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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Recent Auction Highlights

23-24 April, 2009 - Charles G. Firby Auctions

This was one of Firby’s biggest auctions in recent years. The first part was a regular auction held on April 23 and 24th. The second part, held on April 25th, was the Herbert McNaught Canadian Collection of the ½¢ Small Queen stamp, the Jubilee set and the Quebec Tercentenary issue. We will review these latter collections separately. They are worth it!

The outstanding offering in this Firby auction was this 1927 London to London plate proof:

Lot 788
Unitrade CLP6
Catalogue $40,000
Realized $42,350

Mr. Firby’s described the significance of this plate proof:

“Considering that only 9 of the issued stamps are believed to exist, and most are damaged and still command upwards of $50,000 each when offered, the importance of this recent find is inescapable.”


3p Beaver – With railway tracks

Lot 87
Unitrade 4xi
Catalogue $1,000
Realized $665


We have heard of this variety and so were sure we would find a previous sale of it in our records, but could not, much to our surprise. The colour is one that Firby attributes to Unitrade 4xi…the scarlet vermillion colour. This copy is generously described as very fine, but the borders are pretty thin on the left and the right. The catalogue price is shown as $1,000 which again seems generous. Putting this all together, we find the $665 price realized to be a strong one. This is a very scarce variety, where scarcity, not condition appears to have been the main factor in establishing the price.

One cannot see the railway tracks in the image in the Firby catalogue. We assume they show up on the back of the stamp. You would probably have to hold the stamp up to the light to see them. Perhaps they are like the “stitch” watermarks that are found on some early Canadian stamps.

5¢ Beaver - "gorgeous, exceptionally centered example"


Lot 113
Unitrade 15c
Catalogue $60
Realized $206


When stamps get described as above, you quickly realize the auctioneer is not being subtle. In fact, he wishes to impress upon you that he thinks there is something very special being offered and you should pay attention! And it appears the bidders did, giving the stamp a remarkable price.

Scott 15 usually comes in a red shade. This one is the “brick red” shade. In commenting generally on the First Cents issue of 1859-1864, Unitrade states:

“Outstanding superb quality samples with jumbo borders will sell for well above the very fine prices listed. These rarely change hands.”

This copy did not have jumbo borders, but it was beautifully centered and was very lightly cancelled.

The best price found in Unitrade for a very fine used copy of this stamp is $60. The Scott catalogue lists it at $42.50. The fact that it sold for $206 certainly supports Firby’s colourful description.


1¢ Large Queen – On thick soft blotting paper


Lot 157
Scott 22i
Catalogue $750
Realized $968

The last time we recorded the sale of a copy of this stamp, believe it or not, was in 1989. In fact this is the only previous record we have. It was in a Maresch sale and may have come from the collection of John Siverts since his collection was featured in that sale. At that time Bill Maresch stated “We suggest that you attend the sale if possible, as there are many items offered that will not appear again soon. After all, some have been in his collection, ‘not for sale’, for as long as 40 years.”

The earlier copy was a mint copy and not nearly as well centered as this one. Furthermore, this one has a nice looking cancellation. For collectors of the Large Queens, this was a rare opportunity to acquire a seldom offered variety and only the first time, at least according to our records, a copy has been available in 20 years. Not surprisingly, the price realized was well above the catalogue value.


12½¢ Large Queen - Block of 4

Lot 185
Scott 28
Catalogue $4400
Realized $3932

This is a lovely block, nice colour and so fresh. As you look at each stamp, you can find things that aren’t perfect. But as you look at the whole block, these shortcomings seem to fade and it’s the attractiveness of the block that stands out. Sadly, the lower stamps were creased which likely prevented the price from going any higher.

New Variety – A Pair with one missing the 5¢

Lot 668
Scott 398 var
Estimate $100
Realized $1,331

This variety was caused by a paper fold, according to Firby. The 5 ¢ denomination on the right hand stamp is completely missing. We have listed this pair in the “New Varieties” section of our website as we have no previous record of it and it is unlisted in the catalogues.

Firby put an estimate of $100 on the stamp, but it sold for $1,331. We are always amazed when we see a stamp like this, which Firby described as “unique”, is sold for a price this low. But such are the vagaries of the market.

It is possible someone might question the authenticity of this variety and we would definitely recommend the new owner have it certified as soon as possible. This would give him or her the confidence to put it away and watch its value climb in future. Lucky collector!

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


This sale had 2 new record prices:

Previous NRP
42¢ Flag - part imperf.
95¢ Rabbit - missing red


(The prices realized in this sale were converted at the rate of $1 U.S. = $1.21 Canadian)

©2009, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada