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Stamp Market Commentary

Commentary No. 135 - 17 September, 2010

Sale of Scott 3 Mint
By Cherrystone Auctions, New York

Lot 846
Scott 3
Catalogue $125,000
Realized $158,100


On September 15th, the above 12 Penny Black Queen Victoria stamp sold for $158,100 Cdn. or $155,000 U.S. Cherrystone noted that the same stamp had previously been sold at auction in 1998 for 218,500, including buyer’s premium. So clearly this lower price was a bit of a disappointment. These things happen sometimes, and while the former owner may not be happy, at least he or she received a price well above catalogue. We expect the buyer was quite happy to have only paid this much.

Nine copies of this stamp have been sold at auction in the past 10 years. This one, while mint, came with only partial original gum. This isn’t unusual in stamps issued this early. It also had a tiny hand stamp guarantee on the back. For a stamp this rare, this probably wasn’t much of a negative.

The general state of the stamp auction market these days is positive, especially for premium material, and a stamp like this definitely fits that category. So our conclusion is that this is an unusual price level and somebody got a bargain. Of course we wondered why.

Cherrystone showed an underbid on its web site $145,000 for this stamp throughout the past month and even up to the day before the auction. The final price on the day of the auction only went up to $155,000 and this suggests to us that there were likely only one or two bidders actively chasing the stamp at the auction. This is only a guess, but if correct, it surprises us that so few bidders would show serious interest in such a rare stamp known to collectors around the globe.

This is the thing about auctions. There are winners and losers. You never know what’s going to happen. But to sell any stamp for more than catalogue, and in the $100,000+range, can’t be a big disappointment.

We hope another 12 penny black will come up soon!

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