Three and a half hours into the auction at the Westbury Hotel in London earlier this year, Jason Chapman is smoking Old Holborn rolled in liquorice paper. In the inside left pocket of his blazer is the ‘Lake Taupo’. He has been assigned to guard it with his life. The stamp has a caramel brown frame, with ‘New Zealand’ at the top, ‘Postage Revenue’ and ‘4d Four Pence 4d’ at the bottom. In the centre is a circular vignette in blue depicting New Zealand’s central volcanic plateau, Lake Taupo and Mount Ruapehu, with two palm trees in the foreground. It is hard to see the illustration clearly because of two thick black cancellations which almost obliterate it, but this vignette is of some significance – it is upside down.
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