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

By Bret Evans

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.

The sale follows with a number of covers mailed by members of the Canadian military expedition to the Red River, led by a Col. Garnet Wolseley. Lot 558 is a historically significant letter carried by a special courier from Fort Garry to St. Cloud, Minnesota then on to Toronto. It contains a letter written by Frederick Denison, the first soldier to enter Fort Garry after Riel’s departure. The postage was paid with a U.S. 12-cent black, as those were the stamps available in Manitoba at that time. It is estimated at $5,000 plus.

Tanquay said the Keewatin section is particularly interesting as it represents a significant portion of known letters from that area. The small number of covers available means that they rarely turn up at auction, and even less often in large numbers. For a short period, Keewatin was used to describe part of Canada at the head of Lake Superior. Keewatin letters were identified by a KEE postmark. Eventually Keewatin was dissolved and part of the land was amalgamated with northern Ontario, while the rest became part of Manitoba.

The provinces of Manitoba, Alberta, and Northwest Territories are well represented in the sale.

The Red River Settlement section includes a famous item, the famed Pembina twins. In the mid-1800s, postal service from the settlement – modern day Winnipeg – was through the United States. Letters travelled by courier to Pembina, North Dakota. The local postmaster used stamps from the Canadian pence issue of 1857 when available and U.S. stamps at other times. The two stamps in the pair were once used together, with the Pembina cancel being split between the two stamps, PEM to the left and BINA to the right.

In 1949 collector Dr. Lewis Reford re-united the pair and hinged them together. Since then it has been provenanced to Colonel O’Meara, Harmer, Rooke and Co., and Kasimir Bileski. The twins have a pre-sale estimate of more than $15,000.

The Canadian section opens with stampless covers and essays and continues through to modern stamps.

Lot 821 is a set of large die proofs of the 1897 diamond jubilee issue of Queen Victoria. The lot consists of 16 proofs in the issued colours, sunk on full-size cards, all in pristine condition with true colours and sharp impressions. The lot carries a pre-sale estimate of more than $25,000.

Among the airmail stamps is a semi-official cover, carried on the first domestic flight authorized to carry mail by the Canadian Post Office. Dated June 23, 1918, the letter is mailed from Montreal to Toronto, and was carried by Captain Brian A. Peck. The rate is paid by two Admiral stamps, a one-cent green and two-cent carmine cancelled with two triangular cancels stating “Inaugural Service / Via Aerial Mail, Montreal.” It has a Toronto back stamp, dated June 24. It is estimated at $1,500.

“There were some earlier flights,” Tanquay said. “But they were not authorized.”

The sale concludes with revenues and postal stationery followed by large lots and collections.

As strong as the Canadian sections are, more than half of the lots are world and commonwealth issues.

The first section includes the Hal Woodworth Pattison collection of British Commonwealth. According to the auctioneer it was assembled over many years “with a keen eye on Gibbons listed shades and printings.”

The worldwide section features an extensive collection of first issue stamps and collections of Great Britain and Finland from the estate of Andrew Nimmo.

The famous Cape of Good Hope triangular issues include lot 50, a one-pence Carmine, Scott #7a, “wood block” on laid paper. The imperforate stamp has wide margins and a light cancel. It is estimated at $4,000.

Lot 53 is a set of nine different stamps from the Bechuanaland Protectorate with surcharges and Siege of Mafeking CDS postmarks. The scarce group has an estimate of $1,295.

The highlight of the worldwide section is a collection of the Australian kangaroo issue, including key values, multiples and rare varieties. The kangaroo issue of 1913 was the first Australian issue, 12 years after the Federation of Australia. The issue consisted of 16 denominations, all sharing a common design of a kangaroo over a map of Australia.

At first it was intended to be the only issues for Australia, however later in 1913 a second definitive series, featuring a portrait of King George V, was also released. The kangaroo series remained popular, and was issued for more than three decades. The sale includes more than 70 lots both used and Mint.

The sale is being held in two sessions on Feb. 19-20 at the Lord Nelson Hotel, in Halifax, N.S.

For more information contact Eastern Auctions at 1-800-667-8267, www.easternauctions.com.


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