Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp market commentary

Commentary No. 15 - 17 November, 2000

Large Queens   -   Paper Varieties

We continue to be fascinated by the Large Queens.  Not only are they beautiful in design and colour, but their varieties seem to be easier to understand than those of other earlier sets. Some specialists in this area will probably dispute this, which gives us reason to proceed into these waters cautiously.

Undoubtedly, it is the paper varieties that are one of the more interesting features of the Large Queens.  With some exceptions, the set was in use during the 1868 -1876 period and was printed on wove paper.  The Scott and other catalogues note that some of the stamps are found not only on wove paper but also on thin paper, watermarked paper, some on laid paper and finally, a number on very thick paper or soft white blotting paper.

Many of the paper varieties are extremely rare.  For example, there are only two known copies of the 2 cent laid (Please see our Commentary Number 7 for more on these two stamps, Canada's rarest).  As well, many of the rare copies have no gum. It is unlikely most of us will see these varieties in our lifetime and even if we did, we probably wouldn't recognize them.  But once we know about them, there's at least some hope we may find one. Finding one could be quite exciting since they attract high prices as will be seen below.

The Soft White and Thick Paper Varieties:

This month's commentary focuses on the soft white and thick paper varieties.  Scott lists only one, the 15 cent deep violet on very thick paper.  The list price in the 2001 catalogue for a copy is $4,000.

But, both Unitrade and Darnell list as many as six soft white or thick paper Large Queen varieties. These are the 1/2 cent black, 1 cent brown-red, 2 cent green, 3 cent red, 6 cent dark brown, 12½ cent blue as well as the 15 cent deep violet mentioned in Scott.

Varieties at auction:

Our records indicate that, by and large, it has been the R. Maresch & Son auction house that has highlighted these varieties over the years in its sales catalogues.  As a result, the examples that follow come exclusively from the Maresch sales.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to find examples for all the paper varieties in this set. 

Lot 512
14 May, 1996 - Maresch Lot 512
Realised $450
Scott 21i - on Thick Soft White Paper (no mesh visible) full o.g. - Never Hinged and very well centred with Jumbo margins, barest hint of toning at a couple of perf tips and one ragged perf, otherwise very fine and scarce.

Lot 269
12 September, 1995 - Maresch Lot 269
Realised $675
Scott 22i var. - on Soft White Paper, full o.g., small corner crease lower right, lovely sharp impression, a very rare stamp mint, ex. SILVERTS.  Est. value $750+

Lot 367
25 October, 2000 - Maresch Lot 367
Realised $1,250
Scott 27iii - on Soft White Paper, fresh unused, very rare and unpriced.  U.C.S. with Greene certificate

Lot 1170
10 March, 1999 - Maresch Lot 1170
Realised $2,100
Scott 28iii - Dark Blue, sharp impression on Soft White Paper, brilliant, fresh unused.  A Great Rarity, and the only recorded copy (as far as we know) and probably unique, with 1994 Greene cert.  Showpiece.  Est value $3,000+

Lot 1842
16 May, 2000 - Maresch Lot 1842
Realised $1,800
Scott 28iii - on Soft White Blotting paper fresh, much o.g. and with 1990 Greene cert. stating it is a mint 12½¢ (in 1990 this listing (28iii) did not exist) a very fine Showpiece and one of the few existing examples, ex. Silverts.  Est. $2,000+.  (U.C.S. only list this stamp as fine)

Lot 193
14 April, 1994 - Maresch Lot 193
Realised $6,500
Scott 30c - Deep Dull Violet, lovely true colour (as of the thick paper) but on Medium Wove Paper with horizontal grain (Firth's Group VIIIB) fresh unused, centred, one minute perf fault (negligible).  A Great Rarity (Although I have seen or handled a few used copies, this is the only unused copy that I know of).  This stamp is at least 50 times rarer than the thick paper variety.      Est value $3,500+ 
(U.C.S. for the thick paper - $5,000)

As can be seen, only a small number of these paper varieties have appeared at auction in mint condition in the past five years and of these, a half had no gum.

Our review of earlier research material, such as Jarrett's "Stamps of British North America" or Bogg's "The Postage Stamps and Postal History of Canada" reveals that there were many types of papers used in the printing of the Large Queens.  Each author describes them in his own way so we don't have a completely standard way of describing them.  According to the Stanley Gibbons catalogue, the 15 cent Large Queen was printed from 1868 to 1892, a total of 24 years.  Not surprisingly therefore, the 15 cent has by far the most paper varieties. 

Between 1959 and 1961, the Fred Jarrett collection of BNA stamps was sold by the firm of the late J. N. Sissions, one of Canada's best known auctioneers.  That was a mere 40 years ago.  It contained many extraordinary stamps, including the Large Queens in their many varieties.  Here are the wonderful prices you could have picked up some of these paper varieties for at that time:

of Sale
6¢ Brown on thick soft blotting paper, o.g.
14 October, 1959
2¢ Deep green on thick soft blotting paper (strip of 4)
3 February, 1960
2¢ Deep green on thick soft blotting paper
30 March, 1960
12½¢ Dull blue, thick paper (block of 4)
3 February, 1960

Let us hasten to add that other auction houses and dealers have also offered these Large Queen paper varieties in mint condition at one time or another.  Unfortunately, the details are missing from our records.  For example, when researching this topic, we noted that Saskatoon Stamp offered two mint copies of the 15 cent on very thick paper in its May 2000 sale (Saskatoon Stamp Centre, telephone 1-800-205-8814) asking $4250 for a fine copy and $2950 for a VG-F copy.

We conclude from our review that if you have any Large Queens that seem to be on an unusually thick paper or soft blotting paper, you should check this out with an experienced dealer or auction house. Those stamps could be very valuable.

Do you have a comment that you would like to share with other collectors?  We would be pleased to publish on our web site comments we receive from you, our viewers on this or any other topic regarding Canadian Stamps.

We would especially appreciate receiving your comments that would be helpful in understanding the complexity of these varieties. 

Please send your comments to:

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