The third sale of the Ron Brigham Collection featured material acquired but never publicly shown by Brigham, who was a prolific and successful exhibitor of Canadian stamps.
Unlike the two previous sales, held at the Toronto Airport Hilton Hotel, the third sale was held Nov. 22, at the Brampton Golf Club. At the second sale, held this spring, Brigham had said he would be moving to a different location.
“The house was full, and there was lots of Internet bidding,” Charles Verge, chief operating officer of the firm, said.
“Part of that too was that it had something for everyone, because it wasn’t just Queens or Admirals,” he said. “Plus a lot of the items hadn’t seen the light of day for some time.”
Unlike other parts of Brigham’s celebrated collection, these had never been part of his many award-winning exhibits.
“None of the material that is for sale has been seen because he (Ron) never put exhibits together of the back-of-the-book material, and never exhibited the full sheets,” Charles Verge, chief executive officer of the firm, said.
“Much of it has been put away for a long time.”
The sale featured back-of-the-book items from 1875 to 1978, and sheets from 1857 to 1952. Back of the book is a term used to describe stamps outside of the definitive and commemorative programs, such as airmails, postage dues, revenues, postal stationeries, and registered mail.
The key of the sale was lot 546, a full block of the eight-cent registered letter stamps, Unitrade #F3, in pristine condition, one of only eight sheets known to exist. Estimated at $75,000, it finally sold for $57,500.
A block of eight blue eight of the same stamp sold for $20,000, or double the estimate.
Among the other highlights was lot 8, a Canadian five-cent airmail, with an Aug. 9, 1930 cancel from St. Hubert, Que., and an R-100 airship cachet, to New York. Estimated at $100, it sold for $700. Prices realized reported do not include taxes and fees.
A trial colour die proof of the 1898 10-cent special delivery stamp, in orange vermillion on India, mounted on a card, sold for $6,000, double the pre-sale estimate. An approval proof of the 1927 special delivery 10-cent stamp sold for $2,100, more than double the pre-sale estimate of $1,000.
The war tax section was very extensive, with several hundred lots, most selling at or near the estimate.
There was some spirited bidding in some cases.
“One bidder in the room was interested in the war tax and he barely put his paddle down,” Verge noted.
The sale also included overprinted officials, and full sheets from 1857 to 1957.
Verge said the sheets did well, and there were a number of fights. Verge said there was a small bidding war for the 10-cent Mountie stamp sheets, Unitrade #223. There were two complete sheets, one of the stamp, and a second, Unitrade #223iv, showing the birdcage variety at position 48. The first sold for $400 against a catalogue value of $956; the second for $1,500, pretty much right on the catalogue value of $1,524.
A die proof of the first “officially sealed dead letter office” stamp from 1902, sold for $5,000, compared to a $6,000 catalogue value, and a block of four of the stamp from the upper right corner with margin, sold for $500, well above the estimate of $350.
The revenue section included good selections of gas inspection, electric light, and weights and measures stamps, with die proofs of them as well. Most sold for well below the estimate.
Brigham was an active and successful exhibitor in Canada as well as internationally.
Housed in more than 150 volumes, the collection has gathered some 25 Large Gold Medals at international-level exhibitions and several Grand Prix competitions, including the Grand Prix d’Honneur at BELGICA 2001, the first and only time a Canadian collection has won the World’s Philatelic Championship. This triumph was realized in the minimum required time by the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie – a record that has yet to be equalled.
It also has won the Grand Award at the Convention of The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada an unprecedented five years in a row with five different segments of the collection.
The Brigham Collection won the prestigious American Philatelic Society’s 1998 Champion of Champions competition with the Pence and Cents and the Grand Award in the Open Class with the Large Queens, the first time any exhibitor won both American championships in the same year.
It is believed to be the most complete collection of Canadian stamps ever assembled.
The firm plans to conduct about a dozen auctions of the Brigham collection, expected to be held over the next few years.
Previous sales covered Victorian issues, including the celebrated two-cent large queen on laid paper.
For more information, contact Brigham Auctions at firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone 905-451-5072.