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Stamp market commentary

Commentary No. 66 - 17 December, 2004

The 2005 Darnell Stamps of Canada Catalogue

There was lots of good news in the latest Darnell catalogue but it was a bit hard to find. A patient reading of the details revealed some healthy advances in prices here and there. For years, the prices for the early classics languished, but in the past two editions of the Darnell catalogue, this was not the case. But don’t look for any increase in Canada’s regular definitive sets, nor in the commemoratives, because after the classics, the few advances that exist are found pretty much only in the varieties. Something new is found in the catalogue at page 345. It’s a list of stamps the Post Office intends to issue in 2005. Now let’s look at the price changes.

Early Classics

There were interesting increases throughout the early Canadian classics covering the period from 1851 - 1867. As with the previous edition in 2003, a majority of these increases were found in the used copies. However, more attention was paid to the postal history values, i.e. stamps on cover, in this latest edition with many advances. Amongst the varieties, the re-entries and the stamps on watermarked paper did well.

Large and Small Queens

In the 2003 edition there had been major increases across the board for mint copies of the Large and Small Queens. Not so this time. Amongst the Large Queens, there were modest increases for the 3¢ and 5¢ mint, but no increases for the other mint, or any of the used copies in this set. In a Small Queens, there were increases for the 5¢, 8¢ and 20¢ mint, but again, no increases for any of the used copies.

Looking at the varieties of these two sets, we saw good advances in the prices for stamps with watermarks and their covers. We also noted advances in some of the colour varieties of both sets and in some of the Small Queen Imperforates.

From the Jubilees to the present

There were few changes after the Large Queens and we only found these among some of the varieties. Some of the prices for the rarer perforation varieties of both the 1989 and the 1992 – 1994 definitive sets (Canadian mammals and edible berries sets) did advance as did some of the commemoratives issued in 1996. This latter increase was a bit of a surprise

Booklets, Coils and First day covers

We noted very few changes


Taking into account the hundreds if not thousands of varieties found in this catalogue, we found that there were relatively few price increases. Most were found in the classics and in the Large and Small Queens with emphasis on re-entries and watermarks.

New Listings

Unlike the 2000 & 2003 editions of Darnell, there were only a handful of new varieties listed in this catalogue. We could only find three. See attached schedule of “New Listings”.

Stamps that Continue to Rise in Value

We found many stamps that had noticeable increases in value in both the 2003 and 2005 Darnell catalogues. Here are a few of them:

Robert A. Lee
March 22, 2002, Lot 4450
“ Watermarked” variety
2000 $ 7500
2003 $ 9500
2005 $ 16,500

Charles G. Firby
June 22, 2004, Lot 144
“ Q flaw” variety, used
2000 $ 175
2003 $ 300
2005 $ 600

R. Maresch & Son
January 28, 2003, Lot 566
“Milky blue” variety
2000 $ 850
2003 $1000
2005 $1700

R. Maresch & Son
September 28, 1999, Lot 1779
“11½ x 12 perf.”
2000 $ 900
2003 $2200
2005 $2500


Price Increases

Some of the more notable increases are shown in the attached schedule of “Price Increases”.


As with the 2005 editions of Scott and Unitrade, stamp prices found in the latest Darnell catalogue have not advanced in general. However a very careful review of this catalogue does reveal many individual increases. The biggest and brightest advances are found in the early classics and especially among the very fine used copies. This should be a good sign for serious collectors of Canadian stamps because for many of them, this is a key area of interest and available copies of the stamps in very fine condition are rare.

We suspect that few collectors go to the trouble of checking their copies of Canada’s early stamps for re-entries and watermarks. But with the values for these stamp surging, not only in the catalogues, but more importantly in the marketplace, it may be time to get a more powerful magnifying glass together with a watermark tray and solution to check the stamps. A used ½ cent Large Queen has a catalogue value in Darnell of $95. But, if the same stamp had a watermark, the price would jump to $10,000.

We commend Lyse Rousseau and her hardworking team on the pricing committee for their efforts to bring us this up-to-date pricing information. It’s a huge task. The pricing committee is made up of a group of fourteen men and women who are well known in our stamp community. Their names are listed at the front of the catalogue. Lyse also thanks a number of individuals, including Claude Beaulac, Robert Philmus, Gary Lyon and David Lank for their specials contributions. And, in what we consider a very thoughtful step, she acknowledges the true pioneers of Canadian catalogues, Bogg’s, Holmes, Jarrett and Hansen. Nicely done Lyse!

2005 Darnell Catalogue

To order the catalogue, you can communicate with Marc Magoon at the Galerie Rousseau store at 230 St Jacques Street, Montreal, Que., H2Y 1L9, telephone (514) 284-8686 or via email at

The catalogue retails for $42.95, plus tax, (Canadian Dollars)

For more details, please click on the buttons below


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