1917 POW cover to Conn Smythe tops auction estimate

Longley Auctions offered its 26th worldwide public auction, its largest ever, this May in Milton, Ont.

The nearly 690-lot sale took place live at the new Sherwood Community Centre with 16,000 square feet of space—larger than the show floor at Orapex this April and the “largest auction venue ever in Canada,” according to auctioneer Bill Longley.

Offering millions of stamps and several hundred bulk lots, the sale featured the extensive Robert Hunter Collection of worldwide stamps; the Jim Goodale Collection of thematic train stamps and Canadian newspaper advertising covers; the Hagan Collection of worldwide postcards; Harold Cusden Collection of Canadian town cancels; several collections from late Toronto collector Brian Draves; a large hoard of U.S. coils; and more.

Among the highlights was Lot 591, a 1917 prisoner-of-war (POW) military cover Longley described as “a piece of Canadian and hockey history that you can own.” It was mailed to First World War Lieutenant Conn Smyth, who enlisted in Ottawa before transferring overseas.

The Germans eventually captured Smyth, who served as a POW until the war ended in 1918. Upon his return to Canada, Smyth acquired the amateur Toronto St. Patrick’s hockey team, which he renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1927. He served as the Leafs’ coach and general manager, spearheaded the team’s new arena Maple Leaf Gardens, supervised the construction of the Hockey Hall of Fame and won the Stanley Cup eight times between 1932 and ’62. Today, the Conn Smythe Trophy honours the most valuable player during the playoffs.

With a $200 estimate, the cover brought $500.

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