Appeal, rarity a ‘lethal combination’ for postal history highlights of latest Eastern sale

By Jesse Robitaille

Realizations do not include buyer’s premium.

Nearly all 794 lots offered by Eastern Auctions were sold this November as they crossed the block in a two-session sale that brought a total hammer price of more than $1 million and exceeded expectations across many of its sections.

The first session, which included Lots 1-401, was highlighted by a circa 1878 12-pence Queen Victoria trial colour engraved die proof (Scott #3TC). Offered as Lot 191, it originated from the composite die and includes the characteristic scar at “CE” of “PENCE.”

Described by auctioneers as a “most striking coloured proof that will enhance anyone’s collection,” it brought $9,500 on an estimate of $8,500 in Very Fine condition.

A circa 1878 12-pence Queen Victoria trial colour engraved die proof brought $9,500 against a catalogue value of $8,500 as Lot 191.

“Results of some of the proofs and essays did raise eyebrows on how well they sold,” said Yohann Tanguay, chief lot describer with the New Brunswick-based auction house, who added record prices “were certainly fetched on a few.”

“Good postal history individual items and grouped lots often brought strong prices, leaving many of the interested bidders left behind. Appeal and rarity are a lethal combination to have on any postal history item – along with the right description and research – and we often see pleasant surprises when offered in our sales as of late.”

1852 LETTERSHEET

An 1852 folded lettersheet mailed from Montreal to New York also topped expectations as Lot 202.

Described by auctioneers as being “in an excellent state of preservation,” this lot bears a selected example of the six-pence slate violet “Consort” (SC #2) on handmade laid paper tied by a concentric ring cancel. It also includes a clear “Montreal MR 5 1852” double-arc datestamp; a boxed “MONEY LETTER” handstamp; an exchange office “CANADA” arc handstamp; and a “PAID” handstamp – all in red.

A 12.5-cent intra-provincial rate cover to Nova Scotia via a Cunard Line steamer from Boston realized $3,250 on an estimate of $2,000-plus as Lot 297.

“Without question one of the finest of only twelve known six-pence ‘Money Letters’ mailed to the United States,” it realized $5,250 on an estimate of $3,000-plus in Extremely Fine condition, Tanguay said.

Lot 297 offered a “choice and very scarce” 12.5-cent intra-provincial rate cover to Nova Scotia via a Cunard Line steamer from Boston.

The 1866 cover from Quebec, Canada East, to Halifax, N.S., is endorsed “By Cunard Though Boston” and franked with a 12.5-cent yellow green stamp, which is tied by a light “Quebec AU 27 66” duplex cancel. The cover also includes an oval “H” (for Halifax) “AU 30” receiver backstamp.

One of only nine 12.5-cent rate covers carried by railroad to Boston then by Cunard packet to Halifax, it realized $3,250 on an estimate of $2,000-plus in Very Fine condition.

An 1891-94 slate purple on medium vertical wove paper 15-cent stamp realized $5,750 on an estimate of $5,000-plus as Lot 347.

Lot 347 offered an 1891-94 slate purple on medium vertical wove paper 15-cent stamp (SC #29ii). In perf 12 and described by auctioneers as an extraordinary corner margin mint single with the sought-after “pawnbroker” constant plate variety, the stamp is in Extremely Fine never-hinged Gem condition.

“This may well be the finest existing mint example of this well-documented plate variety,” added Tanguay.

It realized $5,750 on an estimate of $5,000-plus.

Rounding out the first session was Lot 365, one of only eight reported examples of the mint three-cent “Small Queen” in perf 12.5. Described as “by far the finest” existing example, the 1870 three-cent copper red stamp (SC #37d) is from the first Ottawa printing.

The finest mint example known, it brought $25,000 on an estimate of $20,000-plus.

An 1897 five-cent blue stamp realized $900 on an estimate of $300-plus as Lot 438.

SESSION TWO

The second session, which includes Lots 402-794, featured the family estate of Henry Hechler’s granddaughter, Lorraine Rasmussen.

“The Hechler section sold very well overall, with numerous lots selling well past their estimated values,” said Tanguay, who added Hechler was elected in 1888 as the first president of the Canadian Philatelic Association, which became The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) in 1921.

He was also a pioneer stamp dealer with “an incalculable amount of material that future generations of collectors are now enjoying,” Tanguay added.

Highlights of the Hechler Collection, which ran from Lots 402-435, included Lot 417, an 1885 soldier’s letter-rate cover mailed to a captain with the Halifax Battalion in Swift Current, N.W.T.

A complete set of eight large die proofs from the 1897 Queen Victoria ‘Leaf’ issue realized $26,000 on an estimate of $20,000 as Lot 474.

Countersigned with handstamp reading, “Jas. I Bremner, Lt. Col. Comm’g Halifax Batt.,” and franked with a two-cent green stamp (Montreal printing, perf 12), the cover is postmarked by a split-ring cancel from Medicine Hat, Assiniboia, a historical district of Canada’s North-West Territories.

Addressed to Captain Hechler, of the Halifax Battalion, it’s described by auctioneers as “a very scarce militia concessionary rate cover.”

It realized $2,600 on an estimate of $1,000-plus in Fine-Very Fine condition.

Other highlights include Lot 438, an 1897 five-cent blue stamp (SC #54) described by auctioneers as an “exceptionally fresh mint example with precise centring, displaying full immaculate original gum.”

In Extremely Fine never-hinged Gem condition and accompanied by a 2015 Greene Foundation certificate, it realized $900 on a catalogue value of $300-plus.

An 1898 cover from Kingston, Ont.’s Ontario Bank realized $1,900 on an estimate of $250-plus as Lot 525.

COMPLETE SET OF 1897 PROOFS

Lot 474 offered a complete set of eight large die proofs from the 1897 Queen Victoria “Leaf” issue.

The three- and five-cent stamps are in orange red and violet, respectively, while the other values are in the issued colours and all are engraved and printed on India paper.

Described by auctioneers as “an outstanding showpiece,” the set realized $26,000 on an estimate of $20,000 in Very Fine condition.

Lot 525 offered an 1898 cover from Kingston, Ont.’s Ontario Bank franked with a half-cent “Leaf,” a half-cent “Numeral” and a two-cent “Map” stamp (the latter with the “Muddy Waters” effect). The stamps are tied by “Kingston / 1 / DE 8 / 98” squared circle cancels – from the second day of issue – and a same-day “Newmarket DE 8 98” circular datestamp on the back.

A mint strip of 20 four-cent 1973 carmine rose stamps realized $3,500 on an estimate of $2,000-plus.

“The Imperial Penny Postage scheme was to be introduced Dec. 25, 1898, and there was no intention to reduce the domestic letter rate from three cents to two cents, thus the writer’s protest in manuscript, ‘Two cents to Bombay but Three cents to Bogart Town,’ said Tanguay.

This lot realized $1,900 on an estimate of $250-plus.

Lot 611 offered a mint strip of 20 four-cent 1973 carmine rose stamps (SC #457piv) on medium fluorescent paper with GT2 tagging and PVA gum. From the fourth and fifth columns of the unique sheet, the strip shows complete “blank” stamps on the top row and partial, slightly slanted stamps in the second row.

Described by auctioneers as “an exceedingly rare printing error,” it realized $3,500 on an estimate of $2,000-plus in Very Fine never-hinged condition.

Rounding out the highlights is Lot 705, a 1916 two-cent-plus-one-cent carmine “Die I” war tax stamp (SC #MR3) in perf 12.

With “brilliant fresh colour and full pristine original gum,” the stamp realized $800 on an estimate of $300-plus in Extremely Fine never-hinged condition, Tanguay said.

NEXT UP…

A 1916 two-cent-plus-one-cent carmine ‘Die I’ war tax stamp realized $800 on an estimate of $300-plus as Lot 705.

Next year, Eastern Auctions will be the official auctioneer of Royal*2020*Royale, the annual convention of The RPSC. The auction will be conducted in conjunction with the show, which will be held in Fredericton, N.B., on June 19-21, 2020.

The auction house will also have a large booth at the once-in-a-decade London 2020 international stamp exhibition at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, on May 2-9, 2020.

For more information, visit easternauctions.com.

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