Brigham Collection ‘out of this world’

By Jesse Robitaille

This is the first story in a two-part review of Eastern Auctions’ March 17-18 public auction featuring the Ron Brigham and Glen Lundeen collections. Realizations do not include the buyer’s premium.

The first of four sales of Ron Brigham’s international Grand Prix-winning Province of Canada collection, the last material held by the late philatelist before his death last August, rewrote the record books in the days leading up to spring.

The March 17 sale offered 163 lots centring on the three-pence and five-cent “Beaver” issues (Scott #1 and SC #15) plus other early Canadian classics. The hammer prices proved “out of this world,” according to Yohann Tanguay, the chief describer with Eastern Auctions, which is handling the Brigham sales. With total realizations more than doubling the firm’s combined pre-sale estimates, the sale provided seemingly endless highlights with at least a handful of major records broken.

“Realizations were well above average across the entire sale,” said long-time dealer and auctioneer Gary Lyon, the owner of Eastern Auctions and Gary J. Lyon (Philatelist) Ltd. in Bathurst, N.B. “From the very first lot that sold for $475,000, there was strong demand from multiple bidders on almost every single lot. We were extremely pleased with the final results.”

Tanguay agreed the opening lots’ realizations, including the $62,500 winning bid for Lot 2, “definitely set the tone for the auction, propelling many of the lots until the end of the sale to unprecedented realizations.”

“Even the more straightforward items brought excellent prices,” added Tanguay, who’s also an expertizer with the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation.


The sale’s opening lot, a unique three-pence Beaver essay pulled from designer Sir Sandford Fleming’s diary, brought “the highest price ever for a single lot in Canada,” according to Lyon.

Described by auctioneers as “the most important Canadian philatelic item in existence,” the February 1851 essay for Canada’s first stamp originated from Fleming’s diary entry on Feb. 24, 1851. Fleming affixed the essay – cut from a plate essay printed by Scobie in Toronto – alongside a brief message about his meeting with Postmaster General James Morris.

Brigham acquired the page featuring the unique plate essay at a 2004 auction for a hammer price of $110,000 US.

Its $475,000 hammer price this March marked “a major increase from its previous realization,” according to Tanguay.

Lyon also believes the sale’s second lot, a unique three-pence Beaver die proof in black, hammered down for a record price for a die proof.

Produced by English engraver Alfred Jones for the New York printer Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, the die proof measured 38.5 millimetres by 21.5 millimetres on india paper mounted on a larger archival ledger card.

It first entered the market in the 1990 ABNC archive auction, bringing a hammer price of $14,000 US on an estimate of $1,500-$2,000. Ian Bett, the man behind the Lindemann Collection, acquired and held it until his 1996 death.

A year later, it joined Brigham’s collection in a private sale.

This March, it sold for $62,500 on a $35,000 estimate as Lot 2.

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