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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp market commentary

Commentary No. 58 - 17 April, 2004

Save Those Auction Catalogues!

If a collector wants information on a particular stamp, he or she can turn on a computer, select a search engine and put in a question. Let's try "Small Queens". Doing this turns up some wonderful sources of information:

But this information, while useful, is limited when compared to what is available in some of the auction catalogues that have been issued over the years. This is especially true when a specialized collection is put up for sale by a knowledgeable collector.

Some recent examples of specialized catalogues

During the past two or three years, a number of specialized collections have come to market. Here are a few:

The "Midland" Collection Charles A. Firby, January 24, 2004
The " Horace W. Harrison" Registration Collection Robert A. Lee, October 23, 2003
The "James W. Goss" Canadian Arch Issue Charles A. Firby, June 29, 2003
The "John J. Gaudio" Collection of Revenue Stamps Robert A. Lee, June 22, 2002
"Roger Fournelle's" Fancy Cancellations of Canada R.Maresch & Son, April 30,2002

The above type of information is not generally available over the Internet. A few auction houses, such as John H. Talman in Toronto, archive each of their sales catalogues on the Internet and make them available to collectors for number of years. This is very helpful, but unfortunately not everyone has a computer and, even if they do, it is hard for some of us to absorb information spread out over multiple pages on the computer screen. Compare this to having an auction catalogue in front of you giving instant access to images and prices realized. Not many people can comfortably read a book on a computer screen.

It may still be possible to obtain copies of recent catalogues from the auction houses in question, but our viewers would have to call them to find out. Some auctioneers warn their clients not to throw out catalogues that contain information on specialized collections. We would strongly support this and, in fact, we would go further. We'd suggest you don't throw away any of your auction catalogues. The information in them is forever useful.

Some older examples of specialized catalogues

A number of years ago, we were able to acquire the complete set of catalogues from the sales of " The Fred Jarrett B.N.A.Collection" that took place on various dates between 1959 and 1961. Those individual sales catalogues are all contained in one hardbound volume. We still marvel as we look at this wonderful collection and the wealth of material it contained on Canadian stamps. Unfortunately, in those days, the descriptions were less detailed than now, there was no clear indication whether the stamps were hinged are not and the images, though plentiful, were not in colour

Many other specialized collections have been sold by auction houses over the past couple of decades. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

"Menich's" Canadian Postal History Charles G. Firby Jun 22, 2000
Stamps of the Canadian Maritime Provinces Charles G. Firby Feb 29, 1999
The "Dave Roberts" Used Stamps of Canada R. Maresch & Son Mar 4, 1997
The " Ten " Auction Eaton & Sons Jun 17, 1995
The "Sam C. Nickle" Pence and 1859 Issues Christies, NY Mar 19, 1993
"Guy Des Rivieres QC" Pre-stamp Postal History J. N. Sissons Nov 18, 1992
"Senator Henry D. Hicks" Collection R. Maresch & Son Nov 27, 1991
The "Reval" Collection of BNA Forgeries Jim A. Hennok Oct 27, 1990
"Dr.George Arfkin's" Large and Small Queens J.N. Sissons Oct 3, 1990
"John Sivert's" Canadian Cancellations R. Maresch & Son Sept 27, 1989
The "Gerald E. Wellburn" Vancouver Island and BC Eaton & Sons Oct 6, 1988
The "John Foxbridge" collection of BNA Pence Issues Irwin Weinberg Rarities Nov 20, 1987
The "Professor Julian C. Smith" Collection R. Maresch & Son Oct 23, 1986
"Harry Lussey's" Special Deliveries and Postage Dues R. Maresch & Son July 26, 1983
The "Simpson" Small Queens Stanley Gibbons Nov 18, 1980

Here are a few examples of the kind of specialized material that can be found in these catalogues:

Scott No. 29iii
Lot 425

Jim A. Hennok
Feb. 23, 2002
Auctioneer's Description:
15¢ Major Re-entry, a fabulous face-free cancelled copy of the reddish purple shade showing the rare major re-entry, see figure 39A, page 126 "The Large Queen Stamps of Canada and their use 1868-1872" HE & HW Duckworth. The finest copy of this major re-entry we have ever seen. From a new find and with a 2002 Greene Certificate. Extremely Fine

Scott No.43c
Lot 469

Charles G. Firby
June 22, 2002
Auctioneer's Description:
6¢ Red Brown, the very Rare 5¢ on 6¢ Major Re-entry excellent colour & with large balanced margins. A remarkable copy that is considered the finest of the few known to exist. This is the rarest of all Canadian re-entries & one of Canada's most significant errors. A showpiece for the finest of collections which transcends the UCS catalogue value. 1997 VG Greene cert. #8369 & 1999 D. Brandon cert. #23822 accompanies. Ex: Dennis Dunn.

