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Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Capstone - Forming A Specialized Collection of Wilding Issue Plate Blocks

Overview of the History of Plate Block Collecting

Plate block collecting used to be popular among philatelists who wanted to obtain a copy of each major printing of a stamp produced in a long running definitive series. Obtaining the corner block, or centre block containing the plate number and inscription "proved" that the stamp came from a different printing. Also, since records were generally kept of when the different plates were put to press, a specialist could assign different printings to a specific date. It used to be extremely popular among collectors in the 1950's and 1960's. On Canadian sheets, the layout of a printing sheet was usually between 200 to 600 subjects arranged into 4 or 6 smaller sheets for distribution to the post offices. Usually, the inscriptions were placed on the outer corners of the larger sheets. This meant that for any given post office sheet, you would only get one corner. If you collected all four corners of a plate, they could be arranged on an album page to resemble a miniature sheet of 16 stamps.Many collectors found this very appealing and would often visit many post offices when a stamp issue came out to obtain all four corners of a plate.

Many postal clerks found this to be an extreme nuisance, so in 1957 and 1958, the post office department went to extraordinary lengths to effectively discourage the practice by having all the sheets trimmed to remove inscriptions. However, a public outcry caused the post office to reverse its position in late 1958, and gave rise to what we know today as the philatelic-field stock distinction. From this point on, philatelic panes had the blocks left intact, while field stock panes had the inscriptions removed. The bulk of stamps printed in recent years have been field stock of course, so there are now many printing varieties that only exist on field stock.

However, once the use of multiple plates to print an issue ceased, and photogravure and lithography supplanted engraving as the preferred method of stamp printing, the significance of collecting plate blocks changed, although it remained the same for the definitives. Because of this decreased significance and the subsequent rise in postage rates, the popularity of collecting plate blocks has fallen in recent years.

However, it is still the only way the place the various shades, and papers in the correct order. Then once this is accomplished, a parallel study of cancellations on used stamps will enable a specialist to accurately date specific shades, paper and gum types.

Defining the Scope of A Specialized Collection

So far we know that:

1. There were up to 22 different shades of some values in this set.
2. There are up to four different gum types.
3. There are up to four different arrangements of position dots on two positions in each plate.
4. There are up to five different paper textures.
5. There are up to a different dull fluorescent papers and three or four fluorescent papers.
6. There are three different intensities of taggant on the Winnipeg tagged stamps.

Now, not all of these varieties will exist with every other variety, so the number of variants is not purely multiplicative. However, the existence of the above variations expands the potential scope of this issue considerably.

Here is an example of how I would classify and arrange such a collection. Here I assume a certain number of shades for each value and papers on which each shade can exist:

Part 1: The Horizontal Wove Papers

1c violet brown - plates 1-9: 10 sets including 9n: ((10 x 4)x4x2) = at least 320 varieties.
2c green - plates 1-9: 12 sets including 7n, 8n, 9n: ((12 x 4) x 3 x 4) = at least 576 varieties.
3c carmine rose -  plates 1-2: 2 sets ((2 x 4) x 3 x 7) = as many as 168 varieties.
4c violet - plates 1-12n: 14 sets including 10n, 12n: ((14 x 4) x 10 x 4) = as many 2,240 varieties.
5c blue - plates 1-12: 12 sets: ((12 x 4) x 9 x 4) = as many as 1,728 varieties.
6c orange -  plates 1-2: 2 sets ((2 x 4) x 4) = as many as 32 varieties.
10c violet brown -  plates 1-5 ((5 x 4) x 4 x 3) = as many as 240 varieties
15c black -  plates 1-3:  4 sets ((4 x 4) x 4) = as many as 64 varieties
20c green - plates 1-3: 4 sets ((4 x 4) x 4 x 2) as many as 128 varieties.
25c vermilion - plates 1-2: 2 sets ((2 x 4) x 4 x 3) = as many as 96 varieties.

Part 2: The Vertical Wove Papers

1c violet brown -  plates 11-12: 2 sets ((2 x 4)x12x4) = at least 384 varieties.
2c green -  plates 11-20: 10 sets ((10 x 4) x 12 x 2) = as many as 960 varieties.
4c violet -  plates 13-19: 7 sets ((7 x 4) x 9 x 12) = as many as 3,024 varieties.
5c blue - plates 13-19: 7 sets ((7 x 4) x 12 x 12) = as many as 4,032 varieties.
15c black -  plate 4: 1 set ((1 x 4) x 9) = as many as 36 varieties.
20c green - plate 4: 1 set ((1 x 4) x 4 x 2) = as many as 32 varieties.

Part 3: The Tagged Stamps

1c violet brown: (1 x 4 x 12 x 4 x 3) = as many as  576 varieties.
2c green (1 x 4 x 12 x 2 x 3 = as many as 288 varieties.
3c carmine rose ( 3 x 4 x 12 x 2 x 3) = as many as 864 varieties
4c violet (1 x 4 x 9 x 12 x 3) = as many as 1,296 varieties.
5c blue (1 x 4 x 9 x 12 x 3) = as many as 1,296 varieties.

This ignores the official stamps completely. Further, I do not know if every paper type exists in every shade, but if the number of varieties is this large then it means that there are over 18,380 possible different plate blocks to collect in this issue in order to obtain every combination of paper and shade that could exist with each plate. If you are able to buy these for $1 per block, which is very optimistic, you are  still talking about spending over $18,000 on this issue.

All of the sudden, when you look at it this way, this issue does not have to be any easier to complete than you want it to be. Remember that we haven't considered coils, booklets, proofs or postal history yet, not to mention errors. Thus I would contend that you can easily spend a lifetime collecting this issue and spend tens of thousands and still not be done.

The nice thing though about this issue is that it is actually possible to do this because the pool of available extant material is large enough. You could never hope to do this with the classic period even if money was no object. Why? because the material just doesn't exist on this scale for the classic period. However, if we keep using this material for postage, there will come a time when this too will be impossible, and that would be a shame for philately I think.

The Scarcity Of Superb Stamps In The Modern Period

It is a well known fact that the early stamps of Canada are very scarce in superb mint or superb used condition. Indeed collectors over the last several years have been very willing to pay increasing prices for superb examples of otherwise common stamps. The premiums have been nothing short of astonishing:

1. A 1c green Admiral from 1914-22 in superb NH mint condition can sell for as much as $300 today. Back in 1990 I hardly ever saw a stamp like this sell for more than $20.

2. A $5 Jubilee from 1897 in VFNH condition used to sell for around $1,000 or so. In recent years, a stamp like this has sold for as much as $10,000 at auction.

However, all of this attention  to quality drops off abruptly at 1947, with most dealers and collectors paying very little attention to grade. Most modern issues are regarded as being so common that few people seem to care about seeking them out in superb grades. Perhaps this is due to the perception that such stamps are easily found.

I have just finished working with the 1954-1967 Wilding Issues and the 1953-1967 Karsh Issues for the past two months. During that time I have listed over 1,500 items and examined at least 2,500 stamps. Out of this total, I would say that no more than 50 or 60 items graded 84 or more on my scale, and the number grading over 94 would be no more than a dozen items. That is less than 3% of the total population of material handled.

Maybe that is not as scarce as for the earlier, pre 1947 issues, but it is scarce enough that such items should be worth a premium over the more common F-70, VF-75 and VF-80 grades, which form the bulk of the material on the market today.

