Rare Canadian stamp sells for just under $300K

A rare Canadian stamp sold for $292,500 at an Ottawa auction over the weekend.

Peter Macdonald says buyer got a good deal, collector has more to come

A black and white stamp with a woman on it.
A 12-Penny Black stamp featuring Queen Victoria. Issued in 1851, one of these stamps was auctioned in Ottawa and sold on Jan. 21, 2023, for $292,500 plus tax. (Submitted by Peter MacDonald)

A rare Canadian stamp sold for $292,500 at an Ottawa auction last weekend.

Issued more than 170 years ago in 1851, the auctioned 12-Penny Black stamp was considered to be in pristine condition  — and said to be one of only two of its kind in such a state — and features the image of Queen Victoria. 

Only about 1,450 were sold at the time so it's a rare gem, said Peter MacDonald, the general manager of Sparks Auctions.

While its selling price didn't break any world or Canadian records, MacDonald said the buyer got a good deal last Saturday.

"It's a great price for this stamp. It's a great price for a Canadian stamp," he said.

"We are very proud of having been given the opportunity to sell it for the collector. And we're happy to make sure the new buyer gets it into her or his hands."

MacDonald said hundreds of bidders participated in the sale on Jan. 21, online and from around the world. An "enthusiastic group of bidders" came in person to the Ottawa office, as well, he added.

"Advance bidding brought the stamp to an opening of $150,000 and it rose very quickly. In a flash, it was over," MacDonald said.

He said in 2017, the auction house sold a similar stamp that was at one time, attached to this 12-Penny Black stamp on a a sheet, sold for $327,000.

According to a 2009 report, another 12-penny stamp sold for $260,000 US in New York.

The third stamp ever made for circulation in Canada is up for auction this weekend. We hear the history of the little piece of paper that’s estimated to go for at least $150,000 dollars.

MacDonald said the 12-penny stamp was expensive for its time. He said at today's prices, it would set you back about $16.40.

MacDonald said the collector who sold this particular stamp will hold another "very high-quality collection" sale from the Sparks Auctions office on Feb. 11. 

With files from Meegan Read