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Stamp Market Commentary

Commentary No. 82 - 17 April, 2006

The Market for Re-entries

Welcome to the world of stamp re-entries. For Canadian specialists, this is an advanced area of collecting. We hope these specialists will forgive any mistakes we make as we venture into their territory, but like many collectors we all have to start somewhere. In this Commentary we consider re-entries generally and then look at a particular example.

What is a Re-entry?

A re-entry is defined as a doubling of some or all of the design of a line-engraved postage or revenue stamp. Hans Reiche in his publication "Canada - Steel Engraved Constant Plate Varieties" commented as follows:

"Once you have seen a re-entry, you will not misjudge it. Re-entries can range from minor to major depending on their extent. All of them have one thing in common: they show clear, sharp, duplicated parts of the design of the stamp. In almost all cases these extra lines are slightly shifted up, down, left or right from the original lines and are parallel to them. For example, a stamp may have a frame around its design. If the bottom part of the frame appears again just below as a fine line, most likely you have a re-entry....... There are extremely few modern stamps which have re-entries and if they do, they are often minor. Modern printing techniques and much better quality-control reduce the occurrence of such varieties."

The above definition gives our viewers a good idea of what to look for in a stamp that has a re-entry, but we must admit that, despite the very clear words, we often have a lot of trouble seeing the re-entry. This can be quite embarrassing as we carefully inspect the stamp with a magnifying glass, wondering where in the dickens the doubling is hiding !!

In the past few years, the Unitrade Catalogue has added a number of illustrations of re-entries to their catalogue. This has proved very helpful to collectors proving once again that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is the Unitrade illustration of a 6¢ Large Queen re-entry.

Reentry Illustration

Scott 27iii - 6 Large Queen (pos.93)

Canadian Stamp News – Feature Story on Re-entries

In the April 18, 2006 edition of the Canadian Stamp News, there was the most interesting article by Randy Heimpel entitled "Trimble's re-entries site right on the money”. It was fortunate for us that we were able to read this article as we were preparing this commentary. Mr. Heimple devoted his entire article to a review of the website on re-entries that has been developed by Ralph Trimble.

Ralph Trimble's website on re-entries

If ever there was a site that covered a topic in an outstanding manner this is it. Click on the link to and enjoy the results. You'll quickly find that Mr. Trimble has been studying and collecting in this area for many years, not only by himself but also with various groups within Canada's stamp societies. He has a large personal collection that is constantly expanding. His website lists a number of re-entries he would like to acquire. He makes it very clear that the quality of the stamps he seeks is not as important as whether the re-entry can be clearly seen. Thus he is quite willing to consider acquiring stamps of lesser quality. We were happy to learn of his involvement with the annual production of the Unitrade catalogue. He states in his webpage:

“For the last few years I have been on the Editorial Associates committee for the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps. The latest 2006 Edition uses many more of my close-up scans of re-entry details and I am working with the new Editor, Robin Harris, to include more and more re-entry listings in each new edition. Hopefully, the 2007 Edition will include many more re-entries in the Provinces sections. There just wasn’t time to get them all into the 2006 Edition.”

With input from people of the quality of Mr. Harris and Mr. Trimble, one can readily expect the Unitrade catalogue to continue to flourish.

We know turned our attention to a stamp that has a number of well-known re-entries and that is the 6¢ Large Queen.

6¢ Large Queen Re-entries:

When we first began looking at the re-entries of the stamp, we asked ourselves how many different re-entries could possibly exist. The Unitrade catalogue lists only one re-entry, and that is the major re-entry (position 93). Hans Reiche's book referred to above, lists three re-entries. Another book by Hans Reiche, entitled " A Large Queens Report" lists 27 re-entries. This is a huge number whose details are probably known to only a few very advanced specialists.

We spent a few evenings looking through old auction catalogues and found a number of examples of re-entries of the 6¢ Large Queen and here are the results:

R.Maresch & Son November 22, 1978

Scott 27 var – Black brown with Major re-entry UR corner, trifle perf. faults, fine & rare - Realized $200

R. Maresch & Son June 29, 1999

Scott 27iii – Dark brown, exceptionally well centered with “face free” cancel, showing the Major re-entry in the UR scroll (psn 94), superb – Realized $600

R. Maresch & Son May 16, 2000

Scott 27 var - Dark brown, plate 1, showing re-entry in ‘CANADA PO’ and ‘SIX CE’, tiny faults, appears very fine, rare - Realized $210

Charles G. Firby June 18 2005

Scott 27ii - Dark brown on soft white blotting paper as well as being the Posn. 3 Re-entry along the top. Fresh and about VF, used with small corner crease. A very rare stamp. - Realized $276

R. Maresch & Son October 26 2005

Scott 27biii - Brown, fresh, unused on Bothwell paper showing part of ‘S’ watermark and showing the Major Re-entry (posn. 93) with extra frameline over NAD, A POS., upper right scroll doubled, lines in S of postage, etc., some perf. faults but exceptionally well centered and appears very fine. A great rarity. Realized $2,600

Eastern Auctions Ltd. March 6, 2006

Scott 27biii - Brown, Large Queen, a gorgeous fresh unused single on watermarked paper, showing portion of “S” letter at lower right and with the major re-entry (posn. 93), minor perforation flaws which are insignificant for this incredibly rare stamp, an exhibition item, F-VF. Realized $4000

The above $4,000 price is a new record price for a mint Scott 27 printed of watermarked paper. How significant is this? Let's have a look at the last two stamps, noting first that they are, of course, the same stamp. They are both unused,ie they have no gum. They both have re-entries and are printed on the rare Boswell watermarked paper. The Unitrade value for a "fine” mint copy on watermarked paper is $6,500 and for a "fine" major re-entry is $5,000. Both auction houses that offered the stamps described them as fine or better. Accordingly, the price realized of $4,000 is modest, being less than catalogue. But is this all we can say?

No, there is more. The first point of significance is that the price rose from $2,600 to $4,000 in a space of five months, the interval between the last two auctions. This is an increase of 54%. Not bad, but probably not significant. With stamps as rare as this, there can't be too many buyers out there. If two of them got a cold on auction night, it could affect the price in a big way!

On the other hand, the general progression of prices over the years for the six examples shown above is positive. With the general strengthening of the Canadian stamp market, the special interest in the early sets and their varieties, the prices for re-entries are most likely to strengthen. This will be bolstered, of course, by the attention that comes from articles like Mr. Heimpel's in the Canadian Stamp News and by outstanding websites such as that of Mr. Trimble.

Keep an eye on next year’s Unitrade catalogue to see whether the market for re-entries is changing. The Unitrade prices for the 6¢ Large Queen re-entry were the same in 2006 as they were back in 2000. Thus there has been no change in six years. Let’s see what happens in 2007.

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©2006, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada