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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Dated Die Issue of 1935-1938 Part Two

Today's post picks up where the last post left off, and will look at the remaining aspects of this iconic definitive issue.

Plate Flaws and Re-entries

Plate Flaws

Unitrade lists all of the known constant plate flaws on this issue, of which there are eight as follows:

  • The "mole on forehead" on the 2c Brown from position 21 of the upper left pane of plate 2.
  • The "birdcage" variety on the 10c mountie, from position 48 of the upper left pane of plate 1,
  • The "broken leg" on the 10c mountie, from position 48.
  • The "narrow 1" on the 1c green coil stamp. This occurs periodically through the roll.
  • The "damaged 2" on the 2c brown coil stamp. This occurs periodically through the roll. 
  • The "moulting wing" on the 6c Daedalus airmail, from position 14 of the lower right pane of plate 1.
  • The "Air"die flaw on the 6c Daedalus airmail, from position 10 of the lower left pane of plate 1.
  • The "dot in right 2" on the 20c special delivery issue. No position has as yet been specified for this variety.
Given that most proof sheets have been thoroughly examined by specialists over the years, it is unlikely, that any additional constant varieties will be discovered. However, re-entries are another matter. Though there are not many listed now, most were discovered only recently, so there may well be others. 

The Mole on Forehead on the 2c Brown

Image result for canada #218i

The above scan shows an example of this flaw, which consists of a heavy dot of colour at the King's left temple. So the name by which this variety is known is somewhat misleading, since you will not find it if you are looking in the middle of the forehead.

The Birdcage Flaw on the 10c Mountie

Image result for Canada 1935 dated die issue birdcage variety

This was not listed until just a few years ago, and if you aren't paying close attention, is a very easy variety to overlook. It consists of a very thin arc of colour just above the back end of the horse, just behind the saddle. While not nearly as rare or valuable as the broken leg, it is still a very desirable variety, listing for $500 in very fine mint condition.

The Broken Leg on the Mountie

Image result for 10c Mountie broken leg variety

This is the most famous plate flaw on this issue, and come to think of it, next to the famed "shilling mark" on the Silver Jubilee Issue, it is the most spectacular of the plate flaws on Canadian stamps. It is visible on the lower stamp in the above pair, where the mountie's leg appears to be broken. It occurs on position 48 of the panes other than the upper left pane, where the birdcage flaw occurs. 

The Narrow "1" Variety

Image result for canada #228ii

At first this variety is difficult to spot, but once you know what to look for, it is not difficult. In the production of coils by the CBN, there are places along the roll where the rotary printing plates have completed a revolution. Where this occurs, there tends to be a slight smudging or blurring of the printing, and often a lightening of the ink. You can see this on the left side of the second stamp from the left in the above strip. On this and several of the definitive issues that follow this, this particular position, in addition to what I have described, will also show a constant variety of some kind. On the 1c, there is a slight narrowing of the left "1", which is most pronounced in the middle of the "1". It should be fairly obvious on the second stamp from the left in the above strip. However, I always start by looking for the general blurriness on the left side of the stamp. If I see that, then I know that I am likely dealing with a narrow 1 variety.

The Damaged 2 Variety

Image result for canada #229ii

Like the "narrow 1", this variety is generally accompanied by a general blurriness on the left side of the stamp. The annoying thing is that there is no illustration in Unitrade to guide you as to what to look for on the "2" that is affected. I used to think that the damage was on the bottom serif, but it turns out that it is actually a dot of colour in the middle of the "2", at its narrowest point, that has the effect of breaking it up into 2 sections - very, very easy to overlook if you don't know what to look for. Again, it is the left "2" that is affected, which will help you focus if you are sorting a large quantity of used coils of this value. 

The Moulting Wing

Image result for canada #C5ii

This is another variety that can be very difficult to spot. On the above block it is on the lower left stamp. Look at the white area on the left wing, closest to the right side, just above the left leg. If you look closely, you will see a thick arc of colour running almost parallel to the leg and crossing the white area. You can see it very clearly on the lower left stamp, but not on the other three stamps in the block. This is the "moulting wing" variety, and it is one of the most famous varieties on this issue.

The "Air" Die Flaw on the Daedalus Airmail

Image result for canada #C5iv

This is a fairly obvious variety and consists of a shilling-mark like stroke just to the left of "Air". It is the only variety of its kind listed on this issue. However, I know that other varieties of this type exist on other values. Once back in 1990, when I worked for Weeda Stamps Ltd., we sold a 50c Parliament Buildings that had a large triangular die flaw to the right of "Canada". It was really quite spectacular, and yet I have never seen it listed, or another one since. 

Dot in Right 2

This variety is probably the most subtle and easy to overlook. It is not very clear in the above scan, but if you look in the space between the top end of the right "2" and where it slopes diagonally upwards, you will just be able to make out a small dot of colour in the space. To the best of my knowledge, this variety has not as yet been plated, so it may not be constant. However, there are enough of them around that it very likely is not a random variety. 


Image result for canada #226i

The most famous re-entry on this issue, and the only one that was listed until very recently, was the major re-entry on the 50c, which shows very clear doubling under and above "Canada". It is shown in the scan above, and occurred on position 25 of the lower right pane of plate 1. It is highly sought after by re-entry collectors as well of specialists of this issue alike.

However, over the years specialists like Ralph Trimble have discovered others, which have now made their way into Unitrade:

  • 'RCMP" doubled on the 10c Mountie, along with the left vertical framelines. 
  • The left scroll near the left maple leaf doubled on the 13c violet, along with many of the horizontal shading lines extending past the left vertical frameline. 
  • The left side of the 20c olive green doubled, including "postes". This occurs on position 35 of the upper right pane of plate 1. 
  • The left side of the 50c doubled. 

Precancels and Cancellations


There are a large number of precancels to be found on this issue. The above scan shows one generic style that endured into the 1970's and was not town-specific. Another very common style consists of 2 pairs of bars as shown, with the middle pair being replaced by a numeric inscription, which corresponded to a specific city of town. The total number of styles reported to exist on each value is as follows:

  • 1c green - 84 styles.
  • 2c brown - 31 styles.
  • 3c dark carmine - 8 styles.
  • 5c blue - 2 styles.
  • 1c green coil - 1 style.
Of course, the styles can exist inverted, badly slanted, doubled, doubled with one inverted, etc. A full, detailed listing of these can be found in a specialized catalogue like Walburn's Catalogue of Canadian precancels. However, the precancels can form a fairly extensive and challenging aspect to this issue, especially if you look for them in mint condition.

Other Cancels

The large size of the high values makes them ideal for the collecting of circular date town cancellations. CDS's had started to gain popularity in the 1890's, but their use has become more and more widespread with each subsequent issue, as more and more small post offices were established throughout the country. By the time one reaches the 1930's, the number of post offices numbers in the thousands for each of the major provinces, giving you plenty of scope with this issue. 

The 1c, 2c and 3c values are more difficult to find with CDS cancels, I find, as most of these were used on local mail and postcards, which tended to receive either the wavy line or slogan based machine cancels. The 5c-8c values are probably the most difficult, as I see a lot of these with roller and smudge cancels. The 10c & 13c are the easiest, as these were usually on registered mail or bulk receipts and these usually were cancelled with CDS's. The values 20c and above are again more difficult, as we find a lot of roller and smudge cancels. With an issue quantity of only 818,000, a collection of superb used $1 Champlains with small town CDS cancels, in period up to June 15, 1938, would be a real joy to behold, and at $9-$15 per stamp, is not going to break the bank by any means. 

First Day Covers and Postal History

A wide variety of first day covers can be collected for this issue, with the differences being in the different cachets, which were produced by private cachet makers during the period. Some of these are quite scarce and highly desirable, but most can be had for a very reasonable price. Only the 50c and $1 are more expensive, and even then $250 is the most expensive you will find for this issue.

The postal history itself can be approached in many different ways:
  • A wide variety of advertising covers, corner card covers and hotel covers can be collected for the printed matter and local domestic rates. Alternatively, you could focus on obtaining covers from small town post offices, that are either closed now, or those that opened or closed during the life of the issue. 
  • The higher values can be sought on high-value local, special delivery or registered frankings, or on bulk mailing receipts. 
  • You could focus on exotic foreign destination covers, including airmail covers. Airmail is still relatively in its infancy during this issue, so there are a number of first flight covers that can also be collected. 
  • You could also look at dogsled covers from the far north, as these are quite collectible, though many are philatelically inspired. 
Postal Stationery

Generally speaking the postal stationery available during the life of this issue continued to follow the Medallion inspired design of 1932. However there were a few new items to appear during this period, whose designs were similar to the low values, though not exactly the same.

