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Stamp Market Commentary

Commentary No. 169 - 17 August, 2013

3rd Copy of Canada’s Rarest Stamp is Found

On August 10th, the Montreal Gazette reported the discovery of a 3rd copy of Scott 32, the rare 2¢ Large Queen on laid paper. Previously only 2 copies were known to exist and now an additional copy has been authenticated. Thus in one year, this stamp has hit the news for different reasons. First, the pending sale of one copy by Ron Brigham, as reported in our Commentary No. 165, and now the discovery of a 3rd copy.


Scott 32

Scott 32

Comments from Brian Grant Duff – All Nations Stamp & Coin in Vancouver:
(Mr. Duff has kindly allowed us to use his interesting comments about the discovery.)

“According to a Canadian Stamp News cover story, Toronto's Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation has authenticated the third known 2c Laid Paper Large Queen. It was apparently purchased from an American Philatelic Society circuit book for less than $5.

The fabled stamp is listed as #32 in the Unitrade Canadian Stamp Catalogue and priced at $250,000, in Fine Used condition, based on only two examples being known. Vancouver stamp dealer Daniel Eaton acquired the first example from London's Stanley Gibbons in 1986, toured it around Stamp Shows and Clubs in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, then sold it to another leading dealer, who was trying to complete his Canada collection.

Imagine me carting it around in a custom made carrying case when I worked with Daniel. I was there when it arrived in our offices, and when the sale was made. Incredibly, in 1993, Daniel Eaton obtained the second known example from Winnipeg stamp dealer Kasimir Bileski, resold it to yet another leading dealer who then sold it to an American client. At that point, there were no 2c Laid Paper Large Queens in Canada.

In 1998, Award-winning Canadian stamp collector Ron Brigham acquired the stamp for his collection and brought it back to Canada.

Laid paper was used for the initial stamps of Canada in 1851, but was replaced by wove paper which allowed for a clearer printing impression.

1c and 3c Laid Paper Large Queens are also known, but are less scarce.

Since the Gibbons' 2c Laid Paper Large Queen bore a Hamilton, Ontario numeral cancel, it has been posited that the Laid Paper 2c Large Queens may have originated from that area. It is further thought that the Laid Paper may have been an unintentional production error that came from the printer's paper wrapping.

Ron Brigham recently announced the sale by auction of his extraordinary Canadian stamp collection, of which the Bileski 2c Laid Paper is one of the highlights, and touted as the finest known example.

Are there other genuine 2c Laid Paper Large Queens waiting to be found?

Will the third example be kept, shown, or sold by the new owner? If it is sold, will it be by private treaty or auction? If it is sold, will the unlucky seller be compensated? Time will tell.

The Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation image of the newly certified 2c Laid Paper Large Queen bears an 1870 Hamilton, C.W. circular date stamp. They did not call in the other two examples, which were originally expertised by the Royal Philatelic Society, London, back in 1935.

There is no 2c Laid Paper Large Queen in the Royal Collection, or in the Canadian Postal Museum.

The lucky finder may decide to donate the third example to either the National Postal Museum, or the American Philatelic Society reference collection, for a tax receipt. I would prefer the stamps to stay in collector's hands.

A third example appearing 88 years after the first 2c Laid Paper Large Queen was found, and 145 years after the stamps were issued, is almost a miracle. Most of us have stopped looking by now. Thank God someone was still paying attention. The thrill of the hunt and the glory of the rare find are two of the facets of the extraordinary hobby of stamp collecting."

Thank you Mr. Duff. All Nations Stamp & Coin’s website may be accessed at

We now add some interesting comments from the Montreal Gazette article on August 10, 2013:

Montreal Gazette Article
(By Randy Boswell of Postmedia News)

“The existence of the third large-queen on laid was first reported by the St. Catharine’s Ont.-based Canadian Stamp News after juicy rumors about the certification tests began circulating in June at a philatelic convention in Winnipeg.

“The first story I wrote – strange enough for a stamp magazine –was one where I used anonymous sources,” Canadian Stamp News Editor Bret Evans told Postmedia News. “It’s very rare that you sleuth out a stamp story,” he added, describing his scoop as the philatelic journalism world’s version of “Woodward and Bernstein stuff.”

The precise value of the new-found large queen is difficult to determine. One major catalogue pegs the theoretical price of such a rarity that $250,000.

But earlier this year, when it was announced that renowned Canadian stamp collector Ron Brigham would begin selling his award-winning set this fall, the value of the large-queen-on-laid in his possession – thought at the time to be one of just two in existence - was estimated at $1 million .”

We are grateful to the writers of the above articles for their helpful comments. It is certain that there will be more news in future about these rare stamps and we will follow all developments with great interest and keep our viewers advised.

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