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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp Market Commentary

Commentary No. 81 - 17 March, 2006

Scott 7 - Some of the Finest Copies

During Canada’s first 10 years of operating a postal system, there were only four images shown on its stamps. These were the Beaver, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Jacques Cartier. In 1855, a 10d stamp was issued in honor of Jacques Cartier, the French explorer who discovered the St. Lawrence River in 1534. Cartier was born in 1491 at St. Malo in Brittany. Sponsored by the King of France, he made three voyages to North America between 1534 and 1542. He was the first European to map, travel and attempt to establish a settlement in the St. Lawrence area. He was sent there to find gold and other riches and to try to find a passage to China. Up until that point, Europeans had explored much of North America’s east coast but none of them had penetrated into the continent. Cartier was the first to do so and his accomplishment is still remembered and celebrated.

In this commentary, we show our viewers some of the finest copies that exist of the 1855 Cartier stamp and its varieties.

Outstanding Copies

Scott 7 – blue on thin crisp transparent paper

Lot 177
Charles G. Firby
January 24, 2004
Catalogue $5750 Cdn.
Realized $19,650 Cdn.

When the above stamp sold at auction for $19,650 in early 2004, it handily beat the previous record price of $5,750, an amazing feat!

This 10d stamp was issued for the packet letter rate of ½d per oz. to be sent on British packet ships to Europe. There are a few things to note in the design of the stamp. There is a beaver on the right and three maple leafs on the left. The currency at the bottom of the stamp is in the sterling currency of the time and, because of our proximity to the United States, there is also the decimal equivalent at the top of the stamp.

Scott 7a –blue on thick white opaque paper

Lot 9
Stanley Gibbons Auctions
Sept. 17, 1977
Estimated Value £4000

The above stamp sold at an auction in London England in 1977. The sale was entitled “Classics of the British Empire”. The stamp was described as “a brilliant unused example with almost full original gum, slight defect in top margin subsequent to issue of certificate, large even margins, wonderful colour and believed the finest known. Ex Dale-Lichtenstein.

Lot 89
Sotheby Parke Bernet
Sept. 28, 1977
Catalogue $2,750 U.S.
Realized $3,250 U.S.

This stamp sold at a Sotheby auction in New York in 1977. The stamp was described as being on medium paper, with magnificent deep rich colour, handsome ample to large margins, O.G. choice example of this scare stamp, extremely fine.

Lot 92
Sotheby Parke Bernet
Sept. 28, 1977
Catalogue $11,000 U.S.
Realized $35,000 U.S.

The above block is the unique mint bottom block of four on thin paper, magnificent rich brilliant color, large margins around O.G., tiny scuff LR stamp. A “Crown Jewel” of Canadian philately. Ex Gill.

Lot 181
Charles G. Firby
January 24, 2004
Catalogue $6,000 (Cdn)
Realized $20,960 (Cdn)

This used block came from the Charles G. Firby sale of the “Midland” collection in 2004. It was described as “the finer of the two known used blocks of four” and was illustrated in Boggs at page 144. It is described as a showpiece worthy of the finest collection. Ex: Nickle and Carrington.

Scott 7i – dull blue

Lot 26
Robert A. Siegel
April 23, 1996
Estimate $2,500 - 3,500 U.S.
Realized $3,000 U.S.

The above cover comes from the Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries’ auction sale in New York in 1996. The sale was called the “K.L Collection of Classic Rarities.” The cover featured a dull blue copy of the stamp with full to large margins, dark shade, beautiful impression and colour, tied by a target cancel “Hamilton C.W. May 11, 1857” circular date stamp on yellow cover to London, England, red London “Paid” date stamp, magenta ms. number at left, very fine and choice, ex de Volpi, Foxbridge, Nickle with 1995 B.P.A.certificate.

Strip of 5 – largest recorded multiple

Lot 1593
R. Maresch & Son
May 16, 2000
Catalogue $5,500 (Cdn)
Realized $2,300 (Cdn)

This unique horizontal strip of five, the largest recorded multiple with a few faults is Ex: Carey-Fox and Lubke.

Stitch watermark

This stamp is the only copy we have seen at auction with the full horizontal “stitch watermark” on the back. The variety was unlisted in Unitrade until 2002 when it made its first appearance.

Lot 426
Eastern Auctions
May 25, 2001
Estimate $1,750 (Cdn)
Realized $900 (Cdn)

The stamp had a Unitrade value of $2,000 in 2005, but that jumped to $3,000 in 2006.

A stitch watermark is an unusual feature of some of Canada’s early stamps. Hans Reiche explained this in an article he wrote for the Canadian Forces Philatelic Society Bulletin. He wrote:

“A stitch watermark looks like a thinning of the paper but is done unintentionally by the paper manufacturer. A finely woven wire cloth is used to make the paper. To produce an endless wire cloth, the ends are stitched together by fine wires, similar to a staple. These stitches show up as short almost parallel fine lines, like a watermark.”

In his book “The Postage Stamps and Postal History of Canada”, Winthrop Boggs wrote of the stitch watermarks that appeared in the paper of a few of Canada’s stamps issued between 1855 and 1857:

“This variety occurs on all values. It has been seen by us both vertically and horizontally on the ½d and 7½d, horizontally on the 3d, and vertically only on the 6d and 10d”

The above observation underlines the significance of the description of the stitch watermark on the above 10d stamp because that stamp was described by the auctioneer as having a horizontal stitch mark. Boggs only talks about the 10d stamp having a vertical one.

Tall vs. Short

In 1999, Charles G. Firby held a sale featuring “The Loch Collection”. He explained in the catalogue that the tall and short printing varieties occurred on all values of the Pence Issue. They are a result of paper shrinkage, following the printing of the stamps and are particularly noticeable on the 10d and 7½d. Here are a couple of examples from his sale:

Lot 113
Charles G. Firby
April 28, 1999
Estimate $800 U.S.
Realized $850 U.S.

The above stamp is of the tall thin variety and was described as a nice unused copy with large margins.

Lot 177
Charles G. Firby
April 28, 1999
Estimate $900 U.S.
Realized 700 U.S.

This second example is of the short squat variety. It was described as dull blue on thin paper with large margins.

This concludes our survey of this rare and valuable stamp. We hope you’ve enjoyed this commentary as much as we enjoyed preparing it.

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