  • There was a 1c green wrapper with a front face portrait of King George V. The design is kind of a hybrid of all the preceding issues, borrowing elements from each one. 
  • There are 5 basic types of postcards with the front face design as detailed below.
  • There are 5 basic types of sideface design postcards as detailed below.
Postcards Featuring the Full Face Portrait

There are four basic types of cards in this design:
  • One with no inscription at all - just the stamp impression. 
  • One that bears "Canada/Business Reply Card" in two lines at the top left.
  • One that bears "Canada Post Card" at the top centre of the card.
  • One that bears a bilingual "Canada/Post Card" at top centre. 

The second type above is found in two different sizes on a 1/2c blue card: one in which the second line measures 42 mm with no period at the end, and another where the line measures 39 mm with a period. There also exists a 1c green + 1/2c blue reply card where the 1c portion is the third type above, but the 1/2c reply portion is this type. 

1c green and 2c brown cards can be found in each of the first, third and fourth types above. 

Finally, there exists a 1c green + 1c green reply card that can be found in two types:
  • One where the message portion is the third type above, but the reply portion has "Canada Post Card /(Reply) in two lines.
  • One where the message portion is the fourth type above, but the reply portion has "Canada/Reply Post Card-Carte Postale Reponse" in two lines. 
Post Cards Featuring the Side Portrait

The types of cards to be found with this portrait mirrors the other design almost exactly, with a few exceptions:

  • The 1/2c blue card exists in a type similar to the second type above, except that "Carte Reponse D' Affaires" appears on another line below the other two lines. 
  • The 1c green cards in the third type above can be found on mimeograph stock, as well as on mimeograph stock and rouletted. Mimeograph stock is a very thick, porous stock that was made for use in mimeograph machines, which were designed to mass produce cards with a generic message. 
  • The 1c green cards with no inscription can be found precanceled, with the plain bars style, as shown on the 2c brown stamp that was illustrated earlier in the section dealing with precancels. 
  • The 1c green + 1/2c blue reply card exists in a second type, where the message portion is the fourth type above and the 1/2c blue reply portion is like the additional type just described above, with "Carte Reponse D'Affaires".
There are obviously several different angles you can approach collecting these from. The basic mint and used cards are mostly not that expensive, though a few of the used ones will set you back close to $100 each - if you can find them! However, you can expand a collection of these significantly by:

  • Looking for a used card from each major provincial city, i.e. Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Fredericton, Saint John, Charlottetown, Halifax, Whitehorse and Yellowknife. The last two of these will prove to be close to impossible and could have you searching for years. 
  • Looking for uprated cards. These were only designed to be used locally, but occasionally you can find them used to foreign destinations by adding additional stamps. You could form a collection of these arranged by destinations, rates or both. 
OHMS Perfins

This is the first issue on which the more common 4-hole OHMS perfin appeared, although the scarce 5-hole perfin can also be found on all values as well. Unlike the 5-hole perfin, which is practically non-existent, the 4-hole perfins can all be found mint, and can also likely be found in plate blocks too, though I would expect them to be quite scarce. So with this issue, in addition to the ability to seek out eight different orientations of the OHMS perfin on each type, you can also seek out shades, paper and gum varieties, as well as plate blocks. With the 5-hole perfin, do not forget the "missing pin on s" variety that exists on all values, and in all orientations as well. All of this will combine to make this a very challenging aspect to this issue.

My understanding is that all 13 stamps can be found the 5-hole type, and the 5 hole type with the missing pin on S variety. In addition, on the 4-hole type can be found only on the 6c airmail, 10c, 13c, 20c, 20c special delivery, and the 50c. So there are at least 32 basic stamps, which can become as many as 256, if all 8 orientations exist for each one.

All of these stamps are very scarce. The minimum Unitrade price is $25 for a used copy of the 1c with 5-hole perfin in fine condition. The most expensive is $400 for a VF used copy of the $1 Champlain with 5-hole perfin.

As with all the OHMS perfins, very great care must be taken when purchasing them, as many have been extensively forged from cheap used stamps. Kennith Pugh has published a reference work titled "Reference Manual of BNA Fakes, Forgeries & Counterfeits, Series I - release 5". In this he details the characteristics of the genuine perfins and contrasts them with some of the better known fakes out there. It is an invaluable guide to have if you are thinking of buying these from someone other than a reputable dealer.

Imperforate Varieties

All values of this issue exist in imperforate pairs, and are all very scarce, with around 150 pairs of each being known. Despite this immense scarcity, the prices listed in Unitrade are very reasonable. The number of pairs known of each are:

  • 1c green - 150 pairs.
  • 2c brown - 150 pairs.
  • 3c dark carmine - 150 pairs.
  • 4c orange yellow - 150 pairs.
  • 5c blue - 150 pairs
  • 8c deep orange - 150 pairs.
  • 10c carmine rose - 150 pairs.
  • 13c violet - 150 pairs.
  • 20c olive green - 150 pairs.
  • 50c dull violet - 150 pairs. 
  • $1 blue - 150 pairs. 
  • 6c airmail - 125 pairs. 
  • 20c special delivery - 75 pairs. 

In addition to the above imperforate pairs, the 5c blue exists as a horizontal pair, imperforate vertically. Only 150 pairs of this variety are known. All the high values from the 10c to $1 exist in an imperforate gutter blocks of 8. These are all rare, and worth between $2,500 and $3,750 depending on whether or not they are hinged or never hinged. Unitrade notes that there are probably fewer than 6 complete sets of these gutter blocks in existence, so their price in Unitrade is actually quite modest. Finally, the 6c airmail exists in an imperforate gutter block of 4, and again, this is very rare and expensive, with just 10 known.

All of the basic stamps of this set from the 1c to the $1 exist in imperforate plate blocks. The low values are collected in blocks of 8, while the high values are collected in blocks of 6. The low values are valued at $2,500 per block, while the high values are valued at $2,000 block.

Proof Material

The BNA Proofs website lists no fewer than 75 proof items, which can be summarized as follows:
  • 1 typographed essay in red of the 1c instead of the issued green colour.
  • 5 hand painted essays of the 3c, 5c, 10c and $1 in various colours.
  • 16 photographic essays in black of the 3c, 8c and all high values.
  • 2 progressive essays on card of the 50c, both in black. 
  • 1 essay of the central vignette of the 20c special delivery issue in black. 
  • 36 large die proofs, generally in the issued colours.
  • 2 small die proofs on card of the 6c airmail in issued colours.
  • 2 progressive proofs of the 6c airmail and 13c in the issued colour. 
  • 5 trial colour proofs on India paper, in various colours of the 20c, 50c and $1.
  • 1 stamp sized die proof of the 50c on card in violet.
  • 3 stamp sized die proofs on India paper of the 50c, 6c airmail and the 20c special delivery, in issued colours.
  • 1 plate proof of the 20c special delivery on India paper. 
You can read more detail about the various proofs, by visiting the following links:

These items are generally in the $1,000-$4,000 price range, so to acquire them all will take a lifetime, and very deep pockets.

For some reason, the website does not list the basic plate proofs, which first became available at the American Bank Note Company Archive sale, which was held by Christie's in 1990. Singles of these are printed on India paper, which is then mounted onto card. Their value generally varies between $100 for the low values and $200 for the high values. The number known of each is:

  • 1c green - 800 proofs.
  • 2c brown - 800 proofs.
  • 3c dark carmine - 800 proofs. 
  • 4c orange-yellow - 800 proofs. 
  • 5c blue - 800 proofs. 
  • 8c deep orange - 800 proofs. 
  • 10c carmine rose - 400 proofs.
  • 13c violet - 400 proofs.
  • 20c olive green - 400 proofs.
  • 50c dull violet - 400 proofs.
  • $1 deep blue - 400 proofs.
  • 20c special delivery - 198 proofs. 
Unitrade does not list proofs for the 6c airmail, which I feel must be a mistake, as surely these must exist. The 20c special delivery proofs were in a full sheet of 100 divided into 2 panes by a gutter, and a part sheet of 98. Out of this arrangement, 20 gutter pairs were saved, and still exist today. Two complete printer's sheets of each value were offered at the Christie's sale. These sheets were each divided into four panes separated by horizontal and vertical gutters. Out of these sheets, the cross gutter blocks, consisting of four blocks of 4, separated by the gutters were cut. There are two complete sets of these in existence, and they are the rarest and most expensive items in modern Canadian philately, being worth more than $25,000-$30,000. 