So if you are looking for an area to pursue that has potential future upside, I believe that superb quality examples of modern stamps fit the bill. Why? Because any collector who wants only the very best available quality and is trying to form a complete Canada collection needs these stamps as well as the others.

On issues prior to the late 1960's when stamps were line perforated, mathematically perfect centering is rarely seen, even on the most common stamps. Once comb perforating becomes the preferred method, the number of perfectly centered stamps increases. However, they are still not that common.

The Dull Fluorescent Papers On The Wilding Issue 1954-1967

As with the gums on this issue the paper is another attribute that has received a lot less attention than it should. Unitrade had started listing fluorescent papers on this issue many years ago, and so most collectors with more than a passing interest in Canadian stamps are aware that this issue comes on fluorescent paper. However, what has not received very much attention are the papers that the catalogue refers to as plain or dull. Unitrade gives the impression that there is but a single type of plain paper. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Close examination will reveal that in addition to six different paper textures, there are also eight different types of dull paper that each appear different under ultraviolet light as follows:

Paper Textures:

1. Horizontal wove paper showing strong ribbing on both the front and back of the stamps.
2. Horizontal ribbed paper showing ribbing on the front only.
3. Horizontal ribbed paper showing ribbing only on the back.
4. Horizontal wove paper showing no ribbing at all either on the front, or the back - the horizontal mesh only being visible when the stamps are held up to a strong light source.
5. Vertical wove paper showing no visible ribbing.
6. Vertical wove paper showing distinct vertical ribbing on front and back.

It was suggested in one philatelic article (I can't remember where) that the vertical and horizontal papers were the same and only reflect the fact that the printing plates were rotated in late 1958 from a horizontal orientation to a vertical one. However, close examination reveals that this is not the case. The appearance of the ribbing and the appearance of the mesh is completely different with these papers. Also most of the horizontal wove papers are between 0.0035-0.004" thick, whereas the vertical wove papers are usually exactly 0.0035".

Whether all six textures should be represented in a collection is a matter of personal preference. I can see how some collectors may feel that papers 1-3 and 5-6 are the same and that distinguishing between them is overkill. However, I believe that based on their characteristics, at a minimum a collection should feature three of these types.

The scans below show the three basic types:

The above is am example of the horizontal wove with the clear ribbing. You can see the ribbing at the top of the block in the top selvage. One very good way to reliably detect the ribbing is to look at the stamps at an oblique angle to the light. Then it will be clearly visible. The horizontal  ribbed papers predominated until about 1956-1957, when the type with smooth surface appeared. 

This paper is horizontal wove and shows ribbing on the back, but is completely smooth on the front, even when viewed at an angle to the light. It usually appears on plates from about 9 onwards and predominates until the vertical wove papers appear. 

This is the vertical wove paper that shows no distinct ribbing. It is often whiter in appearance than the horizontal wove paper. 

Reactions Under UV Light:

1. Non-fluorescent violet reaction - usually found on the smooth horizontal wove. 
2. Dull fluorescent light violet reaction
3. Dull fluorescent greyish reaction
4. Dull fluorescent greyish white reaction 
5. Dull fluorescent white reaction
6. Dull fluorescent violet white reaction
7. Dull fluorescent bluish white reaction
8. Dull fluorescent ivory reaction

Types 2 through 8 are found on all the paper types, though some are clearly less common than others. Ivory, bluish white, violet white and light violet appear, based on the blocks I have examined so far to be much less common than the other types. Again, whether or not all eight should be included in a collection is a matter of personal preference. Many collectors may see little difference between types 1-2, 3-5 and 6-7. However, I believe that most would, if they could see them all together, would recognize at least four types. 

Understanding the differences between these papers and the gums will prove to be invaluable in sorting the printings of the high values, which are otherwise very difficult to tell apart, as most show very little variation in shade and nearly all were printed on dull fluorescent papers. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Gum On The Wilding Issues Collectible Differences or Random Variations?

The study of gum on Canadian stamps is a subject that has received very little detailed study, except with regard to the authentication of whether the gum found on a particular stamp is original or not. Very little attention has been paid to studying the characteristics of stamp gum to see if there are patterns that enable philatelists to accurately place or date particular printings of long-running definitive stamps. I am not sure why this is. Perhaps it may be due to a long held perception that the characteristics are too difficult to describe reliably in a way that a philatelist reading the description can recognize and correctly identify in his or her stamps. Perhaps it is due to a perception that there is too much random variation in the appearance of gum on individual stamps and that therefore the differences are not collectible as it would be impractical to form a "complete" collection of all the types.

I will contend after handling over 1,200 mint stamps, coils, booklet panes, and plate blocks of this issue that there most definitely are differences in the gum used on these stamps - differences that could be invaluable in dating particular printings correctly. The purpose of this post will be to describe the different types of dextrose gum that I have observed on these stamps.

Gum is a chemical substance like any other substance employed in the production of stamps. As such, its physical characteristics will be influenced by its chemical makeup. It is a surface coating of adhesive that goes on wet and dries to a finish that has particular attributes. Those attributes are:

1. Colour
2. Evenness of appearance - i.e. smooth versus streaky.
3. Sheen

Colour on this issue varies from deep yellow to light cream. The evenness of appearance can result from different methods of application to differences in how the gum bonds to the paper surface and dries. Finally sheen refers to how shiny the gum is. I like to use the same language that painters use to describe paint finishes on walls, i.e. flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, gloss and high gloss. I find that describing gum this way is reliable and easy to understand and apply later to other stamps.

So how does the gum on this issue vary?

Generally, the gum on this issue can be divided into four groups:

1. Gum in use from 1954 to about 1956
2. The 1956-1958 gum
3. The 1958-1964 gum
4. The 1964-1967 gum

This study is where a parallel study of the commemorative stamps of this period becomes very useful, due to the very narrow window of use. Understanding the characteristics of the gum used on these issues will prove very useful in supporting the contention that there were four distinct types of gum used during the life of this issue.

From 1954 until late in 1956 the gum used on these issues tends towards a deep yellow to deep yellowish cream with much more yellow than cream. It is usually fairly smooth and looks relatively evenly applied on most stamps, although occasionally some streakiness is apparent. The sheen is glossy and semi-gloss.

Then in 1956 and 1957 the gum becomes much less shiny, being more of a satin sheen. It also becomes streaky in appearance, often looking like it was applied in vertical lines, as such lines can usually be seen running through the gum. There is less yellow in the colour, though still much more yellow than cream. This gum is only found on the commemoratives of this period, so I am fairly sure that stamps of this issue with this type of gum were from this period. From my study of the various plate blocks this seems to be consistent with the plate numbers on which this type of gum are found.

With the changeover from horizontal to vertical wove paper on the 1c-2c, 4c-5c, 15c and 20c, the gum takes on a much creamier appearance. Both smooth and streaky versions are found, often on the same sheet, so this difference would not appear to be a collectible one, at least within this small period. It is still not shinier than glossy, with it occasionally being satin in sheen.

Then starting in about 1964 the gum becomes much shinier - more of a high gloss. It is either found completely smooth, or evenly streaky or stippled, kind of like the outside of a strawberry appears, with the matte areas corresponding to the seeds and the rest of the strawberry, the shiny parts of the gum. As the low values had been all but replaced by this time, the only values you will see this gum on are the 10c, 20c, 25c, and 50c textile industry stamp of the previous issue.

