Commentary No. 111 - 17 September, 2008
The E. Carey Fox Collection Of Canada
Auctioned by H. R. Harmer, New York
May 20, 1968
We consider ourselves most fortunate whenever we are able to obtain auction catalogues of well known collectors of the past. Their old collections are usually full of gems. In them, we find stamps of amazing quality and blocks that, in some cases, no longer exist because they have been broken up by their new owners. Harmers offered Mr. Fox’s collection at auction on May 20, 1968.
In its auction catalogue, Harmers had a few interesting comments to make about this well known collector:
“Mr. E. Carey Fox, who died in December of 1967, had the distinction of owning one of the most important collections of early Canada and its Maritime Provinces that has been brought together in more recent years. Equally remarkable is the fact that he did this while maintaining an anonymity, except with a handful of dealers, auctioneers and philatelic friends.
Most of his purchasing was at prominent auctions of British North American material, when leading agents were used.
This was however no anonymity of shame! Mr. Carey Fox was condition conscious from the beginning, and strove continually to improve his standard, selling items of lower quality as prize pieces came into his possession. The result is a collection, equally notable for the presence of extraordinary quality pieces and the absence of lame ducks - or lame beavers!”
Here is a selection of some of the top items from the sale. All prices are in $US, except where noted. Those images that are in black and white are from the original 1968 catalogue. Those in colour are from later catalogues when the stamps reappeared at auction.
Scott 2 - 6p gray violet, horizontal strip of 3, good to large margins, centered targets and portions of two red PAID cancels. Almost very fine.
Scott 3 – 12p black, good to large margins all round, light black target cancel leaving head almost clear. Sharp impression and very fine particularly for this difficult stamp. Royal Certificate (1934).
This stamp sold for $30,000 at the Firby sale of the Sam Nickle collection in October, 1988.
Scott 3 – 12p black, large margins R and B, fair margins T and L, light blue target cancel particularly attractive on the black stamp. Very fine. B.P.A. Certificate.
Scott 4 – 3p red, an o.g. copy with full sheet margin and showing most of the Imprint, large margins T and L, fair at R. There are two light creases in the stamp and a horizontal fold below the Imprint. An exceptional piece. Ex Robert Gill.
This stamp was offered for $3,500 Cdn. in a Maresch Private Treaty sale in 1983 and was then sold in Oct. 1997 for $4,750 Cdn.at a Maresch auction in Toronto.
Scott 4d – 3p red, a strip of 5 with sheet margin at R, full original crackly gum; good to large margins all round. There are several vertical creases (chiefly in between stamps) and two small tears. A wonderful piece.
This strip sold for $6,000 Cdn. at a Maresch sale in Oct. 1997
Scott 7a – 10p bright blue, an o.g. horizontal marginal pair, good to very large margins, fresh and very fine. A lovely pair.
Scott 8 - ˝p bright deep rose, vertical pair with fantastic margins all round and showing portions of eight adjoining stamps, lightly canc’d. and superb but for a light diagonal crease. A spectacular piece. Over the years, the pair has picked up some oil effect on the back which gives the appearance of a thinning.
In October 1988, this stamp sold for $2,600 at the Firby sale of the Sam Nickle collection. Firby noted that the pair had apparently been washed as the above conditions no longer existed.
Scott 8 - ˝p bright rose, horizontal block of 6 from BL corner of sheet showing parts of Imprints at UL and RB, reasonably cancelled by several target cancels. Superb in every respect and one of the greatest used quality multiples in Canadian philately.
In 1987, this block was offered for $12,500 in Irwin Weinberg’s Private Treaty sale on the “John Foxbridge” Collection.
Scott 9 - 7˝p pale yellow green, horizontal marginal pair, with good to large margins all around, thick original gum, which has toned the left margin to some degree. The final “k” of the Imprint shows at BL. A beautiful pair.
In 1987, this pair was offered for $15,000 in Irwin Weinberg’s Private Treaty sale of the “John Foxbridge” Collection.
Scott 10 – 6p reddish purple, deep impression, large margins, bright green target cancel. Superb. A gem. From the Caspary and Firth collections.
Scott 11 - ˝p bright rose, mint block of 4, UR stamp gum crease visible on face, well centered, deep rich color, extremely fine, Rare.
