A Very Special Offer! A Complete Set of 1897 Jubilees For As Little As $540!!

I interrupt my regular posts this week to bring you a very special offer: a complete mint, used and unused set of the 1897 Jubilee Issue. I am offering this at auction on E-bay for a minimum bid of $540! That works out to be just over $100 for each of the five dollar values!

This set has long been regarded by collectors of Canadian stamps as one of the Crown Jewels of a Canadian collection. Although many collectors do manage to complete half or maybe two thirds of this set in their collecting lifetimes, with Unitrade valuing a complete set at anywhere between $3,165 for very good mint, all the way up to $35,000 for very fine NH, completion eludes most collectors. Issue quantities of most values in this set, were very low compared to other stamps of the period:


  • 150,000 of the half cent,
  • 75,000 of the six cent,
  • 150,000 of the ten cent,
  • 100,000 of the fifteen cent,
  • 100,000 of the twenty cent,
  • 100,000 of the fifty cent,
  • 24,900 of the one dollar,
  • 25,000 of the two dollar,
  • 13,500 of the three dollar,
  • 14,500 of the four dollar,
  • 16,500 of the five dollar.
To put these quantities in perspective, you have to remember that the survival rate for stamps of this period in any condition is somewhere between 5% and 10% of the total issue quantity, and includes every possible grade from absolutely terrible to superb. The bottom line is that there are likely fewer than 1,000-1,500 possible complete Jubilee sets in the entire world for all collectors, and there are many more than just 1,500 collectors for Canada obviously. This is why the Jubilee page remains partially blank for most collectors of Canada. 

The set on offer here, is at the lower end of the condition spectrum to be sure, but it is not at the very lowest end of the scale: the $5 is a completely sound used example, that is nicely centered with the standard smudge cancel of the period. A lot of collectors dislike the roller and smudge cancels, but that type of cancel is really the only one that most collectors will see from this set. There are a few CDS cancelled high-values, but they are generally quite expensive and out of reach of most collectors. 

To get an idea of how much of a bargain the minimum bid is, lets take a look at each of the stamps in the set. I will grade them comprehensively, list all the flaws, and give what I think is a fair value for each stamp. Then I will total them up and you can see for yourself what a bargain this set actually is.

So let's take a look at the stamps, starting with the dollar values. First up is the $5 olive green:



The only issue that really affects the appeal of this $5 is the cancel, which, as I said, is pretty standard for a stamp of such a high denomination. The centering is quite nice, and the stamp is completely sound with no creases, tears or thins.

Let's take a look at the back:



As you can see, the back is nice and clean, and there are no creases or tears. There is just a hint of a wrinkle in the middle of the stamp and in the middle on the right, but these are really not consequential at all on a used stamp like this.

So, barring the cancel, this would be a VF-75. As it is, I would grade it as F-65. Unitrade for fine is $800. So a fair price, I think, at a minimum for this is $350.

Now, let's look at the $4:



This is the least attractive of the dollar values in the set. The main issues in terms of condition are the worn perforations on the left side, there is a crease along the left side as well, which you can't see from the front, and the smudge cancel. The colour is actually not bad for a $4 - usually, they are quite faded.

Here is the back:



The crease that I am taking about does not show up clearly on this scan of the back either, but it is a light diagonal crease that starts about half way up the stamp on the right side and bisects the third bottom perforation tooth. But other than that, there are no other defects.

Without the defects, and the cancel, it would be a fine used $4. As it is, I would grade it as a Fair-35 used example. Unitrade prices fine used at $800, so VG should be $400, Good should be $200 and fair should be about $100. So I would think that this stamp is worth at least $75, even in this condition. 

So we're up to $425. Let's take a look at the $3:



It is hard to tell exactly, but I think there are two short perforations at the top left, namely the third and fifth perforation teeth from the upper left. Other than that, the only real issue is that the perfs are a bit worn looking and are not crisp and sharp. But they are intact, except for the two short perfs. The cancel is a smudge cancel again, but it is not as heavy as many that are found on these. The colour is good and vibrant. 

Here is the back:



You can just make out a light guarantee handstamp in the bottom right corner, and as you can see, there are no creases, tears or thins.

So again, without the cancel, it would likely be  a F-65 example. As it is, I would grade this as VG-60. Unitrade lists fine used at $800, so VG should be $400. I think at a minimum, this is a $250 stamp.

So on these first three dollar values, we are up to a minimum value of $675, and we still have 13 more stamps to go. So already, we are $135 over the minimum bid.

Let's take a look at the $2



This is a pretty standard example of the used $2, except that it has much nicer, more vibrant colour than most examples of the $2, which fade quite easily. The only condition issue other than the cancel is a very small crease affecting the upper left corner perforation. It is not visible on the back, as you can see in the scan:



The diagonal line in the lower right corner near the "137" is a hair that got on the scanner. It is not a crease. So, as you can see from the scan, there are no other defects.

With the roller cancel, this would normally be a F-65 example, but with the corner crease, it is VG-55. Unitrade for fine is $400, so VG should be $200. So I would say a fair value for this is $150.

So now we are up to $825. Let's take a look at the $1



This is very close to a fine mint example, but for a missing lower right corner perf. Let's take a look at the back:




There are a lot of hinge remnants here, which you could actually remove with a great deal of patience and a sharp scalpel, although I wouldn't recommend it unless you have experience with hinge removal on these stamps. Otherwise, there are really no serious defects. 

So, with the corner being what it is, I would grade as G-50. Unitrade for very good is $375, so good should be worth about $200. At a minimum, this stamp should be worth $150.

With all the dollar values now examined and graded, we are at $975, which is $435 over the minimum bid. So even if the rest of the stamps are completely terrible, which they are not, the minimum bid is about 40% less than what I would consider the absolute minimum value of these dollar values to be.

Now, let's start looking at the mid-range values, starting with the 50c:



This is the deep ultramarine, which is listed as Unitrade #60i. It is unused, without any gum, but is sound, except for some shorter perforations at the top. 

Here is the back:




So as you can see, nice and clean, with no creases, tears or thins. Normally this would be a F-65 example, but with the perfs they way they are I would grade it as VG-60 unused. Unitrade for VG with gum is $75. So without gum, it should be worth about $30. I would say that at a minimum $20 would be fair. 

So now we are at $995.

Here is the 20c:



This example is also unused without gum. It is normal vermillion shade and is completely sound, but just off centre.

The scan below shows the back:



As you can see, there are no creases, tears or thins. With the centering being what it is, I would grade this as VG-55 unused. Unitrade for VG with gum is $80, so without gum should be $40 or so. So at a minimum, $25 would seem fair.

So now we are at $1,020. Let's look at the 15c:



There is a small light corner bend affecting the lower right corner, that is not a full crease, and two perforations at the bottom that have split laterally with the front end being creased upwards under the "N" of "fifteen" and in the lower right corner. Without these issues it would be a F-65 mint example, but as it is it is VG-55.

Here is the back:




You can just make out the light bend in the lower left corner, but otherwise, there are no other defects. Unitrade prices VG at $75, so I would think $30 would fair for this stamp.

So now the running total value stands at $1,050. Next is the 10c:



This is a completely sound VG-60 mint example, with nice deep colour. The scan below shows a nice clean back, with no creases, tears or thins:


Unitrade prices VG at $30 and this is at the higher end of VG, as it is really almost fine. So A fair price for this would be $15.

So now we are up to $1,065 of value. Now for the 8c:



This is a VF centered example, with full original gum and nice colour. The problem though is the four short perforations at the lower right, and a light tone spot at upper left.


Here is the back. As you can see, there are no other issues. In terms of grade, without the short perforations, it would be a VF-75, but with the perforations and the tone spot it is a VG-55, which lists for $20 in Unitrade. A fair value for this would this be $15.

The running total value, with the dollar values and mid values evaluated and graded now stands at $1,080. Now, let's take a look at the low values, starting with the 6c:



This is a completely sound mint example, centered to the top, but fresh and fine in all respects. The perforations on the left are a little uneven, but all intact. Here is the back:


Some hinge remnants, but all the gum is present, and no creases, tears or thins. So I would grade this as a F-68. Unitrade for fine is $150, so a reasonable value for this would be $60, which brings the value to $1,140.

Here is the 5c:


A pretty standard fine appearing used example with colour that borders on slate blue. 


Here is the back. There is a very shallow thin at the top that is not readily visible in the scan. That takes this from F-65 down to VG-60. Unitrade prices fine used at $20, so VG should be worth $10. A fair value for this would thus be $5. 

This brings the value to $1,145. 

Now, let's look at the 3c:


Here we have a perfectly fine mint 3c in the rose shade. Let's take a look at the back:


The gum is full and fresh, with just a light hinge mark. So this is a F-70 mint example. Unitrade is $10 for this grade. A reasonable value is again $5, bringing the total value to $1,150. 

Now for the 2c:


This is a very fine appearing used example, which unfortunately does have a vertical crease down the left hand side that is not noticeable from the front. You can just barely see it on the back scan of the stamp on the right:



This crease reduces the grade from a VF-75 to VG-55. Unitrade lists fine used at $9.50, VG should be about $4 and so this is really only worth about $2, bringing the total value to $1,152.

Now let's take a look at the 1c:


This is a nice, fresh fine mint example in the deep orange shade. Here is the back:



Fresh, clean original gum that has only the slightest disturbance from a hinge. This would be a F-70 example. Unitrade for fine mint is $10, and $6 would be a reasonable value. 

So with all the stamps up to the last stamp, the 1/2c black, the total minimum value, in my estimation, is $1,158. 

Here is the last stamp, which is also the worst in terms of condition:


As you can see it would normally be a F-70 mint example, but there are two edge tears, a number of creases and the perfs are very worn. You can see the creases a bit better from the back scan:



So, I would grade this as a fair-35, on par with the $4. Unitrade prices VG at $40, so G should be $20, which would mean fair should be worth $10. Thus a fair value for this as a spacefiller would be $5. 

So, all told, the minimum value of these stamps in my professional opinion, taking them individually is $1,163 which is over double the minimum opening bid. So the set is clearly a very reasonable attractive bargain for a collector who has a limited budget and wants to fill this page in their album. Most dealers would simply grade this set as VG and call it a day, advertising its value as $3,100 plus, but my grading is more stringent and I wanted to start this at a reasonable price. Hopefully, you can see that at $540 it is eminently reasonable, and still leaves quite a bit of room for bidder competition, so that if it sells for $900 or $950 even, it is still well within what the stamps are worth on a resale basis.

To view the set on E-bay access the following link:

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Canada-50-65-Complete-Mint-and-Used-Set-1897-Jubilees-Reasonable-Start-/222819605561?hash=item33e1155c39

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  2. Great article! how do you think eBay and other auction sites are affecting the real prices of stamps? I've seen many examples of catalog prices being smashed to less than half it was originally.

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