Rare Nova Scotia stamps to highlight this week’s Maresch sale

By Jesse Robitaille

A pair of early issues from Nova Scotia, then a British colony, is expected to bring top dollar at an upcoming sale by R. Maresch & Son Auctions.

Both stamps were issued by Nova Scotia in 1851, the same year the colony was granted full control of its postal system from Britain.

Crossing the block first, as Lot 411, is a mint six-pence yellow-green stamp (Scott #4) with original gum. With “large to huge margins all around” plus part of an adjacent stamp to one side, the stamp is described by auctioneers as “extremely fine.” Formerly owned by iconic France-born collector Philipp von Ferrary, the stamp also features his purple trefoil handstamp, which he applied to many of the philatelic rarities he owned, on the back. The stamp’s noteworthy provenance also includes the father-and-daughter collection of Alfred Lichtenstein and Louise Boyd Dale. Accompanied by a 2000-dated certificate from Toronto’s Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation, the stamp has a catalogue value of $15,000.

The other example, a one-shilling dull-violet stamp (Scott #7), is offered as Lot 417. This used example includes an oval grid cancel, large and even margins around all four sides and “beautiful colour” befitting of its description as an “extremely fine gem.” Its provenance also includes the Dale-Lichtenstein Collection. Also accompanied by a 2000-dated Greene Foundation certificate, this stamp has a catalogue value of $9,000.

Both stamps previously crossed the auction block in the May 2000 “Rarities of the World” sale by New York’s Siegel Auction Galleries. The six-pence stamp realized $4,250 US (on an estimate of $3,250 US) as Lot 503, and the one-shilling issued realized $9,500 US (on an estimate of $6,000 US) as Lot 506.

“I’d be happy to get what he paid for them,” said auctioneer Peter Maresch.

A used 1851 Nova Scotia one-shilling dull violet stamp (Scott #7) carries a catalogue value of $9,000 as Lot 417.


Some sought-after examples of Nova Scotia postal history are also slated to cross the block during the single-session sale on Sept. 10.

Among the highlights is an 1851 six-pence yellow-green bisect (Scott #4a) tied to a cover to Bridgetown, N.S. Offered as Lot 414, the cover includes two backstamps dated Aug. 25, 1856, and Aug. 27, 1856, from Wilmot, N.S., and Bridgetown, respectively. With receipt docketing at the left, the cover is described by Maresch as “fresh and extremely fine.” Formerly owned by Montréal collector Lewis Redford, it’s accompanied by a 2001 Greene Foundation certificate and has a catalogue value of $6,000-plus.

Other highlights include a rare 1858 folded letter mailed to Newfoundland. It’s franked with a pair of one-penny red-brown stamps (Scott #1) plus a six-pence dark green stamp (Scott #5), each tied by a faint grid cancel. Offered as Lot 415, the cover also includes a partial Harbour Grace cancel on the front plus a Dec. 29, 1858, datestamp on the back.

The cover is trimmed at both ends but “still appears very fine,” Maresch said.

Accompanied by a 2020 Greene Foundation certificate, it has a pre-sale estimate of $5,000-plus.

An 1851 Nova Scotia six-pence yellow green bisect (Scott #4a) tied to a cover to Bridgetown, N.S., will cross the block as Lot 414. Its catalogue value is $6,000-plus.

Other highlights include:

  • Lot 173, a rare 1859-dated 10-cent black-brown stamp (SC #16) used on a cover from Granby, Canada East, to Willsboro Centre, Montréal, with a catalogue value of $9,000-plus;
  • Lot 175, one of only eight Allan Line double-franking covers recorded to France (and the second earliest known example) with an estimate of $1,250-plus;
  • Lot 206, a pair of 1868-dated 15-cent red-lilac stamps on thin paper (SC #29e) tied by large grids to a double-weight cover with an estimate of $1,500-plus; and
  • Lot 211, a top-right corner block of 10 1868-dated 15-cent slate-violet stamps (SC #30i) with the “Pawnbroker” variety on the upper-right stamp (position 10) and a catalogue value of $4,560.

A rare 1858 folded letter mailed to Newfoundland is franked with a pair of one-penny red brown stamps (Scott #1) plus a six-pence dark green stamp (Scott #5) from Nova Scotia. Offered as Lot 415, it’s expected to bring $5,000-plus.

779 LOTS

Originally scheduled for June, the 779-lot sale – the auction house’s 560th since 1957 – was postponed to Sept. 10 due to the pandemic.

“People want to buy stamps right now, but there’s not a lot on the market,” said Maresch, who added the pandemic has caused an “unprecedented” shake-up in the way auction houses do business.

“Our sale is a lot smaller than it normally would be – it’s a nice little sale – but a lot of it was consigned earlier in the year, before the pandemic. As far as public auctions go, there’s not much out there because people want to collect right now.”

In addition to a stymied flow of consignments, the pandemic and its ensuing stay-at-home orders have also impacted how auctions are conducted. Forgoing floor bidding due to social distancing requirements, many auction houses, including Maresch, have transitioned to online live bidding plus more traditional methods via mail and email.

Maresch’s first sale during the pandemic, held in April, was “remarkably successful,” he said. Realizations topped 120 per cent of pre-sale estimates overall.

“Since we were not able to have a live auction floor, we held the sale through Stamp Auction Network’s online bidding platform. We were incredibly pleased with the audience and participation that we received,” he said, adding the auction house will “for the time being … not be having a live floor to keep us all safe.”

As for lot viewing, Maresch said the auction house is “doing our best to accommodate as many of our clients” at its office in Aurora, Ont., just north of Toronto.

“We will be holding viewing by appointment to keep everyone safe. Masks are now mandatory in York Region, where the office is located. Please make sure to bring one. We have hand sanitizers at the front door and in the viewing area also.”

The pandemic has also affected staffing, Maresch said.

“My son Charlie, 10, and daughter Jillian, eight, have been helping with the many odd jobs that need to be done, including learning to catalogue collections,” he said, adding the auction house is currently working with a “family only” staff, “which allows us to keep together safely.”

“The fourth generation of Maresch’s has begun.”

Maresch’s father Peter took over the business – established in 1924 in Vienna, Austria – from his grandfather Richard in the 1950s.

“Dad would bring bags full of clippings home, and we would soak them in the tub and sort them all out,” said Maresch, who was about the same age as his children when he started working with his father. “Dad would take them to Jim Sissons, and he would sell them at his auctions.”

For more information about R. Maresch & Son Auctions, visit maresch.com.

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