Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp market commentary


Commentary No. 16 - 17 December, 2000

The Definitives of 1987 - An Exceptional Set

Part I


There are only a few modern Canadian stamps that have increased in value over the years.  These might include the many imperforate varieties and stamps such as the 3¢ Scroll (Scott 151), the 8¢ Arch (Scott 171), the 4¢ Cameo (Scott 198), the 10¢ UEL (Scott 209), the George VI War Coils (Scott 278-281) and the St. Lawrence Invert (Scott 387a).

However, one set is refusing to follow this trend.  This is the definitive set of 1987-1991 (Scott 1155-1194C).  The catalogue values for this set range from a lowly 20¢ to a high $10,000.  The set is a mixture of types, all brought together.  The images include the Queen, the flag, wild animals and architecture.  Amongst other things, the set contains the following varieties:
 

    1. Seven different perforations, from 10 to 14½;
    2. Imperforate varieties, some catalogued, some not;
    3. Four different types of flag stamps;
    4. Regular gum and self adhesive gum;
    5. Stamps printed on the gum side;
    6. Inverted inscriptions;
    7. High denomination booklets, very unusual.

 
Collectors of Canadian stamps can still obtain most of these varieties today from dealers and at auction.  We would urge you to do so.  Many of the prices are within the range of the average collector.  This is what gives the sense of urgency in getting these stamps while you can. 

Those of you who are beginners, who began collecting, say, in the last 5 years, here is a good opportunity to specialize in a particular set.  This is also a great opportunity to learn about different papers, printers and perforations.


 
 
Scott 1156 var.
Scott 1156 var.
Scott 1167 var.
Scott 1167 var.
Scott 1171c
Scott 1171c
Scott 1177 var.
Scott 1177 var.

 
There may be a number of reasons why this set has so many things that are different about it:

First, the Post Office:

  • One wonders if it even knew that it was creating a new definitive set. 
  • Why did it keep changing the perforations? 
  • Did we really need to have a 44¢ Walrus or a 78¢ Beluga? 
Or was it the catalogue people? 
  • Was it they who put all these very different stamps together to create a new definitive set? 
Then, there were the printers:
  • was there more than one company involved, each one wanting to do their own thing? 
Finally, there were the printers' employees. 
  • What were they doing with all the scrap from the printing process? 
  • How did those copies printed "by mistake" on gum, or without perforations, or with part of the printing inverted get out to the public?


Check them now!

Many of the faithful collectors who subscribe to the Post Office's new issue service may have lucked out on this set.  They may not realize what they have tucked away.  This should be their wake-up call!

Get out your perforation gauges.  Check your paper types.  Check which side of the paper the gum is on by the time-honoured test!

The reason is that some of the values for this set, and we mean the "regular values", are taking off in a way that has not been seen for many years.  Why?  Because so few of these particular stamps in this set were issued.

Let's look at some examples from the Scott catalogue.  This chart shows some of the significant price changes recorded in the catalogues during the past 4 years:

1987 Definitive set
Scott Catalogue Values
Scott
Cat. No.
Denom-
ination
Perforation
1998
1999
2000
2001
1155a
13x12½
$1.00
$1.00
$2.00
$2.00
1159a
Imperf
-
-
-
$1,600.00
1160a
10¢
13x12½
$.65
$.65
$3.50
$3.50
1164d
38¢
Imperf
-
-
$500.00
$750.00
1166c
39¢
13x12½
$2.65
$2.65
$6.00
$6.00
1171c
44¢
13½x13
$140.00
$240.00
$240.00
$240.00
1172d
45¢
13
$10.00
$10.00
$12.00
$12.00
1175a
61¢
13
$2.00
$2.00
$45.00
$50.00
1181a
$1
Inscriptions
inverted
-
$8,750.00
$9,000.00
$10,000.00
1184a
12½x13
$1.75
$15.00
$15.00
$15.00
1189b
39¢
12½x13
-
-
-
$22.50

 
One of the most notable jumps, percentage-wise, was that which took place in the 2000 catalogue, when the 61¢ perf 13 (Scott 1175a) jumped from $2 to $45.  This could have been caused only by a most unusual scarcity of this particular issue.  Suddenly people who were looking for it, couldn't find it.  Whatever supply there had been had clearly dried up.  Was this simply a timing problem?  Only time will tell as we watch catalogue values over the next few years.  With so many people buying current Post Office issues, and, with scarcity only being recognized in the catalogue in its 2000 edition, it may be that the demand-supply balance will right itself.  Otherwise, the values for Scott 1175a may continue to climb.

In our next commentary, we will analyse how this set has done at auction over the past year.  Believe us, buyers and sellers have been active!

As our next Commentary will be in January, we would like to take this opportunity to offer to all our readers our very best wishes for the New Year, hoping each of you will enjoy an abundance of health and happiness in 2001.

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