Canadian stamp collectors had a rare chance to see the first British Columbia & Vancouver Island stamp go to auction last week. Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions, a US house, handled the sale of 21/2 pence imperforate stamp. The catalogue price lists it for $25,000 Cdn. It was described as F to VF condition with “brilliant, deep color”. Kelleher Auctions estimates were far more conservative than the catalogue price – placing estimates between $10,00 to $15,000.
Some interesting things about the stamp:
It was designed before Vancouver adopted decimal currency, hence the pence value. The first decimal issues for BC were issued in 1865.
According to the Canada Post Archives, the stamp was “probably” based on a design by William Driscoll Gosset and “probably” engraved by Jean-Ferdinand Joubert de la Ferté. A lot of probables, but that’s the problem with history, sometimes information is misplaced. Or, what we consider important now, wasn’t at the time. Archives can be such a crapshoot.
It’s suspected, Gosset based his sketch on renowned engraver William Wyon’s famous 1937 engraving of a young Queen Victoria, the image that graced coins for years and was the model for the Penny Black. The engraver, Joubert de la Ferté worked for De La Rue, the printers of the Vancouver stamp, so it isn’t much of a stretch to think Joubert de la Ferté was the engraver.
Gosset’s involvement is a bit more straight forward. He was an officer in the British Army’s Royal Engineers, so was trained in sketching. At the time of the stamp’s inception, Gosset was both Colonial Treasurer and Post Master for the colony of British Columbia. It’s not difficult to believe he was deeply involved in the overall design.
There are two version of this stamp – imperforate (the first printing) and the 14-perf version. The imperforate version was never officially used for mail and it’s unknown how many exist. Most sites generally agree that #1 was as a proof and never released in the wild.
So how did the stamp do? It sold for $11,400 US so the estimates were pretty spot on.
Interested in more information? Check out the following sites:
- Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions http://db.kelleherauctions.com/php/home.php
- Stamp collecting world http://www.stamp-collecting-world.com/britishcolumbiavancouverisland.html
- Canada Post Archives - http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/020117/020117030801_e.html
- Couldn’t find much about Joubert de la Ferté, aside from being a refugee from the Napoleonic wars
- William Wyon http://www.royalmintmuseum.org.uk/history/people/artists/william-wyon/
- Gosset was an interesting character and you can find a lot of different articles about him. Start with http://royalengineers.ca/Gosset.html
Most references to Gosset tend to be scathing and entertaining - “Captain Gossett, who is to my mind an odious man, full of self conceit and irritability, and who, in my opinion has got ‘a tile off’” http://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/William_Driscoll_Gosset
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