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Canadian Stamp Auctions

Recent Auction Highlights

12 December, 2009 - Charles G. Firby Auctions

This sale represented the property of 35 owners and estates. As is typical in a Firby sale, there were many covers including very early ones of the Map issue. As well, the Interrupted Flight Cover collection of Major Richard K. Malott of Ottawa, Ontario was featured.

We found some beautiful early Canada. We invite you to look at the centering of these two stamps from the first Pence Issue of 1859:


Lot 344
Scott 18
Catalogue $120
Realized $325

Lot 346
Scott 19
Catalogue $190
Realized $238


As the catalogue mentions, each stamp is XF with no perf hole near the frame line. No wonder each one attracted a good premium.

Large Queen Varieties

The sale featured a fair number of Large Queen varieties, some of which we hadn’t seen in some time.


"Printed on thicker paper"

Lot 353
Unitrade 21i
Catalogue $250
Realized $318


We have only recorded one other copy of Scott 21i printed on thicker paper. It sold in 2005 for $248 with the result that this is a new record price for a very rare stamp.


"Burr on left of head"

Lot 362
Unitrade 22b & iii
Catalogue $1,150
Realized $504


This “Burr on the left of head” variety is recorded in Unitrade but without a value, indicating that it is so scarce it is not possible to reasonably price it. The catalogue value shown above is for the fact that the stamp is the thin paper variety. We have only recorded this variety once in the past and in that case the stamp was on a cover.


"Shaving nick variety"

Lot 393
Unitrade 25vii
Estimate $200
Realized $583

This third and last variety is one we have never seen at auction before and It attracted a good price. The nick can be spotted on the chin just below the mouth.


Lot 428
Scott 29
Catalogue $380
Realized $1,166


This last lot was not a variety, just a very presentable block that was NH, rather unusual for stamps in the Large Queen set.


Admiral Lathework – Spectacular Price


Lot 619
Scott 107 var
Catalogue $375
Realized $5,300

There was little in the write-up in the Firby auction catalogue that prepared us for the results this lot provided. It was described as Type D inverted lathework. No big deal. The stamps were lightly hinged and off-centre. But when the price came in at $5,000 plus, we knew something special had happened on the auction floor and this was a big deal.


Subsequent to posting this write up of the Firby sale on our site, we received the most helpful note from the successful bidder who explained why the above Admiral block was so valuable. He wrote as follows:


In the section on recent auction results, Firby Auction December 12, 2009, you comment on the price paid for Lot 619 a block of two cent green admirals (Scott 107) with lathework. I was the winning bidder of this block. You may be interested in the story behind the selling price.


The lathework on this item was incorrectly described in the auction catalogue as D inverted. It is in fact D1 inverted lathework, and is extremely rare. D1 inverted lathework differs from D inverted lathework in a number of ways, but the most obvious is that D1 inverted lathework has a strong horizontal line above the body of the lathework. There is no such line above D inverted lathework. The D1 inverted lathework only appears on one admiral plate (plate 166 of the two cent green) and is one of the rarest of the admiral lathework pieces. Only one other block is known to exist. Consequently, this item commanded strong bids from those that recognized it’s true identity.

Best wishes”

We had always understood that the purpose of the lathework was to help indicate when the plates were wearing out. But the Unitrade booklet “The Canadian Lathework Design” by Hans Reiche provides at least 8 theories to explain the lathework’s purpose. He analyses all of them but doesn’t come to a conclusion. Pity !

2¢ Map Stamp – Easliest Recorded Usage – December 2, 1898


Lot 871
Scott 85
Catalogue $5,000
Realized $9,540


Featured on the front cover of the auction catalogue was this rare early cover of the 2¢ Map Stamp. It was dated December 2, 1898 and was posted in Halifax.
What do you call a cover when it is used on a date before the official date of issue? Firby called it a gorgeous and unique showpiece! This is no surprise when you look at the price.

Unitrade has the following to say concerning these early covers of the Map Stamp “No. 85 covers dated the first day of issue (12/07/98) are very rare with perhaps 10 recorded; value $2,500. The Official First Day was Christmas, December 25, 1898, value $900.00. One recorded cover is dated December 2, 1898, the day the stamp was being announced

For further information, please click on the highlights button.



There was one new record price in this auction:

Scott No.
Previous NRP
1/2¢ Large Queen on thicker paper


The prices in this commentary were converted
at the rate of $1US = $1.06 Cdn.

©2010, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada