Auction review: 19th-century postal history highlights annual Ron Leith sale

The Ron Leith Annual Auction was held earlier this month, during Richpex 2017, Vancouver’s largest stamp show.

The sale’s top-earning lot was the earliest-known registered cover mailed to Dawson, Yukon Territory, during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century.

Mailed from Boise, Idaho in 1898, Lot 184 features a 21-cent franking to pay the registered letter rate. Registered on June 27, 1898, and addressed to prospector Edward S. Smith at Dawson, the letter arrived on April 7, 1899, following eight months in transit via the Chilkoot Pass through Skagway, Alaska.

A message on reverse—signed by Edward Smith—states the letter was “received the day he bought out his partner’s claims.”

GOLD RUSH

During the gold rush, an increase in population spurred the government to separate the Yukon district from the Northwest Territories, establishing the Yukon Territory on June 13, 1898.

This 1897 $3 Queen Victoria Jubilee stamp (Scott #63) realized $1,600. (Photo by Ron Leith Auctions)

According to auctioneers, Lot 184 is the earliest-reported registered territorial cover and is in Fine to Very Fine condition. With a pre-sale estimate of $750, the cover eventually sold for $2,300—the highest price realized at this annual Ron Leith sale.

1898 $3 QUEEN VICTORIA JUBILEE

Another highlight was Lot 1875, an 1897 $3 stamp celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee (Scott #63). In Very Fine condition, the lot had a Unitrade catalogue value of $6,000. It eventually sold for $1,600, topping its pre-sale estimate of $1,000.

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