we watch the annual ups and downs of the prices in each year’s
Scott catalogue, we sometimes wonder how it all fits into the big
picture. One way of judging this is to look at the price changes over
a large number of years. This is the exercise we plan to do in this
commentary. We have chosen the 25 year period from 1983 to 2008.
survey focuses on Canada’s early stamps from Scott 1 to 20 and
includes both mint and used stamps. The
full survey can be seen by clicking here. We were a bit surprised
to find that the prices for five of the stamps had actually declined.
they are so rare, very fine mint copies of Canada’s first
three stamps, Scott 1-3, have received special attention from
buyers whenever they were offered. In the case of Scott 1, this
demand pushed the value up $10,500 over the 25 year period to
$20,000. Surprisingly we cannot see evidence of this at auction.
The highest price we have recorded for a Scott 1 over the past
25 years was $12,500 and this was back in 1989. This makes it
extra difficult to determine a current value. Most of the recorded
mint copies have no gum.
copies of Scott 2 also increased by $10,500 to $20,000. We have
recorded 4 copies in the period. Two years ago, a copy sold for
$51,000. It, like all the other very fine mint copies of this
stamp in our records, had no gum.
the past 25 years, 13 mint copies of Scott 3 have sold with prices
ranging from $62,000 to $214,500. An unhinged copy recently sold
at auction in Geneva for $206,700. The catalogue value of Scott
3 in mint condition increased over the period by $20,000 to $80,000.
Unlike Scott 1 and 2, most of the Scott 3 stamps found at auction
did have gum. In 2006, a used copy sold in the U.S. for $229,600,
well above the $60,000 catalogue price and better than any price
for a mint copy.
bisect on cover has consistently attracted strong bids. Only three
copies have appeared in auction in the past 25 years and over
this period, its price increased from $17,500 to $30,000. Last
year, a copy sold in the U.S. for $42,720 ($40,000 U.S.), a remarkable
are not surprised by this price increase which brought the value
of a mint copy up to $17,500. Why? Because, during the past 25
years, we have no record of a Scott 5a in mint condition being
sold at auction. This is one elusive stamp.
comments can be made concerning this stamp. The catalogue value
for a mint copy increased from $7,000 to $14,000 but, during this
period, we only recorded one sale. In 2006, a copy with original
gum sold in New York for $30,800 at the Sir Gawaine Baillie sale.
have recorded the sale of more copies of this stamp at auction
than any of the others above. 17 mint copies have sold since 1987.
Its price jumped 144% from $4,500 to $11,000. Most copies come
with original gum. On two occasions, copies have sold for over
of this stamp are much rarer with only two recorded sales in the
past 25 years. Its price increased from $4,500 to $11,500. This
makes its value slightly higher than a Scott 13, but perhaps it
could have been set even higher in view of its scarcity.
the past 8 years, two very fine mint copies and three used copies
were sold at auction. It is a huge challenge to get a well centered
copy. Scott increased the value of a mint copy by 38% and a used
copy by 164%. The used copy jumped $2,950 to $4,750.
stamp jumped from $5,000 to $10,000. In 25 years, we have only
recorded 3 imperforate pairs at auction, but none in the past
16 years. This is pretty discouraging for collectors hoping
to get one.
Having spent some
time reviewing the prices and auction history for these rare stamps,
we can better understand how hard it must be for the Scott editors
to reasonably value them.
For most of the
stamps, used copies are plentiful and mint ones very scarce. For earlier
stamps without perforations, value is largely affected by the size
of their borders, the lack of thins and other paper defects. Surprisingly,
many record prices are paid for outstanding stamps from this period
even thought they had no gum. For the later perforated stamps (Scott
11-20), value is determined to a large degree by their centering and
good even perforations.
Most of us will seldom see mint copies of these early stamps, except
for a few of the more common ones. We’ll see plenty of used
ones and, as the accompanying schedule shows, a good number of these
have increased in value appreciably. Unlike modern stamps, which are
normally well centered, unhinged and printed on good paper , these
old classics had been handled by different collectors and subjected
to climate change for over 140 years. That they have survived in any
kind of decent shape is quite remarkable.