Professional Stamp Experts

Connell Items Raise The Ante At Canadian Auction

Michael O. Nowlan - September 15, 1999

After 27 years in the business, Vance Auctions offers "a copy of New Brunswick's five-cent Charles Connell stamp (Scott #5)." The Connell stamp is one of the scarce specialty items that many collectors seek.

The story goes that Hon. Charles Connell, postmaster-general of the British colony of New Brunswick in 1860, was responsible for obtaining new stamps in keeping with the colony's move from pence currency to decimal currency.

Connell purchased the stamps (six denominations) through the American Bank Note Company in New York, but, when the adhesives arrived, it was quickly discovered the five-cent denomination, designed for domestic use, featured the image of none other than Connell himself. Forced to resign his position, Connell maintained his innocence in the affair.

The stamps, which were presumably all destroyed, were never issued as postage. Nonetheless, some still exist in mint, never used condition. Present day Connell expert, Dr. J.J. MacDonald of Halifax, Nova Scotia, has studied the Connell extensively and claims there are between 50 and 60 genuine Connells around the world.

The Vance Auction, which closes October 6, has one genuine Connell, two Connell plate proofs, one stampless cover and one stampless folded letter both of which are addressed to Charles Connell.

The genuine Connell has a 1954 Royal Philatelic Society certificate stating genuine and a 1999 Greene Foundation Certificate stating reperforated at top and right. With a fine appearance, it is sure to be a coveted item when the hammer comes down.

Of the two plate proofs, one is an unusual perforated proof while the other is the standard imperf type. The stampless cover is dated 1866 from the Bend of Petitcodiac, NB to Fredericton, NB while the stampless folded letter addressed to Connell was mailed from Moncton to Fredericton in 1867.

Charles Connell, who led a distinguished career as politician both before and after the stamp scandal, lives on in the stamp world to the excitement of those who follow the auctions.

Michael O. Nowlan was born in Chatham, New Brunswick Canada. He grew up on a nearby farm, was educated, and became a teacher. In retirement, he follows his life-long avocation of writing. His credits include 16 books (four books of poems, two children's titles, and anthologies for schools). In recent years, he has written extensively about stamp collecting for CANADIAN STAMP NEWS, GIBBONS INTERNATIONAL STAMP NEWS, and other philatelic publications.

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