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Stamp Market Commentary


Commentary No. 68 - 17 February, 2005

The Rare Admiral Imperforates

Over the years, Canada has issued thousands of imperforate stamps, some officially and others unofficially. The exact numbers are well known because Canada Post, dealers, auctioneers and researchers have kept careful track of them.

The Admiral imperforates were issued as part of the Admiral set (Scott 104-122), the definitives used from 1911 to 1928. Because of the length of time these stamps were in use, the number of regular stamps issued was in the billions. By way of contrast, the number of the imperforates issued was very small. Here are the figures that summarize the situation:

Scott No.
 
Issued
Scott value (LH)
Scott value (NH)
110a
100
$1100
$2000
112b
100
$1100
$2000
114a
100
$1100
$2000
115a
100
$1100
$2000
118a
10¢
100
$1100
$2000
119a
20¢
100
$1100
$2000
120b
50¢
100
$1250
$2250
122a
$1.00
100
$1250
$2250

Why are the values higher for the 50¢ and $1.00 pairs? Likely the reason is found in the following comments in the 2005 Unitrade catalogue:

“Due to its serious mishandling of the imperf. sheets, an estimated 10-15 pairs in the each of the 50¢ and $1.00 were quite seriously creased, leaving 35-40 sound pairs of each. Unhinged pairs are very rare for all Admiral Imperforates.”

1¢ to 3¢ Imperforates (Scott 136-138)


Scott 138

These lower value Imperforates were issued by the Post Office in 1924 in fairly large quantities and sell for less than $100 a pair. There have been minimal changes in their prices over the years as there is much availability and only moderate demand.

4¢ to $1.00 Imperforates (Scott 110a-122a)


Scott 110a

Scott 112b

Scott 122a

There are 50 pairs of each of the remaining imperforate stamps in the set. These were not “regularly issued” and were probably favours made to selected individuals in the Canadian stamp community. Many have been hinged, mostly very lightly hinged, as the owners were usually knowledgeable collectors.

Sales from 1993 to 2003

Here are the statistics regarding the number of VF copies sold and the prices realized over the ten year period of 1993 to 2003:

Scott
  
Number of Pairs Sold
Lowest Price
Highest Price
110a
3
$425
$1350
112b
4
$650
$825
114a
2
$425
$1350
115a
4
$425
$1850
118a
10¢
4
$875
$1050
119a
20¢
5
$625
$1150
120b
50¢
1
$975
$975
122a
$1.00
3
$800
$1700

Sales in 2004 & 2005

Against this background, the prices realized in the past year at auction have shown a remarkable upwards movement. Here are the highest prices that have been reached at auction:

Scott
Highest Price
Auction House
Date of Sale
Condition
110a
$2300
Mtl. Stamps
Nov 6 2004
NH
112b
$1400
Hennok
May 15 2004
HR
114a
$2200
Mtl. Stamps
Nov 6 2004
NH small flaw
115a
$1600
Hennok
May 15 2004
Slight HR
118a
$1950
Brigham
Jun 9 2004
Some toning
119a
$4400
Vance
Jan 15 2005
NH
120b
$4850
Vance
Jan 15 2005
NH
122a
$1700
Eastern
Jun 16 2004
LH

 

Summary of Highest Prices
 
1993-2003
2004-2005
110a
$1350
$2300
112b
$825
$1400
114a
$1350
$2200
115a
$1850
$1600
118a
$1050
$1950
119a
$1150
$4400
120b
$975
$4850
122a
$1700
$1700

You can easily see the dramatic shift upwards in the prices except for the $1.00.


The Vance sale of January 19, 2005

The Vance sale at the beginning of 2005 featured these two Admiral imperforate pairs:


Lot 4768
Scott 119a
Catalogue $2,000
Realised $4,400

Lot 4775
Scott 120b
Calalogue $2,250
Realised $4,850

The prices realized of $4400 and $4850 are not only the highest prices we have recorded in the past ten years, but are also an amazing 4 to 5 times the previous record prices. The two pairs were bought by an American collector after very active bidding.

One sale, one buyer, does this represent a trend? Not likely, because it could be an isolated event. But if we put it in the context of a very limited supply of stamps from one of Canada’s most popular sets and take into account the price trends of the past year, it could well be part of an upward price trend for the imperforate stamps of this set. Add to this the general rise in the prices realized for most of Canada’s early imperforate stamps and the general strength of the market for these top quality stamps in general and there results a pretty strong combination of factors. It will be interesting to watch these stamps in future.

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©2005, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada