Garcelon sale nets ‘strong’ bids

By Bret Evans 

Eastern Auctions’ February sale was another success with strong bidding and prices realized. The sale was held in a single day on Feb. 25, in Halifax, N.S. “The whole sale was strong,” Yohann Tanguay told Canadian Stamp News. “The Garcelon lots did very well, and the fancy cancels were very hot.”

The Garcelon sale brings to a close a stamp story that started in 1932 when Ralph O. Garcelon, a collector who discovered he liked buying and selling stamps more than collecting them, opened up the Garcelon Stamp Company, in St. Stephen, N.B. At first he worked out of a room on the family farm, but by the 1950s the company had its own building and more than 60 employees. The company continued to grow, moving into a larger building in 1962.

Much of Garcelon’s business was done in the United States. St. Stephen is a border town, and Garcelon used a post office box in Calais, Maine, to sell US stamps to customers. He was an aggressive advertiser, appearing in newspapers, magazines, and comic books all over North America.

At its peak, the company had 150 employees, still based in a town with a population of only 3,500. Mail was taken to the post office twice a day. According to the catalogue, one mailing alone weighed more than five tons.

The company specialized in selling multiple versions of the same set by approval. Often stamps were purchased in sheets, then manually separated and packaged in glassine envelopes. In 1957, son J. William Garcelon joined the family business, operating as Williams Stamp Company. After the death of Ralph in 1972, the two companies were merged and continued to operate into the 1980s. The cheaper and bulkier material, taking up to two semi-transports, was sold to a stamp wholesaler.

The remaining stamps were sold in 13 bulk lots. Estimates for the lots ranged from a low of $2,500 to a high of $50,000. The estimate for the 13 lots amounted to nearly $200,000, and the actual total came to $202,600 hammer ($232,990 including the 15 per cent buyer’s premium). The following prices listed in this article are hammer amounts, and do not include taxes and buyers’ fees.

One of the highlights of the sale was nearly 100 lots of fancy cancels. The cancels came from a comprehensive collection, formed with emphasis on rarity and clarity.

Lot 292 featrued a three-cent  vermilion  Small Queen, Ottawa Printing, Scott #41, Lacelle #188, with a large 1889 cancel in black. It sold for $425 compared to a pre-sale estimate of $300.

Lot 343 was a single town name cancel with Mikado, Sask., in large letters across tying a single one-cent green and a four three-cent brown Admirals (Unitrade #104, 108). The cover has a split ring dispatch mark below and an oval R registered mail cancel. It was mailed to Saskatoon and has a arrival backstamp. Described as VF, it sold for $210, just over the pre-sale estimate of $200.

The Canadian section included a large inventory of Mint Never Hinged stamps.

Appearing as Lot 662, the stamps, totalling more than 240,000 were packed in 14 filing boxes. The lot sold for $40,000, compared to a pre-sale estimate of $50,000.

A spectacular offering was lot 366, a fresh intact American Bank Note Company sample sheet.

The sheets, which are rarely seen, contained 19 proofs, printed in deep green on India paper including the Province of Canada, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and seven Latin American countries It was produced in 1868. Described as “undoubtedly  among the finest known of the very few remaining,” it sold for $14,500, compared to a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-plus.

The sale included a selection of full sheets of classic stamps. One of these was Lot 542, a sheet of 100 of the 1928 five-cent violet King George V Scroll, (Unitrade 153). With a catalogue value of $3,110, it sold for $1,700, against a pre-sale estimate  of $1,000.

Lot 564 was a Mint sheet of 50 of the 1935 RCMP 10-cent carmine rose including the “bird cage” constant die variety in position 48, (Unitrade #223, 223i), with a trivial perforation separation at the foot and lightly folded. Described as Very Fine Never Hinged, it sold for $2,000, more than three times the estimate of $600.

The British North America and Newfoundland part of the sale contained nearly 100 lots.

The section was strong on sheets, die proofs and early Newfoundland airmail. Other strong lots were 185, a comprehensive selection of 71 plate Proofs including trial and issued colour plate proofs, Estimated at $1,500, it sold for $1,450,

Lot 187, a Mint block of four Nova Scotia three-pence blue (Unitrade #2) with bright colour and original gum lightly hinged on three stamps with one never hinged, expertized by Calves and Brandon. It sold for $4,000.

Early airmails included a number of scarce items and, once again, bidding was strong.

Lot 245, a June 14, 1919, cover mailed from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and carried on the Kerr and Brackley pioneer flight on a Handley-Page flight, featured a 15-cent scarlet with one dollar airmail overprint (Unitrade #C2a), with a Handley Page backstamp. Just 119 pieces of mail were carried on the flight, and not all have the backstamp. It sold for $1,150, compared to an estimate of $1,500.

For more information contact Eastern Auctions at 506-548-8986 or

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