Richpex Stamp Auction puts rare postage stamps up for grabs

A letter sent in 1851 from Canadian author Pauline Johnson's mother to her father are among the rarities. It's valued at $2000.

Letter from author Pauline Johnson's mother to her father in 1851 among rarities

Philatelist Luciano Bassetto says collecting and studying stamps and postal history gives him "energy." (Daniel Beauparlant/CBC)

Western Canada's biggest stamp show is putting postage rarities up for auction with collectors from around North America in Burnaby. B.C. for the Richpex Stamp Auction.

Organizer Luciano Bassetto says despite a decline in those sending mail, there is still a healthy amount of interest in collecting stamps, postcards and similar collectibles.

"It gives you energy," he said about his hobby. "It gives you a good vision to wake up to in the morning, at least for a lot of people."

He said his passion for stamps has given him "knowledge that you can never get anywhere else."

"Stamps tell you about the economy of a country, the politics — basically the way a country is run, you can tell by looking at its stamps."

He believes there are approximately 200,000 stamp collectors across Canada currently so he expects the majority of selling and trading at his show to take place online.

The highlights

There are a number of gems at this year's show.

The first is a letter sent from famed Canadian author Pauline Johnson's mother to her father in 1851. According to organizer Ron Leith, the letter's authenticity was verified by the Brantford Museum. Because of its famous connection, it's valued at approximately $2000.

A letter sent from famed Canadian author Pauline Johnson's mother to her father in 1851 is valued at $2000. (Daniel Beauparlant )

Another treasure is an envelope from Vancouver destined for Mitcham, England in 1906. Leith believes Canadian customs in Montreal diverted the piece of mail to check on its contents.

After realizing it was safe, they resealed it with three official stamps on it and sent it on its way. This is the only known envelope with three of the unique stamps. Previously, an envelope with only two of these seals fetched about $12,000.

Long-time stamp collector Ron Leith holds up a rare piece of mail from 1906. (Daniel Beauparlant/CBC)
The front-side of a cover from 1906 bearing three official Canadian customs seals. (Daniel Beauparlant/CBC)

A third highlight is a registered letter sent from Ottawa on May 24, 1899 to Sumatra, Indonesia that's valued at $500. It's rare because of its destination and its routing. 

The letter travelled through New York, London, and cities in France, Sri Lanka and Malaysia before reaching its intended recipient.

This rare registered letter travelled through New York, London, and cities in France, Sri Lanka and Malaysia before reaching its intended recipient in Sumatra, Indonesia. (Ron Leith Auctions)

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