Becoming comfortable with these differences will take some patience and experience. However after a while you will begin to see that even though they are all dextrose gums, they are all very different in their appearance and therefore they deserve to be studied. The regular pattern of their occurrence confirms the notion that they are not random differences because they are not found on all values at all times, Instead they follow patterns that begin and end at certain times, which supports the notion that they are indeed collectible differences that should be studied and described to aid in the identification of specific printings of these stamps.

Plate Flaws, Re-Entries, Offsets, Foldovers and Cracked Plates On The Wilding Issue 1954-1967

This post will deal with some of the errors and oddities that are found on this issue. I will say that overall this was a very well printed issue that seems to have suffered from few mishaps. However, with patience and careful examination of the stamps, there are interesting oddities to be found.

Foldover Errors and Pre-Print Paper Creases 

The above freak is the result of a crease in the stamp paper that occurred before printing. The design was printed over the creased paper, which then left an unprinted void when the crease was opened out. 

The Damaged E Variety

This variety is really more of a deformity of the "E"in the left "EIIR"of some of the 2c, 4c and 5c coil stamps. It is a constant variety that can be found in complete rolls of the coil stamps. So in a sense it is the most common of all the varieties in this post. I do not know what the cause is, but it is likely some aspect of the coil production and the same thing that was responsible for the weak corner variety on the 2c Postes-postage coils and the narrow "1" and damaged "2" varieties on the 1935 Pictorial issue coils. 

The "Arc" Plate Flaw

This semi-circular arc flaw has been found on the 2c green. I do not know if it is constant, or is found on any other values. I think it likely is a freak flaw. 

Offsets on Gum

I really like this one. This variety shows a portion of the design printed on the back underneath the gum. I have seen other similar varieties offered for sale by Saskatoon Stamp Centre. But they are really uncommon, this being the first one I have ever seen personally. 

The Weeping Queen

The CBN seems to have a penchant for portraying the queen weeping. We have the "Weeping Princess" variety on the 1c Silver Jubilee Issue of 1935, and the Weeping Queen on the 1972 Caricature Issue. It may surprise you to see that such a variety exists on this issue as well. I have only come across it on the 5c shown above. I do not know whether or not it is a constant variety, or just a one-off, but it is nevertheless interesting in light of the fact that it is found on several issues featuring the Queen. 


Unitrade just started listing minor re-entries on this issue, with a single listing for the 5c involving doubling of the upper left corner. The above scan shows another such re-entry. If you look carefully at the frameline in the middle of the scan, you can just make out a very slight doubling of the line.

Cracked Plates

Usually a cracked plate will show either a strong jagged line in the margins or fine hairlines across the stamps. However I have noticed on the lower left positions of plates 12 and 13 some fine hairlines in the left margin. I don't think the above scan shows them clearly, though they are visible when the blocks are handled in the flesh.

This concludes a brief roundup of some of the oddities to be found on this issue. If any of you have other EFO's from this issue, I would love to feature images in this post. Please message me if you are interested to have them featured. I will give full credit to you of course.

The Position Dots On The Plate Blocks of The Wilding Issue 1954-1967

This is a topic that only became apparent as I worked on many hundreds of plate blocks, but has turned out to be one of the mysteries of plate blocks printed in the modern period. Several years ago, I noticed that many lower right blocks and many lower left blocks contained a coloured dot in the lower selvage. I do not know what the significance of these dots are, but it seemed as though every issue from 1935 onward printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company has these dots only on the two lower positions. 

The above scan shows the position of the dot on the lower right position under the "C" of "Canadian". The scan below shows the position of the dot below the period of "Limited.". 

It would be easy to assume that all the blocks have these dots in the same position, but then I came across the blocks from the high numbered plates on the vertical wove paper, and this is what I found:

On these blocks, we can see that instead of being located on the two bottom positions, they are instead found on the two right positions, which is consistent with the fact that the printing plates were rotated sideways when the sheet format was changed from 400 subjects to 600 subjects.

So it would seem that all of the plates on horizontal wove paper should have the dots on the lower positions as in the first two scans, but all plates on vertical wove paper have them on the two right positions as shown above.

However, it is not nearly so simple as this. In working with some of the blocks from the higher plates, I noticed that some of them have no position dots at all, like these two 5c blocks from plate 17:

As you can see, there are no dots at all on these, even though there should be, based on what we have seen so far. It is possible that none of the blocks from plate 17 have dots, or that maybe some do and some don't. This is a ripe topic for further detailed study.

In addition there are other differences as well. I have seen some blocks that have two dots, as well as blocks that have dots in the upper positions instead, and those that have dots in slightly different positions from those shown as follows:

This 3c lower left block has two dots instead of the usual one. The first dot is in the usual position: under the period of "Limited.". However, the second dot is under the "L" of "Limited.".

On this lower right block there are two dots, the first of which is where you would expect it to be. However, the second dot is located in the right selvage, just as it would be if this were one of the later printings on vertical wove paper. Now all of the sudden, there is a third type on the 4c value and it begs the question as to how many plates it exists on. 

 Again this lower right position has two dots, but the second dot is in a lower vertical position from the one above.

Finally on this block there are two dots, one above the other, over the "A" of "Canada's". Furthermore, you can just make out a feint horizontal line under the lower position dot. What is interesting about this block is that the dots appear on the upper right position at the top, which is not seen on any of the other values.

So in conclusion, what at first appears to be a small minor detail, has become a source of intrigue. What do these position dots represent? How many different combinations are there? What plates are they found on? Are any rare?

Shade Varieties Of The 4c Wilding Issue -1954-1963

The 4c violet in this issue rivals the 5c in terms of its complexity. The shades range from rosy violet and milky violet on the one hand through to deep purple violet, to deep blackish violet on the other hand. The progression is so gradual though that it is easy to see a large group of 4c stamps and think that they are all more or less the same. However, as with all the stamps of this series, patient and careful examination will reward you with many variations that are actually quite obvious when youn see them.

The shade varieties that I have found are as follows:

On plates 1-12n, the booklet panes and coil stamps:

1. Deep violet
2. Violet
3. Deep bright violet
4. Deep milky violet
5. Milky violet
6. Bluish violet
7. Bright violet
8. Bluish milky violet
9. Purple violet
10. Dull  violet

On plates 15-19:

1. Bluish violet
2. Violet
3. Dull violet
4. Deep violet
5. Light violet
6. Milky violet
7. Rosy violet
8. Deep rosy violet
9. Blackish violet

Shade Varieties Of The 2c Green and 3c Carmine Rose Wilding Issue 1954-1963

The next two stamps in this series have fewer shades than the others. However, there are a few that are very distinct:

On the 2c value the following shades are found:

1. Bright green
2. Green
3. Light dull green (usually on the high plates 11-20 and the cello-paqs.)
4. Dull green (usually on the high plates 11-20 and the cello paqs.)
5. Deep green (usually on the low plates 1-9)

On the 3c value:

1. Carmine
2. Carmine rose
3. Deep carmine

On this value, the carmine rose shade is almost a bright cerise. It seems to be found usually on the earlier printings. The later printings and tagged stamps seem to mostly be either carmine or deep carmine.

Shade Varieties Of The 1c Brown Wilding Issue - 1954-1963

As promised, I have a clear afternoon on this Boxing Day to sit and write some posts summarizing some of my additional observations that have come from working with over 1,200 items from this series over the past month. It is no exaggeration to say that this issue really is the modern equivalent of the "Admiral Issue". But the wonderful thing for collectors is that this set is both much more affordable, and it is possible to form a complete collection of all the plate blocks. It may even be possible to acquire a complete collection of plate sheets. I can say with reasonable confidence that such a feat is no longer possible on the Admirals, given that over 200 different plates were used to print each of the low values in that issue. However, it is possible to master this series without having to be a millionaire to do it. However, from what I can see after working on this issue for a month, I can see that doing so rigorously, with proper statistically valid paper and shade studies could well take a couple of decades.

Like the Admirals, one major point of interest for this series is the different shades that can be found on all the values of this series. Some of them are so subtle that they may at first appear to be identical and it will only be after close examination that you will see the differences. However, some are so drastic that one wonders how they have never been listed in the Unitrade catalogue.

I have already identified some 22 shades of blue and ultramarine that I have found on the 5c value and these were the subject of my last post. The 1c value has many fewer shades than this, but still quite a few as follows:

Predominately found on the low plates to plate 10:

1. Violet brown (by far the most common shade)
2. Pale violet brown
3. Deep violet brown
4. Deep brown

Predominately found on the higher plates from 11 to 12:

1. Brown
2. Pale brown
3. Violet brown
4. Chocolate brown

There may be others such as pale chocolate brown, and red-brown. However, more stamps would have to be examined to establish the existence of more shades.

It appears that the first group of shades is found both in the sheet stamps and the booklet stamps, which first appeared in 1956. The second group is found on both the tagged and untagged stamps.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Shade Varieties On the 5c Wilding Stamp of 1954-1962

As promised, I am augmenting my posts on the Wilding Issue with a series of additional posts to cover off some of the detail that has become apparent to me while I was listing the plate blocks of this issue. I'm going to start with the shade varieties of the 5c blue as this is the value that I have just been working on, so the shades are all fresh in my mind.

As I have written in previous posts, this value was printed from no fewer than 19 plates, although plate 14 cannot be positively identified because the inscriptions were trimmed off all sheets. This variety of printings has produced no fewer than 22 identifiable shade varieties of blue or ultramarine. Some of these are very subtle, but some are not at all, as shown in the picture below:

How anyone can think that the two blocks on the left are the same colour is beyond me. These differences are every bit as significant as what we are used to seeing on the popular Admiral series of 1911-1928. There may even be more shades than I have identified, since I have only examined a relatively small number of plate blocks. The shades seem to extend across multiple plate numbers, and trying to tabulate which plates exist with which shades would be a very challenging and worthwhile research project indeed.

The shades that I have found so far, are:

Predominently on plates 15-19:

Dull ultramarine
Deep bright ultramarine
Greenish ultramarine
Deep ultramarine
Bright ultramarine
Navy blue
Dark blue
Light bright ultramarine
Milky ultramarine
Pale ultramarine
Light ultramarine

Predominantly on plates 1-13:

Light bright blue
Deep bright blue - the most common shade by far
Deep greenish blue
Pale dull ultramarine
Dull greenish blue
Deep blue
Bright Blue
Royal Blue

Some of these shades would appear to be relatively uncommon, based on their infrequent occurrence among the blocks that I examined.

If you would like to look at my listings of the plate blocks of the 5c value, please click on the following link:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Additional Posts for The 1954-1967 Wilding Issue

After working extensively with the plate blocks of this issue, I feel that it is necessary to write some additional in-depth posts about this issue before moving on to the next definitive issue. In the next three weeks or so, I will start to write posts on the following topics:

1. Shade varieties on the 1c violet brown
2. Shade varieties on the 2c green
3. Shade varieties on the 4c violet
4. Shade varieties on the 5c blue
5. Position dots on the plate blocks
6. The gum on the Wilding issues - collectible varieties versus random variations.
7. The Dull Fluorescent Papers.
8. The scarcity of superb stamps in modern Canadian philately.
9. Forming a specialized collection of plate blocks of the Wilding Issue.
10. The existence of cracked plates on the Wilding Issue.
11. Constant plate varieties on the booklet covers.

Watch this space starting after Christmas for these posts. In the meantime, if you would like to see the plate blocks I have listed so far, click on the following link:

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Plate Block Post For The Wilding Issue Continues To Be Updated

I am still working on listing the plate blocks of the 4c, 5c, 6c, 10c, 15c, 20c and 25c stamps from this issue. This week I hope to finish the listings for the 4c plate blocks.

I have been updating my post dealing with the plate blocks of this issue, specifically for the printing order numbers found on the lower left positions:

I am now up to plate 5 of the 4c value and I still have some 15 plates of this value and 19 plates of the 5c to go in addition to the high values. So please be sure to check this post regularly for updates. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Listings for the 1954-1967 Wilding Issue Taking Much Longer Than Expected And Some Other Observations About This Issue

I had promised an update today or an overview post of the 1963-1967 Cameo Issue. Unfortunately, the Wilding Issue is taking much longer to get through than I thought. As of today, I expect to complete the 3c value and as the 2c value took a full week to get through, I think this set will take me another 3 weeks to complete - so probably around Christmas.

In the meantime, I will post any new observations that come to light as I continue to list the stamps and plate blocks of this issue. In particular, I am updating my post dealing with the plate blocks of this issue as I examine more and more blocks and new printing order numbers become known. Be sure to go back and re-read this if this topic interests you.

One comment that I can definitely make at this point is that the paper differences that I have written about are becoming more and more pronounced as I examine more and more blocks. Also, I am finding that many plate positions have characteristics with regard to paper texture and position dots that seem to be universal across the plate number. For example, there are some blocks of the 2c that have no position dots on any of the positions, while there are other plate numbers that seem to only exist on ribbed paper and others that exist only on smooth paper. On some of the 3c lower left positions, I am finding two position dots instead of the usual one and on the later printings, I am finding the dots in the right selvage, instead of at the bottom, which is in keeping with what I have seen on the post 1958 printings of the 1c and 2c values.

The 3c value presents somewhat of a mystery so far as it does not conform to the 1c and 2c in as much as it only seems to exist on horizontal wove paper. Also it is the only value that is found in plate block form with Winnipeg Tagging. Why this is the case remains a mystery for another philatelist to study and solve.

The gums used on this issue are problematic. There are definite differences between them, but they are hard to describe accurately. Also, it appears that there may be variation within a block, where some stamps in a block have completely smooth gum with no streaks, but then others will have streaky gum. This may mean that the distinction streaky versus smooth my be less meaningful than I first thought. Additional study will be required to resolve this issue.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Brief Hiatus in Posts and No Longer Posting to Groups on a Daily Basis

I have come to the end of my detailed posts on the Wilding definitive issue of 1954-1967. However, I am way, way behind on my listings of this issue in my E-bay store. So while I could write about a completely different topic, I have decided that it would be best if I completed the listings of the material for this issue in my e-bay store. If you are intrigued about these issues having ready my posts on the topic and wish to view the stamps that I have for sale, the link to my store is:

I expect that listing all the material that I have for this issue will take me at least a full week. Once I have completed it and I am ready to start working on the next definitive issue, which is the 1963-1967 Cameo Issue, then I can start to write posts again about that issue. So if you have read all my posts, I would encourage you to check back here around December 2 or December 3, 2015. By then, I will either have my overview post of this issue published, or an update as to when I expect to have it done. If you haven't read all my posts, I encourage you to go back through the listing at the right sidebar, as I have a large number of posts about all aspects of the Queen Victoria issues. They are not quite as detailed as the postings for Queen Elizabeth II, as I don't have as much material to work with as I do for QE2. However, you should still find plenty of useful insights that come from my years of personal experience in working with these stamps, that are not listed in any stamp catalogue.

