His coveted collection boasts of: A three-penny Beaver, which happens to be Canada’s first stamp from 1851; a bottom-margin mint pair of 12-penny blacks also from 1851; a block of ten of Canada’s most iconic stamp, the 1959 Inverted Seaway and the rarest of rare - a 2¢ Large Queen on laid paper issued in 1868. There are only three copies of the 2¢ Large Queen in existence.
A few of Brigham’s stamps are valued upwards of $800,000. His collection of some 12,000 stamps is worth some $10 million.
After amassing one of the most complete and extensive Canadian stamp collection, the Brigham Collection, whose repertoire spans over 150 years, will all be up for grabs. Starting Feb. 21, 2014, the Bramptonian is readying himself to part with his valuable and unique stamps through a series of auctions.
“Rest assured, the people that will be bidding for the collection will likely have the same passion as I have,” said Brigham, whose interest in stamps began 40 years ago. “I started collecting stamps as a kid’s hobby and developed it. I hate losing, so when I wanted something (a particular stamp), I went after it relentlessly...it became a bit of ego trip.”
At times, the need to win prompted Brigham to even mortgage his home and dip into his savings.
By his desire to chase, bid and own some of the most elusive - and expensive - pieces, Brigham has elevated his hobby into an art.
“Remember that feeling you got when you were able to get something you had always coveted?” Brigham said when asked about his state of mind after a successful purchase. “Now, imagine that feeling, 12,000 times...”
The Brigham Collection is the envy of many. It has won dozens of coveted accolades, awards and prizes. The Brampton philatelist is the only Canadian to win the Grand Prix d’Honneur or the World’s Philatelic Championship. His acquisitions are so unique that when Canada Post wanted to reproduce the three-penny Beaver for a commemorative issue to mark its 150th anniversary, they had to reach out to Brigham and request he loan them the original die-proof.
Stamp expert Charles J. G. Verge was recently appointed the CEO of Brigham Auctions Ltd., which closed its doors in 2010, but has now reopened.
“This collection of Canada will allow me to play with things that I would never be able to personally,” said Verge, who’s also Brigham Auctions’ chief financial officer. “I am a historian and a writer, so this opportunity will allow me to write and tell the world how beautiful our stamps are and how they relate to different things in our history. For instance, I don’t think a lot of people know that Sandford Fleming, a railway engineer and creator of standard time zone, was also the designer of the first Canadian postage stamp. He sketched the design on a table cloth.”
Brigham once asked a collector - a man who had the only other rare 2¢ Large Queen on laid paper - to sell him the stamp for $300,000.
“Why do you want mine?” the American retorted. “You got the other one.”
“Because,” Brigham replied deadpan, “I’m going to burn yours.”
That exchange was overheard by a reporter who wrote about it. After that, the Brampton resident became known as a maverick in the stamp collecting circles.
George Pepall, president of Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC), said The Brigham Collection can easily be ranked as one of the best in the world. It’s no surprise that both, the collection and the collector, have enjoyed great success, he said.
“Ron has set the standard for other exhibitors (in Canada) to aspire to,” said Pepall. “No one will be able to reach it though. He has single-handedly put the RPSC on the world map. He has a prototypical collection that others can bring new finds to compare to as was the case when a third 2¢ Large Queen surfaced recently and its authenticity had to be verified.”