Collectors will ‘be in awe’ of Chalon rarities at Brigham estate sale

By Mike Walsh

Collectors will continue to “be in awe” as some of the greatest Canadian rarities featuring the “Chalon” portrait of Queen Victoria are available in Part 3 of the Ron Brigham estate’s Province of Canada collection.

“After more than 35 years, the finest mint 12-pence pair – hailed as ‘the most important philatelic treasure of Canada’ – comes to auction,” Eastern Auctions’ chief describer, Yohann Tanguay, writes in the auction catalogue. “This gem will be offered together with the finer of the two known used pairs as well as a sheet margin example used on a cover to the United States.”

Tanguay says among the 151 lots in the March 8 public auction are “some of the great varieties of the 12-pence, 7½- pence and 12½-cent Queen Victoria ‘Chalon’ stamps.”

“This sale comprises many key and important items featuring Queen Victoria’s ‘Chalon’ portrait as utilized on the famous 1851 12-pence (Scott #3) and the later issued 7½-pence (SC #9) and 12½-cent (SC #8) stamps,” Tanguay tells Canadian Stamp News. “Collectors will certainly be in awe with some of the items, many of which have not been publicly offered since the late 1980s.”

The March Brigham sale is the third of four auctions to be conducted by New Brunswick’s Eastern Auctions featuring the Grand Prix collection of the Province of Canada that the prolific collector and exhibitor accumulated over decades. Brigham died on Aug. 4, 2022.
“We now present the third portion of the collection, offering another wide assortment of lots,” writes Tanguay. “In addition to the great rarities, many of which are of unique status, collectors will find exceptional proofs (often showing well-documented plate varieties), single stamps, and rare multiples in the highest quality attainable, noteworthy postal history with rare frankings, and beautiful advertising covers.”

The auction’s headliner is Lot 6, featuring a mint pair of the famous 12-penny black described as “a fabulous item of the utmost rarity and esthetic beauty.” Called one of the “crown jewels” of Canadian philately, the superlative mint pair was acquired by Brigham in 1988.
According to Tanguay, artist Alfred Edward Chalon painted his famed portrait of Queen Victoria in 1837 “on the occasion of her first visit to the House of Lords following her accession to the throne.”

According to a detailed account in the auction catalogue, the 12-pence black is the first postage stamp in Canada to bear the “Chalon” portrait, issued in Canada on June 14, 1851.

“The design was subsequently employed for the seven-and-a-half pence currency (six-pence sterling) packet letter rate stamp of 1857, and then following the change to decimal currency, on the 12½-cents stamp issued on July 1859.

“From its days of issue, the 12 penny saw little circulation,” Tanguay writes. “The only consignment, 50,000 stamps (500 sheets), was received on May 4, 1851, by the Post Office Department of Canada. From the first order received on June 14, 1851 (sent to Hamilton) to the last on Dec. 4, 1854 (to Smiths Falls, Ont.), a mere 1,510 stamps were distributed to 14 post offices. The balance was destroyed on May 1, 1857. It has been reported that about 90 examples survived in any condition, whether mint or used, or on cover. From very early times, the 12 penny became world famous, coveted by connoisseurs of rare postage stamps.”

The 1851 12-pence is brownish black on handmade laid paper, and imperforate. The stamp’s condition is described as Extremely Fine, with original gum and lightly hinged. Lot 6 is catalogued at $640,000-plus.

“The 12-pence stamp has always been a coveted and expensive stamp in any condition, since the very earliest stamp catalogues,” Tanguay tells CSN. “It has been reported that fewer than 100 examples, mint, used or on cover are known, some of them locked in private institutions. This glorious pair in immaculate mint condition has graced two very important collections of the past: Dale-Lichtenstein (Alfred Lichtenstein, 1876-1947) when the collection was sold in 1968-1970, shortly after his daughter’s (Louise Boyd Dale) death, and Sam Nickle, whose pence issues were sold in 1988. It is certainly one of (if not) the most prized and recognizable rarities in Canadian philately.”
Tanguay says “this beautiful pair” was Brigham’s most expensive item in his collection.

“It brought $150,000 US hammer at the Nickle sale in 1988. At that time, a mint single commanded a catalogue value then of $50,000 according to the old Canada Specialized catalogue,” says Tanguay, an expertizer with the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation. “World-class philatelic items such as this pair will not only appeal to serious Canadian bidders but also discerning international clients who are seeking the best of the best in world classics.”

Tanguay says the third Brigham sale opens the doors for collectors to discover the fascinating history of the pence issues.
“We understand the pence issues of Canada to be complex and out of reach for many collectors,” he says. “However, we still encourage everyone to peruse the catalogue on our website. Allowing anyone, we hope, to get a better understanding of our country’s first issues and to learn one or more of its many interesting features.”

While the sale offers many high-end rarities, Tanguay says there are several great lots for collectors of all levels to uncover.
“A quick perusal of the 151 lots on offer, we noted close to 40 lots have a known plate variety. Many of these are found on lower estimated or catalogued items, be they a proof, a stamp or on cover. These should, no doubt, awaken interest from specialists. For the postal history enthusiast, there are close to 40 cover lots. Among the high-power and expensive rate covers, there are also inexpensive and eye-appealing cents-era advertising covers.”

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