Brigham’s ‘outstanding material’ now in hands of new owners

By Bret Evans

Edward VII items proved popular in the seventh sale of the famed Brigham collection, held Jan. 16 at the Brampton Golf Club in Brampton, Ont.

According to Charles Verge, chief executive officer of Brigham Auctions, the sale followed what has become a regular pattern. “It had a small floor and lots of bidders over the internet,” he said. “That has become the norm.”

As with other sales in the series, the Edward VII portion included a staggering selection of proofs and essays, as well as representative of various plates. Varieties and postal history are always popular, Verge said, but some ways of collecting have changed over the years that the collection was assembled.

“I don’t know if a lot of people collect by plate number now,” he said. “They seem to collect one of each type.”

Brigham’s collection, considered one of the finest Canadian collections ever assembled, has won awards and recognition both in Canada and in international exhibiting.

Verge said the Edward VII stamps are interesting because only one set of definitives was created for his short reign.

“There were lots of outstanding material, as well as unique items and, of course, die proofs.”

Among the remarkable items was lot two, a composite essay presentation panel of a proposed Edward VII issue, prepared by the American Bank Note Company in 1901. The issue was based on the Queen Victoria numeral issue, but had a central portrait of the new king. The designs were never submitted for approval and are somewhat different from the final issue.

Described as a “historically significant showpiece,” the lot sold for $5,750 against an estimate of $7,500. Prices realized in this article do not include taxes and buyers fees.

One sale that caught Verge’s eye was a series of two-cent experimental coil lots prepared by Canada Post and by owners of private stamp vending machines. In most cases the stamps are cancelled, but still with original gum and never hinged. The lots sold for close to catalogue value. The 50 cents were particularly notable.

Verge pointed out the Brigham collection contained not only the only die proofs, but two of the only eight known postal frankings.

Lot 286, a large die proof stamp size and in the purple colour issue printed on India paper mounted on a full-sized card with the die number AG-405 pencilled, sold for the full pre-sale estimate of $10,000.

Among the franked examples was lot 296, a registered money packet to Molson’s Bank, Morrisburg, Ont. The rate for 100 ounces at two cents per ounce is made up with a single 50-cent stamp and a strip of three more, along with a five-cent stamp for the registration fee. All are cancelled with oval Rs. The cover sold for $7,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $7,500.

There were a few surprises.

Verge recalls lot 83, a one-cent green advertising cover from Nature’s Remedy Tablets, from Smith’s Falls, Ont., to Athens, Ont. The tablets were manufactured from a vegetable compound and sold to  alleviate ailments of the stomach, liver, kidneys and bowels. “The lot has an estimate of just $125, but a couple of bidders got into a war,” Verge said. “It wasn’t the cancel or the address but it went for $650.”

Among Queen Elizabeth issues, Inverted Seaways, Unitrade #387a, are among the most popular.

Issued to commemorate the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, the stamp shows Canadian and U.S. symbols over a map of the seaway. The red text in panels at the top and bottom of the stamp was inadvertently printed upside down on a few thousand stamps of the issue. The famous error was first noticed in August 1959, and while most were destroyed without being issued, a small number survived and are now the most famous Canadian error stamp.

The sale had three examples, one a rarely-seen used example, off cover with a wavy line cancel. That stamp, which had a catalogue value of $10,000, sold for $9,500.

Another unique item was lot 318, a progressive lithographed die proof of a $2 Quebec stamp, without value or inscriptions, but showing registration marks and a printer’s colour bar. Progressive proofs, which rarely leave the printer, are used to show how a printed image will appear after each colour is added since lithographed stamps are often produced by using multiple coloured inks rather than by the four colour photo-offset method. The scarcity of the issue demonstrated that while it carried a pre-sale estimate of $2,500, it was eventually hammered down for $4,500.

Prices realized for the sale are not published on the Brigham Auctions website, but are available at Stamp Auction Network,

The next sale will be held in April and will feature Small Queens and 700 lots of Widows Weeds and a comprehensive collection of Canadian Bank Note Company engravings.

Even though the Brigham collection is being sold, the owner is still exhibiting. Verge said at the Southwestern Stamp Expo, held Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 in Atlanta, Ga.,  Brigham’s 12-penny black stamps won awards which earned the esteemed exhibitor the North American Single Frame Champion of Champions.

“They will be going for sale eventually,” Verge said. “But we haven’t started them yet, and they have to go to New York to appear in the Court of Honor first.”

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