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Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Scarcity Of Superb Stamps In The Modern Period

It is a well known fact that the early stamps of Canada are very scarce in superb mint or superb used condition. Indeed collectors over the last several years have been very willing to pay increasing prices for superb examples of otherwise common stamps. The premiums have been nothing short of astonishing:

1. A 1c green Admiral from 1914-22 in superb NH mint condition can sell for as much as $300 today. Back in 1990 I hardly ever saw a stamp like this sell for more than $20.

2. A $5 Jubilee from 1897 in VFNH condition used to sell for around $1,000 or so. In recent years, a stamp like this has sold for as much as $10,000 at auction.

However, all of this attention  to quality drops off abruptly at 1947, with most dealers and collectors paying very little attention to grade. Most modern issues are regarded as being so common that few people seem to care about seeking them out in superb grades. Perhaps this is due to the perception that such stamps are easily found.

I have just finished working with the 1954-1967 Wilding Issues and the 1953-1967 Karsh Issues for the past two months. During that time I have listed over 1,500 items and examined at least 2,500 stamps. Out of this total, I would say that no more than 50 or 60 items graded 84 or more on my scale, and the number grading over 94 would be no more than a dozen items. That is less than 3% of the total population of material handled.

Maybe that is not as scarce as for the earlier, pre 1947 issues, but it is scarce enough that such items should be worth a premium over the more common F-70, VF-75 and VF-80 grades, which form the bulk of the material on the market today.

So if you are looking for an area to pursue that has potential future upside, I believe that superb quality examples of modern stamps fit the bill. Why? Because any collector who wants only the very best available quality and is trying to form a complete Canada collection needs these stamps as well as the others.

On issues prior to the late 1960's when stamps were line perforated, mathematically perfect centering is rarely seen, even on the most common stamps. Once comb perforating becomes the preferred method, the number of perfectly centered stamps increases. However, they are still not that common.

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