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Stamp market commentary


Commentary No. 56 - 17 February, 2004

Early Canadian Stamps with No Gum

For the past few decades, the no-hinged craze has swept across our hobby pushing practically everything out of its path. We have bought into it like everyone else as we watched the prices for this material steadily increase. One cannot quarrel with collectors' tastes, but we have always had reservations.

As far as we are aware, all collectors hinged their stamps from the beginning of the hobby until the 1950s when new types of albums appeared which allowed stamps to be slipped into plastic holders so that hinges were no longer needed.

There are a couple of things that aren't quite right about the no-hinge approach to collecting. First, it is likely that as time goes by, it will become increasingly easier to convert a lightly hinged stamp into a no-hinged stamp. We have had no actual experience with this, but have suspicions about some of those "perfect" early Canadian stamps. The second, but more serious drawback, is that there are many otherwise perfect stamps that have been discounted because of a light hinge mark. This seems to mean that the back of the stamp is more valuable or more meaningful than the front and this just doesn't make sense. People are primarily attracted to a stamp by its design and beauty.

With this background, we have recently become aware of how many early Classic Canadian stamps, which have no gum, sell for top prices at auction. This seemed to be a major anomaly so we decided to look at our ten-year pricing records to obtain further data.

Early Canadian stamps with no gum

The results surprised us. Looking at the prices for Scott no. 1 to 20, including all the varieties contained in our pricing records, we found that 30% of the record prices for these classics were for stamps with no gum, a total of fourteen stamps out of forty-six.

Turning to the Large Queens, Scott nos. 21 to 33 together with their varieties, we found that 17% of the record prices were for stamps with no gum, a total of nine stamps out of fifty-three.

In the Classics, four of the pricing pages had only NG stamps in them and three had mostly NG stamps. In the Large Queens, two of the pricing pages had only NG stamps in them and three had mostly NG stamps.

Have we convinced you yet? Have a look for yourself in our 10 year pricing records for the Classics and the Large Queens.

Here are a few examples:

Scott No. 2 - Most valuable NG stamp amongst the Classics

Charles G. Firby
Jan. 24, 2004


Lot 131
Scott 2
Catalogue $13,500
Realised $23,580

Scott No. 21b - Most valuable NG stamp amongst the Large Queens

Robert A. Lee
March 2, 2002


Lot 4450
Scott 21b
Catalogue $16,500
Realised $13,750

Scott No. 10 - Where the two top prices were for NG stamps

Charles G. Firby
Jan. 24, 2004

Lot 190
Scott 10
Catalogue $13,500
Realised $20,960
R. Maresch & Son
Oct. 23, 1986

Lot 15
Scott 10
Catalogue $13,500
Realised $19,000

Results from current auctions

The January 24, 2004 sale at Charles G. Firby Auctions in Waterford Michigan featured the amazing "Midland" Canadian collection. It contained many wonderful copies of the finest early Canadian stamps and resulted in 25 new record prices. This was the largest number we can recall in a single sale. Of the 25 new records, 8 were for stamps with no gum.

There are two more major sales coming up in the next few weeks. The catalogue for the Eastern Auctions public auction in Halifax on February 21, 2004 contains 12 mint stamps from the Classic and Large Queen period. Of these 6 are without gum. The catalogue for the R. Maresch & Son sale in Toronto on March 2, 2004 contains 16 mint stamps from this same period and of these, 5 are without gum.

We hope the facts we have provided in this commentary will persuade collectors to pay more attention to these early Canadian stamps with no gum, focusing more on their rarity, condition and beauty and less on that shiny stuff on the back to the stamp.


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©2004, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada