Contract for Canada's first stamps sold for $32,000 in London auction

A London auctioneer has completed its Winter Collectors series sale, and it was clear that philatelic materials from northern North America had dominated the sale.

There were two very impressive covers from Newfoundland for collectors to muse over:

Firstly, there was an 1857-64 imperforate stamp cover with the 8d scarlet-vermilion issue bisected horizontally. It is accompanied by a 3d yellowish-green and addressed to Sydney, Australia.

1861 Newfoundland cover with bisected stamp
1861 Newfoundland cover with bisected stamp

Its destination is a big part of what gives it its value as it is one of only two examples known which were sent to the provinces. The other is in the Royal Philatelic Collection, and this one has been a part of the venerated collections of Col Green and Bill Gross amongst others. It beat its £7,000-8,000 listing to sell for £8,400.

An 1860 medium hand-made paper cover sporting a 6d orange-vermilion stamp with good to large margins posted to Devon is another of which there are only two of its kind - and this is the finer example.

1860 Newfoundland cover
The exactly rare 1860 Newfoundland cover

It too was owned by Bill Gross, having previously been in the collection of Dale Lichtenstein. It was listed at £10,000-12,000 and sold for exactly its top estimate.

However, the star of the auction was neither a cover nor an unused set of stamps but a piece of philatelic history: the contract to print Canada's first stamps.

The seven page autograph contract is signed by the Provisional Post Master General, James Morris representing the Province and Rawdon, Wright, Hatch and Edson, a New York engraving firm.

1851 contract Canada first stamps
The 1851 contract Canada first stamps

Listed at £18,000-22,000, it sold as expected for £20,400.

Rawdon, Wright, Hatch and Edson were also awarded the contract to print US stamps in 1847, but this has never been found.

Collectors interested in items from the dawn of philately will want to take a look at an even earlier example from British philately: a Great Britain 1840 Rainbow Trial plate of twelve.

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