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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp market commentary


Commentary No. 47 - 17 May, 2003

Wondering What Your Stamps Are Worth?

Since starting our website 3 years ago, we have been recording many of the stamp prices realized at auction and posting them on our website. This lets our viewers know the prices that had been realized over the past 10 years for a selection of top Canadian stamps in the VF to XF categories. Our records reflect the results from twelve of the best-known auction houses whose sales we regularly follow.

Our ten-year summary of prices

Our summary of prices now contains over 450 pages. The emphasis is on early Canada as well as the very popular sets from the Jubilees to the Admirals, the Modern Varieties and the Back of the Book sets. This is where the highest prices are found. This is where stamps can sell for many multiples of their catalogue values. Let's look at a couple of examples:

Eastern Auctions
May 25, 2001


Lot 429
Scott 8 mint
Catalogue $650
Realized $3,500
Eastern Auctions
May 25, 2001


Lot 430
Scott 8 mint
Catalogue $650
Realized $650

A quick look at the page for Scott No.8 shows the prices realized between 1995 and 2002. Generally, these have been in the $400 to $700 range. But on five occasions before that sale, they topped $1000. In the case of lot 429 above, the price hit an amazing $3500, or five times catalogue. Why? Well for one thing, the stamp was one of the few perfect copies that exist; it was the only one we had recorded to that date that was unhinged and it came with a Greene Foundation Certificate. Another factor, and this is very important, is that it was included in one of Eastern Auction's most succesful sales in 2001 that contained many outstanding stamps. How outstanding was that sale? Well, look at our page of New Record Prices for 2001. That one sale produced 20 new record prices. This is the most we have ever recorded for one sale. The buyers at that sale were not sitting on their hands!

Now let's look at lot 430, shown above. This is the very same stamp, it has equally large borders and it was also described as very fine. However the description in the catalogue was a little less enthusiastic, the stamp was hinged and had a small guarantee stamp on it. The result was that it sold for its catalogue price.

If we were bidding in this sale, how could we possibly know what amount to bid? It would be difficult. But if we could at least see the 32 prices for which it sold since 1995, we'd have a much better idea.

Here is a second example that comes from a recent Maresch sale, the 10 Maple Leaf of 1898:

R. Maresch & Son
Jan 28, 2003


Lot 1098
Scott 73
Catalogue $525
Realized $925
R. Maresch & Son
Jan 28, 2003


Lot 1099
Scott 73
Catalogue $525
Realized $1,750

Maresch described lot 1098 as "brilliant fresh, exceptionally well centered, n.h.extremely fine". This sale turned out to be a blockbuster in which 16 new record prices were set. The $925 price for the first lot was the highest price ever paid for this stamp and set a new record. The $1750 paid for the second lot topped that short-lived record by a long shot to become the newest new record.

What should one have bid for the above stamps? Well for starters, there have been 30 prices recorded for this stamp in very fine condition since 1987. It is clear from looking at the prices that the trend was on the upswing and particularly since 2001. Therefore, at a major sale like this one, buyers should have been prepared to bid somewhere between $500 to say $800. Unfortunately, this wouldn't have bought either stamp. The competition from a group of determined buyers was too great. No one, except the auctioneer and the winning bidders could have known that both stamps would sell for record prices and, in the case of the second stamp, for a price that was more than double the previous record set in 2001.

Our purpose in providing this information

The purpose for our ten-year record of prices is to put buyers and sellers in a better position to bid accurately and realistically at auction. Our pricing records show which auction houses are in the game. They show which Canadian stamps sell regularly and which come to auction perhaps only every five years. They show what some of the old and modern varieties sell for, some of the re-entries, the imperforates and some stamps that aren't found in any of the catalogues. If you would like to see the 10 year summary, click on the button below:

We hope you'll find this information helpful as you bid in future. If the records show anything, it is that for every stamp, there are a wide variety of prices. This is because each stamp, each bidder and each auction sale is unique!



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©2003, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada