Rare errors, variety highlight Sparks’ January sale

By Jesse Robitaille

A trio of impressive modern Elizabethan errors, plus one modern variety, are among the nearly 1,700 lots offered in Sparks Auctions’ 35th sale, the firm’s first of three major sales planned for the first half of 2021.

This first auction – recently rescheduled for Jan. 27-29 – has a worldwide scope, but a trio of $5 moose errors plus an $8 grizzly bear error lead the way for modern Canadian material. They’ll cross the block as Lots 339-342, with three of the lots featured on the catalogue’s cover.

“For the last several months we have been preparing this sale, and we believe the results shown here showcase our hard work, diverse philatelic knowledge, and passion for the hobby,” said Stéphane Cloutier, Sparks auction manager.


Originally slated for Jan. 9-11, the upcoming Sparks Auctions sale was postponed due to a scheduling conflict. On Dec. 12, the Ontario government announced a province-wide shutdown from Dec. 26-Jan. 23 aimed at limiting the surge of COVID-19 cases. Sparks’ Ottawa headquarters will close during this period, and the auction house moved the dates of its upcoming auction to Jan. 27-29. “We are hopeful that the shutdown achieves its goals and that these dates will not change again,” said Cloutier, who added the sale’s lots have been available for bidding on Stamp Auction Network since Dec. 11. “Bidding has been brisk since then. We will be monitoring email and phone messages during this closure and would be happy to assist you with any questions you may have.”

Among the errors, the top-billed lot is a mint never-hinged full pane of four 2003 $5 moose stamps with the engraved colours omitted (SC #1693a). Offered as Lot 341, each stamp is missing the moose and surrounding foliage plus other engraved colours.

According to auctioneers, this issue was printed on sheets of six four-stamp panes – first with lithography, which includes background colours, and then with an intaglio press for the engraved moose.

“The ‘Missing Moose’ error occurs when two of the gummed sheets temporarily adhere together and go through the intaglio press, resulting in a normal sheet on top and a sheet with a faint albino impression (but no ink) on the bottom,” reads the auction catalogue, which describes the pane as “one of the most visually striking modern errors, and arguably more so than the Inverted Seaway.”

Described by Cloutier as “desirable” and in Very Fine condition, it has a catalogue value of $35,000 and is accompanied by a 2020 Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation certificate.

A 2003 $5 moose stamp with the engraved colours omitted will cross the block as Lot 340 with a catalogue value of $7,500.

Another mint never-hinged $5 moose error, this a lower-right corner single also with the engraved colours omitted (SC #1693a), is offered as Lot 340. Also accompanied by a 2020 Greene Foundation certificate, it carries a catalogue value of $7,500.

A mint never-hinged $5 moose variety (SC #1639var), this a full pane of four with the engraved colours shifted up by about 19 millimetres, is also offered as Lot 339. It’s believed to be unique, according to auctioneers, and is described as “one of the most visually striking modern varieties.”

“Different but just as impressive, if not much rarer than the ‘Missing Moose’ variety, both would look great side by side in a collection,” read the auction catalogue.

This lot is estimated at $5,000.

Rounding out the error highlights is Lot 342, a pane of four 1997 $8 grizzly bear stamps (SC #1694i) with the top half of the upper stamps and top selvedge both imperforate.

“This is the first we have handled of this major error, and we are aware of only four in existence,” reads the auction catalogue.

Described as being in Very Fine condition, this mint never-hinged example carries a catalogue value of $6,000.


Sparks Auctions recently announced Ottawa philatelist Peter MacDonald as the firm’s general manager. MacDonald joined Stéphane Cloutier, Sparks auction manager, in managing the firm beginning in mid-December. “Peter brings a background in philately and significant executive experience. Our clients have come to expect the highest integrity and attention to detail in their dealings with us,” said Sparks President Ian Kimmerly. “With Stéphane and Peter leading our dedicated and skilled team, navigating the current market and planning for a bright future, we know our consignors, bidders and buyers will benefit greatly.”

The full catalogue is available at sparks-auctions.com/auction-35/catalogue, and all lots can be viewed and bid on via stampauctionnetwork.com/ik/ik35.cfm. Pre-auction bids can be sent via email, phone or fax or by using an auction agent. Live bids can be submitted via Stamp Auction Network and the phone, the latter of which “will be limited to ensure a high-quality experience for participants,” Cloutier said.

“Please contact us early if this is a method you prefer.”

Leave a Reply

Canadian Stamp News


Canadian Stamp News is Canada's premier source of information about stamp collecting and related fields.

Although we cover the entire world of philatelics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Stamp News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier stamp publication. Canadian Stamp News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now