This block was offered for $25,000 Cdn. in Maresch’s Private Treaty sale in July 1977. Then, in October 1988, it sold for $16,000 in the Firby sale of the Sam Nickle Collection.
Scott 12 - 3p red NH Block of 4, Centered to BL, Fresh as when issued. Believed to be unique. A wonderful piece. Ex-Robert Gill.
In 1977, this block was offered for $25,000 Cdn. in Maresch’s Private Treaty sale. Then in 1988, it sold for $17,500 at the Firby sale of the Sam Nickle Collection.
Scott 13 – 6p brown violet, horizontal pair with sheet margin at left, o.g., rich color, fresh, very fine. A gorgeous pair. Foundation Certificate. From the Burrus Collection.
In 1977, this pair sold for $12,500 in Sotheby’s Hilmer sale in N.Y. Then, in 2006, it sold again for $26,400 in Sotheby’s sale of the Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Collection in N.Y.
Pence Imperforate Blocks
Harmer wrote: “Of all the gems offered, the unused blocks of the Canada imperforate laid 3p, wove 3p, 6p, 7½p and 10p are certainly the most spectacular.” Here they are:
Scott 1 – 3p red, marginal block of 4 with large part o.g., top right corner missing and other faults. Spectacular piece. Only one other block known. Royal Cert. Ex Robert Gill.
In 1977, this block sold for $11,500 at Sotheby’s sale of the Hilmer Collection.
Scott 4a – 3p deep brown red, unused block of 4 showing stitch watermark in R pair; tiny thin in T margin at R clear of design (and of little significance). Very fine and very rare. Ex Robert Gill.
In 2007, this block sold for $15,000 in a Matthew Bennett sale.
Scott 5b – 6p Greenish gray, a mint block of four, good color, large margins. Several creases from gum one ending in a tear; separation cut between stamps at R. An extraordinary block. Originally discovered in a “postage” book, this block was sold through H.R. Harmer Inc., Private Treaty Dept. some years ago.
It was last sold, as part of the Robert Gill collection in October, 1965 for $14,000.
Scott 7a – 10p blue. A mint block of four with sheet margin at B, tiny surface fault in R “10” of BR stamp. Wonderfully fresh, and one of the most outstanding Canadian pieces extant. Ex-Robert Gill.
In 1977, this block sold for $35,000 at Sotheby’s sale of the Hilmer Collection in N.Y.
Scott 9 - 7˝p yellow green, a mint block of four with margins all around except at upper half of TR stamp, very fresh. There are several gum creases, one of which has developed into a tear in the bottom of the LL stamp. An extraordinary block. Ex-Robert Gill auction.
In 1977, the block sold for $22,000 in the Hilmer sale. Then in 1987, it was offered for $95,000 by Irwin Weinberg in the Private Treaty sale of the” John Foxbridge” Collection.
Comparison with today’s values
We summarize below what these stamps sold for and their catalogue values today. We realize this may be mixing apples and oranges because many of the stamps would sell today for prices that are well in excess of catalogue. Still, this exercise is interesting in showing the extent to which some early Canadian stamps have increased in value since the Carey Fox sale in 1968, some 40 years ago.
Lot Scott Description Price realized
228 2 Strip of 3, used 450 5,550 233 3 Single, used 6,250 85,000 234 3 Single, used 6,750 85,000 235 4 Single, mint, og 800 1,500 259 4d Strip of 5, mint og 825 7,500 315 7a Pair, mint og 3,100 18,000 334 8 Pair, used 1,150 1,400 338 8 Block of 6, used 3,800 4,200 354 9 Pair, mint og 2,900 17,000 364 10 Single, used 1,800 5,500 370 11 Block, mint, og 2,100 13,000 379 12 Block, mint, NH 3,200 50,000 389 13 Pair, mint og 4,200 32,000 202 1 Block, mint, og 3,600 150,000 247 4a Block, Unused, stitch wmk. 2,100 6,400 284 5b Block, mint, og, faults 9,500 100,000 316 7a Block, mint, og 21,000 36,000 355 9 Block, mint, og 9,500 34,000 Total $83,025 $652,050
Once again we are indebted to The Saskatoon Stamp Centre for making this wonderful catalogue available to collectors through its regular sale of stamp literature.
©2008, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada