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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Philatelic Terms Illustrated - G to Z

Inscription Block

Increasingly in recent years the sheet margins of most issues have contained inscriptions that give details of who printed the stamp, who designed the stamp, what the stamp depicts and so forth. A block of 4 stamps showing these inscriptions is called an inscription block. If it also contains a plate number, then it is a plate block. Inscription blocks now are usually found on all four corners of a post office sheet, though in the very distant past, prior to the 1970's they were often found in only one corner of a post office sheet, due to the fact that post office sheets were often mere portions of much larger sheets that were printed of between 200-600 stamps. 

Jubilee Line

On a large number of British Commonwealth stamps, there was a coloured border printed around the outside margins of the sheet in the main colour of the stamp. This border is called a "jubilee line". The purpose of the line was to enable the printer to assess the evenness of the plate wear. Sometimes, as in the case of the above block, the line is continuous. Other times, the lines were broken, with the breaks occurring in between the stamps. 

Line Perforation

When stamps were first perforated the main method used was to perforate 1 row and 1 column of the sheet at a time, using pins arranged on a wheel. The sheet was fed through the perforator while the wheel rotated, producing the perforations. However, quite often, when perforating a row or column and intersecting another row or column of perforations, it was quite common for the pins to either miss, or double punch the holes. Very seldom would the rows and columns ever meet perfectly. This can best be seen by looking at blocks and observing the appearance of the perforations at the areas where the columns and rows intersect. Interestingly, the above block shows both a corner where the perforations line up perfectly in the centre, and then one on the right where they do not line up at all. It is this feature that indicates that the block is line perforated. If you place two line perforated stamps directly on top of one another, the perforations will never line up perfectly on all four sides, whereas comb perforated stamps will always line up exactly on all four sides. Both types of perforations have been around since the late 1850's, so line perforating is not older than comb perforating, even though comb perforations were not in general use in some countries until the 1970's. 


The term overprint refers to any marking that has been added to a stamp design after the original printing was completed. In the above example, a "G" has been printed on top of the original design to designate these as being for governmental use only. A specialized type of overprint in which the face value of the stamp is either raised or lowered is called a surcharge by philatelists. 

Overprints as a group comprise a very troubling field for philatelists, as many are rare and as a general rule, many have been extensively forged, often very well, so that proving the authenticity of the overprint can be a major concern for philatelists. 

Panes, Pairs, Blocks and Strips

A complete unit of stamps, undisturbed and in the original format in which is was sold, is called a pane. The above NHL Hockey Issue from 2001 is an example of a pane, as this was the only form in which this stamp was issued, and the sheet is complete. This is different from a "sheet", as sheets were the unit produced by the printer and not necessarily what was sent to the post offices. For example, a sheet of the above issue would consist of several of the above panes. 

A block of stamps is a unit that consists of at least 3 stamps arranged in at least two columns or two rows, but which is not the size of a pane. So if the above pane was missing the bottom two stamps, it would be a block of 4. A strip is three or more stamps that are in a single row or column. Either column of the above pane is a strip of 3. A pair is just two stamps joined either vertically or horizontally. 

Phosphor Tagging

When post offices began to mechanize the sorting and cancelling of mail, they relied on machines
that used optical scanning technology. A method had to be devised to enable the machine to "see" the stamp on the envelope. The solution adopted by a number of countries was to overprint stamps with an inconspicuous chemical taggant that would be visible to the machines. The block of four of the 1962-1967 Cameo issue above shows a single band of this taggant running down the middle of the block. 

Most tagging like this at least in the late 1950's and early 1960's was phosphorescent, which means that it glowed when exposed to either short-wave ultraviolet light (the dangerous kind), or long wave ultraviolet light. Phosphorescent chemicals would also glow for a few seconds after the light source is removed, whereas later fluorescent tagging will stop glowing immediately after the light source is removed. 

Plate Block

A plate block is simply a block of stamps in which the plate number appears in the sheet margins, which are also called selvage. The above block of 4 halfpenny stamps from Lagos, issued in 1901 shows the plate number 2 inside a solid ball of colour. 

Plate Flaw

A plate flaw is a stray marking that is not part of the intended design, that appears on a stamp after printing. Plate flaws usually result from damage to the printing plate, such as scuffs or dents, and even pitting caused by corrosion. However, they can also be caused by over-inking or splattering of ink. The above 10c Queen Elizabeth stamp is from a stamp booklet that was issued as part of the 1972-1977 Caricature issue. The spots above the eye, next to the eye and above the eyebrow are not part of the design and these constitute a plate flaw.

The most desirable plate flaws from the perspective of a collector are those which are constant, which is to say that they occur in the same stamp from every sheet printed. These types of flaws are always caused by damage to the printing plate and will generally persist until they are corrected by repairing the damage to the plate. One of the reasons why they are so desirable to specialists is because they can provide proof of a stamp's position on a sheet as well as proof of a particular printing. 

Plate Guide Marking 

The plates used to print stamps were produced using what is called a transfer roll, which was essentially a cylinder of steel onto which the master design was copied and which was then transferred to the new steel printing plate. The production of the plate is known as the "laying down of the plate", and it is a job that was done by a person known as a sideographer. Occasionally the sideographer would make markings, often in the form of a cross on the plate to assist them in judging distances or other things. Usually, these markings were burnished off the plates before printing, but occasionally they were not, and you can find these guide markings on individual stamps. The 1c codfish stamp from the 1937 Coronation Issue of Newfoundland, shown above, has one such cross marking just visible inside the mouth of the fish. It is known to collectors as the "fish hook variety" and is highly sought after. 

Postage Due

Today if you fail to attach enough postage to an item you are sending through the mail, and this deficiency is caught by the authorities, the item will never reach its intended recipient, and will instead be returned to you. However, such was not the case until relatively recently in the 1980's and 1990's. Prior to this time, most countries utilized a system of taxing items that were shortpaid with double the deficiency and collecting the money from the recipient. Postage due stamps were affixed to such items to denote the amount of postage that the recipient was required to pay in order to pick up the item. Occasionally, the stamps would be affixed to a receipt that would be left at the recipient's address, along with the item, and instructions to pay the deficiency at the post office, as shown above. 

The system for taxing deficient postage on international mail was developed in Switzerland and is interesting in and of itself. The country from which the item was being mailed, if it caught the deficiency would mark the item with a "T" in an handstamp usually. This symbol was universally recognized by UPU member nations as indicating that an item was shortpaid. Often, the deficiency in local currency would be indicated on the envelope as well. However, the postage due stamps would be affixed in the recipient country, which used a different currency in most cases. So what would usually happen is that the clerk in the recipient country handling the item would convert the deficiency into a common currency, which for the postal system was Gold Francs and Centimes. This amount would then be doubled and converted back to the currency of the recipient country, and then the appropriate amount of postage due stamps would be affixed. 


A precancel is a stamp on which the cancellation has been applied in the form of an overprint, by the post office prior to the sale of the stamps. The first precancels appeared in the 1880's and very closely resembled regular cancellations. Later, the precancels were distinctly different and appeared in the form of vertical or horizontal bars, like the stamp shown above, town names between bars, numerals between bars and many others. They were issued as a means of saving labour, since they did not have to be cancelled after use. However, they were not sold to the general public, but only to organizations that had a permit to buy them. Part of the reason for this is that they were sold below face value usually. 

Registered Cover

Registration is a service offered in most countries, in which a letter, or parcel is tracked through the postal system. A registered item is assigned a specific identification number so that it can be tracked through the postal system, which is supposed to provide some additional security over the item and reduce the chances of loss, though it also provides proof of sending. 

Thus in the 19th century, most registered letters either contained important legal documents, or money. In those days, their registered status would be indicated by a handstamp that would say "R" or "Registered", or the cancellation itself would indicate the status. The identification number of the item would also appear right on the front of the envelope in pen. Quite often the number would change as the letter made its journey through the system, in which case you will see several numbers on the envelope, with the earlier ones crossed out. 

In recent years, self adhesive labels are attached to the envelope that bear the letter "R" and have the tracking number and a barcode printed right on them. This is generally scanned by an optical reader at several transition points along the item's route, and the information gets uploaded to the post office server. This allows the sender, or the recipient, who has the tracking number to go online and actually see where in the system their item is, and approximately when they can expect to receive it. 

There is a common misconception that registering a mail item makes it pass through the postal system faster. This is NOT the case. All registration does is provide a record of the items journey through the postal system. The risk of loss is only lowered because the tracked nature provides some deterrent against theft. However, registering an item does not eliminate the risk of damage through accidents nor genuine accidental loss. The increased security and handling means that most registered items actually take longer to reach their intended recipient. 


Stamp designs used to be printed one design per sheet, with all stamps in a sheet being exactly the same. Starting in the 1950's many issues, usually commemoratives, consisted of three of four designs, which would all be printed in rotation on the same sheet. These are called se-tenant designs. They are not uncommon in mint condition, but properly used se-tenants on cover, used in the proper period of time (i.e. when on sale at the post office) are some of the most challenging items in modern philately.

The above scan shows the 2000 "Stampin the Future" issue, which consisted of four se-tenant designs.

Souvenir Sheet

A souvenir sheet is a small sheet consisting usually of fewer than 10 stamps, which has a very large decorative border. These sheets were first issued just before World War I, and have continued to increase in popularity over the years. Originally the sheets issued in the 1920's and 1930's were generally only available at philatelic exhibitions and you could only buy one sheet with one exhibition ticket. As a result the issue quantities of early souvenir sheets were quite low and these are worth a lot of money today. By the 1960's most souvenir sheets are only worth a small premium over the basic stamps contained in them. Once again, mint sheets are not uncommon, but used ones on cover, used when on sale are rare, and highly desirable.

Special Delivery Cover

One service that used to be offered in most countries, that no longer is in many, is special delivery. Special delivery was simply a faster delivery of a mail item than the regular first-class mail stream. There was no tracking and no additional security for the item. The post office would generally charge a fee for this service and would attach a label to the envelope to indicate the payment of this fee, such as the cover shown above.

Most countries have discontinued special delivery services and have replaced them with courier services or quasi-courier services, such as Expresspost (in Canada), which have built-in tracking and insurance, and which cost A LOT more money. 

Surface Cover

A surface cover is one that traveled exclusively by land and sea. Surface was the standard method of transmission until airmail became popular and affordable in the 1950's. However, airmail did not become the standard method of transmission until the 1970's, with surface still being offered as a less expensive option. Today, surface is generally not available in many countries for lettermail, though it is often still offered for parcels.

Envelopes sent by surface were generally not marked, though sometimes "by sea" or "sea mail" will appear on the envelope. Most of the time though, the only way to identify a surface cover, particularly for modern covers, is to know the postage rates. Quite often, pre-printed airmail envelopes were used for surface mail, such as in the case of the above cover to the Canary Islands. This can mislead the unwary collector into thinking that the cover went by air when it did not.


Tete-beche refers to a unit of two or more adjoining stamps in which the design of one stamp is inverted in relation to the other. The above pair issued for the Calling of an Engineer in 2000, is, as far as I know, the only regularly issued tete-beche pair issued by Canada.

Traffic Lights

When stamps are printed using multi-colour photogravure or lithography, there has to be an easy way for the press operator to ensure two things:

1. That all the required colours for the stamp have been printed, as oftentimes, several runs through the presses are required to get all the colours printed., and, 

2. That the correct density of ink is being printed. 

These two things are partially achieved by having the printer place markings on the side margins of the sheet in the various colours that will allow the press operator to see instantly that the colour has been applied, and to the correct depth. These markings are usually in the form of coloured dots, like the ones shown in the block above. Collectors have come to refer to these as "traffic lights".

Warning Strip

This is another term that may be specific to Canada, through many issues of the US have similar items to warning strips. Precanceled stamps issued by Canada post were only made available to qualifying organizations at a discount from the face value. Consequently it was not legal for unauthorized individuals to use them. Each sheet of stamps sold accordingly contained a warning to this effect. Vertical strips of 20 from either the right or left side of the outer panes that contain the full warning, are called "warning strips", and are highly collectible. 

This concludes my rundown of the first 21 philatelic terms of many which I will write about over the next few weeks. After I have completed these posts, I will return to my posts about the issues I was writing about before. 


A watermark is a design that is impressed into paper when that paper is manufactured. The design actually results from the fact that the paper is thinner than the surrounding paper at the points where the design is. The watermark is produced using an dandy roll, which is run over the paper pulp under very high pressure. The parts in the dandy roll that comprise the actual design of the watermark are called the 'bits". The above scan shows a commonly used watermark within the British Commonwealth that was in use from 1880 until about 1903: the Crown CA watermark. 

Wove Paper and mesh

Wove paper refers to the majority of stamp papers which do not show laid lines or batonne lines. It is manufactured in much the same manner as laid paper, except that the wire mesh over which the pulp is laid prior to being pressed, has evenly spaced gaps and hence the paper will not show lines as such. However, if the gaps in the wire mesh are large enough, the paper will exhibit what we call mesh, which is the term we use to refer to the distinct grain that is sometimes visible in the paper. On the half cent black Large Queen stamp shown above, you can see a clear horizontal grain. This is referred to as horizontal mesh. On other papers, particularly on modern issues, the paper is manufactured in such a way that there is no visible grain at all. 

Philatelic Terms Illustrated - D to F

Definitive Stamp

A definitive stamp is a stamp issued for regular, utilitarian postal use, and is often in use for many years before being replaced by a new series. Definitives usually depict the ruler of the country, but they can also depict a common theme, such as fish, plants, or industries, like the 1k Nigeria stamp shown above, that was issued in 1973. Most stamps that are issued in booklet form are definitives, with that trend changing in recent years as many countries have begun to issue commemoratives in booklet form as well. 

Dextrine Gum, Dextrose Gum or Gum Arabic

The substance on the back side of the stamp that allows it to be fastened to the envelope, is called the gum. Up until the late 1960's and early 1970's, stamp gum was made with dextrose - a cellulose based, natural substance. Such gum was often very shiny, yellowish and had a flavour that many found unpleasant. The 1927 Confederation stamp shown above is an example of this type of gum. Some countries that produced this gum also added other compounds which caused it to attack the paper it was on, resulting in damage to the stamps if not removed. Germany during the 1930's is an example of a country that did this by adding sulphuric acid to the gum. 

By the late 1960's synthetic alternatives in the form of Polyvinyl Alcohol, also known as PVA gum became available and started to come into general use. However, there are still many countries, most notably France, that have continued to use dextrine gum on their stamps up to the present day. 

Die Cut

The the term "Die-Cut" refers to a method of separation used for modern self-adhesive stamps, in which a cutting mat is laid over the stamps, and perforations are cut into the stamps, so that they can simply be peeled apart from their backing individually. In recent years, postal administrations have moved away from printing stamps on gummed paper, so that perforating has become obsolete, and perforated, gummed paper stamps are gradually being replaced by self-adhesive die-cut stamps. The above image shows  pair of die-cut stamps issued for the Tall Ships Visit to Halifax for 2000. The die cutting is very visible at the top and bottom of the pair, but much harder to see between the two stamps, due to the nature of the stamp design.


Embossing is a process, whereby a part of the paper is pressed through a narrow opening to produce a raised design in the paper, called a relief. The snake of the above stamp is raised from the surface of the rest of the stamp. If you turn the stamp over, there will be a large depression where the snake is. Embossing was first used on the 1847 stamps of Great Britain, and then very rarely after that, until the Cameo designs of Gambia were issued in 1869. Since then, embossing has been used to print many modern stamp issued, although it is usually employed in combination with other printing methods. For example the 2001 Year of the Snake stamp above was printed using both lithography and embossing.

First Class Mail, Second Class Mail and Third Class Mail

First Class refers to the standard mail stream with normal delivery and handling times. Envelopes which were not marked in any way and sealed at the flap on the back are referred to as "first class letters". The distinction is lost today because the only option in most cases for sending a letter is first class.

However, until about the early to mid-1970's cheaper second and third class options also existed. Mail sent in this manner was often required to be marked "second class mail" or "third class mail" and in some cases you were not permitted to seal the envelope. Apart from this, the main difference between first class and these two options was that the delivery time was slower. By the mid to late 1970's these services were generally abolished, though some countries still have a bulk rate which businesses sending out very high volume mailings can take advantage of.