This issue is the first one to feature a printed on the gummed side error. It is found on the 3c carmine, and about 200 are known according to Unitrade. It also notes that most known examples are off centre.

This concludes my discussion of this beautiful and challenging issue. I love it because it offers you the opportuity to collect at both ends of the rarity spectrum. You can patiently search out the limited number of very rare items, and save for them, but at the same time you can still plug away very cheaply at the cancels for example. There are still possibilities of new discoveries as well - especially in the areas of re-entries, plate flaws, precancels and the OHMS perfins. Then as if that wasn't enough, there is the postal history, which I don't think has been really seriously tackled by very many collectors as of yet. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Our Donation Button Has Been Added

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I want to emphasize to all of you that I am not expecting anything from my readers. I write this blog because of my desire to share my philatelic knowledge and experience with the philatelic community at large.

Nevertheless I do recognize that there are some of you who may feel that you have derived such enjoyment or value from reading my posts that you wish to contribute to my ability to continue to write them in some way. Therefore after much discussion with my partner, I have added a donate button to the blog.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Dated Die Issue of 1935-1938 - Part One


Today's post will begin to look at what I consider to be the Canadian Bank Note Company's (CBN's) finest creation: The 1935-1938 Dated Die Issue. It combines ornateness of design, with beautiful, crisp printing and vibrant colours. The series offers just about everything a specialist could want, while offering immense challenges for the proof and imperforate material. The remainder of this post will explore the many possibilities that exist with this issue. I will cover all aspects of this issue in two posts, due to the large volume of material that there is to discuss.

The designer for all the stamps of this series was Herman Herbert Schwartz. His name figures very prominently in Canadian stamp design right into the late 1950's. Edwin Gunn, whose involvement in stamp design dates back to the Quebec Tercentenaries, was involved in the engraving of this issue, as was Arthur C Vogel, and William Adolph.

The issue date for all values was June 1, 1935, and this was the first issue to feature hidden year dates in the stamp designs, hence its nickname. All stamps from this issue forward incorporate the date into the design, so in a sense, this is a landmark issue.

The low values were printed in sheets of 400, which were guillotined into four post office panes of 100, while the high values were printed in sheets of 200, that were guillotined into four panes of 50.

The Stamp Designs and Quantities Issued

1c Green, King George V.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: April 1, 1937.
355,494,000 sheet stamps.
2,270,000 booklet stamps.
9,625,000 coil stamps.

2c Brown, King George V.
Issued: June 1, 1935. 
Replaced: April 1, 1937.
331,000,000 sheet stamps.
2,335,000 booklet stamps.
13,500,000 coil stamps. 

3c Carmine-red, King George V.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: April 1, 1937.
701,490,000 sheet stamps.
12,194,400 booklet stamps.
25,080,000 coil stamps. 

4c Yellow-orange, King George V. 
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: May 10, 1937.
7,037,000 stamps.

5c Steel blue, King George V.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: May 10, 1937. 
41,045,000 stamps.

8c Deep orange, King George V.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: May 10, 1937. 
3,066,000 stamps.

10c Carmine-rose, Mountie on horseback.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: June 15, 1938.
4,086,000 stamps.

13c Violet, Charlottetown Conference.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: November 15, 1938.
8,035,000 stamps.

20c Deep olive green, Niagara Falls.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: June 15, 1938.
13,513,000 stamps.

50c Dull violet, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: June 15, 1938.
2,416,000 stamps.

$1 Deep blue, Champlain Monument, Quebec City.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: June 15, 1938.
818,000 stamps.

6c Bright red-brown, Daedalus in flight.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: June 15, 1938.
5,000,000 stamps.

20c Bright carmine-red, allegory of Mercury.
Issued: June 1, 1935.
Replaced: June 15, 1938.
883,814 stamps

When one looks at the issue quantities for these stamps, it becomes apparent quite quickly that both the $1 and the 20c special delivery are very scarce stamps - even scarcer than the famous Bluenose. Yet curiously the Unitrade values do not reflect this scarcity at all, with the special delivery stamp being valued at just $16 for a very fine hinged example. Even the $1 has taken a hit in recent years, with Unitrade dropping the price of a very fine hinged copy to below $100, at $90. I do not feel that these prices will endure into the long-term, as the demand for them expands.

