees at the 1964 Basel Burrus action (conducted by Robson Lowe London and Urs Peter Kaufmann Basel). It is worth mentioning that in the same auction they offered the famous Greifensee cover bearing a pair of Zurich 6 and one Zurich 4, which was sold at ‘a mere’ CHF 77,000 – about seven times less! At least the Greifensee cover was auctioned again in 1991 for a hammer price of CHF 805,000 including fees, but excluding taxes.

When Anderegg passed away in 1971, his heirs agreed on keeping the collection in one piece. It was not until 1999 when they decided selling the collection. The Corinphila company connected them with Charles Shreve, one of the most renowned US dealers and auctioneers who already had a client waiting. That client remained secret at first and only ten years later it turned out that the collection was acquired by William H. Gross, one of America’s most successful equity fund managers. He was known to keep a whole range of extraordinary collections and at that time, he started parting with some of them one at a time. It is remarkable to say that all proceeds were given to charity organizations. To this day, they accumulated an amount of more than 20 million US dollars!

Luckily, the sale of his Switzerland was postponed for several years. Numerous times we stayed in touch with Charles Shreve while meeting at exhibitions. He kept asking for a possible market in Switzerland for such a collection and seeing that we still had considerable stocks from dissolving other collections (first Kottelat, then Haemmeli and especially Wyler), the Gross collection would have caused an oversupply on the market. Thus, Charles Shreve postponed selling the collection until the 2016 New York world expo came up. When the upcoming sale became apparent, my son Markus fiddled with the idea of possibly purchasing and selling the collection en bloc to a reliable client. There would be no big profit, but more importantly a huge market relief! From this moment, my son started an extensive e-mail communication with the United States and when our idea sparked their interest, we started looking for a potential buyer for the collection. A collection worth more than CHF 5 million, that is. It had to be an en bloc sale for us; it needed to be fair and at an absolutely reasonable price. Thus, we had to review hundreds of copied certificates in a very short amount of time. Prior to the 1999 sale of the collection, Emil Rellstab had issued completely new certificates for the whole collection which made it possible to evaluate the collection in all due seriousness. We were surprised that the first client already committed their interest in the collection. Successively we were communicating extensively to the point, when our client had no more questions and committed to buying the whole collection. Then, a few days prior to the New York world expo, Charles Shreve visited us in Schmerikon delivering the collection in person. The sale was concluded and the collection in our possession – for 24 hours until we handed it to its new owner who was exceedingly happy to receive it.

After that we received numerous congratulations for handing over the biggest and most expensive Old Switzerland collection en bloc. In terms of mere amounts that may be correct, but numbers can deceive as well. The rumor is that in 1936, Ernst Müller was able to acquire significant parts of the USA Ciba chairman Alfred F. Lichtenstein’s collection at a price of CHF 2 million – an amount that surpasses the CHF 5 million sale of the Anderegg/Gross collection once inflation is accounted for.
This article does not mean to list and explain every detail of the collection. However, I do not want to withhold a few selected samples. The collection may be made available for the public in the future, but until then our client wishes to remain unknown.

Unique combination: 15I and 15II used together

With frame around cross

Phantastic postage

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