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The Black Empress 1851 12d. Black Postage Stamp
Canada 1851 12d. Black Empress stamp

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The Black Empress 1851 12d. Black Postage Stamp

For Sale: $750,000

  • A unique example of one of Canada's first stamps
  • The only stamp from this issue in mint, unhinged condition
  • Graded Superb 98 by the Philatelic Foundation


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 original gum.

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 included.

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 philatelic rarities. If you were to rank Canadian stamps by dollar value, the top eight would all be 12d Blacks, and their covers and multiples.

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


For Sale: £485,000.00

Stock Status:In Stock

Product Code: PT366
Please contact us to discuss our payment and delivery/storage options. We look forward to hearing from you. +44 (0) 117 933 9500 info@paulfrasercollectibles.com

The Black Empress 1851 12d. Black Postage Stamp