Points of Interest

The number of directions that a specialist can take this issue in, is vast, due to the amount of material that is available for the issue:

1. Shade varieties.
2. Paper and gum varieties.
3. Plate blocks.
4. Booklet panes and complete booklets.
5. Coil stamps.
6. Plate flaws and re-entries.
7. Precancels and cancellations.
8. First day covers and postal history.
9. OHMS perfins.
10. Imperforate varieties.
11. Proof material

Today's post will look at the first 5 of these, and then next week's post will explore the remaining aspects.

Shade Varieties

Nearly all of the stamps of this issue can be found with slight to marked variation in the colours. I find that it is the 6c airmail, 10c mountie and the 4c yellow that exhibit the most variation, but if you look closely, you will find shade varieties on every single value:

1c Green

On this value you can find a green that is both bright, and light, a regular, pure green, and then a deeper green that has a tinge of yellow to it. Most of the shades of this value are pure greens that vary only in terms of how bright or how deep they are.

2c Brown

On this value, the main aspects of variation are the brightness of the brown, as well as the amount of yellow contained in the brown. Unitrade does list a yellow brown, that does contain some yellow, but is really just a very pale version of the brown.

3c Carmine

The carmine varies in terms of the brightness, intensity and the amount of blue included in the colour. I have seen stamps in which the colour is a bright, deep tomato red, and others where the colour is a strong bluish carmine. In the above scan, there is quite a marked difference between the second and third stamps from the left, through they are all slightly different.

4c Yellow Orange

Here, the yellow varies in terms of the amount of orange included in the mix. I have seen stamps, that contain almost no orange, and are a pure, bright yellow. Others are almost entirely orange, with a golden tinge. However, most stamps you will see are a nearly perfect blend of yellow and orange.  In the above scan, there is considerable variation in the shade of the three middle stamps.

5c Blue

The two main shades of blue that I have encountered are steel blue, which contains just a hint of grey, and Prussian blue, which contains just a hint of green. Both are very intense shades.

6c Red-Brown Airmail

The main two shades that you are likely to see on this stamp are bright red-brown and pale red brown. In both cases, the brown contains a clear reddish tone. There is a brown that does not contain the red undertone, being more like the colour of the 2c. Unitrade calls this the "yellow brown", though it is not the same as the yellow brown on the Stanley Gibbons colour key, nor is it the same as the yellow browns of the Queen Victoria period.

8c Orange 

This shade varies both in terms of how bright the orange is, as well as the intensity. The shade on the left is duller, and less reddish than the one on the right.

10c Carmine

This value, in my opinion exhibits the most obvious variations of all the stamps in the series. On the one hand, you can find very deep carmine red, that is not overly bluish, and then very rosy carmine-rose shades that have a distinctly bluish undertone. At the same time, you can find other deep red shades that lack the blue, being more of a deep scarlet.

13c Violet

This stamp probably exhibits the least amount of variation of the stamps in the set, with the only variation I have seen, being the amount of red in the colour. On one end of the spectrum, there is the blackish purple, which contains the least red. Then there are the deep reddish lilac shades, which are noticably more reddish than the blackish purples.

20c Olive Green

This colour varies according to how much brown is included in the colour, as well as the intensity. Most of the stamps you will see are a deep olive green, which contains a hint of brown. The deep olive shade on the other hand contains less brown.

20c Carmine Special Delivery

This stamp is a fairly uniform carmine-red in terms of tone, but its intensity shows quite a bit of variation, from dark carmine-red to light carmine-red.

50c Dull Violet

This stamp is really not dull violet, but a blackish lilac. The shade varies from a deep blackish lilac, to a dull blackish lilac.

$1 Blue

This value exhibits surprisingly more variation than one might expect, based on only two shades listed in Unitrade. The most common shade is deep blue, and then from here, it varies according to both tone and intensity. There is a dark blue, that contains a bit of black in comparison to the more common deep blue. Then the colour can either be steel blue, with the usual hint of grey, or Prussian blue, with its usual hint of green. The pale blue, as listed in Unitrade, is really the pale Prussian blue, in my experience.

Paper and Gum Varieties

Other than the shades, the next big area for specialization are the papers and gum types. When these are combined with the study of shades, the number of possible shade-paper-gum combinations is really quite staggering. Interestingly, Unitrade does not even get into these aspects at all, even though they are quite clearly apparent on the stamps, and I believe, of vital importance to the study of the stamps themselves.

Paper types

There are at least three types of paper on the sheet and booklet stamps, and two on the coil stamps. They vary with respect to two attributes:

  • Whether or not they have a smooth or ribbed surface. 
  • How readily visible the mesh is when the stamp is laid face down and viewed from the back. 
The scans below show the smooth and ribbed surface papers:


Here you can readily see the differences between the smooth paper on the left, and the horizontal ribbed paper on the right. Generally speaking, on the sheet stamps, the ribbed paper is always horizontal wove. 

The smooth paper on the sheet stamps is generally always vertical wove. The smooth paper varies further by whether or not the mesh is visible from the back. The scans below show a typical group of stamps with mesh that is either visible, or not visible:

The stamps at either end show clear vertical mesh, whereas the stamp in the middle does not show any clear mesh in the paper. 

On the coil stamps, the paper is usually either a smooth horizontal wove that shows either very fine mesh, or no mesh, or it is a vertical wove that can show very light vertical ribbing on the paper surface. 

Gum Types

The gum is the one characteristic that shows the most variation. The gum on this issue varies both in terms of colour, and sheen. 

Generally speaking the gums can be divided into three colour groups:

1. White and light cream.
2. Deep cream and yellow.
3. Brown gums.

White and Light Cream Gums

The scan below shows three stamps from this group:

The stamp on the left is the pure white gum with a semi-gloss sheen, while the other two are light cream, with a semi-gloss sheen.

Deep Cream and Yellow Gums

These gums tend to be either very slightly streaky, with a semi-gloss sheen, or they are of a very high gloss sheen, as illustrated in the scans below:

On the left, we have the slightly streaky cream gum, and on the right, the deep cream gum. Both of these gums have a semi-gloss sheen. The scan below shows the deep cream gum with a satin sheen:

The above gum also exists with a crackly appearance, rather than the smooth appearance shown above.

Finally, there is the deep yellow gum with the glossy sheen, such as on the 20c special delivery stamp:

Brownish Gums

The brownish gums all generally have a satin-like sheen, and can appear either streaky or mottled. The scan below shows one such gum on the 2c brown:

The scan below shows the brownish cream gum with a high gloss sheen, on a pair of the 2c brown coil:

I have not completed, nor am I aware of any comprehensive study that shows, which paper and gum types exist with a particular shade. The number of possible combinations, given the paper and gum types shown is staggering: 13 stamps x 3 papers x 8 gums = 312 basic stamps! And that is not taking shade varieties into account. If each stamp is assumed to exist in 2 shades, then that number doubles and becomes 624 basic stamps. 

Plate Blocks

There are a good range of plates used to print the stamps of this series. The usual four positions exist for each plate, and are generally collected in blocks of 6 or 10 on the low values, and either blocks of 4 or 6 on the high values. In addition to these, some of the low values also come with a centre position, that is generally collected as a block of 8.

The basic set of plate blocks, consists of:

  • 1c green - plates 1-3 all positions - 15 blocks.
  • 2c brown - plate 1-4, all positions - 20 blocks.
  • 3c carmine - plates 1-8, all positions - 40 blocks.
  • 4c yellow-orange - plate 1, all positions - 5 blocks.
  • 5c blue - plates 1-2, all positions - 10 blocks.
  • 8c deep orange - plate 1, all positions - 5 blocks.
  • 10c carmine-rose - plates 1-2, all positions - 10 blocks.
  • 13c violet - plates 1-2, all positions - 10 blocks.
  • 20c olive green - plates 1-2, all positions - 10 blocks.
  • 50c dull violet - plate 1, all positions - 5 blocks.
  • $1 deep blue - plate 1, all positions - 5 blocks.
  • 6c bright red brown - plate 1, all positions - 5 blocks
  • 20c bright carmine-red, plate 1, all positions - 4 blocks
That makes 144 plate blocks all together. If you were to combine these with the paper and gum varieties above, you would have almost 7,000 collectible plate blocks, if each one existed in 2 shades, 3 paper types and 8 gum types. Of course the number of actual varieties that one can collect is likely to be far fewer than that, but still a much greater scope than most of you reading this would imagine, I reckon.