Scott No. 40d
Lot 1957

Charles G. Firby
Jan 24., 2004
Auctioneer's Description:
10¢ Magenta, earliest shade, perf. 11½ x 12, with excellent strike of a barred precancellation. Note: D. Bowen believes this to be the only Magenta 11½ x 12 precancel extant. A showpiece. XF-SUPERB. Ex: Bowen

Scott No. C1
Lot 436
Eastern Auctions
Feb. 21, 2004
Auctioneer's Description:
3¢ Hawker Flight. Well centred and fresh mint single, with full original gum, faint trace of a hinge mark and unusually well centred, initialled with the usual J.A.R. (Dr. J. Alex Robinson, Postmaster General) on back and signed by Sanabria. Amongst the most famous and desirable Airmail stamps of the World. Only 200 stamps were printed and the majority of these were used on covers for the attempted flight. A beautiful stamp, the nicest we have handled, XF LH 1978 BPA cert and 1994 PF certs.

How to get access to these catalogues

Gaining access to these catalogues is no easy task. We are not aware of large accumulations of back issues being available for the various Canadian auction houses, except in the hands of a few private collectors. This is a shame as the information, once lost is beyond retrieval. But when it is available to collectors, it can be priceless.

Why is it so important? The main reason is that for most Canadian stamps, there are a number of varieties. Auction catalogues can provide complete descriptions and images of these varieties. This information can be valuable. Have a look at a recent Unitrade catalogue to see how much more valuable the varieties are than the regular stamps. But how can one identify these varieties? It certainly helps if one has an auction catalogue with the proper description and image. Let's look at a few:

Scott No. 3
Lot 169
Charles G. Firby
Oct. 29, 1988
From the "Sam C. Nickle Collection
12d. Brownish Black on laid paper. The Magnificent Horizontal Pair, deep rich color, huge margins and with full sheet margin at bottom. Very sharp impression, fresh and full original gum. A great classic rarity -- the finest of the three surviving mint pairs and believed by many to be the Most Important Philatelic Treasure of Canada. A Superb Gem from the Dale-Lichenstein Collection. Photo in R. Lowe Encyclopedia, Vol. 5.

Scott No. 7
Irwin Weinberg Rarities
20 Nov., 1987
From the "John Foxbridge" Collection
1855, 10p Blue on Hard Wove Paper, Unusual block of 4. Ample to huge margins, including the Bottom Sheet Margin. Exceptionally Fresh. Full Original Gum. The Bottom Pair is Never Hinged. The bottom right stamp has a small surface scuff not detracting from the Awesome Beauty of this Great Rarity of Which This is the Only Recorded Unused Block

Scott No. 1
Lot 1073
Eaton & Sons
6 Oct., 1988
The 1859 2½d dull rose, British Columbia & Vancouver Island, a marginal strip of six, from the bottom of the right pane. -Imperforate- The serial number "147" showed that this 2½d B.C. & V.I. plate was the 147th. surface-printed plate made by De La Rue & Co. since 1855. The unique strip was removed from the only known complete sheet which is in the collection of the British Postal Museum. It is unknown how this strip came about being removed, but it has been suggested that the piece may have been a gift to one of the members of the Royal Family. AN OUTSTANDING ITEM and certainly one of the Gems of this collection.

We've thought about how the average collector could build such an accumulation of catalogues, either on his own or together with others. Here are a few ideas:

1. The collector can save all his current catalogues and build up his own library over a period of years. This means subscribing for catalogues from a number of auctioneers and paying the required fees.

2. To "quick start" this, the collector can bid on collections of catalogues offered by many auction houses as lots during their regular sales under the title Philatelic Literature.

3. As well, the collector can purchase collections of catalogues from providers of stamp literature, such as the following:

Auxano Philatelic Services
Charles G. Firby

4. It would be possible for a group of collectors who belong to a local stamp club to form their own library by donating their individual catalogues and grouping them together.

5. The National Postal Archives has a collection of auction catalogues at its office in Ottawa. These are available to the general public.

We at Canadian Stamp Auctions have formed a general collection of auction catalogues that dates back to 1973. We have added to it by purchasing additional catalogues of specialized collections from some of the sources listed above. We consider this material our most valuable asset. If more collectors built up such libraries, it would ensure there was a greater knowledge of Canada's stamps, more articles would be written on philatelic topics and more people would be encouraged to display both their stamps and specialized material at our stamp exhibitions. It's a win-win situation !

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