12-Penny Black sells for $740,625, sets record for stamps sold in Canada

By Mike Walsh

It’s an auction moment that in-person and online viewers will likely never forget.

It all began when auctioneer Gary Lyon opened Lot 6 of Ron Brigham’s revered Pence and Cents collection on March 8.

“There are things you’ve always wanted to sell, well this is one of them for me,” the owner of New Brunswick’s Eastern Auctions said of the glorious mint pair of 1851 12-Penny Black Canadian stamps.

It is “opening at $300,000,” and with that statement, Lyons began the bidding. Just less than three minutes later, not only did Lot 6 hammer at $625,000, it set a new Canadian record.

“The moment the lot opened … it was quite suspenseful during its slow progression,” said Eastern’s chief describer Yohann Tanguay. “We had at least four bidders in on the action until a certain point.”

“It is by a fair margin, a record for a philatelic item sold in Canada: Lot 6 selling for $625,000 hammer ($740,625 inclusive of buyer’s premium),” Tanguay said.

The last record price at Eastern Auctions was set 12 months prior (March 2023) during the Brigham Part I sale. Lot 1, a Sandford Fleming three-pence essay, sold for $562,875, including buyer’s premium.

The March 8 sale featured the third instalment of Brigham’s legendary Grand Prix collection of the Province of Canada, Pence and Cents. The 151-lot sale featured many of the greatest rarities with proofs and stamps, including famous multiples and important postal history.

Tanguay, who had previously described Lot 6 as “one of the most expensive, recognizable and iconic items in Canadian philately,” says it may be decades from now before the mint pair resurfaces.

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