Brigham Auctions returns with blockbuster sale

A familiar name is returning to the auction scene after a three-year absence. In late March, Ron Brigham, a leading collector of Canadian stamps and postal history, announced the reopening of Brigham Auctions Ltd., with Charles Verge appointed as chief executive and chief financial officer. Brigham founded the company in 1988. From February 1989 through May 2010, the firm held 35 sales, including name auctions such as the million-dollar sale of Ron Saint’s New Brunswick collection. The purpose of reopening the firm is to sell the Brigham collection of Canadian stamps and postal history.

Verge said the sale will include unique philatelic treasures that have not been on the market for several decades.  The collection will be sold in a series of sales over several years. “These heritage items and the historical material should entice new collectors and investors interested in starting a new collection of Canada,” Verge said. Brigham explained that after exploring other venues, “I feel comfortable in selling my material through my own firm since I believe that there are too few auction houses that serve collectors and exhibitors first, something Brigham Auctions has always done.” Born and educated in Toronto, Brigham has been collecting worldwide for more than five decades and has specialized in Canada since 1981.

Since 1997, portions of his collection have been shown in more than 100 exhibitions and “courts of honour” throughout the world. The three-penny Beaver die essay from the collection was used in 2001 to design the stamp issued for the 150th anniversary of Canada’s first stamp. Verge, a historian by training, has enjoyed a 30-year career in the hobby. His accomplishments range from recognition as a world-class collector, judge, and philatelic writer to philatelic organizer and adviser on some of the greatest collections ever put together, including the Brigham collection. He has been a director of Brigham Auctions since 1998.

“I can hardly express how pleased I am to continue my working relationship with Ron, the Brigham collection and Brigham Auctions Ltd. on a full-time basis,” he said. “It is a natural progression from helping to build the greatest collection of Canada over the last 15 years to ensuring its proper dispersal. I am looking forward in the next few months to be joined in this venture by other eminent collectors and auction specialists.” Verge said the collection, housed in more than 150 volumes, has been described as the greatest and most complete collection of Canada ever assembled. It spans more than 150 years, with material ranging from the world championship collections of the pence and cents issues of 1851-1868, to the sought-after varieties of the Elizabethan era.

He added that the Brigham collection has been a source of pride for Canada, garnering some 25 large gold medals at international exhibitions and several Grand Prix competitions, including the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Belgica 2002, the first and only time a Canadian collection has won the World Stamp Championship. This triumph was realized in the minimum time required by the Federation Internationale de Philatelie, a record that has yet to be equalled. It has also 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 and won the 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.

Key items in the collection include the rarest Canadian stamp, the 2-cent Large Queen on laid paper, the only marginal pair of 12-penny blacks in private hands, and a block of 10 of Canada’s iconic 1959 Inverted Seaway errors. For more information, contact the firm at 905-451-5072, email or Suite 507, 160 Main St. S., Brampton, ON L6W 4R1.

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