The junk mail in your mailbox is worthless, but a letter from a loved one is priceless. As for the stamps, they might be worth keeping if they are rare enough. We asked John Jamieson, owner of the Saskatoon Stamp Centre and philatelic expert (the collection and study of stamps), for the seven most expensive Canadian stamps. While worth fluctuates constantly based on supply and demand, here are seven stamps any collector would love to have:
1. 12d Black Queen Victoria: The most expensive stamp of Canada in recent years has been the 12d Black from 1851. A “very fine mint” example with full gum is listed in the Unitrade Specialized Stamp Catalogue (UCS) at $300,000. One 12d Black Queen Victoria stamp sold on Feb. 23 at the Eastern Auctions sale in Halifax for $224,250. If you were to rank Canadian stamps by dollar value, the top eight would all be 12d Blacks, and their covers and multiples.
2. 2-cent Large Queen, Laid Paper: If it were to come up for auction, it might be the most expensive Canadian stamp. Listed in the UCS catalogue at $250,000, it was sold to the owner of the finest collection of Canadian stamps in November 1997 for just over $200,000. Rumour has it that the owner turned down $500,000 for it a couple of years ago.
3. Mint block of 18 of the 2-cent Large Queen showing the entire watermark: One of the most important pieces in Canadian philately. If it were for sale today, $250,000 might not buy it.
4. 8-cent Registration sheet of 50: When this sheet went into the amazing Brigham collection in 1988, it was valued at $60,000. It is the only remaining sheet of this very popular stamp and today would easily bring $200,000.
5. 1927 LONDON to LONDON FLIGHT 25 cents, green and yellow: Only 100 stamps were printed and 86 were lost at sea when Capt. Terence Tulley and Lt. James Medcalf’s plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in August 1927. Only 13 unused singles and one cover (that missed the flight) are known to exist. Mint stamps are worth $50,000 to $100,000 each and the unique cover last sold for $125,000 a decade ago.
6. 1982 30-cent Christmas fold-over: The most amazing modern error in Canadian stamps, it occurred when the paper was folded over between printing of the various colours. This great error is listed in the UCS catalogue at $30,000 and resides in a major collection in the U.S.
7. St. Lawrence Seaway Invert: The St. Lawrence Seaway error with an inverted centre is the most well-known printing error of all of Canadian philately. While popular, it is not terribly rare, with more than 200 known in private hands. Still, they are listed in the UCS catalogue at $16,000 for a mint single.
The Maclean’s Book of Lists, Vol. 2 is available at www.macleans.ca/bookoflists, in the iBookstore, and on newsstands now.