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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Recent Auction Highlights

30 September, 2006 - Shreve’s Philatelic Galleries Inc.

The Dr. Choi-Lok Tang Collection
Of Canadian Stamps

When we told Charles Shreves that his sale of Dr. Tang’s Canadian collection in NYC had produced 63 new record prices, he was quite surprised, but we weren’t because we had seen the catalogue and couldn’t believe the quality of what we saw.

What a year this has been. For the first 9 months of this year, there have been 117 new record prices, more than any other year for which we have kept accounts. With this sale, the number has climbed to 180. This compares to last year’s total of 77 and 94 the year before and the current year isn’t even finished. Click here to see all new record prices in this sale.

These statistics reflect the fact that three extraordinary collections came to auction this year: Sotheby’s Sir Gawaine Baillie collection, Matthew Bennett’s Malibu collection and now Charles Shreve’s Dr. Tang collection.

For anyone wondering whether stamp collecting is an international pastime, consider this, the Baillie collection of Canadian stamps came from England, the Malibu collection from the USA and the Dr. Tang collection from Hong Kong. Interestingly, all of the auction houses that were involved were located outside of Canada.

Now on to the results of the sale, all prices have been converted at $1US = $1.12 Cdn.

12p Black

Lot 629
Scott 3
Catalogue $55,000
Realized $229,600

The above stamp and the price it realized will be talked about for some time. Consider this, coming into 2006, the best price we had recorded for a used Scott 3 was $27,000. Last spring, a copy sold for $57,750 or more than double. Now in this sale, the price realized is about 4 times the previous record. Are we amazed? Yes, we certainly are and we ask ourselves how could the price get so high?

We contacted Mr. Shreve’s for an explanation and here is what he told us:

“The 12p Black that we sold last week has long been considered one of the nicest used copies available and its past realizations have reflected this fact. The stamp in 1981 (when the Canadian market was still quite strong) realized $81,000 in the sale of the Laird collection. When it resurfaced as part of the Henry S. Schneider BNA collection, sold by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in October 1996, it realized “only” $30,000 + 10%. It was later sold privately to Dr. Tang, for not significantly higher than the Schneider realization. To have it now realize $205,000 + 15% is quite extraordinary.

There were actually quite a few bidders on the stamp when it opened at $55,000 (I believe over seven different bidders). Bidders began to drop out when it reached the $100,000 mark, and after $125,000 or so there were two very determined bidders on the stamp. The stamp was ultimately acquired by the auction agent, Jeffrey Purser of Purser Associates (Danbury, Connecticut), who was bidding on behalf of an American collector. The under bidder was a telephone bidder, whose last bid was $200,000, and he resides outside of both the U.S. and Canada. “

Other Classics

Large margins
Montreal “21” cancel

Lot 605
Scott 1
Catalogue $900
Realized $1,400

Lot 634
Scott 4
Catalogue $400
Realized $3,920

Full OG
Lightly hinged OG

Lot 667
Scott 7a
Catalogue $7,000
Realized $5,600

Lot 707
Scott 19
Catalogue $825
Realized $3,640

There were some lovely examples amongst the classics and, while the prices were strong, there were few new record prices. Nonetheless the quality was consistently outstanding.

Large Queens

Lot 713
Scott 24b
Catalogue $650
Realized $3,920

Lot 716
Scott 26
Catalogue $1,200
Realized $2,912


Lot 718
Scott 27
Catalogue $1,500
Realized $3,920

Lot 722
Scott 29
Catalogue $75
Realized $1,232

It is when we come to the Large Queens that the record prices begin appearing. Of the eleven stamps offered from the set, six of them set new records (the 1¢, 2¢, 3¢, 6¢, 12½¢ and 15¢). Pretty amazing! And, as we were to discover, this trend was to continue in all the subsequent sets.

One of the more remarkable Large Queens was the above 2¢. It had a catalogue value of $650 and sold for $3,920. We note that it was never hinged, something rarely seen in a Large Queen. On checking, we found we had no previous record of a never hinged copy of this stamp.

Small Queens

Lot 728
Scott 35
Catalogue $40
Realized $700

Lot 736
Scott 38
Catalogue $500
Realized $3,360


Lot 756
Scott 46
Catalogue $375
Realized $3,024

It’s surprising how few investment quality copies of the above 20¢ Small Queen have sold in the past ten years. We count less than 10. The previous best price was $1,600 from a sale in 2001. This price has now been almost doubled. What a beauty! For those of you who are curious, both the 2001 copy and this one were perfectly centered and never hinged.


There were six new record prices amongst the Jubilees. Here are a couple of them:

Lot 767
Scott 56
Catalogue $160
Realized $672

Lot 769
Scott 58
Catalogue $500
Realized $1,008

Dr. Tang seems to have gone all out to find copies with nice large margins. This is no easy task for stamps of this set. Not only did he collect the finest mint copies of the Jubilee set, but he also acquired some outstanding used copies :


Lot 776
Scott 60
Catalogue $160
Realized $313

Lot 781
Scott 63
Catalogue $950
Realized $2,016


Lot 786
Scott 65
Catalogue $950
Realized $4,480


It’s not often you see a used copy selling for almost 5x catalogue.


Lot 798
Scott 77
Catalogue $45
Realized $476

Lot 804
Scott 82
Catalogue $350
Realized $1,512


Lot 806
Scott 84
Catalogue $925
Realized $4,200

The above stamps and many others in the sale like them had unusually large, nicely balanced borders. The Shreve’s people, working on the descriptions, really went to town describing them. Take the above 8¢ orange, for example, here’s what they wrote:

“an impressive gem mint single, possessing exceptionally vivid color and impression, remarkable huge margins that are perfectly balanced all around, o.g. n.h. extremely fine; seldom seen in this superlative never hinged condition.”

Quebec Tercentenaries


Lot 826
Scott 100
Catalogue $310
Realized $1,008

Lot 828
Scott 101
Catalogue $325
Realized $1,232

It is not that unusual to see stamps from this set with large margins. Dr. Tang’s Quebec Tercentenaries were all outstanding. In the past 10 years, only one stamp in the set sold for more than $1,000. In this one sale alone, 3 stamps sold for over $1,000.


Lot 862
Scott 116
Catalogue $575
Realized $2,576

In the past six years, only one copy of the above 10¢ stamp sold for over $1,000. Now the price has jumped to $2,576. There seems to be no limit when the very best is offered.


What a sale this was. What a year this has been. We think Dr. Tang put together a collection of Canadian stamps that would make anyone extremely proud. We take off our hats to him and offer him our congratulations. Dr. Tang, you have set the highest standard. It will be a long time before we see a collection like this again.

And to Charles Shreves, our congratulations as well. The catalogue you produced which displayed Dr. Tang’s Canadian collection was absolutely beautiful. We will keep it close to us for future reference. It contained only the finest gems. What a memorable achievement!

©2006, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada