Corinphila June auction series features Besancon, Carnio, Erivan, other name collections

May 13, 2024, 8 AM
A highlight of Corinphila’s June 3-8 auction series in Zurich, Switzerland, is this 1852 folded letter bearing the elusive Canada 1851 12-penny black Queen Victoria. The cover is the earliest recorded use of the stamp to the United States.

By Charles Snee

Corinphila, the Swiss philatelic auction house, will present stamps and postal history from the Besancon, DuBois, Erivan and other significant collections June 3-8 at its Zurich gallery.

The six-day auction series will include 12 separate catalogs offering the following material: part 1 of the Fritz Heimbuchler collection of Brazil 1843-70 (June 3); the Besancon collection of St. Helena, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, Swaziland, New Republic, Union of South Africa, South West Africa and Sudan (June 3-4);

Part 4 of the DuBois collection of Australian States and the Commonwealth of Australia (June 3-4); New South Wales, including the Peter Campbell collection (June 3-4); the Alvaro Castro-Harrigan collection of Panama 1807-1904 (June 4); part 5 of the Besancon collection of Great Britain 1840-1910 (June 5);

More than 1,400 lots of Europe and overseas stamps and postal history (June 5-7); part 1 of the Enzo Carnio collection of worldwide postal history (June 6); Romania (June 7); the Erivan collection of worldwide rarities (June 7); Switzerland and Liechtenstein (June 7-8); and part 2 of the Richard Schafer Sr. collection of rare Switzerland federal post office frankings.

With such an expansive variety of items available, bidders are sure to find something of interest to add to their collections.

A standout item from the June 7 sale of the Erivan collection of worldwide rarities is described by Corinphila as the earliest recorded use of the Canada 1851 12-penny black Queen Victoria (Scott 3) to the United States.

Noted Canada postal historians Charles Firby and George Arfken have documented eight on-cover examples of this iconic stamp, which features Alfred Chalon’s famous portrait of the queen.

Of those covers, one resides in the Royal Philatelic Collection of King Charles III. According to Corinphila, “two others — an 1853 cover to New York, and a domestic usage within Canada (ex Brouse) — have not been recorded since 1911 and 1925 respectively.”

The folded letter was postmarked July 19, 1852, in Hamilton, Ontario, and mailed to New York City. In addition to the Hamilton postmark, the cover bears a faint strike of a red “CANADA PAID 20 Cts” handstamp. The “20” is written in manuscript in the paid marking.

Corinphila notes that the stamp bears the “slightest traces of pressed creasing at top.”

The Hamilton post office was the first to receive the 12d black Queen Victoria; 300 were delivered on June 14, 1851, according to Corinphila.

The cover, which is illustrated in The Postage Stamps and Postal History of Canada by Winthrop S. Boggs, once resided in the collections of Alfred F. Lichtenstein and G.M. Geldert and the stock of Raymond and Roger Weill. H.R. Harmer sold the Geldert collection in 1968, and Christie’s dispersed the Weill brothers’ stock in 1989.

Accompanying the cover is a 2020 expertizing certificate from the British Philatelic Association.

“In contrast to the [1851] 3d. and 6d. stamps [Scott 1 and 2, respectively], which paid the ½oz rate for domestic mail and letters to the United States respectively, the 12d value saw little demand,” Corinphila said.

“The denomination, which paid the ½oz rate to Newfoundland, Bermuda, and the British West Indies (via Halifax/Boston), or the double rate to the United States, as in the case of this lot, was little used. This ultimately led to the withdrawal of the stamp in 1855, after only a few hundred examples were sold over nearly four years, out of 51,000 stamps that had been shipped by the printers.”

Canada Scott 3 on cover is valued at $200,000 in the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940. The value is italicized to indicate an item that is a challenge to value accurately because of limited market data.

Corinphila is offering this important piece of Canada 1851 12d black Queen Victoria postal history with a starting bid of 50,000 Swiss francs, approximately $55,184 as of early May.

Details of the auctions are provided on the Corinphila website, including online listings for the material in all 12 auction catalogs, as well as PDF catalogs that can be individually downloaded. Online bidding options are available.

Collectors can also contact Corinphila Auctions AG, Wiesenstrasse 8, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland, for additional information.

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