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Stamp market commentary


Commentary No. 51 - 17 September, 2003

New record stamp prices in the first six months
of 2003

We have seen a number of interesting trends in stamp prices during the course of this year. They have all been positive. There were more new record prices in the first 6 months of 2003 than in the same period of the previous three years. This has been accompanied by noticeably stronger prices for postal history, imperforate stamps, revenue stamps, proofs, essays and modern varieties.

The above developments haven't surprised us as the trends were already in place at the start of the year, but there have been a few surprises. For example we have noted examples of very fine high-value stamps with SON cancellations doing exceptionally well at auction, as have all denominations of the similarly cancelled Jubilee and Quebec Tercentenary sets.

In addition, new record prices were paid in 2003 for a number of the first day covers issued in the 1920s and 1930s. There is a new and greater interest in the post-Admiral sets issued between 1928 and 1938. In the Scroll and Arch sets, strong bids are now being seen for the 12¢ and 20¢ stamps. Some of the dogs of yesteryear, like the $1 Admiral (Scott 122) and the 20¢ Special Delivery (Scott E3) are now attracting serious attention. Who would have thought a $1 Admiral would sell for $450, a new record price in 2003, and yet this happened. Here is the stamp:

R. Maresch & Son
28 January, 2003

Lot 1274
Catalogue $200
Realised $450

There hasn't been a price like this paid for the stamp since 1999. The previous high of $375 was realized in that year.

Trends:

The following chart summarizes the number of new record prices realised that we have recorded, year by year, since 2000 (during the first six months of each of the years):

 
2003
2002
2001
2000
Early Classics
1
2
5
-
Large Queens
-
1
1
2
Small Queens
2
7
4
9
Jubilees
-
-
3
5
Maple Leafs
5
-
1
-
Numerals
0
3
1
5
Edward VII
4
5
-
2
Quebec Tercentenary
4
1
1
1
Admirals
20
4
6
5
Modern Varieties
14
14
7
2
Back of the Book
8
6
3
2
Total for the 6 months
58
43
32
33

Between 2000 and 2003, the number of new record prices that were realized in the first six months of the year rose from 33 to 58, an increase of 76 %. The strongest set by a long shot in 2003, was the Admiral set with 20 new record prices. Here are a few outstanding examples:

Eastern Auctions
22 Feb., 2003

Lot 588
Scott 111a
Catalogue $200
Realised $1,150
Bow City
22 March, 2003

Lot 2429
Scott 115
Catalogue $60
Realised $285
R. Maresch & Son
3 June, 2003

Lot 2125
Scott 120
Catalogue $160
Realised $600

Followed closely behind the Admirals in popularity have been the modern varieties. By this we refer to the many imperforate stamps, paper and perforation varieties, stamps missing inscriptions, double printed or with inverted inscriptions, stamps printed on gum etc., issued from 1930 to 2003. Unlike the Admirals, where the varieties are considered legitimate, many of the modern varieties are of questionable origin, because of questions of where they came from. These modern stamps seem to get listed in the catalogues only grudgingly and sometimes only years after their discovery. Yet many of them regularly receive bids in the thousands of dollars.

Finally, in third-place in popularity in 2003 are the Back-of-the-book sets, including the airmail, special delivery, registered, postage due and war tax stamps. We show here one example of a modern variety and also one of a postage due stamp. Both these stamps did exceptionally well and established new records:

Eastern Auctions
28 May., 2003

Lot 1426
Scott 709a
Catalogue $175
Realised $410
Charles Firby
29 June., 2003

Lot 84
Scott J10a
Catalogue $1,800
Realised $4,724

Lower value stamps:

Another noticeable trend during the past six months has been the strong prices being paid for the lower value stamps in the early definitive sets. Here are some outstanding examples:

R. Maresch & Son
3 June., 2003

Lot 1729
Scott 34
Catalogue $3
Realised $280
R. Maresch & Son
3 June., 2003

Lot 2029
Scott 89
Catalogue $50
Realised $230
Eastern Auctions
22 Feb., 2003

Lot 577
Scott 104b
Catalogue $21
Realised $260

For years, these stamps have sold for relatively low amounts. Only in the past few years has attention been paid for them as collectors recognized that so very few of the well-centered copies have survived without hinge marks.

Observations on price momentum:

In terms of momentum over the past four years, the Admirals are the clear winners. They are closely followed by the Quebec Tercentary set (Scott 96 - 103) and the Back-of-the-book sets (Scott C1 - MR7)]. These three winning sets accumulated the most new record prices between 2000 and 2003

There were 3 stamps that set new records in each of the three years under review. These were the 5¢ & 7¢ stamps from the Edward VII set (Scott 91 and 92) and the 10¢ Quebec Tercentenary (Scott 101).

The biggest % increase of all in the 4-year period was for this lovely 10¢ Maple Leaf (Scott 73):

R. Maresch & Son
28 January, 2003

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

The stamp's previous record price of $800 was set at an Eastern Auctions sale in 2001. It was beaten twice in the above Maresch sale, first, when a copy sold for $925 and then again, when the above copy sold for $1,750.

All in all, it has been a remarkable year for new record prices and we are only halfway there. Since the end of June of this year, we have recorded an additional 22 new record prices.


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