Sparks’ largest sale ever set for June 25-27

By Jesse Robitaille

Ottawa’s Sparks Auctions is set to host its largest sale ever on June 25-27, when more than 1,500 lots will cross the block to bidders across four sessions.

Originally scheduled for late May, the sale was pushed back by a month to accommodate restrictions laid out in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For pre-sale lot viewing, only three customers will be allowed into Sparks’ offices.

During the auction, there will be no live floor bidding; instead, collectors are encouraged to bid online or over the phone (although the latter is limited). Bids can also be entered before the auction online through Stamp Auction Network or by email, fax or telephone.

Lot 4 offers an imperforate 1851 three-penny orange red ‘Beaver’ on laid paper. Its reserve price is $30,000.

“Sparks Auctions will do its utmost to keep its staff and customers safe, therefore we have posted our COVID-19 protocols in our offices and online,” said Stéphane Cloutier, Sparks’ director of lotting and consignments.

The full four-session catalogue is available online at, and bidders can browse the lots via Stamp Auction Network at, where more than 7,800 high-quality images are posted.


From Lots 1-233, the first session will offer the second part of the Outaouais Collection of high-quality Canada and U.S. material, “with many certificates and great provenance,” Cloutier said.

“The Outaouais Collection was formed over a period of over 30 years and consists of high-quality, hand-picked mint and used stamps and covers, bought one at a time in order to achieve a collection of the highest quality standards,” he added. “The majority of the classics are accompanied by recent certificates, and many of the stamps also have excellent provenance.”

An 1851-dated 12-penny black plate proof with a ‘SPECIMEN’ overprint has a catalogue value of $5,000 as Lot 8.

The first part of this collection was offered by Sparks in September 2017, when an 1851-dated 12-penny black (Scott #3) sold for $327,750 (including buyer’s premium) as Lot 3. It remains the highest realization for a philatelic item ever in Canada.

Among the top highlights of this year’s offering is an 1859 six-penny brown violet “Consort” (SC #13) that will cross the block as Lot 34. Perforated 11.75 and described by auctioneers as “mint with full original gum, slightly disturbed,” this example is “very well centred … as even the nicest mint examples are often off-centre,” Cloutier said.

“There are two clear intersecting guidelines in the bottom left margin, adding to the desirability of this stamp,” he added.

Accompanied by a pair of Philatelic Foundation certificates dated 1966 and 2007 plus a 2020 Greene Foundation certificate, this lot has a reserve price of $25,000. Its catalogue value is $75,000.

Also in the Outaouais Collection, Canada’s first stamp – the imperforate 1851 three-penny orange red “Beaver” on laid paper (SC #1a) – will be offered as Lot 4. It’s joined by pair of Greene Foundation certificates from 1985 and 2015.

“The gum was removed after 1985 to preserve the overall freshness and quality of the stamp,” said Cloutier.

Lot 25 offers an imperforate 1857 six-penny reddish purple ‘Consort’ with a reserve price of $10,000.

The stamp’s provenance includes the Lindemann Collection as well as the first part of the Outaouais Collection, the latter of which offered this example in 2017, when it sold for $75,900 (including buyer’s premium).

“Its new owner thought it fitting to re-offer it at the same time as part two of this lovely collection here, after a two-and-a-half-year ownership,” Cloutier said.

It carries a reserve price of $30,000 and a catalogue value of $60,000.

Lot 8 will offer an 1851-dated 12-penny plate proof in black (SC #3Pii) and on India paper with a diagonal “SPECIMEN” overprint in Carmine. It’s accompanied by a 2007 Saskatoon Stamp Centre certificate.

“The diagonal specimen proof is rarely seen in this lovely quality, and several of the recorded examples have small faults,” said Cloutier, who added this lot has a catalogue value of $5,000.

Rounding out the Outaouais highlights is an imperforate 1857 six-penny reddish purple “Consort” (SC #10) offered as Lot 25. The stamp – on “very thick soft paper” – is “missing from even the most advanced collections,” Cloutier said, adding this example is accompanied by a 2005 Greene Foundation certificate plus a 2007 Philatelic Foundation certificate.

“Advanced collectors know how rare the 6d (six-pence) reddish purple on very thick soft paper is in mint condition, with most known examples having various faults. Finding a collectible example with original gum is a true rarity.”

In postal history, a 1929 flown registered cover franked with five India airmail stamps on their first day of issue is crossing the block as Lot 1439.

This lot has a reserve price of $10,000 and a catalogue value of $40,000.


The remainder of session one will offer Canada and British North America material from Lots 301-894.

Session two, offering British Commonwealth and worldwide material, runs from Lots 901-961 while session three – postal history and literature – will cross the block as Lots 1001-1566. Finally, session four will run from Lots 1601-1965 and offer large lots, collections and remainders.

In addition to the Outaouais Collection, the upcoming sale will also feature:

  • the Brian Plain Collection of Canadian Dead Letter Office postal history;
  • part two of the Leon Victor Pont Collection of early India first-flight postal history in 159 lots;
  • two worldwide lifetime collections, one in 42 Scott international albums and another in 38 Minkus albums, both offered intact;
  • an “extensive and advanced” collection of used People’s Republic of China stamps in six albums; and
  • Canadian and worldwide postal history and postcards plus worldwide stamps and collections.

The back of the 1929 cover, which has an estimate of $2,500, is signed by Stephen Smith and G. Grant, the latter of who designed the five India airmail stamps affixed to the other side.

In the Pont Collection, a Nov. 4, 1929, flown registered cover franked with five India airmail stamps from their first day of issue will be offered as Lot 1439.

Mailed from Park Street, a famous thoroughfare in Calcutta, to Leon Pont in London, England, the cover was flown by Imperial Airway and has four different airmail labels plus a boxed stamp reading, ”FIRST DAY / OF ISSUE OF / AIR MAIL STAMPS.” A Park Street registration label is on the back alongside an oval registration receiver dated Nov. 20, 1929. It’s also signed on the back by the stamps’ designer, G. Grant, and Stephen H. Smith.

It’s expected to bring $2,500.

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