Market Watch: ‘Marvelous’ Senf album sells for healthy price

Late in May, a “marvelous” 127-year-old stamp album filled with $7,000 worth of stamps as well as a Whitfield, King & Co. price list likely produced the same year as the album, 1889.

The album – made by famed German philatelist Richard Senf, who began producing philatelic publications shortly after opening a stamp shop in 1872 – was offered for sale on May 28, during the weekly auction hosted by Vancouver’s All Nations Stamp and Coin. Lot 217, an 1889 Illustrated Postage Stamp Album with “mixed condition contents catalogued at $7,000,” realized $990.

“The content was almost irrelevant, and in retrospect it might have been better if the consignor took the stamps out,” said Brian Grant Duff, auctioneer and owner of All Nations Stamp and Coin. “That was one that could’ve brought more just based on sheer catalogue value.”

Duff was quick to add it’s a “good thing” now having $7,000 worth of stamps enter the market, although the main attraction with this lot was the album that held the stamps.

“It’s a breathtaking album when you see it,” he said. “When you open the box and see the incredible image on the cover—it’s so great it takes your breath away.”

And it doesn’t stop at aesthetics. Duff said he can’t recall “ever seeing one before” in more than 30 years in the business.

“It was found in rural B.C. and ended up here, and I really enjoyed in having a hand in selling it. It’s a spectacular work of art and a marvelous old album, the likes of which are a privilege to see.”

And its sale, at $990, is perhaps a sign the “weak” Canadian philatelic market is surviving just fine through trying times.

“I thought it was a great buy for someone, but I think the fact that people pony up 1,000 bucks for a stamp collection separates the men from the boys, and I think that’s a sign of a healthy market,” said Duff, who added the lot generated good interest and “wasn’t hard to promote.”

“We thought that estimate was conservative,” he added, laughing and admitting the auctioneer “always thinks he can get more for things, but in this case, we achieved results the consignor couldn’t have achieved without us.”

The lot realized nearly 100 per cent of its pre-auction estimate, and for good reason—the famed Senf album is considered the greatest stamp album of its time, not to mention anything of its “mixed condition contents”. In 1892, the album won the highest honour of its kind at the Paris Philatelic Exhibition, defeating both its English and French competitors.

“Ultimately, we ended up with a happy seller and happy buyer, and that’s my goal as an auctioneer.”

For more information about the 250-lot sale (of which only two lots were “passed” by bidders), click here.

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