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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp Market Commentary

Commentary No. 98 - 17 August, 2007

The Dr. Lewis Reford Collection of Canada

Sold on October 3, 1950

In this and next month’s Commentary, we will be looking at the highlights of two of the more outstanding collections of Canadian stamps ever assembled. The first one, belonging to Dr. Lewis Reford, was sold at auction in 1950 in New York by Harmer Rooke & Co. The second one, to be featured in our September Commentary, covers the sale of the Dale Lichtenstein collection of BNA between 1968 and 1970.

What does a 1950’s auction catalogue look like? The answer is not much different from todays. The main differences are that all the images are in black and white, there are fewer images and those that exist are only found in the center the catalogue. Of significance, the descriptions are far less flowery than those of today. And, oh yes, even in those days attention was paid to whether or not a stamp was hinged. The notes to the catalogue stated that “mint” stamps were those that had full original gum and were never hinged.

Highlights

Here are some of the best examples we found in the collection. We would like to thank Messrs. Cimon Morin and Michael Guénette of the Canadian Postal Archives in Ottawa for kindly providing us with the prices realized for this auction. All prices are in $ U.S. Please excuse the quality of the images. They reflect the originals in the catalogue, which were not very clear.


Scott 32

2¢ Large Queen on laid paper - described as “one of the rarest of all stamps, only one other copy believed to exist.  Centered slightly to top, slight thin and crease.  Ex. Ferrari collection, with Royal certificate.  (sold for $3,800)

 


Scott 3

12d Queen on laid paper, various faults (sold for $700)

 


Scott 3

12d Queen on laid paper, various faults (also sold for $700)

 


Scott 4

3d block of 8 with some faults (sold for $480)

 


Scott 9

7½d Queen, o.g. very fine with margins all around (sold for $400)

 


Scott 11

½d rose – very fine with full o.g. (sold for $125)

 


Scott 12

3d red, perf.12, 6 copies on piece, well centered for the stamp. Notice how carefully the selvage has been trimmed.(sold for $825)

 


Scott 14

1¢ rose – block of 12 - with full gum, perfs. trimmed at left.
(sold for $105)

 


Scott 20

2¢ rose – block of 6 o.g. (sold for $360)

 


Scott 21b

½¢ Large Queen – watermarked, perfs. cut on two sides, an excessively rare stamp (sold for $280)

 


Scott 21b

½¢ Large Queen – watermarked pair (rejoined), small tear at left (sold for $340)

 


Scott 25

3¢ Large Queen – mint block of 9
(sold for $310)

 


Scott 26

5¢ Large Queen – mint inscription block of 8
(sold for $530)

 


Scott 27

6¢ Large Queen – strip of 4. o.g.
(sold for $110)

 


Scott 27

6¢ Large Queen – block of 10, full o.g. (sold for $1025)

 


Scott 27a var

6¢ Large Queen – double impression, one of very few existing copies (sold for $310)

 


Scott 27d

6¢ Large Queen – bisect on folded letter with certificate (sold for $50)


1950 Prices Realized vs. 2008 Scott Catalogue

Scott
Description
1950 Prices Realized*
Scott 2008 Value **

3

12d black

700

60,000

3

12d black

700

60,000

4

3d block of 8

480

1,600

9

7½d green

400

7,000

11

½d rose

125

2,400

12

3d red, 6 copies

825

5,400

14

1¢ block of 12

105

4,200

20

2¢ rose block of 6

360

3,600

21b

½¢ L.Q wmk.

280

7,250

21b

½¢ L.Q wmk.pair

340

14,500

25

3¢ L.Q block Of 9

310

13,500

26

5¢ L.Q block Of 8

530

9,600

27

6¢ L.Q strip of 4

110

6,000

27

6¢ L.Q block of 10

1,025

15,000

27iv

6¢ L.Q double print

310

25,000

27d

6¢ L.Q bisect on cover

50

2,700

32

2¢ L.Q. laid paper

3,800

175,000

*$us - **$Canadian

Conclusion

The above highlights only touch on a small portion of the stamps found amongst the thousands that were offered, including many large blocks and imperforates of the Small Queens, Maple Leafs, Numerals, Edward VII, Quebec Tercentenary and Admirals.

But, without a doubt in our minds, the most outstanding item in the collection was the 2¢ Large Queen on laid paper. This is Canada’s most valuable stamp. Its appearance in this sale in 1950 is the one and only time we have ever seen it at auction. That it once sold for only $3,800 will never cease to amaze us!

While researching this commentary, we came across these most interesting comments written in the past year by John Jamieson of Saskatoon Stamp Centre:

“On October 5, 1950, Kasimir Bileski bought the famous 2¢ on Laid paper (Scott 32) from the Dr. Lewis Reford collection at Harmer Rooke’s auction in New York. He paid the princely sum of US$3,800 for this great Canadian rarity formerly in the Ferrari collection. He held the stamp for over 40 years until, in February, 1993, it was finally sold to dealer Daniel Eaton of Vancouver who stopped in Saskatoon on his way home from Winnipeg and quickly sold it to the Saskatoon Stamp Center. It last sold in 1997 for over $200,000.”

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