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Canadian Stamp Auctions


Commentary No. 112 - 17 October, 2008

The Sam C. Nickle Collection
Sold October 29, 1988
by Charles G. Firby Auctions

Twenty years ago, Sam Nickle chose Charles G. Firby’s firm in Birmingham, Michigan to auction off part of his collection, and some part it was! Those were back in the days that when the auction catalogues were usually printed in black and white, including the images. But to mark this special occasion, Firby printed many of the top offerings in colour on the front and back covers of the catalogue. This is fortunate for us as we think stamps always look better in colour.

It would appear from the comments in the catalogue that Sam Nickle was living in Calgary at the time and that his collecting interests were shared by his wife, Rosemary, who was herself a serious philatelist. He clearly was active in the hobby as he had served as president of the BNA Philatelic Society; he was a fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society in London and served on the Design Advisory Committee of Canada Post.

We present below some of the best material from his collection. You will note that a number of the items come from the Carey Fox collection that we reviewed last month in our September Commentary. All the prices are in U.S. dollars.


12 Penny Black



Scott 3
Realized $150,000


“This outstanding mint margin pair of twelve pence stamps came from the Dale-Lichtenstein sales and were purchased jointly by Jim Sissons and Bob Lyman from the sale in New York. Jim and Bob had decided to split the pair into two superb singles and go their separate ways. But with the pair on the table between them, they decided to telephone Sam Nickle before cutting them into two singles. The sale was arranged over the telephone and this brilliant pair was saved.”

Firby described this pair as “A great classic rarity - - the finest of the three surviving mint pairs and believed by many to be the Most Important Philatelic Treasure of Canada. A superb gem from the Dale-Lichtenstein Collection.”

According to a report in the January, 1989 edition of the Canadian Philatelist, it was John Jamieson at the Saskatoon Stamp Centre who bought the stamp on behalf of an anonymous Toronto collector. He is quoted at the time as saying that the above price is the highest price ever paid for any Canadian philatelic item at public auction.


Other Canadian Classics



Lot 139
Realized $12,500
Scott 1i – 3d orange vermillion on laid paper, the magnificent block with clear to large margins and two neat strikes of the target canceler. A wonderful exceedingly rare item. Unique as used and the finest of the 3 surviving blocks. 1959 Royal Certificate accompanies.


Lot 215
Realized $3,250
Scott 4iv – 3d Scarlett vermillion on thin oily paper, wonderful rich colored vertical pair with large margins around and full OG. The V.G. Greene certificate states “… with natural gum creases and crease in margin between stamps." A glorious pair.


Lot 267
Realized $2,200
Scott 4v – 3d Deep red, a horizontal strip of three with sheet margin and full Imprint at T. Neatly cancelled by 3 VF strikes of 4-ring “27”. Small red stain UL (possibly from another cancellation ) does not detract. A stunning multiple. Showpiece.


Lot 314
Realized $2,700
Scott 5 – 6d slate gray on medium wove paper, a huge example, deep rich color and superb. A showpiece worthy of the finest collection.


Lot 367
Realized $13,000
Scott 7a – 10d Prussian Blue, the Magnificent block of 4 with good even margins all around but “barely” into at bottom. Deep rich color and lightly canceled. Lightlly creased which is of no consequence as only 2 used blocks exist. A Show piece. Photo in Boggs Canada, page 155.


Lot 380
Realized $2,600
Scott 8i - ½d deep rose, a bright color vertical pair with the Enormous margins all around and showing portions of 8 adjoining stamps and with neat 4-Ring numeral cancel. In the Fox sale, the pair was described as “light diagonal crease, and to have ” some oil effect on the back which gives the appearance of thinning”. The pair has apparently been washed, as these conditions are no longer present. A Magnificent Showpiece.


Lot 393
Realized $7,250
Scott 8b – ½d rose, the Magnificent block which is barely cut into at right and with large margins at L and T. Good color and with the target cancellations, pin hole near center. It Showpiece of the greatest rarity. Undoubtedly unique. A very important multiple from the Fox, collection. Photo in Boggs, page 150.


Lot 394
Realized $5,750
Scott 9 - 7½d deep green on medium wove paper, brilliant fresh large margined example with full OG. Extremely fine. A Gem from the Dale-Lichtenstein Collection. 1988 Greene Foundation Certificate.


Lot 424
Realized $16,000
Scott 11 - ½d deep rose, the Fabulous block of 4, well centered and with deep rich color. Fresh and with full OG. A wonderful item, unique as mint and one of the stars of this collection. Photo in R. Lowe Encyclopedia, page 160. A Superb Showpiece.


Lot 427
Realized $17,500
Scott 12 – 3d red perforated, the magnificent block of 4, deep rich color and full OG. Two stamps “barely” hinged, others NH. Unique. A Gem from the Jephcott and Hart Collections. Photo in R. Lowe Encyclopedia, page 160.

This was some collection! Perhaps its strength can best be demonstrated by some of the items we haven’t included. There were, for example, three other 12 penny blacks, one mint and two used. And there were many outstanding covers. A number of these sold for prices in the $10,000 - $22,500 range. These would be impressive prices even in today’s market. Most of the more expensive items came from other well known collections. Our guess is that Mr. Nickle gave his agents a fair amount of latitude in making bids on his behalf. We wish we’d been in Birmingham back in 1988 to see this auction!

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©2008, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada