Unknown Victoria

Victoria: The Unknown City is a guidebook to an eccentric town on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. This is the author's blog. Look here for Victoria lore, updates and additions to the book, and hate mail.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Imprints of The Colony

As I mention in the shopping section of the book, you can buy a replica of the Vancouver Island flag at the Flag Shop on Fort Street. What I didn’t know, however, was that in 1865 our island colony also had its own postage stamps – something the Times Colonist noted on its front page today, reporting that a stamp similar to the one pictured at right is expected to fetch $45,000 at an auction this week in New York.

The TC failed to indicate that the stamp is only worth that much if it’s “imperforated,” i.e. cut from a sheet of stamps without holes; a perforated five-cent Vancouver Island stamp is only worth about $500. Such stamps are extremely rare (the colony disappeared in 1866 when it was absorbed into British Columbia) and have been prized by collectors for many years. In fact, during the 1930s, Vancouver Island stamps were counterfeited by Jean de Sperati (left), “the Rubens of philately,” a forger so good that his fakes are now worth nearly as much as the originals. So if you’re thinking of bidding, check the merchandise.

UPDATE (May 12, 2006): The TC reports that the stamp sold yesterday for $86,000 USD, or $95,000 Canadian.

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