Philately is a destination

I’m a big fan of collecting, but not a big fan of structure. For instance, when I look at stamp exhibits I’m more interested in the story than the details of the exhibit. I have to remind myself that judges look at more than just a good read, but have to take so much more into consideration. From the perspective of exhibiting that makes a lot of sense. It is a scored event that moves from the local to the international levels, so consistency among judges is the only way a serious exhibitor can move ahead. Continue reading →

Brigham’s ‘outstanding material’ now in hands of new owners

The Brigham sale had three offerings of the 1959 St. Lawrence Seaway inverted error. Lot 310 featured a rarely-seen used example, off cover with a wavy line cancel. It had a catalogue value of $10,000 and sold for $9,500.

Edward VII items proved popular in the seventh sale of the famed Brigham collection, held Jan. 16 at the Brampton Golf Club in Brampton, Ont. According to Charles Verge, chief executive officer of Brigham Auctions, the sale followed what has become a regular pattern. “It had a small floor and lots of bidders over the internet,” he said. “That has become the norm.” As with other sales in the series, the Edward VII portion included a staggering selection of proofs and essays, as well as representative of various plates. Varieties and postal history are always popular, Verge said, but some ways of collecting have changed over the years that the collection was assembled. Continue reading →

The hobby is evolving

or years, I have maintained that stamp collecting isn't about to die out, but it is evolving. It is easy to complain that young people are no longer collecting stamps, but I don't think that young collectors have ever played much of a role in the financial health of the hobby. Young collectors usually have limited financial means and even years ago, rarely bought high-end stamps. Continue reading →

Riel Rebellions rarities, postal history dominate Eastern’s February sale

While several earlier Canadian flights carried mail, the 1918 flight from Montreal to Toronto was the first officially sanctioned to carry mail. This rather routine-looking cover is given some flash with the addition of two special triangular cancels.

Western Canadian postal history will dominate Eastern Auctions’ Feb. 19 sale, as well as several interesting Canadian and world lots. According to Eastern’s Yohann Tanquay, the western postal history includes a fair number of unusual and scarce items, including an essay for a stamp issue from the Riel era. The collections are from the estate of Dr. Don Thompson, which includes rarities from the first and second Riel Rebellions, many of them part of his award-winning exhibit. The red stamp, showing a head of liberty with the words “Republique Canadienne / Canadian Republic,” was printed in red without a denomination. It is believed to date from the first rebellion of 1869. There are two examples, one on watermarked paper, with an estimate of $1,000, and one on un-watermarked wove paper with an estimate of $750. Continue reading →

Canada Post faces changes with its new political masters

I love politics, and I love stamps, so the recent change of government naturally got me thinking about the future of Canada Post. The thought process isn’t really much of a leap, most Canadians still think of Canada Post as a government department rather than as a semi-autonomous Crown corporation. Prior to the days when it was run by a “president and CEO,” the head of postal service was the Postmaster General, consisting of an elected member of parliament appointed by the prime minister. Continue reading →

Stamp collecting has many faces

Many people picture stamp collectors as old men, often socially challenged, sitting alone with their stamps. The hobby often tries to counter that vision with such exciting appeals as “stamp collecting is educational.” True, perhaps, but not rather exciting. The other approach is to try and make stamp collecting glamorous, with tales of the great values of rare stamps. That has been easy in recent years, with a lot of really wonderful sales and some of the greatest rarities in the hobby hitting the market. Continue reading →

Get new collectors off on the right foot

One of the questions that often comes up is: Why collect stamps? There are lots of answers: stamps are history, stamps are fun, stamps are an investment, stamps help us expand our knowledge. I’m sure there are plenty more I have not mentioned. For the most part, they are good reasons, with the possible exception of investment. I’ve often thought that investing in stamps is a very different process than investing. Continue reading →

Smart collectors consume knowledge

Stamp collecting is not as demanding as some hobbies, however collectors need a few tools if they want to do it right. When we think about these tools, our first thoughts are such basics as tongs, perhaps hinges, and perhaps an album or stockbook. Collectors quickly find that they need other tools, such as magnifier, ultraviolet light, watermarking fluid, or digital camera. At the far end of this are the highly complex and expensive machines designed to study documents and stamps in incredible detail. Continue reading →

For better or worse, hobby will never shake fakes

Stamp collecting is rarely a world of absolutes; take for instance the subject of counterfeits, which we generally agree are bad. Counterfeits have been around almost as long as postage stamps. The first books on the matter were published in the 1860s, about 20 years after the first modern stamps were introduced. Back then, faking stamps was difficult because it required specialized skills and equipment. Continue reading →

Stamps and collectors made for a fun time as editor

After nearly 25 years at Trajan Publishing, nearly half of those as editor of CSN, this is my last column. A fairly long run, considering that I originally hadn’t planned on spending more than a year, or two at most, before going back to regular journalism. I still find it hard to believe that it was 1990 when I first wandered into the office of Trajan. A tiny cramped space compared to now, we had just expanded and you had to walk across the hall to find the second half of the office. We solved that when a guy sent in by the landlord came in and literally knocked a ragged hole in the wall between the two bays. A few months later he came back and installed a wood frame, but that wall was to stand for more than a decade. Continue reading →

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