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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Recent Auction Highlights

25 October, 2003 - Robert A. Lee Auctions Ltd.
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Once again, Bob Lee has done the philatelic community a favor by presenting this specialized collection of Canadian registered stamps in such a complete and interesting fashion. It was well known that Horace Harrison had an outstanding collection of registered stamps, but to actually see and read the detailed descriptions displayed so well in the Lee catalogue is a pleasure. We would encourage our viewers to keep their copy of this catalogue for future reference on these stamps.

Two outstanding examples

Undoubtedly, it took Mr. Harrison many years to accumulate this material together with the knowledge that comes with it. We hope we can do some justice to the results. Here are a couple of items to wet our viewers' appetite:

Lot 475
Estimate $9,000
Realised $13,000

This "mourning cover" was sent in 1877 from London, Canada West, to Dublin, Ireland. Note that these stamps have been slightly trimmed to fit the envelope and to stay clear of the writing.

We only realized recently that the registered stamps on an envelope like this one only paid the "registration fee", they did not pay the postage. It is for this reason that there had to be 5¢ postage stamp added to the cover or it wouldn't have gone very far.

Lot 28
Scott F1c
Catalogue $2,500
Realised $3,250

Here is what is believed to be the unique imperforate pair of the 2¢ registered stamp. We first noted its existence when it was sold at a Sissons sale in Toronto (Lot 474, November 1, 1973) for $1300. It has not been seen again until this auction. We were quite amazed at the relatively low price it realized in this sale, even though it exceeds the present catalogue value of $2,500. Compare this to the $135,000 price paid at auction earlier this year for a mint 12 penny black (Scott 3) of which there are hundreds, or the $175,000 catalogue value for a used 2¢ Large Queen on laid paper (Scott 32) of which there are only two known copies. Based on this data, we think the $3,250 is a steal! The fact is that when a stamp only sells once every 30 years, it's hard for the market to determine a right price.

Essays and proofs

The sale featured 14 essays and proofs from the set. A real winner was this small die proof on India paper:

Lot 9
Estimate $2,500
Realised $6,000

This item was featured in the 1996 CAPEX "Gems of Philately" and has a small thin.

Regular issues stamps

There were about 100 copies of the stamps from the set included in the sale. That these were rare and special shouldn't surprise us as they came from a collection that has won Golds, Large Golds and Grand Awards at Canadian and international shows.

Included were three complete sheets of the 2¢ in different shades. These went for $2,600, $5,500 and $3,500 respectively.

A most unusual lot was this one, known as the "Woodgate Variety":

Lot 20
Estimate $1,000
Realised $4,250

As the catalogue explains, "Sometime during a re-entering operation, the siderographer misplaced the transfer roll of the imprint, locating it too low, in the upper margins of the stamp in pos. 3 of plate 1. The re-entered plate was put to press and stamps were printed and distributed to postmasters. However, it must have been discovered quickly and corrected, as this is the only example recorded! … This spectacular printing error is named after its discoverer, the late Robert Woodgate!"

We imagine that not too many of our viewers know what a "siderographer" is. The Oxford dictionary defines siderography as "a process of engraving on steel". Hence, a siderographer is an individual who engraves on steel.

Lot 33 was a wonderful collection of 200 "fully dated" copies from 1876 to 1894. It sold for $525 against an estimate of $400. Lot 41 was a study comparing the similarity of the shades of the Small Queen with stamps in the Bill and Registration sets. It also sold for $525 against an estimate of $400. We used Lot 41as an example in one of our recent commentaries (see Commentary No. 52 - The Small Queen Colours).

Postal history

The balance of the auction was made up of postal history, illustrating the use of the three values of the set on cover. Here are some interesting examples:

Lot 139
Estimate $200
Realised $2,700

Lot 275
Eastimate $2,000
Realised $3,500

Lot 421
Estimate $750
Realised $4,250

This completes our review of this most interesting auction. In the introduction to the auction, there was an interesting page of comments by Mr. William C. Walton written especially for this sale. We would like to quote two short paragraphs from his comments:

"This sale represents the last great philatelic tribute to Horace Harrison. The depth and breath of material and knowledge offered here is typical of all his great exhibits, and shows the results of so many decades of building and revising his material."

"Horace valued research and rarity equally and had great fun pursuing both. He loved good auctions and the opportunities they offered - and he knew when he simply had to spend the money. I hope you have the fun he would have had with this one - agonizing over lots, deciding on bids, and perhaps spotting some sleepers."

Nicely said, Mr. Walton. No doubt Horace Harrison was there in spirit.

©2003, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada