Philatelic market ‘is in good shape’

By Jesse Robitaille

After years of pandemic-driven highs in show attendance, dealer sales and auction realizations, ensuing economic factors such as high inflation and increased interest rates may have some philatelists wondering about their impact on the hobby.

While economic uncertainties abound heading into 2024, collectors, dealers and auctioneers alike believe Canada’s philatelic economy remains strong as the pandemic’s most severe effects have subsided. Collectors continue to enjoy an active market bolstered by regular high-quality offerings while dealers and auctioneers saw strong sales and show organizers reported robust attendance at events through this fall.

“It seems that people are enjoying their hobby more than ever,” said Yohann Tanguay, the chief describer at New Brunswick’s Eastern Auctions, who added the situation possibly stems from people “being fed up with the ups and downs of their investments and rather finding excitement in acquiring a beautiful proof, stamp or cover for their collection.”

“High-end and superb-quality material is healthier than ever while lesser-quality items are often ignored.”

Eastern Auctions’ latest sales – of the Ron Brigham estate’s Province of Canada collection plus Glen Lundeen’s Canadian Admiral collection – have provided proof of the market’s strength with unprecedented record prices realized.

“Throughout this year and not counting our major November sale that has yet to be held, we’ve seen important and rare Canadian items selling for record prices,” Tanguay said in late October, calling the results “unprecedented in Canada or elsewhere.”

“When you have two items selling for more than half a million dollars inclusive of buyer’s premium in a year, it is quite remarkable. The Admiral issues of Canada also saw tremendous prices,” he said, adding die proofs that would generally bring about $2,000 sold for upwards of $15,000.

Tanguay, an expertizer with the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation, noted the importance of acquiring high-end material whenever the opportunity arises – even amid a potential slowdown.

“It has been said before by some of the greatest philatelists of the past: when a great item surfaces on the market, never pass on the opportunity to acquire it. It might take another generation for a similar item to appear.”

Long-time dealer John Sheffield, the owner of John Sheffield Philatelist in London, Ont., agreed the market “appears to remain strong, especially for better material.”

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