Although not listed in Unitrade, it is possible to collect blocks of pairs that show all or part of the arrow cutting guideline that was used in the guillotining of the sheets, when being distributed to the post offices. The scan below shows an example of the 6c airmail with an arrow cutting guideline:

Booklet Panes and Complete Booklets

This is the last issue to have been produced with the booklets having the simple, typographed covers featuring the arms design. This makes collecting the booklets a rather simple task, as there were four basic booklets, each of which was issued in both English and French versions as follows:

  • The 1c green in 4 panes of 6. Housed in  green cover, with black coat of arms. This booklet was issued on August 19, 1935. 102,000 English booklets and 11,400 French booklets were issued. 
  • The 2c brown in 2 panes of 6. Housed in a brown cover with black coat of arms. This booklet was issued on November 16, 1935. 102,400 English booklets, and 21,700 French booklets were issued. 
  • The 3c carmine in 2 panes of 4 plus 2 labels. Housed in a light red cover, with black coat-of-arms. This booklet was the first one issued on June 1, 1935. This is easily the most common booklet, with 2,350,000 English booklets, and 301,000 French booklets issued. 
  • One pane of 4 of each value, plus 2 labels. Housed in a buff cover, with black coat of arms. This booklet was issued on July 22, 1935. 370,000 English booklets and 27,600 French booklets were issued. 
Although the French booklets are double the price in Unitrade, they are a much better investment, given that they are generally ten times scarcer than the English booklets. 

The scans below show what the panes inside the booklets look like:

A pane of 4 stamps, plus 2 blank labels.

A pane of 6 stamps.

I do not know how many separate printings were made to come up to the total issue quantities for the booklets shown above. However, I do note that there are a fair number of different paper and gum types on the panes I have handled, so I think there must have been several different printings made between 1935 ad 1937. 

Coil Stamps

As was customary with the precedent set by the earlier issues, the three most commonly issued stamps were issued in rolls of 500 stamps, perforated 8 vertically. This is the coarsest perforation used on any Canadian stamp, and results in difficulty in locating examples with full , even perforations on both sides. 

These are the first coils to be produced after 1935 by the CBN, and the method employed by them to produce coil stamps has remained largely unchanged since. This means that varieties like wide and narrow spacing strips, which are listed on some of the Elizabethan issues, should theoretically exist on these, as should strips showing the cutting guideline. Unitrade does not list any of these, but if you are going to collect the coil stamps, you should be on the lookout for them, in addition to the usual jump strips. As a point of reference, the normal spacing between stamp impressions in the roll is 4 mm. In addition to spacing varieties, repair paste-ups can be collected for each stamp, and all three stamps can be collected in both start strips, and end strips. In addition to having the 10 blank tabs in a different order (at the beginning on a start strip, or the end, in the case of an end strip), the colour of the tabs themselves is different. 

As stated in the section dealing with paper and gum types, there are at least four different paper and gum combinations possible for each of the stamps. When you combine each of these paper-gum combinations with the spacing, cutting and repair varieties above, the true possibilities of scope for these stamps becomes more apparent. 

There are two well known plate flaws listed in Unitrade for these coil stamps: the "narrow 1" and the "damaged 2". I will cover these in more depth in next week's post. 

This concludes my detailed discussion of the first five aspects of this beautiful issue. I hope after reading this, that you are able to see more possibilities for collecting this issue in detail than you might have thought possible before. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Please Bear With Me Until Next Week - More Posts Coming!

Hello everyone! In my last post I had said that I would publish my next post by now. Unfortunately we ran into considerable problems in closing our home purchase here in Saint John. These problems delayed our move by 9 days, so that we only just got to move into our new house on December 9, instead of November 30 like we planned.

I have managed just yesterday to get our new office organized, and I will show you where we keep our stock, on which these posts are based:

A view from the door showing our desks with lots of space. 

My work area, with supplies and accessories behind me. 

The stock closets and shelving with Nigerian postal history.

Viktor watching me from my desk. 

The British West Africa stock on the top shelf, Pre-1936 Nigeria in the albums, and Canada to 1971 in the boxes on the bottom two shelves. 

Commonwealth and world on the top shelf, Nigeria from 1936 to date in the albums, and the rest of Canada from 1971 on on the third shelf.

I have a backlog of work to catch up on and other matters to attend to relating to the move before things resume our normal pattern next week. I will therefore expect my next post to be either on Monday or Tuesday, and the issue I will be talking about will of course, be the 1935-1938 Dated Die Issue.