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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Recent Auction Highlights

4 March, 2011 - David Feldman Philatelists

“This is the greatest British North American auction in the history of philately. “

In early March, a remarkable auction of early Canadian covers took place in New York City. The above quotation is from the auctioneer’s catalogue. The results were significant enough to make the headlines in the latest Canadian Stamp News. They included two major cover collections:

• The Wilkinson Collection of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
• Joseph Hackmay’s Collection of Canadian Postal History

We show below some of the highlights. The descriptions have been copied from the catalogue. Please note that all prices are in $US.

Canadian Covers

Lot 1300
Scott 5c
Real. $19,500

This is the only bisected example of the Slate Grey shade on medium wove paper recorded and is the earliest recorded of the eight known 6d bisects. The others are different shades or on different paper.


Lot 1301
Scott 10a
Real. $18,000


One of the finest of the four recorded Reddish Purple bisect covers. Note: The cover also bears the pen notation on reverse "This copy with two others was found in one bundle of letters in the B.(ank) of B.N.A.. Montreal in the summer of 1889" signed by Chas. Cameronson. All four are thick soft paper bisected 6ds, two were placed at upper left as is this example.


Lot 1312
Scott 5 & 8
Real. $47,500

Oversized folded cover with Sherbrooke Jan. 9, 1858 c.d.s., to Magog, Very Fine, ex Wilkinson (lot 104, sold for $51,750). A wonderfully fresh showpiece that shows the only recorded 1/2d block used in combination with another.


Lot 1325
Scott 4 var
Real. $47,500


Considered by many to be the most important 3d item in Canadian Philately & rivals the Sandford Fleming Essay in importance. This pair proved that the lower (B) pane was actually the top pane of the sheet, while the A pane was at the bottom, exactly the opposite of the previously accepted format. A stunning showpiece & the only inter-panneau pair in all of Pence Philately. (Unitrade 4ivar)


Lot 1341
Scott 5 & 8
Real. $37,500


The cover has been cleaned and a pressed vertical fold affects one of the 1/2d, which are insignificant considering the importance of this cover, Very Fine and glamorous showpiece. Provenance: ex Dale-Lichtenstein, Harrison, Wilkinson (lot 193, sold for $40,250); shown in Harrison, Arfken & Lussey (p. 95) and Arfken, Leggett, Firby & Steinhart (p. 200). The only recorded example paying the 1/2 ounce registered letter


Lot 1348
Scott 8
Real. $32,500


The regulations required that to qualify for this rate (1d for 1/2 ounce to any country in the British Empire), the front of the cover was to be signed by the sender and his Commanding Officer in the format shown. The only surviving example of this special rate which was permitted to soldiers other than officers on active duty. One of Canada's most important showpieces.


Lot 1377
Scott 4 var, 9a
Real. $160,000


Carried by the Cunarder "Arabia" which departed New York on Nov. 25, 1857. Only six registered covers have been recorded carried by the Cunard Line Packets, three of which are stampless and two are single weight covers. This is the only example of a double weight registered letter to England carried by the Cunard Line, with the registration fee collected upon delivery in London. A phenomenally important and attractive cover.


Lot 1378
Scott 5b, 7a
Real. $80,000


During 1855, several Cunard steamships were requisitioned by the British Government to transport troops to the Crimea. Mail could be directed to England via the Cunard Line through Boston or Halifax; or the Collins Line via New York. This unique double weight cover was carried on the steamer "Baltic," the last Collins Line steamer to sail prior to Great Britain returning the Cunard Line steamers to their regular service.

New Brunswick Covers

Lot 1107
Scott 2
Real. $50,000


The only recorded New Brunswick-United States mixed franking. Editor-in-Chief Susan McDonald (Chronicle 134 Vol. 39 No.2, p. 145) explains, "The cover was carried from St. John to Boston by Favor's Express, then put in the U.S. mails to England under the U.S.-U.K. treaty arrangements, at the 24c rate, as if it had originated in the U.S., which is confirmed by the typical 19c credit to Britain. The endorsement at top "Royal Mail Steamer New York to Liverpool" under the stamps shows that the sender expected the letter to go by the British Packet. The letter reached the St. John Post Office too late for the regular closed bag for British North America transatlantic mails. The sender was informed that, if the letter was taken to the steamer, it could still make the sailing, but would have to be prepaid by stamp. The sender applied two New Brunswick 6d stamps, but these were not adequate, since their value was only 20c U.S.. The U.S. stamps were probably supplied by the steamboat agent, winking at the regulations, who sold them or accepted money to buy them in Boston. Either the agent or the Boston Post Office struck the "Paid" handstamps.


Lot 1114
Scott 1 & 3
Real. $110,000


The only recorded cover to mainland Europe and the only cover bearing a strip of 1sh stamps, the largest multiple recorded. This is without doubt, the most important cover of New Brunswick and it is one of the most important covers in the philately of British North America.


Nova Scotia Covers

Lot 1159
Scott 4var
Real. $50,000


6d Yellow Green, quadrisected with huge bottom selvage, tied by mute grill cancel on cover used locally in Bridgetown, manuscript “Recd 29 Oct. 1860” at left and faint Bridgetown dispatch backstamp, Very Fine, 1969 RPS certificate. Only two quadrisects have been recorded in Nova Scotia philately. Provenance: ex Dale-Lichtenstein, Cartier, Mayer. At this time, the drop letter rate was 2c per 1/2 ounce, but the Pence stamps were never demonetized and several examples have been recorded used to pay the new rates in cents. This cover is the unique quadrisect paying the 2c rate.


Lot 1175
Scott 7b
Real. $100,000

The 3d rate was rarely paid by a quartered 1sh stamp. According to N. Argenti these are rarer than the quartered 1sh New Brunswick. There are only two Nova Scotia quadrisects known on cover, one the 6d yellow green paying the 1-1/2d drop letter rate (see lot 10159) and this, the One Shilling paying the 1/2 ounce letter rate within Nova Scotia. One of the greatest covers in the postal history of Nova Scotia.


There is no doubt that this was a remarkable offering of covers. David Feldman presented it very nicely and made sure the philatelic community took notice. That’s what auctioneers are meant to do and he did it well. He also paid tribute to the involvement of Charles Firby as helping these collections to be assembled. This tribute is well earned as Firby has done extensive research into Canada’s early postal history and by publishing the results, has shared his knowledge with all of us.

©2011, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada