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 4¢ 100 $1100 $2000 112b 5¢ 100 $1100 $2000 114a 7¢ 100 $1100 $2000 115a 8¢ 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)
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)
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:
Number of Pairs Sold Lowest Price Highest Price 110a 4¢ 3 $425 $1350 112b 5¢ 4 $650 $825 114a 7¢ 2 $425 $1350 115a 8¢ 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:
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.
©2005, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada