The Black Empress 1851 12d. Black Postage Stamp
For Sale: $750,000
An astounding, never hinged, mint example of the classic Canadian
rarity, the 1851 12d. Black. This is unquestionably the finest mint example in
existence. Featuring an incredible overall freshness and brilliance, with
intensely rich colour and a sharp and detailed impression on pristine paper.
With four exceptionally large and well balanced margins (it is likely that the
margin at the bottom is a partial sheet margin) and absolutely immaculate full
The unique stamp is accompanied by a letter from the highly regarded
Canadian auctioneer J.N. Sissions, dated August 10 1965. In the letter he
describes the stamp as “…genuine and flawless, brilliant original gum, never
hinged and immaculate in all respects. I believe it to be the finest existing
copy.” Photographic enlargements of the front and reverse of the stamp are also
Charles Shreve, President of Spink Shreves said of this example: “I've been in
the business my whole life, four decades and I've never seen a stamp of that
rarity or that age, a classic stamp, in that perfect a condition.”
On May 3 2010, the Philatelic Foundation in New York City issued a certificate
(#486541) stating that this example is “unused, o.g., genuine, never hinged”. It
was numerically graded “Superb 98” by the Philatelic Foundation, an exceptionally
rare grade for any classic stamp to obtain, especially a world class rarity.
The last sale of an original gum, premium quality, mint example of the
12d. Black occurred in November 2009 during the auction of the William H. Gross
Collection of Important Postage Stamps and Postal History of British North
America. This example sold for $299,100. However, its margins are not nearly as
large as those found on The Black Empress and, more importantly, the Gross
example was hinged, as is every example in existence apart from The Black Empress.
The 2011 edition of The Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps
assigns a C$150,000 value to a very fine, unused (no gum) example of the 12d.
Black. The catalogue assigns a 100% premium if the stamp has original gum, thus
a catalogue value of C$300,000 can be assumed for an original gum example of
the 12d. Black. The Catalogue gives no estimate for the value of a never hinged
example of the stamp. The earliest issues it does assign a price in never
hinged condition is for the 1868-1876 Large Queen Series where never hinged
copies are given a 300% premium over the very fine no-gum pricing.
A truly exceptional stamp, a unique example of one of the world’s great
This example of the 12d.
Black is unquestionably the finest example in existence. It is extraordinary that The Black
Empress has survived for nearly 160 years in such remarkable condition. The
only unhinged example of this stamp in the world. A must see for any stamp enthusiast.
N.B. This item is being sold in United States Dollars at $750,000