Sought-after Admirals to lead next Eastern sale

This is the first story in a two-part auction preview.

A comprehensive 215-lot section of “Admirals,” named after the King’s Admiral of the Fleet uniform, will offer collectors the finest selection of examples in recent years on May 1.

Several major rarities and high-quality mint never-hinged (NH) stamps from the long-running 20th-century series are slated to cross the block that day in the third and final session of Eastern Auctions’ next major sale.

“The beauty of the Admiral series is that a collector can search a lifetime and never really complete his collection as the field is vast and opportunity of findings still in its infancy,” said Yohann Tanguay, a stamp specialist and chief describer with the New Brunswick-based auction house. “What makes this current offering stand out from the rest is that it has a bit of everything, with a focus on major Admiral rarities and superb-quality mint NH stamps.”

Eastern has sold larger Admiral collections in the recent past – including the John Smallman Collection in 2018 and the Phillips Collection in 2013-14 – plus another two major collections from Fred Goodhelpsen and Stan Lum since the turn of the century.

The regular issue of Admiral sheet stamps – the first Canadian definitives with a portrait of King George V – was produced from 1911 until 1927. The American Bank Note Company’s Ottawa facility, which became a subsidiary known as the Canadian Bank Note Company in 1923, printed the sheets.

The Post Office Department issued 22 designs, including colour changes, with 17 billion stamps printed according to noted Admiral expert Leopold Beaudet, whose 74-slide study on the series is freely available through the British North America Philatelic Society at bit.ly/3tPfb1h. Current for 17 years, the series included more than 700 plates and a wide range of flaws and varieties for specialist collectors.

“Looking back at auction sales in the ’60s and ’70s, the focus was on the Pence issues of Canada and BNA (British North America), when these stamps were in vogue and highly sought after,” said Tanguay. “At that time, the Admiral issues then were simply regarded as modern stamps recently bought as new issues.”

Today, the Pence issues remain highly collectible with “a large crowd of followers and aficionados,” Tanguay added, but the “price tag is out of reach for many.”

“Now that the Admiral issues are well into their 100-year anniversary, just as Pence issues were in the ’60s and ’70s, an increasing number of collectors are finding the allure, the complexity, the opportunity of acquiring nice items hard to resist.”

The anticipated Admiral offering (Lots 582-797) – just one of three “standout areas,” according to Tanguay – is tucked among a 788-lot Canada section (Lots 285-1073). It’s the culmination of two major collections, whose consignors both wish to remain anonymous, and offers the “majority of the listed shades and printings being present, at times in the highest grade attainable,” Tanguay said.

“We were not familiar with the first consignor, an overseas collector, flying under the radar so to speak for many years,” he said, adding this person assembled “a specialized collection with many of the rare and unusual lots on display.”

“The other consignor entrusted to us his collection of superb mint NH stamps, including most shades,” said Tanguay, who added it is “easily the finest selection since the famous ‘Crossings’ sale in 2010.”

The Admirals follow a worldwide section with a “remarkable array” of classics (Lots 1-175) and a BNA section (Lots 176-284) with “high-calibre exhibition-worthy items,” he added.

Session one will offer Lots 1-284 beginning on April 30 at 1:30 p.m. (AT), followed by session two – Lots 285-581 – later that day at 6:30 p.m. (AT). Session three offers Lots 582-1073 on May 1 at 1:30 p.m. (AT).

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