Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp market commentary

Commentary No. 13 - 17 September, 2000

Canada's Modern Imperforates

Where Do They Come From?

Despite Canada Post's best efforts, copies of many recent stamp issues have been entering the market on a fairly regular basis in imperforate form.  Because the coil imperforates have become so common, the price of these imperforates has fallen from the $100 - $200 price range of a few years ago to the $40 - $80 range today.  How broad is this development and why is it occurring?

We illustrate below a number of the imperforates that have turned up at auction during the past year. These examples show some of the current prices being realized:

Scott 1394a 42¢ Flag coil
Firby Lot 711
15 Jan., 2000
Realised $41 CAD.
($28 U.S.)
Scott 1350 2¢ Strawberry
Firby Lot 707
15 Jan., 2000
Realised $468 CAD.
($316 U.S.)
Scott 1395a 43¢ Flag Coil
Maresch Lot 2655
16 May, 2000
Realised $55
Scott 1179 78¢ Beluga Whale
Maresch Lot 2651
16 May, 2000
Realised $550
Scott 1360 45¢ Flag Definitive
Eastern Lot 878
17 June, 2000
Realised $750

Some of these stamps were issued a number of years ago, but most are of recent origin.   A number bear the marks of printer's waste.  Others have mistakes that would normally cause them to be destroyed by the printers.  It may be very tempting for employees of the printing company or the incinerator to take these errors home and sell them on the market.  It seems the more they do this, the more the market reacts by reducing the price they can get.  As a result, the dealers and auction houses that sell these items obtain dwindling returns in many cases.

There are major differences between the relatively low prices realized for the imperforate coil stamps that are now fairly common and the prices for the imperforate commemorative stamps that are less common.

Scott 1395a 43¢ Flag Coil
Brigham Lot 975
6 April, 2000
Realised $60
Scott 1361 48¢ McIntosh Apple
Eastern Lot 957
6 February, 1999
Realised $900

It seems that every time a new coil is printed, it is followed shortly thereafter by an ample supply of imperforates.  It is not clear why this happens.  Is in a production problem?  If so, why hasn't it been corrected after all these years?  It is a security problem?  If so, why hasn't something been done about it?  Well, maybe things will soon be changing.

Several writers have recently commented on the phenomenon.  An interesting article by Joseph Monteiro appeared in the July-Aug.2000 edition of The Canadian Philatelist.  Mr. Montiero gives examples of many imperforate varieties that have appeared at Canadian stamp auctions and elsewhere during the past year.  Some of these finds took place in Halifax, Montreal and in Florida.  In concluding his article, Mr. Monteiro referred to another type of error which has appeared in recent years, the 1994 Christmas stamps printed with the wrong denomination [Scott nos. 1534 &1535].  He states:

"While there is hardly any doubt that these stamps are genuine, one matter that bothers me is that if the government did not officially sell them over the Post Office counter, whether the possession of them is illegal and whether the RCMP can seize them from their owner"

Another article dealing with these modern varieties was written by Ian S. Robertson in the July 18, 2000 edition of the Canadian Stamp News at page 15.  The article describes a recent police raid on the home of an incinerator employee and a dozen Toronto area stores not licensed by Canada Post, which yielded $220,000 in dud and obsolete stamps. Police said that 95 % of what was recovered were imperforate 46 cent maple leaf and iceberg definitives.  Mr. Robertson goes on: "Police raided an incinerator employee's home May 17, one day after Ashton Potter shipped $15 million worth of rejected stamps for destruction".  Mr. Robertson concluded:

"Collectors in recent years have been offered a variety of imperforates versions of perforated definitives that dealers say were produced in Concord, north of Toronto, by the previous Ashton-Potter Ltd.  That firm went bankrupt in the mid-1990s and the current firm, with its name slightly altered, was formed by new owners."

The existence of these modern imperforate varieties certainly adds to the spice of collecting Canadian stamps.  If these varieties appeared on rare occasion only, one could accept each occurrence as a special event worthy of note and great interest.  But the fact that our dealers and auction houses are regularly offering then from a seemingly endless supply makes one wonder what game is being played and who is benefiting.  It does not appear to be a proud moment for Canadian philately.

The final word goes to Mr. R. W. Gibson of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  His letter to the editor of the Canadian Stamp News in the August 15, 2000 edition stated: 

"I have worked as a printer for 45 years.  Thirty-five of those years in a plant that was a security plant.  When we started printing lottery tickets, in the late '70s, the paper we used was supplied by the Government of Canada.  Every sheet had to be accounted for, every part sheet had to be accounted for.  After the finished job was delivered, we took the waste to our furnace and it was burned under supervision.  If we did not do this, how could we verify the count?

I have thought for some years now that far too many errors or emissions  in stamp printing are reaching the public [like the 92 cent Christmas issue]"

Thank you Mr. Gibson!

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