Themed Auctions


Every week in our auctions we will feature, in addition to our usual range of Canada and British West Africa, one or more themes from various countries around the world. It is these themes that truly set our auctions apart. 

What is a Theme?

A theme can be a single issue from a country, like the ones shown above, or it can be a period from a country or group of countries. An example of this would be New Zealand and all dependencies, such as Cook Islands, Penhryn Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Samoa etc. from say 1952-1975. 

When we compile a theme for the auction our goal is to give you a taste of what can be accomplished with a particular field of specialty and to present you with a wide enough range of material from that area to enable specialists to add to their existing collections, and to give new collectors looking for a new collecting field, a decent start at building a specialized collection. 

How Are Our Themes Chosen?

We choose our themes largely based on what we have been able to buy and what has been consigned and then, once we make that choice and schedule an approximate sale date, we will set about acquiring as much material as we can. We rotate themes over time, so that all collectors get an opportunity to bid in a sale that features material they are interested in. 

What Does a Theme Include?

A theme will include any philatelic material issued for that area, such as:

  • Mint and used singles
  • Marginal multiples and sheets
  • Booklets
  • Coils 
  • Collateral material such as proofs, brochures and posters
  • Postal history

Our Current Theme: The Karsh and Wilding Period of Canada

For our first themed auction, which will extend over the eight weeks from Sepember 2, 2020 to October 28, 2020 we have chosen to cover the period of Canada from 1952 to 1962, which encompasses the Karsh and Wilding Definitive issues.

As this sale will show, this is a highly neglected period of Canadian philately, with very few if any varieties being listed in the Unitrade Specialized catalogue. This does not mean that there are no varieties of course, and this sale will introduce you to the shade, paper and perforation differences that are consistently found on these stamps. This last aspect, perforations, will shock collectors, who are used to thinking of all these stamps as simply being perf. 12. In actual fact, several different gauges, which correspond to different perforating machines are found, and include: 12, 11.9, 11.9 x 12, 12 x 11.9, 12.1 x 11.9, 11.95, 11.95 x 11.85, 11.85 and 11.85 x 11.95 to name just a few. Of these, the earlier measurements with one decimal place correspond to the Karsh period, while the later measurements are found in the Wilding period. 

One interesting aspect to this period of philately is that the definitives that were in use at any given time were made up from values taken largely from other sets, and in one instance from a commemorative issue: the 15c CAPEX stamp was retained and reprinted and issued as a definitive, until it was replaced by the 15c Gannet in 1954. 

Consequently, this sale will include high value stamps that collectors would not think of as belonging to this period, but which are forerunners of the definitives which were issued during the period. These include:

  • The 10c Furs (replaced by the Inuk & Kayak in 1955).
  • The 15c CAPEX (replaced by the 15c Gannet in 1954).
  • The 50c Oil Wells (replaced by the 50c Textile Industry in 1953).
  • The $1 Fisheries (replaced by the $1 Totem Pole in 1953).

The distribution of material over the next seven weeks will be:

September 2-9: 

  • 10c Furs, $1 Fisheries and G overprints of both.
  • 15c CAPEX.
  • 20c Newsprint Industry and G overprints.
  • Commemoratives from #317 (Red Cross) to #358 (Charles Tupper).
  • The 1c, 2c and 3c Karsh issues, plus coils, booklet panes of 3, and G overprints.
  • The booklet containing the 3c panes (BK46) and the 5c Beaver (BK48).

September 9-16:

  • Commemoratives from #359 (hockey) to #361 (mountain goat).
  • The 7c Canada Goose and G overprints.
  • The 50c Textile Industry and G overprints.
  • The 4c and 5c Karsh Issues plus coils, booklet panes of 3 and G overprints.
  • The chewing gum booklets (BK47) and the booklet containing the 4c panes (BK45).

September 16-23:

  • The $1 totem pole and G overprints.
  • The 1c Wilding, including G overprints.
  • The booklets containing the 1c and 4c Wilding (BK51).

September 23-30:

  • Commemoratives from #364 (Fire Prevention Week) to #382 (Elected Assembly). 
  • The 10c Inuk and Kayak, plus G overprints.
  • The 2c and 3c Wilding issues, plus coils, miniature panes and G overprints.

September 30-October 7:

  • The 20c Paper Industry regular issue plus G overprint singles.
  • The 6c Wilding issue.

October 7-14:

  • Commemoratives from #383 (Silver Dart) to #390 (Battle of Long Sault).
  • The 20c Paper Industry G overprints plate blocks
  • The 25c Chemical Industry.

October 14-21:

  • The 4c Wilding issue and G overprints.
  • The booklets containing 1 pane of 6 of the 4c Wilding (BK50).
  • The 15c Gannet stamp.
  • Commemoratives from #391 (Northern Development) to #395 (Resources for Tomorrow)

October 21-28:

  • The 5c Wilding issue and G overprints.
  • The booklets containing the pane of 5 5c Wilding issue (BK49).
  • Commemoratives from #396 (Education) to #400 (Trans-Canada Highway)

October 28-November :


  • All postal history of the period.
  • Any material that arrives in the first three weeks that could not be featured then. 


Each week's lots will present a range of singles, plate blocks, full sheets, coils, booklet panes, and complete booklets. As you will see, the commemoratives exhibit many of the same varieties as the definitives. 

I have had to extend the schedule after assessing the amount of time that it takes to properly identify and describe these stamps, and I could see that I would need much longer than 5 weeks. Additional revisions may be required as the sale unfolds. 

It is my hope that you will have as much fun viewing and bidding in this sale, as I did putting it together!

Sources of Information From My Blog

I have written and published no fewer than 28 in depth articles about this period on different pages of my blog. I have placed quick links below to take you to the pages that contain the articles to save you having to search for them. 

Page 1 - Overview of the Karsh Issue, shades, plate blocks, booklets, coils and officials. 

Page 2 - Proof material for the Karsh Issue, postal history, plate blocks, cello paqs, booklets and proof material for the Wildings.

Page 3 - shades, plate dots, re-entries and errors on the Wildings.

Page 4 - Gum, dull fluorescent papers and overall capstone on the Wildings.

Page 5 - the Natural Resources high values.

Page 6 - the commemorative issues.

Suggestions for Further Research

The following suggestions are directions in which you can go in telling the full story of these issues:

  • Complete a full study of the plate position dots, discovering their meaning and acquiring examples of all different configurations. 
  • Figure out when each of the different perforation gauges found on these issues was first introduced and when the machines that used them were either re-calibrated or retired. 
  • Unravel the mystery behind the print order numbers. Why are some numbers spaced wide apart while others are closely spaced? Why did the numbers increase on an issue, only to drop down dramatically with a subsequent issue? Why were they discontinued on the later issues?
  • When was each main type of paper found on these issues introduced, which issues were they used on and when were they phased out?
  • What are the approximate periods of use for each of the major shade groupings found on the definitives?
  • Complete a study of the constant plate varieties on the booklet covers, showing when each flaw arose, whether it was ultimately corrected on a subsequent printing, and if so, when. 

Each of the above studies could easily keep you occupied for years and all of them would make award winning exhibit topics. 

Our Upcoming Theme: The Wilding, Castle and Commemorative Issues of Great Britain From 1952 to 1971

Starting on the week of November 4, 2020 we will begin offering the stamps and postal history of Great Britain covering the period from 1953 to 1971. Most collectors of this country will be well aware of the various watermark and phosphor varieties that are listed in the Stanley Gibbons Catalogue. However, what many may not be aware of is that there are many paper varieties on these issues that are not listed anywhere, even in the Gibbons specialized. There are also variations in phosphor tagging that are listed in Gibbons Specialized, but which are not offered by very many dealers due to their complexity. 

This sale will bring you all the basic variations that are listed in Gibbons, together with many unlisted varieties and postal history, that together demonstrate how rich an area this is for specialization. We will also include all the overprints for offices abroad associated with this material also. 

The approximate schedule of material to be offered, subject to change as we progress through the material will be as follows:

November 4-11: The 1/2d to 1/6d Wilding Definitives

November 11-18: The high value Castle Definitives

November 18-25: The Commemorative Issues

November 25-December 2: The Pre-Decimal Machin Head Definitives

December 2-9: Postal History