Strip of 10 three-penny beavers brings $27K

By Jesse Robitaille

Realizations do not include the 18.5 per cent buyer’s premium.

mint vertical strip of 10 three-pence red beaver stamps (Scott #1) nearly tripled its pre-sale estimate of $10,000-plus when it hammered down for $27,000 during a sale by New Brunswick’s Eastern Auctions this June.

Offered as Lot 289, the strip of 10 stamps – despite its various described faults – displayed “large margins, excellent colour and an unusually bright impression, nearly full brownish original gum showing only a hint of disturbance and a few mild hinge marks,” according to auction catalogue describer Yohann Tanguay. 

“We are not aware of a larger mint or used multiple of any three-pence beaver, a marvellous Pence issue showpiece,” said Tanguay.

Overall, Canadian Pence and Large Queen issues highlighted the 885-lot sale, which was held June 8-9, but there were also strong realizations in the First Cents issue.

“You will notice that individual items – numerous stamps and covers, particularly from Canada’s Pence to Large Queen era – did fetch high prices,” said Tanguay.

One of these examples was a mint block of nine five-cent vermilion stamps (SC #15) described by auctioneers as displaying “impressive centring for this issue.” One of only three comparable five-cent beaver multiples, this example brought $16,000 as Lot 400.

A British American Bank Note Co. proof sample sheet depicting various engraved portraits, vignettes and other elements used on stamps as well as banknotes was offered as Lot 456. Measuring 326 millimetres by 208 millimetres, the sheet includes eight identical portraits of a young, left-facing Queen Victoria used for the 1865 Second Bill issue of federal revenue stamps. A portrait of Queen Victoria used for the 1893 20- and 50-cent stamps (SC #46 and #47, respectively) is also shown.

“More importantly, the most striking feature of this engraving is a bicolour proof of the three-cent Large Queen with the frame in ‘golden’ brown and the central vignette in black,” said Tanguay, who added this lot realized $10,500.


Moving on to postal history, a folded lettersheet sent through Montreal to Buffalo on Sept. 25, 1851 was offered as Lot 265. Bearing a horizontal strip of four three-penny orange red beaver stamps on laid paper (SC #1a), this cover realized $9,500.

“It is reported that seven covers are known with similar frankings for the 12-pence double rate to the USA,” said Tanguay. “This cover, however, is the only one known franked with the three-pence beaver on laid paper.”

The stamps are tied by concentric rings cancels and a Montreal double arc dispatch with the “CANADA” arc handstamp in red. There is no backstamp as was customary for mail to the U.S.

The franking also includes a major re-entry – position 80, pane A (SC #1v) – with noticeable doubling in “THREE PENCE” and the two left “3” numerals.

Another postal history highlight was Lot 452, a May 4, 1866 military concessionary rate cover endorsed “From Colonel Lang of Stratford Rifles Volunteers” and countersigned by “D. Smith Major Commg.” The cover bears a “well-centred” two-cent rose stamp (SC #20), which is tied by a four-ring numeral cancel along with a Sandwich dispatch circular date stamp at left and a Stratford arrival backstamp. It brought $4,750.

Rounding out the postal history highlights was Lot 783, a Jan. 6, 1877 orange envelope with what’s described as a “remarkable” franking consisting of three 1875 two-cent orange registration stamps (SC #F1) in the form of one pair and a single.

Pen strokes obliterate “REGISTERED” on each stamp as they pay a double domestic letter rate from Gore Bay, Ont., to Manitowaning. Described as an “impressive use of RLS (registered letter stamps) that was against postal regulations,” this example realized $3,250, topping its pre-sale estimate of $500.


Other highlights include Lot 627, a 1925 10-cent bistro brown stamp (SC #118) showing full-strength Type D lathework, which is “one of the scarcest and sought-after lathework stamps of the entire Admiral issue,” Tanguay said.

Additionally, the stamp features a pre-perforation paper fold resulting in a partially imperforate variety between the stamp and its right margin. This example realized $4,250.

Lastly, a 1920 Newfoundland three-cent-on-35-cent red provisional surcharge stamp with the “THREE” omitted (Newfoundland #130ii) was offered as Lot 182. Described by auctioneers as a “most interesting printing variety, very scarce and as nice as one can hope to find for this very elusive stamp,” this error occurred when a piece of foreign matter came between the type set press and the stamps.

“Considering its great rarity, very few sheets must have been affected before the problem was corrected,” said Tanguay, who added the lot crossed the block for $2,800.

For more information about the June 8-9 sale, visit

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