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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp Market Commentary

Special Commentary
30 May, 2006

Part 1 - Sir Gawaine Baillie Collection of BNA
(Sold by Sotheby's NY on 10 May, 2006)

The Provinces

Sir Gawaine Baillie was an Englishman from a wealthy family. Sotheby’s describe him in its catalogue, as a race car driver, a successful businessman and collector. They talk about his serious interest in stamps:

"In the late 1960s, Sir Gawaine returned to his boyhood interest in stamps..... it was his aim to form a comprehensive collection of mint postage stamps of Great Britain and the British Empire, starting with the earliest issues of Queen Victoria through to the most recent of times. He had chosen to embark on a massive and formidable project. What is remarkable is that, to the extent possible, Sir Gawaine achieved his goal. An exceptional eye for quality and colour, an ability to focus single-mindedly on highly complex subjects and, most importantly, an intense pleasure in acquiring knowledge, all characterised Sir Gawaine, and assisted him in building a magnificent collection that will forever stand as a memorial to his extraordinary dedication, intelligence and inquisitiveness."

Charles Verge, President of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada, wrote the foreword for the catalogue. His comments include the following:

"The collecting of British North America has been of keen interest to philatelists in Great Britain ever since the hobby was created. In fact, the first comprehensive handbook on British North America philately was prepared by Sir Edward D. Bacon and published by the Philatelic Society London in 1889. Since then many scholars and collectors have found the stamps and postal history of British North America fascinating and well worth their time and effort

"Sir Gawaine Baillie Bt. was such a collector. His knowledge, expertise and attention to his collections are clearly demonstrated in this catalogue. The amazing quality of the material offered, the pristine colours of the stamps and the excellent centering combined with full margins and excellent perforations, as shown by the illustrations in this catalogue, proves Sir Gawaine's love for his stamps and passionate interest in the "King of Hobbies".

"Those collectors of British North America lucky enough to purchase items from this collection will receive custody of Sir Gawaine's treasures, many of which have not been seen in years. Hopefully they will cherish them and will give them the care and attention he did."

In our Commentary No. 83, we presented an overview of the auction of Sir Gawaine's British North America collection, featuring some of the finest items. We now look at the first part of the sale which includes the stamps of the Canadian provinces in greater detail.

Sotheby prices:
We have had to convert all the prices reported by Sotheby’s in two ways. First, we had to convert the prices from $U.S. to $Canadian at the rate of $1 U.S. = $1.10 Canadian. Second, we had to reduce the prices to eliminate the 15 % auctioneer's premium. Using the formula ($1.10/115% x the price) means that a reported price of $1,150 U.S. for a particular lot would become $1,100 Canadian.

Now it is our pleasure to present a number of outstanding examples in Sir Gawaine's collection of the Canadian provinces.


Vancouver & British Columbia

Lot 6

Scott 3
Catalogue $22,500
Realized $82,500

Large margins, exceptional rich colour, large part original gum. WIDELY REGARDED AS THE FINEST EXAMPLE OF THIS STAMP IN PRIVATE OWNERSHIP. R.P.S. Certificate 1958

Baron Phillip de la Renotière von Ferrary 1923 Sale VI Lot 229
Tommy Allen 1958
Lars Amundsen 1967
The “Samos” Collection 1991

Lot 20

Scott 8
Estimate $600 U.S.
Realized $1,045

Blocks of 4 with the 21mm and 22mm spacing respectively, both fresh, the 22mm block with a slight crease and reinforced perforations, large part original gum.

Gerald E. Wellburn 1988

New Brunswick

Lot 31

Scott 2a
Catalogue $8,000
Realized $

Horizontal pair, large margins, folded between and lightly creased through ‘BRUNSWICK’ on both stamps, exceptional colour, large part original gum. THE UNIQUE UNUSED MULTIPLE OF THIS RARE SHADE. B.P.A. Certificate 1990

Louise Boyd Dale and Alfred F. Lichtenstein 1968
The “Dallas” Collection 1990

Lot 33

Scott 3
Catalogue $12,500
Realized $25,300
Clear to large margins, rich colour, large part original gum. A SUPERB EXAMPLE OF THIS RARE STAMP. Friedl Certificate 1976 and David Brandon Certificate 1977

Nova Scotia

Lot 149

Scott 1
Catalogue $16,500
Realized $16,500

Horizontal block of 6 formed of adjoining strips, margins generally clear to large, exceptional colour, much original gum. A MAJOR RARITY. THIS BLOCK OF SIX IS THE LARGEST RECORDED MULTIPLE. B.P.A. Certificate 1986

Louise Boyd Dale and Alfred F. Lichtenstein 1969

Lot 160

Scott 6
Catalogue $20,000
Realized $46,200

Large margins, exceptional colour, unused. ONE OF THE FINEST EXAMPLES OF THIS RARE SHADE.


Prince Edward Island

Lot 263

Scott 96
Catalogue $1,250
Realized $2,420
Horizontal marginal block of 10, the last two rows of the sheet with margins three sides, the second and third columns of perforations omitted resulting in two strips of three imperforate between, original gum. A RARE LARGE MULTIPLE CONTAINING THE ERROR.


Lot 308

Scott 15
Catalogue $25,000
Realized $46,200

Clear to large margins, exceptional colour, slight creasing, fresh, part original gum. ONE OF THE FINEST KNOWN EXAMPLES OF THIS GREAT RARITY. B.P.A. Certificate 1969

Louise Boyd Dale and Alfred F. Lichtenstein 1968
The “Dallas” Collection 1990

Lot 394

Scott 53
Catalogue $1,950
Realized $5,500

Vertical block of 6, exceptional colour, full original gum

Lot 430

Scott 75var
Estimate $5,500
Realized $8,800

Horizontal marginal strip of 3 from the lower left of the sheet, the surcharges Type 37 (B) in red, the first stamp with the Wide spacing between ‘ONE’ and ‘CENT’, some split perforations lightly strengthened, slight creasing, original gum. VERY RARE. R.P.S. Certificate 1979

The “Zurich” Collection 1991

Lot 450

Unitrade 92ii
Catalogue $300
Realized $880
Vertical marginal pair from the left of the sheet, the lower stamp with Broken ‘D’ in ‘NEWFOUNDLAND’, fresh, light wrinkles, original gum.

Sir Gawaine had so many fine stamps in his collection that Sotheby’s had to set-aside many of them in a series of mini-collections which it then offered as separate lots in the auction. For the most part, these did exceptionally well as shown in the following examples:

Price Realized
Nova Scotia
Newfoundland- Proofs
$50 - $70,000
Newfoundland - Cents
Newfoundland – 1932-38
Newfoundland - Airmails

Note: The figures in this chart are in $U.S. The prices realized include the 15% auctioneer’s fee.

From what we could see, Sotheby’s estimates were on the generous side and this makes the prices actually realized in the sale all more remarkable.

Regrettably, we are not very knowledgeable about the stamps of Canada's provinces. However we can recognize quality in a stamp collection. We can recognize whether Sotheby’s estimates and descriptions are reasonable. We are more than satisfied at this is so. The fact that the prices realized in the first part of the sale were so strong is clear recognition by collectors around the world of how special Sir Gawaine's British North America collection was. We can only watch this magnificent sale in admiration.

In our next Special Commentary we will provide Part 2 of our review of the sale of Sir Gawaine's collection. This will include images and comments on some of the finest copies of his early Canadian stamps from Scott 1 to Scott 122.

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©2006, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada