‘Major discovery’ of 1876 registration stamp rewrites earliest usage date, brings $6K at auction

A new discovery that’s also now the earliest known date of use for that stamp hammered down for 12 times its pre-sale estimate at a recent sale held by Ottawa’s Sparks Auctions.

Offered as Lot 472, the used 1876 eight-cent blue registration stamp (Scott #F3) was one of the highlights of the Azilda Collection of Registration Stamps and Covers, which saw some of its material hit the philatelic market for the first time in nearly half a century. Originally offered with an estimate of $500, the stamp sold for $6,000 (plus 15 per cent buyer’s premium) owing to its significance as a “major discovery,” said Stéphane Cloutier, Sparks’ director of lotting and consignments.

It features two strikes of a “LONDON / PAID” circular date stamp receiver in red, and both are dated “DEC.10.1875.”

According to late researcher Horace Harrison, who was a long-time member and president of the British North America Philatelic Society, the eight-cent registered letter stamp was available to the public beginning in October 1875; however, Cloutier added, “none are known used before March 2, 1876, so this is a major discovery.”

For added context, the earliest recorded use of the 1875 two-cent registered letter stamp (SC #F1) is Dec. 13, 1875—three days after what’s now the earliest known usage for the eight-cent denomination.


A small town about 10 kilometres west of Sudbury, Ont., Azilda was originally settled by people working on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

According to auctioneers, the town earned its name in the 1890s from Azilda Brisebois – the first woman to step foot in the area.

“By the 1950s, the village quickly grew into a small town,” reads the auction catalogue. “Because of its quick expansion, the town was in need of new services such as a doctor, and that is when a young man from the Maritimes arrived to establish his medical practice. This practice quickly grew, and in the early 1970s he established a medical clinic to better serve his clients.”

While exploring different investment opportunities, the doctor became interest in stamp collecting.

“As his practice continued to grow, and now with three children, he was no longer able to attend to his stamps, and turned his attention to more pressing matters. He stashed his collection in a safety deposit box at the local bank, where they remained unseen and untouched until the summer of 2018.”

One of only five known examples, a 1918 inverted centre from Mesopotamia realized $30,000 as Lot 632.


The sale’s top-earning lot was another new discovery, this featuring one of the world’s rarest inverted centres.

Offered as Lot 632, the used Mesopotamia 1918 “4a on 1¾p” surcharge has an inverted centre (SC #N34a) that flips the Fountains of Suleiman. The stamp also features a “Marshalls Bridge” cancel showing part of the year date as “20.”

Described by auctioneers as “very rare,” this new discovery joins four other known examples.

With only five known examples, this is certainly one of the rarest inverted centre issues of the world, and worthy of the finest collection,” said Cloutier, who’s also a Fellow of The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada.

This lot hammered down for $30,000 (plus 15 per cent buyer’s premium) and was accompanied by a 2018 Sergio Sismondo certificate, which lists all of the five known examples and the history behind the issue.

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