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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Recent Auction Highlights

24 January, 2004 - Charles G. Firby

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This was one of those special sales that come along every few years and is remembered for a long time. It came in two parts. The first was the sale of "The Midland Collection" of outstanding Canadian stamps and the second was a regular auction of stamps from Canada and other countries.

Without any doubt, the key lot in the Midland collection was the Sanford Fleming essay of Canada's first stamp shown here:

Lot 4
The Sanford Flemming Essay
Estimate $80,000 (U.S.)
Realised $110,000 (U.S.) - $144,100 Canadian

(Note that all funds in this report have been
converted on the basis of $1 US = $1.31 Cdn.)

A number of commentators have written about this unique item, including Charles Firby, whose interesting article was posted on our website on May 11, 2003. More recently, Ian Robertson added more details in his comprehensive article on the upcoming Firby sale in the January 27, 2004 Canadian Stamp News. Here are some of the comments from his article:

"I first wrote about this essay in 1996, when Firby unveiled it at CAPEX '96 in Toronto. The unique piece of history had then been in private hands for 62 years.

"The lot (i.e. the essay) was sold on October 27, 1986 for $50,000 US and a 10 percent buyer's fee to an unnamed U. S. collector."

The estimated price for the essay in this auction was $80,000 US, but the price realized was a whopping $110,000 US. We can think of very few other Canadian stamps that would attract this level of bidding.

But this was only the start of what was a whole series of amazing prices. There should be no surprise in this, for the material being offered was of the highest quality and in many cases exceedingly rare.

The most new Canadian record prices ever seen!

Our analysis of the prices at this auction shows that there were at least 25 new record prices. Some of these were for investment-grade stamps that had not appeared in many years, for example:

Lot 175
Scott 5B
Catalogue $9,000
Realised $14,410

Lot 189
Scott 9a
Catalogue $11,000
Realised $18,340

In some cases, where copies of the stamps had been sold in the past 10 years, the previous record prices had been realized a number of years ago. Here is a most interesting example:

Lot 131
Scott 2
Catalogue $13,500
New Record Price $23,580
Old Record Price $17,500 (1986)

Some of the new record prices were noticeably higher than the previous ones:

Lot 177
Scott 7
Catalogue $5,750
New Record Price $19,650
Old Record Price $5,750 (2001)

Lot 190
Scott 10
Catalogue $13,500
New Record Price $20,960
Old Record Price $7,350 (2002)

One of the new record prices was an amazing ten times catalogue and doubled the record set just a year ago. It was for this VFNH copy of the 5¢ slate green Small Queen:

Lot 235
Scott 38
Catalogue $375
New Record Price $3,602
Old Record Price $1,500 (2003)

For further particulars of all 25 new record prices, please click here.

Are stamps without gum valuable ?

There were 13 new record prices amongst Canada's early classic stamps (Scott 1 - 20). 11 of these were mint and, of these, 5 were described as having no gum. This must come as a surprise to those of us who pay so much attention to the gum on the back of a stamp.

We have concluded from the results of this sale that a number of the early Canadian stamps of this caliber are so rare, so unique, that the gum factor is put aside and full weight is given to the front of the stamp and its special qualities. Examples include lots 131 and 175 shown above both of which were ungummed and sold for prices well above their catalogue values. Here is a further example:

Lot 193
Scott 12
Catalogue $3,500
Realised $4,912


We could go on for pages (and would enjoy doing so) describing many of the wonders of this sale, but we do not want to lose all our viewers. If you would like to see the full details of the sale for yourself, together with images and prices realized, please click here.

We think the Firby firm should be thanked for getting their prices up so quickly after the sale. This effort on their part is much appreciated by their clients and by all our viewers on the Internet.

For further details of the sale, please click on the highlights button.


F © 2004, Canadian Stamp Auctions Inc., Montréal, Québec