Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Friday, November 24, 2017

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:

Vancouver and British Columbia stamp that went to auction May 2017

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.

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And here I sit with my stamps in a complete muddle, and nobody has bothered to tell me what it's all about."
"Listen now, Hemul," said Snufkin slowly and clearly. "It's about a comet that is going to collide with the earth tomorrow."
"Collide?" said the Hemulen. "Has that anything to do with stamp-collecting?”

- Tove Jansson, Comet in Moominland   

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