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Stamp Market Commentary

Commentary No. 129 - 17 March, 2010

Canada’s Imperforate Registered Stamps

The registration stamps of Canada were in use from 1875 to 1888. There were 3 denominations and, according to Unitrade, their use was as follows:

  2¢: domestic  
  5¢: to USA  
  8¢: to United Kingdom  

The normal perforation was 12 x 12, but both the 2¢ and 5¢ had a 12 x 11½ variety. These latter are far more valuable.

Although most collectors would be familiar with the imperforate pairs of the 5¢ registered stamp which appear fairly regularly at auction, they may not be aware that there are imperforate pairs of the 2¢ and 8¢ as well. Unitrade and Scott list the 2¢ and 5¢ imperforate, but not the 8¢ imperforate.

We have collected information on these imperforate varieties of Canada’s registered stamps for a number of years and summarize some of the details below.

2¢ Registered

Unitrade F1c
Catalogue $4,000

There is understood to be only one copy of the above pair in existence. Our first record of it was in 1973 when it sold at a Sissons auction for $1,300. It was described as slightly cut in at the left and folded between the stamps. It appeared again in 2003 at a Robert E. Lee auction where it sold for $3,250. It was part of the sale of the Horace W. Harrison collection of registered stamps. There it was described as being from the 1889 printing, ex-Dale and Lussey.

As shown below, imperforate singles and stamps with imperforate bottom margins have also appeared at auction over the years.

Lex De Ment
Nov 13, 1976
Realized $17

J N Sissons
Nov. 1, 1973
Realized $93
Saskatoon Stamp
Sept. 10, 2004
Offered at $1,295

R. Maresch & Son
Sept. 22, 1983
Realized $750

Of the 4 lots shown above, only the block is mint, the others are all used. The single imperforate stamp at the top that sold for $17, was sold “as is” i.e. it could not be guaranteed. The mint block of 4 was LH on the top and NH on the bottom. Interestingly, 3 of the lots show the imprint at the bottom.

5¢ Registered

H.R Harmer
May 22, 2008
Realized $891

H.R. Harmer
May 22, 2008
Realized $5,445

Compared to the 2¢, the 5¢ registered is fairly common. Unitrade notes that 200 were printed. The 200 may have represented two different sheets of 100 each. In a private treaty sale back in 1977, Maresch offered 2 separate blocks of the 5¢ imperforate, one described as “yellowish green” and the other as “blue green”. It’s this that makes us wonder about the two separate sheets.

Most copies we have seen at auction have gum. But in the 2008 sale of the Mount Royal Collection by Harmer, one lot of the 5¢ imperforate was described as “without gum as issued” and the other is having “original gum”. A review of past sales of the 5¢ imperforate reveals that a number of them were without gum.

8¢ registered

The earliest copy we have recorded of the 8¢ imperforate was this single copy:

J. N. Sissons
March 19, 1985
Realized $50

The auction house wasn’t sure if it was a single imperforate or a proof and so it threw it in with some other stamps and sold the lot for a nominal amount of $50. It reappeared at a Maresch sale in 1998 with a 1985 certificate and sold for $1,050. This certificate stated that it came “from a Presentation Book”. This sounds odd, as stamps of this poor quality aren’t usually offered this way.

At around the same time in 1998, Firby offered an unusually large find of 8¢ imperforate blocks and pairs, including these:

Charles G. Firby
Oct. 15, 1998
Realized $19,480

Charles G. Firby
Oct. 15, 1998
Realized $3,984
(with serious faults)

Charles G. Firby
Oct. 15, 1998
Realized $6,200

All these imperforates seem to have come from the same original block. We were fortunately able to obtain a copy of that block from Robert A. Lee in 2003 and here it is:


Concluding Comments

Preparing this commentary reminded us of the work we did in our review of the imperforates of the Large Queen set which our viewers can find at Commentary No. 100. The facts concerning the imperforates of that set were somewhat sketchy. This seems to be the case with the imperforates of the registered stamp set as well. Our research leaves us with a feeling that the 2¢ and 8¢ stamps may just be printer’s waste.

But despite the above, these imperforates examples are very rare and have attracted serious bidding in recent years. This seems to thwart attempts to define what is collectible and what isn’t. It also leaves us wondering what their origin might have been. If any of our viewers have answers to some of these questions or can provide further information, please contact us. We would be very interested to hear from you so that we can expand the information shown above.

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