Commentary No. 63 - 17 September, 2004
Record Prices for Stamps in 2004!
There have been more new record prices this year in the Canadian stamp market for top investment grade material than in the preceding 3 years. But as far as we are aware, the market for stamps that are of lesser quality remains in the doldrums. As in 2003, there have been noticeably stronger prices for postal history, imperforate stamps, proofs, essays and modern varieties.
The strong interest in stamps in the immediate post-Admiral period (ie 1928-1934) continues as collectors seem to focus on one stamp after another in the various sets and prices slowly ratchet up.
The following chart presents a summary of the new record prices we have recorded for the first six months of each year since 2001
2004 2003 2002 2001 Early Classics 19 1 2 5 Large Queens 2 - 1 1 Small Queens 9 2 7 4 Jubilees 1 3 Maple Leafs 1 5 - 1 Numerals 4 - 3 1 Edward VII 1 4 5 - Quebec Tercentenary - 4 1 1 Admirals 5 20 4 6 Modern Varieties 27 14 14 7 Back of the Book 5 8 6 3 Total for the 6 months 74 58 43 32
The total number of new record prices increased from 43 in 2002 to 74 this year, an increase of 72%. But, it is important to note that 46 of this year's 74 came from only two sales, the Charles G. Firby sale of January 24 2004 and the Eastern Auctions sale of June 26 2004. The Firby sale produced an amazing number of new records from among Canada's classic stamps while the Eastern Auctions sale produced an equally impressive number, but from among Canada's imperforates and modern varieties.
In 2003, R. Maresch & Sons led the pack with the highest number of new record prices. This year, Eastern and Firby have that distinction. What a strong competitive auction market we have in Canada. It seems that the only thing holding it back is the limited supply of rare stamps.
One thing that surprised us this year was the reduction in the number of new record prices for stamps in the Admiral set, falling from 20 new records in 2003 to only 5 in 2004. Has the marketplace seen less demand for the stamps in this set this year? Not at all. The set continues to attract strong bids across the board and the year isn't over yet. Here are a couple of interesting examples:
Old records broken
One of the things we noticed about this year's list was the number of pre-2000 records that were broken. 33 of these older records were broken in 2004, well over the 24 that were broken in 2003. Here are some of the oldest:
1984 Record $1,250
2004 Record $1,400
1993 Record $500
2004 Record $850
1978 Record $2,200
2004 Record $3,750
Exceptionally high realizations
In 2002, the highest new record price was $ 7350. In 2003, the top figure was $3250. In 2004, there were eight new record prices in excess of $10,000 and the highest was $23580. Here are 4 of the top new records:
Catalogue $20,000 (each)
Realised $22,925 (each)
Noticeable premiums over catalogue values
We can recall that when we used to participate in stamp auctions, we would always start off determining our bids by reference to catalogue values. Then if we wanted to successfully bid on a rare and outstanding item, we would have to decide on the premium to be paid to win. For some stamps, one could consider a premium of say 50 % or 100%. But for other stamps, it soon became apparent that in order to succeed, one would have to pay a multiple of catalogue values, such as 2 times or 5 times and in some cases 10 times. Apart from the professionals in the business, very few people knew what these multiples were. Now that we have provided the details of the prices realized over the past ten years on our website, this sort of information is generally available to the public. For details please click on this link: http://www.canadianstampauctions.com/Stamps_Files_New/Prices_Index.htm
Some interesting examples of high premiums are found in the first six months of 2004. Here they are:
Scott No. Description 2004
1 3p. beaver used $800 $1,550 19 17¢ Cartier $800 $1,900 23 1¢ Large Queen $800 $5,568 34 ½¢ Small Queen $9 $220 38 5¢ Small Queen $375 $3,602 44 8¢ Small Queen $90 $1,572 45 10¢ Small Queen $325 $3,250 163d 1¢ Arch imperforate $1,800 $3,602 1165c 38¢ Parliament on gum $75 $225
Major increases over previous record prices
We also noticed some major increases in this year's new record prices over the previous records for those same stamps. Here are a couple of examples:
New Record $19,650 (2004)
Previous Record $5,750 (2001)
New Record $2,900 (2004)
Previous Record $1,050 (1978)
Stamps that continue to make records
Amongst the 74 new record prices this year, only these 4 repeated from 2003:
Scott No. Description 2004
34 ½¢ Small Queen 220 210 34a ½¢ Small Queen imperf. 890 850 109c 3¢ Admiral 325 300 OX4 Officially Sealed 160 146
The 2004 list of new record prices
Please click here to see the full list of new record prices realized at auction for the current year. This list is updated on a regular basis during the year as we receive details of prices realized from Canada's auction houses.
It has been a banner year for new record prices, beating past years by a large margin. But we must note that a large percentage of the 2004 records came from only 2 remarkable auctions. But as we look back, this is also true of other years, when many of the new record prices were established at a small number of significant sales. This is because there is a very limited supply of material and the major collections are normally sold through one auctioneer, they are not parceled out to a group. The market we have today for any available top grade material is working very well and is attracting a good supply of top stamps. Until something happens, such as a change in the economy, we expect the present trend to continue.
©2004, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada