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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Appeal of Canadian Stamps

Canada has much to offer the collector looking for a challenge, as well as the collector seeking beautiful examples of engraver’s art. The stamps of this country offer a challenge in their complexity, as any student of the Large Queens, Small Queens and Centennials can attest to. In addition, Canada is one of the few countries to have used the process of engraving stamps for as long as they did. Until 1968 all Canadian stamps were engraved, and the stamps offer some of the best examples of skilled engraving by such master craftsman as Yves Baril, Silas Robert Allen, Robert Savage and Alfred Jones. These men brought us the innovative modern simplicity of the Cameo Issue, the intricacy of the Scroll Issue, the dignified Admiral issue and the Large and Small Queens. 

In addition to eye appeal, Canadian stamps offer a springboard for fascinating studies of inks, papers and cancellations. For the collector who loves shades, look no further than the Large Queens, Small Queens, or Admirals. For those interested in fluorescence, the Centennial issue is unrivalled in its complexity. I well remember the listing for this issue in Lyman’s when I was a boy being covered in a page with no more than the basic stamps plus the tags. Now there are no fewer than 200 recognized varieties and the list continues to grow. In fact, the modern stamps of the Elizabethan period offer a fantastic opportunity for specialization as it can be obtained in quantity and has only recently received the attention from philatelists that it deserves.

Lastly, Canadian stamps offer a challenge in terms of the scarcity of many early issues. For example, there were only 1,045,000 printed of the 50 cent Bluenose stamp shown above, and 561,000 of the Parliament Dollar. Only a small fraction of these have survived in the condition that you see above.

In terms of their overall appearance, the early stamps of Canada up to about 1935 are very similar to US material from the same period, but a lot less expensive and every bit as beautiful.

In this blog, I will explore all of the subtle nuances of Canadian philately that I have seen in my 33 years as a collector. It is my hope that you will find my posts helpful and entertaining.