Also, I will not be sharing my posts with Facebook groups each and every time I publish a post, as it is taking far too much time to do this with every group I am a member of. I will post every post to both my timeline and my store page:

So if you like reading my posts and want to receive notifications of new posts as they are published, you can either follow my store page, or become a follower on my blog. I will occasionally share posts to groups, but not every day.

Happy collecting everyone!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Understanding and Studying Paper Fluorescence on Modern Stamps


Probably no topic causes more confusion for collectors than the study of paper fluorescence. Many feel that there is too much subjectivity involved in evaluating and studying paper fluorescence and there is a tremendous amount of inconsistency among the stamps listed in Unitrade. Indeed many of the stamps listed are described as having the same degree of fluorescence, but appear completely different under the UV lamp. This makes positive identification of single stamps next to impossible for those unfamiliar with the papers, unless the varieties are unmistakably obvious.

This post will attempt to explain why this confusion arises and break the topic down into more manageable components, so that you will be able to see that the study of paper fluorescence is not impossibly complex.

The Cause of Confusion and Basic Grades of Fluorescence

The subject of paper fluorescence is confusing because many of the papers used contain fibres in varying densities that react differently to the UV lamp than the main paper. In addition, the use of paper coatings in the early 1970's has resulted in many papers that give different reactions on the face of the paper from the back.

To begin with it is important to understand the basic levels of fluorescence and what they look like:

1. Dead paper (Dead)
2. Non-Flourescent (NF)
3. Dull Fluorescent (DF)
4. Low Fluorescent (LF)
5. Medium Fluorescent (MF)
6. High Fluorescent (HF)
7. Hibrite (HB)

Dead, Non-fluorescent and Dull Fluorescent Papers

The picture taken with my I-phone camera shows the three lowest grades of paper fluorescence: Dead, non-fluorescent (NF) and dull fluorescent (DF). It is important for me to point out that the camera does not adequately capture the differences between the grades, dulling them. So in reality the differences between the following stamps are much greater in real life:

Dead paper appears either a dark brown or a very dark purple under the UV lamp. There is no bluish white or white glow whatsoever. This paper absorbs light and reflects none. True dead paper prior to the early 1990's is rarely seen. Much more common is NF paper. The stamp on the left is printed on dead paper.

NF paper appears a lighter brown or lighter purple. Again it absorbs and does not really give off any glow at all. The main difference between NF and dead paper is in the depth of colour that the viewer sees. The stamp in the centre is NF. It appears darker than this in real life. But if you look closely at the picture, you can see that it is definitely duller than the stamp on the right.

DF paper is the most common paper type prior to the Centennial issue. This paper type varies quite a bit in colour under UV, but generally, it gives off a very dull, bluish or greyish white appearance. It will not have the brownish or violet appearance of the NF or dead papers. It will not appear to be at all fluorescent, but compared to the above 2 types it looks quite fluorescent.

It is important to note  that fluorescence refers to the brightness of the reflected light, not the colour. DF paper can come in several different types, each of which reflects a different colour under UV:

  • Greyish white
  • Greyish
  • Ivory
  • Bluish white
  • White
  • Yellowish ivory
  • Light violet
These are some of the colours I have seen. The difficulty for the novice is that it is very easy to mistake the bluish white or greyish white DF paper with fluorescent paper if the person has never seen true fluorescent paper. This is especially the case if you are used to seeing NF paper. 

Low Fluorescent, Medium Fluorescent, High Fluorescent and Hibrite Papers

The picture below shows three of these four grades of fluorescence on the top row, with DF, and LF on the bottom row for comparison:

LF paper gives off an unmistakable light bluish white glow under UV. Generally it can be quite bluish. The stamp at the top left is DF. In this picture, it doesn't look that much duller than the LF stamp at the bottom, and indeed the example here is definitely toward the dull end of the scale. Most LF papers are about mid-way in brightness between the stamp at the bottom and the stamp that is second from left in the top row.

MF paper gives off a brighter, lighter bluish white glow. The second stamp fro the left is MF. In addition the stamp shown has the bright Ottawa General Tagging that glows bright greenish yellow. This tagging replaced the Winnipeg tagging and was introduced in 1972.

HF Paper is very bright, but less so than the hibrite. The stamp third from left is HF. There will still be a slight hint of blue or violet to the light.

Hibrite paper (HB)  is unmistakable in the sense that the glow is almost pure, bright white. The stamp on the right is HB.

The above picture does not show the differences between DF and LF or HF and HB quite as clearly as I would like, so hopefully the following additional shots will capture the differences better:

In this picture, you can see very clearly that the 8c stamp is much brighter than the right stamp. In addition it has a mottled appearance. That is because the paper is actually DF, but contains a large number of LF fibres that make it appear LF. This is one aspect of paper fluorescence that gives rise to the most confusion because Unitrade has two different ways of describing this paper. On some issues, they call if "speckled fluorescent" (SF) and on others simply "fluorescent" (F). There doesn't seem to be any particular reason for this, but in reality the presence of fluorescent additive fibres should be considered separately from the issue of the ambient fluorescence of the paper because it is possible to have a dead paper that contains a small number of low fluorescent fibres.  

This picture shows the difference between HF and HB more clearly. In practice many of the so called HB stamps listed in Unitrade are really either MF or HF rather than truly HB. The problem is that the issues of definitives have all been studied independently of one another and the descriptions have come about as a result of comparison of one stamp to another. Because fluorescence is relative and a continuum, it really is necessary to study all the issues together and compare stamps across different sets. This is what I have done in listing my stamps.

Fluorescent Fibres In The Paper and Naming Convention

What complicates the picture is that in addition to the basic grade of the paper, there are often found, fibres which show a different level of fluorescence. These fibres can be very dense, to the point where you can barely see individual fibres, right down to very sparse, where there are only 1 or 2 fibres visible on the stamp. Often these fibres can fool collectors into thinking that a paper is more fluorescent than it actually is, with the above 8c stamp being a good case in point. To deal with this, I have devised a naming convention as follows:

(basic fluorescence-fl, fluorescence of the fibres in the paper, concentration of said fibres)

So a stamp that had a basic fluorescence of DF, that has a high concentration of low fluorescent fibres would be abbreviated as follows:

(DF-fl, LF, HD)

For concentrations, I recognize six different levels of concentration as follows:

Very, very sparse (VVS) - no more than 1-5 fibres across the whole surface of the stamp.

Very sparse (VS) 5-10 fibres across the stamp with no discernable pattern.

Sparse (S) a very light sprinkling of fibres across the entire stamp. Gaps where there are no fibres will be quite large - as much as 2-3 mm.

Low Density (LD) the entire stamp is covered in fibres, but there areas with no fibres evenly distributed throughout that are up to 1 mm.

Medium density (MD) the spaces between the fibres are smaller than 1 mm, but the fact that the fibres are individual is still very clear.

High Density (HD) there are so many fibres in the paper that the fluorescence almost appears uniform, but under close inspection it is possible to make out individual fibres.

Now it is the case that some stamp papers contain more than one grade of fluorescent fibre. This explains situations where you have two stamps with fibres that appear to have the same overall fluorescence, but look different when you compare them to one another. To name these varieties, I simply add another two sets of initials for the second type for fibre, and more sets for each type of fibre present in the paper. So for example, a DF paper that contains a low density of LF fibres and a sparse concentration of MF fibres would be named as follows:

(Df-fl, LF, LD, MF, S)

Paper Coatings, Different Readings on Front and Back and Impact on Naming Convention

With the advent of chalk coatings that began to be added to papers starting in 1970, the subject of paper fluorescence becomes much more complicated because often the reaction of the front of the stamp will differ from the back. The pictures below illustrate this for the 25c Polar Bears definitive from 1976:

The two blocks shown here are both DF paper. However, one block is pure DF, with a chalk coating that gives the appearance of being dead on the front. The other block has such a high concentration of HF fibres that it appears HF from the back and MF on the front.

The naming convention will thus have to be modified to allow the back and the front of the stamp to be differentiated where the reaction on the front differs from the back. This is done by means of a slash. Everything to the left of the slash refers to the front of the stamp or multiple and everything to the right refers to the back.

So these two blocks would be named as follows:

The left block in the top picture would be: Dead/DF

The right block in the same picture is: DF-fl, MF, MD/DF-fl, HF, MD, MF, MD

What is interesting here is that the second block actually has two different types of fibres, only one of which can be seen from the front. The reason I know there are two is that on the back the overall density appears to be HD. But then looking at the front there is a lot of space consistent with MD. The reason for this difference is that the MF fibres that are visible from the back are not bright enough to show through the front. If there is only one type of fibre present, then the concentration will either be the same on the front an back, or visible on the back only, but not the front.

Finally, there also exists a chalk-surfaced paper during the 1972-1976 period which comes with either a smooth surface, a distinct vertical ribbed surface and a distinct horizontal ribbed surface. The reactions of this paper under UV light are quite varied, but there is a DF paper which shows very clear woodpulp fibres on the back under UV. The descriptions of these stamps will include the word "woodpulp" after the initials describing the paper fluorescence.

I recognize that this is very complicated and may appear at first to be to complicated to be workable. However, I believe breaking it down like this will take much of the subjectivity out of the study of paper fluorescence and introduce a bit more objectivity.

Anyone have any thoughts about this?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Modern Versus Classic Philately - Just As Interesting If You Know What To Look At

I have now completed two series of posts that describe all aspects of two relatively modern Canadian definitive issues, that have until very recently been thought to contain relatively little to interest a specialist: The Karsh Issue of 1953-1967 and the Wilding Issue of 1954-1967. When I was a boy, there were almost no detailed catalogue listings of either issue, and even today, the Karsh Issue has almost no listed varieties. However, as my posts demonstrate, these two issues are hardly straightforward, and have much to keep a devoted specialist busy for an entire lifetime. So why, after such a long time, are these issues still largely neglected?

There are several reasons, but I think the main one is that there is a strong bias in the hobby to dismiss any variety that is not either very obvious, or from the classic period as being little more than random variation. Indeed, within the professional circles of philately, there is a strong bias against the serious study and collection of stamps issued after World War II, dismissing them as nothing more than discount postage. Pretty well all of the professional attention in philately, especially at the exhibition level is directed towards the classic period. For Canada, the definition of the boundary between the classic and modern period has shifted with the passage of time. When I was a boy, it was the end of the Small Queen period and now it is the end of the Admiral period.

So why is there this tendency to dismiss the modern material? Part of it has to do with its availability: the stamps of issues like the Karsh and Wildings are widely available in almost perfect condition. I will say though, that they are noticeably less common than they were back in the 1980's, as usage on mail by stamp dealers has had its impact. Another reason is that classic philately has created a set of expectations and beliefs in collectors about what is considered significant and collectible, and these beliefs and expectations are slow to evolve. I'll explain further what I mean.

Most collectible varieties of the classic period result from the inherent technological limitations of the time in which the stamps were printed, such as:

  • Major and minor shade varieties
  • Major and minor re-entries
  • Differences in paper thickness
  • Plate flaws
Others are the result of deliberate variations in the production process:

  • Differences in perforation measurement result from different perforation machines
  • Wet and dry printings result from differences in the printing process
  • Flat plate and rotary press printings result from different types of printing presses
  • Watermarks
Not all of these were considered significant by philatelists at the time the related stamps came out, but the most obvious ones were recognized almost immediately. Slowly over time, as the classic issues have become more and more popular, collectors have begun paying closer and closer attention to them so that less obvious varieties like minor re-entries, minor shade variations and minor differences in perforation measurement are now receiving attention, whereas they were largely ignored for most of the last 100 years. 

What do all of these varieties have in common? The answer is that all of them can be identified with tools that collectors are highly familiar with: a good magnifying glass, a perforation gauge, and a watermark tray. Furthermore, they can all be seen with the naked eye in normal spectrum light. This has created the expectation among collectors in general that in order to be significant, a variation must be objectively identifiable and with relative ease using tools that are readily available. 

So the major issues contributing to the lack of popularity of these issues is:

  • A belief that they are too common to represent a worthy challenge.
  • A belief that there is little about them to warrant study.
The issue of availability is an interesting one because it illustrates a fact about the human condition that has implications for the past and future scarcity of this material. Humans generally do not appreciate that which is abundant. The interesting thing is that there are very few stamps today that were scarce right from the start. The 12d black of issued in 1851 is one example of a stamp that was always rare. Most issues that are very popular today were not considered to be particularly special or beautiful at the time they were current because they were readily available, and because their aesthetic was the norm for the time. I've heard from one long since deceased philatelist that in 1954 you could still buy the $1 Admiral of 1923 at the post office. Given that I can buy the 1997 $8 Grizzly Bear definitives at my local post office, I can certainly believe this old man's story to be true. Another story involves the father of Official stamps, Roy Wrigley. He was a boy when the Small Queens were current in the 1890's. He tells of a time when a relative gave him dozens of 5c Large Queen stamps that had been saved from mail clippings. These stamps today have a minimum value of $50 each most likely. What did Wrigley do with them as a young lad? He traded them for Seebeck issues of Latin America - beautiful but worthless in comparison. I tell  this story here to illustrate the fact that Wrigley's attitude toward the Large Queen stamps at that time was the same as many collectors and dealers attitudes toward modern material are. 

It is worth remembering too that scarcity is a function of demand. Admirals and Small Queens today are probably no scarcer in absolute terms than they were 50 years ago. A small percentage of the material that was in existence in 1965 may have been lost through mishandling, destruction etc. But for the most part, collectors are a very careful lot and hate to throw away even damaged stamps. So most of the material that existed back then is still with us today. The reason why the material is expensive (even in used condition it is expensive if you are buying it in quantity) today is because there are so many collectors who specialize in this material. So all it will really take to make the modern issues as scarce will be an upsurge in demand. This is also the case, as print quantities of stamps have been declining over time. Although the issue quantities of the stamps from these two issues may seem astronomical, being in the hundreds of millions for the low values, they are much lower than the issue quantities of the Small Queens and Admirals which numbered in the 2-3 billion range for the values 3c and under. 

In terms of finding interesting varieties to study, the problem with modern philately is that there is much more precision inherent in the technology of the printing process than there was in the classic period:

  • Inks are mixed by machines and now by computers using formulas and exact measurements resulting in very little variation in shade. 
  • Watermarks are no longer used because other security measures to prevent counterfeiting have superseded them.
  • Engraving is no longer the main method of printing, whereas photogravure is. 
What this uniformity does mean though is that any variation in shade, even if relatively minor by classic standards, may actually be very significant because it is so uncommon. 

The push during the classic period was to find a way to cut the cost of printing stamps and to find more efficient ways to print large numbers of stamps as the demand for stamps at the turn of the century exploded. This is the main reason why photogravure is now the printing method of choice rather than engraving - it is much less expensive. Initially printing was engraving, done on damp sheets which were dried out and gummed. Then the efficiencies of printing on pre-gummed, dry paper were discovered during the Admiral period, which is why we have the change from wet to dry printing. Before the Admiral period, printing was done on steel plates that wore and had to be continually re-entered. By the end of the Admiral period, printing was done on chromium-nickel plated steel plates, which did not wear the way the earlier ones did. This is the reason why re-entries almost entirely disappear after the Admiral period. 

The push during the modern period after 1950 was to figure out how to save labour costs in the mail sorting and cancelling process, as well as speed the process since the volume of mail had become so much larger. This has led post offices from all over the world to develop machinery that was designed to detect the stamps on the envelopes, be able to differentiate whether or not they were first class or lower class rates and to both sort and cancel the mail accordingly. In order to work the way they were designed to, a way had to be devised for the machines to detect the stamps. This led postal administrations all over the world to experiment with fluorescent or phosphorescent inks, or tagging that would react with either short wave or long-wave ultraviolet light as follows:

  • The US has employed an overall phosphorescent coating on their stamps that glows bright yellow under long wave UV and either green or orange I believe under short wave UV.
  • Great Britain experimented with graphite lines in the late 1950's before adopting phosphor bands in 1959. These only react to the more dangerous short wave UV and initially they glowed green, then blue and now violet. 
  • Australia experimented with helecon coating in the 1950's and 1960's as well as adding helecon to inks. Helecon is a zinc-sulfide related substance that glows orange under long wave UV light. I believe that in the 1970's to the 1990's helecon was added to the papers and now they use an overall fluorescent coating.
  • Nearly all the Western European countries have some kind of fluorescent coating on their stamps that was the subject of experimentation in the 1960's. 
  • We introduced Winnipeg tagging in 1962 that glowed bluish white under long-wave UV. This was abandoned in favour of Ottawa tagging in 1972, which glows bright green or greenish yellow. In addition some of our stamps that were printed in Australia have either a yellow or orange fluorescent coating. 
So the most major point of interest in modern philately is also the one that is least understood and consequently ignored by collectors: the subject of tagging and paper fluorescence. Paper fluorescence is a significant topic because while all this experimentation was going on with mail sorting, paper recycling was becoming prevalent and the recycling process was producing envelope papers that were brighter under UV than the tagging on the stamps, making it impossible for the sorting machines to do their job. So these problems sparked a lot of experimentation in papers that would not interfere with the tagging. 

Finally, the transition from more costly engraving to modern photogravure was made during the 1960's and this introduced a whole series of other problems in terms of the paper that could be used. papers had to be developed that could accept a wide range of inks and which could also absorb cancellation inks. All of these papers had to be developed in such a way that the tagging on the stamps would still be visible to the sorting machines. 

Consequently, while a perforation gauge is still an important tool, it is not the most important tool of modern philately. The most important tool is this:

A long wave ultraviolet lamp. Many collectors have shied away from using these for a number of reasons:

  • They are too expensive
  • A belief that they are dangerous to the eyes
  • A belief that paper fluorescence is too difficult, subjective and confusing to study
It is true that the hobby suppliers like Lighthouse and Uni-Safe charge quite a bit for their deluxe models of UV lamp. There are cheap, hand held, battery operated models, but I find the quality of the light to be so weak from them that they can only really be used in a dark room. The model I have shown above is cheap - mine cost me less than $20 and has paid for itself hundreds of times over in terms of what it has revealed for me. You can buy these at most party supply stores or specialty lighting stores. 

Short wave UV is extremely dangerous to the eyes, which is why these lamps come with eye shields and boxes that shield your eyes from the light. Long-wave UV is not dangerous though. 

As for the subjectivity and complexity, my response would be that yes it is a complex area and there is some subjectivity involved, but no more really than would be involved in the study of shades, or papers on classic stamps. 

So I believe that the key to recognizing the potential of modern philately is to recognize that one has to look at different aspects of the stamps using different tools than one is accustomed to using on classic stamps. I'd be interested to know your thoughts on this topic. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Postal History and Postal Stationery of the Wilding Issue 1954-1967

This will be my last post on the 1954-67 Wilding Issue. In this post I will talk about the collecting of postal history including first day covers and postal stationery. As we will see this is yet again a field that contains ample scope to keep you busy for quite some time.

Postal History

15c airmail cover to Germany with 1c-4c plus 1959 St Lawrence Seaway commemorative paying the first class airmail rate. 

25c domestic forwarded registered letter with a complete booklet pane of 5 of the 5c blue paying 5c postage, plus the 20c registration fee.

The collecting of covers to various destinations, paying various rates offers many different opportunities for specialization, which are basically as follows:

1. Collecting by postage rate
2. Collecting by destination
3. Collecting unintentional first day covers
4. Collecting covers addressed to significant individuals
5. Collecting covers that document significant historical events
6. Collecting business advertising covers

Collecting By Postage Rate:

As was the case with the Karsh Issue the airmail rate to the UK and Commonwealth countries and most of Europe was 15c per ounce and that it was 25c to non-Commonwealth countries outside Europe. The surface rate to the UK was the same as the domestic forwarded rate which was 5c per ounce. The local city rate for first class mail was 4c per ounce and third class and postcards were 3c. Registration rates continued to be 20c per ounce, while special delivery was 10c. So you can organize a collection of covers along the lines of these rates. The more interesting ones will be those where the rates were paid through an unusual combination of lower value stamps, as customary practice was generally to use as few stamps as possible to make up the rate.

Below is a link to the Canadian Postal History Corner website that lists all of the Canadian postage rates for this period:

Quite frequently, you will see mixed frankings of this issue and the earlier Karsh Issue or the later Cameo issue, as the stamps of the definitive issues were often not replaced all at once. For example the current 50c stamp during this period was the 50c textile industry stamp of the Karsh Issue. The current 10c stamp did not replace the 1950 Fur Resources stamp until February 21 1955. Likewise the $1 totem pole stamp from the Karsh Issue was not replaced during the entire period of this issue.

Collecting by Destination

Collecting by destination is a popular way to collect postal history, and there are plenty of destinations that would be rare and unusual for stamps of this issue. US and UK covers will be quite common, as will covers to most western European countries. However covers to:

  • South America
  • Oceania
  • Asia
  • Africa
will all be relatively scarce, and many will have required the payment of the higher postage rates, which can make for some interesting stamp combinations.

Collecting Unintentional First Day Covers

First day covers that are not philatelic and were created through simple happenstance are the most sought after by philatelists. Unfortunately, I do not have an example of such a cover to show in this post, but I will add one with an update if one turns up.

It will be helpful to learn and memorize the dates of issue for the commemorative stamps that were released during the period of this set, as well as the dates of issue for the definitive stamps as well. Quite often you will find that commemoratives were often used in combination with definitives on commercial covers to make up the required rates.

The issue dates for the relevant stamps are;

#337-343 - 1c-15c - June 10, 1954 for all values except the 5c and 15c, which were April 1, 1954
#337a, 340a - 1c and 4c booklet stamps - January 1, 1956
#341a - 5c booklet stamp - July 14, 1954
#345 - 2c coil - September 9, 1954
#347 - 4c coil - August 23, 1954
#348 - 5c coil - July 6, 1954
#349-50 4c Thompson and 5c Bowell - November 1, 1954
#351 10c Inuk and Kayak - February 21, 1955
#352-353 - 4c Musk ox and 5c Whooping cranes - April 4, 1955
#354 5c ICAO - June 1, 1955
#355 5c Alberta and Sasatchewan - June 30, 1955
#356 5c Boy scouts - August 20, 1955
#357-358 4c Bennett and 5c Tupper - November 8, 1955
#359 5c Hockey - January 23, 1956
#360-361 4c Caribou and 5c Mountain goat - April 12, 1956
#362-363 20c Paper industry and 25c Chemical industry - June 7, 1956
#364 5c Fire prevention - October 9, 1956
#365-368 - Recreation sports - March 7, 1957
#369 5c Loon - April 10, 1957
#370 5c David Thompson - June 5, 1957
#371-372 UPU congress - August 14, 1957
#373 5c Mining - September 5, 1957
#374 5c Royal visit - October 10, 1957
#375 5c Freedom of the press - January 22, 1958
#376 5c International Geophysical Year - March 5, 1958
#377 5c British Columbia Centennial - May 8, 1958
#378 5c La Verendrye - June 4, 1958
#379 5c Champlain - June 26, 1958
#380 5c Health - July 30, 1958
#381 5c Oil Industry - September 10, 1958
#382 5c First elected assembly - October 2, 1958
#383 5c First flight in Canada - February 23, 1959
#384 5c Nato - April 2, 1959
#385 5c Country women - May 13, 1959
#386 5c Royal visit - June 18, 1959
#387 5c St. Lawrence Seaway - June 26, 1959
#388 5c Plains of Abraham - September 10, 1959
#389 5c Girl guides - April 20, 1960
#390 5c Battle of Long Sault - May 19, 1960
#391 5c Northern development - February 8, 1961
#392 5c Pauline Johnson - March 10, 1961
#393 5c Prime minister - April 19, 1961
#394 5c Colombo plan - June 28, 1961
#395 5c Resources for tomorrow - October 12, 1961
#396 5c Education  - February 28, 1962
#397 5c Red River Settlement - May 3, 1962
#398 5c Jean Talon - June 13, 1962
#399 5c Victoria Centenary - August 22, 1962
#400 5c Trans Canada Highway - August 31, 1962
#410 5c Casimir Gzowski - March 5, 1963

I don't have exact issue dates for the G overprints, but I assume that they would have been the same dates as the basic unoverprinted stamps.

Collecting by Addressee or Historical Event

This is yet another very interesting way to collect this issue. It is useful to familiarize yourself with the names of prominent politicians and personalities from these years, as well as all the major historical events of the period that a cover could relate to.

Below are two useful links that will take you to pages listing all the world leaders between 1954 and 1963:

Then we have two links taking you to pages listing significant historical events between 1954 and 1963:

You could also consider researching a list of Canadian politicians active during these years as well as prominent entertainers and business leaders and trying to look for mail addressed to them. Google makes it possible now to research names and places easily, so that a seemingly random name on the front of a cover can turn out to be quite significant.

Business Advertising Covers

Businesses did not generally do entire frontal and back advertising they way that they did in the 1880's until the early 1900's. However, there are still a variety of interesting and colourful motifs and corner cards on business covers of this period that can be quite interesting to collect.

First Day Covers

Collecting of first day covers during this period focuses on the different cover designs, also known as cachets. Some Cachet makers, such as Art Craft  and Rosecraft were very active and their cachets are the most common. The above cover has no cachet, which is much less common during this period than it was in the 1920's and 1930's. However, there were also a number of private cachet makers operating during this period, some of which produced lovely, hand painted cachets. These were often done in very minute quantity and are quite rare now. In addition to the different cachet makers, there are often varieties within the same cachet maker that have gone overlooked over the years, such as the wrong cachet used for a particular cover, or a spelling mistake that was later corrected. These are things to watch carefully for.

First day cover collecting is much less popular than it was at one time, so you can often find accumulations of first day covers for not a lot of money.

Postal Stationery

2c green postcard with no inscription

There was only one series of postal stationery issued during this period, which used the same design as the issued stamps. As with the Karsh Issue, mint postal stationery from this period is not expensive and most used stationery can be acquired for very reasonable prices. The only envelope in use that was available to the public for this issue was the #8 envelope, which was 165 mm x 99 mm. Watch for private order envelopes which were of different dimensions to these, as many of these will be quite scarce.  On this issue there were two different kinds of backflap, called a knife. One was 20 mm deep and the other was 16 mm deep. The envelopes issued were all on white wove paper and were:

  • 2c green  #8 with 20 mm knife
  • 2c green #8 with 16 mm knife
Unitrade notes that gum varieties exist on these envelopes, although it does not state which varieties exist. 

Unitrade lists the following special order and election envelopes:

  • 2c green
  • 4c purple
  • 5c blue
  • 2c green + 1c brown
  • 4c purple precancel + 2c green
  • 5c blue election envelope

However Unitrade notes that the basic listing is for the most common type. No attempt is made to list every type of envelope that may exist. So this is a ripe field for more detailed study. 

There were no post bands or wrappers from this issue.

There were eight Aerogrammes issued during the period of this issue. Five employed the basic airplane over globe design that was introduced with the Karsh issue, while three featured a jet flying straight with "Canada" and a maple leaf above it. The varieties of aerogramme listed in Unitrade are:

  • 10c blue with solid address lines and "first fold here" to the left of the guideline.
  • 10c blue with solid address lines and "first fold here" to the right of the guideline.
  • 10c blue as above but unwatermarked.
  • 10c blue with dotted address lines, unwatermarked.
  • 10c blue with dotted address lines, watermarked.
  • 10c red, black and grey, 4 dotted address lines.
  • 10c red, black and grey, 5 dotted address lines with rounded flap joint.
  • 10c red, black and grey, 5 dotted address lines with square flap joint. 

Several varieties of postcard were issued from this series. Most were on a thin card stock, although the soft, porous "mimeo" stock is found on the 2c postcard. Two very similar designs were employed. The 1954 issues had a coarse design that had the original 1954 date, while the 1955 issue had clearwe impressions and 1955 in the lower right corner. The cards issued were:

  • 2c green with no inscription - 1954 in lower right corner
  • 2c green with no inscription - 1955 in lower right corner
  • 2c green mimeo, also known rouletted - 1954 in lower right corner
  • 2c green mimeo, also known rouletted - 1955 in lower right corner
  • 4c purple with no inscription - 1954 in lower right corner
  • 4c purple with no inscription - 1955 in lower right corner
Generally the postal stationery was issued for the prepayment of local first class, domestic first class, second class and printed matter rates. They were not intended to be used for foreign mail. So one challenging and interesting avenue to pursue in collecting the postal stationery involves collecting pieces that have been uprated by adding additional postage.

That concludes my coverage of the Wilding Issue. I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts and can begin to see this set in a new light after having read them. There really is much more to Canadian philately than most collectors know and much that remains to be studied.