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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Recent Auction Highlights

9 March, 2007 - Charles G. Firby Auctions

It’s not often we get an auction as large and as significant as this one. Over a 2 day period, Firby offered the Canadian “ASTOC” King Edward VII Issue Collection, followed by the Allan Steinhart Postal History Retail Stock and finally, Firby’s regular auction which included the property of 41 owners and estates. It wasn’t easy to conduct this auction. A sudden power failure left the auctioneer with only some power, and a room full of bidders. Firby went ahead with the auction, but it couldn’t have been easy.

King Edward VII Collection

We present below some of the finer examples of this impressive collection starting off with this 1860 photo of the King as the young Prince of Wales:

Lot 501


De la Rue 1902 Trade Sample Die Essay
Die Proof
Deeper than Colour of Issue

Lot 502
Estimate $400
Realized $1,989

Lot 527
Estimate $1,200
Realized $2,632

We are always surprised at how far collectors are willing to go to acquire essays and proofs of Canada’s stamps. It is not the average collectors who do this, but the more advanced individuals who are very serious about their collections. Amongst other things, this permits them to have the quality of collection that can be exhibited.


Lot 536
Scott 89a
Estimate $2,500
Realized $3,217


Lot 545
Scott 90a
Estimate $3,500
Realized $4,095


Generally speaking, the imperforates of this set have not done well at auction over the years. But the above ones did very well because they were quite exceptional.

Lot 536 above was described as exceedingly rare with only one other Plate #2 known to exist.

Lot 545 above comes from Plate No.13 with a portion of Plate No. 14 showing across the gutter. The auction catalogue describes how the Canadian post office became alarmed after some imperforate proofs of the 2¢ Edward flew out the window at the printer’s office and ended up in collectors’ hands. It decided to print a large number of new imperforate copies in order to devalue the original copies and prevent speculation. They were more successful than they knew. Over the years, copies of the new imperforates appeared regularly at auction and usually sold for less than their catalogue values. Because there are so many, there has never been a great demand for them.


S. Heinman and Zorke Perforated 8

Lot 618
Unitrade 90xxxv
Estimate $6,000
Realized $8,775

We doubt many collectors have ever seen this unusual coil strip. Looking at the price realized, we can only imagine how rare it is.


Lot 679
Scott 92iii straw
Estimate $18,000
Realized $3,510

The collection contained large numbers of plate blocks of the King Edward VII set. The above is an example of the 7¢ in the scarce “straw” shade. The price was a little disappointing. This can happen sometimes when philatelic material gets into the higher price ranges since there are only a small number of bidders who can afford this type of item. This could also be an example of what happens when the electricity goes out in the middle of an auction and the bidding gets disrupted.

Postal history

5¢ with major re-entry

Lot 739
Unitrade 91iv
Estimate $1,500
Realized $1,872

While not beautiful, this cover is unique in that it is believed to be the only cover to bear the Major Re-entry of the 5¢ Edward VII. Firby notes that this variety is listed in the Unitrade catalogue but, until now, no price was shown for it either on or off cover. It would appear that the auctioneer’s estimate was a pretty good one.


Registered cover with the full set

Lot 771
Estimate $1,000
Realized $2,340

Estimating a value for this cover with the full set on it must have been difficult as well. It would seem the bidders ignored the estimate and pushed the price to lofty heights. This was the final lot in this part of the auction and helped to end it on a high note.

Regular Auction Results

Lot 1065
Scott 18a
Estimate $3,500
Realized $4,972

Here is another lot that we did not find particularly attractive, but as Firby notes, this is the largest recorded multiple of the colour variety that exists. There is something about owning the biggest and the best that gets to stamp collectors from time to time.

Large Queen - On Bothwell paper

Lot 1087
Scott 25a
Catalogue $325
Realized $702

What a lovely example this is of the 3¢ Large Queen, printed on Bothwell paper. It is beautifully centered and if you could hold the stamp up to the light, you would see the “M” from the Bothwell watermark. The full watermark reads as follows:


Scott 87 - Fake inverted surcharges

Lot 1226
Scott 87var
Estimate $120
Realized $128

We saw a number of these inverts sold at auction in the 1980s and 1990s, some with certificates. Most, like the above, were described as fakes. Unitrade makes the following comment: “Inverted overprints …are thought to be forgeries. Certificates of authentication are highly recommended.”

Scott 88B & 88C - Port Hood forgeries

Lot 1227
Scott 88B & 88C
Estimate $120
Realized $128


Forgeries of the Port Hood overprints previously came to auction in 1990 and 2004 but were different from the above. Unitrade is very clear when it comes to these overprints: “Covers need an expertising certificate.” Since the above were sold as forgeries, there was no need for a certificate. They came from the J. R. Saint collection.

Scott 243 – Superb Imperforate

Lot 1357
Scott 243a
Estimate $1000
Realized $2106

They don’t come much nicer than this. We were impressed at the price, well above the estimate. We only have a record of one other copy of an imperforate plate block of Scott 243 selling at auction. It sold in 1997 for $675.

Semi-official Issues

The auction had a large number of semi official stamps in excellent condition. Here’s a good example, note one of the overprints is inverted:

Lot 1539
Unitrade CL52
Catalogue $2000
Realized $1989

Postal History

Lot 1956
Pre-stamp cover of 1803
Estimate $2,000
Realized $2,340

This cover was sent almost 50 years before Canada began to issue stamps. It was sent by ship from St. John’s Island (now P.E.I.) to Edinburgh on May 07, 1803. Firby notes that Allan Steinhart believed this to be the earliest reported cover from P.E. I. to another country. It reached London on June 27, 1803 over a month later. A few short days after that it arrived in Edinburgh.

Written by hand on the face of the envelope is 3/9 sterling postage. The cost of mailing the letter was not prepaid at that time, but had to be collected from the recipient.

The sender did not use an envelope as this would have cost extra. To save on the cost, he simply folded the letter over and sealed it.

Today the letter would probably be returned to the sender…what, no street address, no postal code…..send it back !!


What a great series of auctions this was by Firby Auctions. Collectors should do their best to get a copy of the King Edward VII catalogue which contains so much information and illustrations about this set. It is definitely a keeper.

The sale had 2 new record prices

Scott No.
Previous NRP
12d black proof - red overprint
1¢ green Admiral - thin paper


Firby has announced that in their next sale, there will be an offering at public auction of the fabulous International Gold Medal winning Canadian Pence Era Rate cover collection, the property of Mr. Warren Wilkinson. The sale is tentatively set for June 12th in New York City. Many of the covers are considered to be the finest known of the period.




©2007, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada