The 1969 Gandhi Color Trials went on the Hammer at http://www.auktionen-gaertner.de/ "India & Indian States" on 21st Feb 2009
Auction Lot Numbers & selling price
With additional 15% buyers premium assuming payment is made by bank draft to reduce additional 4% credit card charges.
Total Euros = 11,960.00
As of 02/28/09 - Total USD = 15,162.27 and Indian Rupees = 773,351.38
Barring 1 or 2% currency fluctuations, it's quite a change.
1969 Centenary Issues.
Celebrating the centenary of birth of Mahatma Gandhi, India Post & Telegraph Department had issued a set of 4 stamps in denominations, 20P, 75P, Re1 and Rs5.
What are color trials?
also called rainbow colors.
Before any stamps get printed or issued to the general public for use, the issuing authority, in this case, India P&T, usually performs a color trial. The stamp design or the sheet is printed in different color layouts and by using the process of elimination a committee or a person identifies the best one for actual use.
The unused or rejected or unissued color trials are then archived. They remain in the archives for whatever reason with the India Security Press, Nasik, India. They never see the light of the day and are never auctioned or sold. Little or no information is available as to what actually happens to them.
How many different colors?
Each stamp in this specific set was printed in 8 different colors. So, there are 8 x4, 32 known examples of the color trials for this set. Attached below are the actual images from auction.
My Opinion - I am probably opening up a can of worms.
These color trials are classified as the philatelic treasure and are the property of the people of India. The democratically elected Government is the sole custodian.
The laws of economics, "Demand creates supply" applies in this situation. Eventually the people with physical access to it become the suppliers to meet the demand and the color trials probably made it's way to the philatelic collecting community and to this auction.
Case of convenience.
I don't think, neither Christoph Gartner nor Auktionshaus Christoph Gärtner GmbH & Co. KG , would have been aware that these are actually stolen goods from the Government of India and they are breaking the laws of India by assisting in sale of stolen goods.
On the other hand, these are not officially listed in the Stanley Gibbons Catalog or The Scotts Catalog. Any sane philatelist and dealer will swear by these catalogs. So the question is, is the auction house smarter than the catalog publishers or did the auction house knew of it's existance as stolen goods and conveniently ignored it?
The million dollar question - how did it make it to the auction?
I have heard from philatelic circles, that the individual who consigned these items is a citizen of India.
Article that appeared in Times of India on this specific auction.