First Day Cover

A first day cover refers to a cover that was sent on a stamp's first day of issue. Most first day covers until the 1970's were produced by private individuals who would take an envelope and print, draw or paint a design onto the envelope, called a cachet, address the cover to their customers and then take them to the post office where the issue of the day would be affixed and cancelled with the first day of issue postmark. Of course any cover at all, even those without cachets that happened to be used on a stamp's first day of issue would qualify as a first day cover, and as a matter of fact it is these covers that today are the most valuable and highly sought after. However, some of the hand-painted cachets can also be worth many hundreds of dollars each, even on what is normally a very inexpensive issue.

By the 1960's larger companies started producing first day covers, with standardized, pre-printed cachets, The Art Craft first day cover above is one such example. Then in the 1970's the postal authorities themselves began mass producing their own first day covers. These are of extremely high quality and their existence essentially killed the market for individual cachet-makers who simply could not compete with the economies of scale that were enjoyed by the post office.

Frameline, Spandrel, Vignette and Value Tablet

All stamp designs, with very few exceptions are contained within an outer line, or group of lines. This outer line or group of lines is called the frameline (s). Usually, but not always , a stamp will have both an outer frameline, and an inner one. The above stamp from Lagos issued in 1894 has both an outer frameline, that surrounds the entire design, and an inner one that surrounds most of the design as well. 

The main portion of the design within the frame and frame ornaments is called the vignette. On the above stamp, the vignette is the bust of Queen Victoria. The corner portions of the design that lie outside the vignette, but within the framelines are called spandrels. The leaf ornaments on this stamp in each corner are the spandrels on this stamp.

The space enclosing the words of value (denomination) is called the value tablet. It is usually rectangular, although it really can be any shape at all. 


The term "franking" refers to the combination of stamps that has been affixed to a cover to pay the postage.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Philatelic Terms Illustrated - A to C

Today's post will be the start of what I hope will become a series of posts where I illustrate important philatelic terms that I use in my blog posts. It comes after one of my regular readers suggested to me that it would be useful to have an illustrated glossary. I couldn't agree more and I have to admit that I tend to assume that my readers know what I am talking about when I use certain terms. However, I realize now that that assumption is not always valid. So that is the basis upon which I have come to write this series. It will eventually be several posts arranged alphabetically. I will add to it and move content to other posts, as I expand it an each post reaches a certain length.

I will start today with some of the terms that I have good scans for, and then will continue to add to it as terms come to mind.

Air Mail Cover

An airmail cover is any cover that has been sent by airplane for at least a portion of its route, as opposed to travelling exclusively on land or at sea. Nowadays airmail is the standard method of travel for mail going outside the country of mailing, but up until the 1970's this was not the case in most countries. Up until this time, airmail was a premium service that cost more money to use and in the 1930's when it first introduced, it was very expensive, especially if you were sending to a very unusual destination. 

Airmail items would generally either have a bilingual blue and white label attached that would read "By Air Mail Par Avion", or the envelope itself would be pre-printed with that label, as well as a blue and red striped border, such as on the cover shown above. 

Booklet Pane

A booklet pane refers to the block of stamps that is contained inside booklets of stamps that are sold to the public. All booklets usually consisted of a cardboard cover, one or more panes of stamps and often some wax paper interleaves to keep the stamps from sticking together. Nowadays the panes are glued right onto the covers, usually by way of a flap or tab. These are called integral booklets. However, up to the late 1960's in most countries, and sometimes later, the panes and booklet covers were either stapled or stitched together, as is the case with the 1962 5c Cameo booklet pane shown above. 


This term as far as I know is unique to Canadian philately. Between 1961 and 1967, Canada Post experimented with issuing stamps in larger sheets of 20 or 25 stamps and shrink wrapped them in cellophane packages. Collectors have come to know these as "cello-paqs". The packs were only current for just over 6 years and I suspect they were discontinued due to the lack of protection that the packaging afforded the stamps.

Circular Date Stamp (CDS)

A circular date stamp, or CDS for short, is a type of cancellation in which the town name and date appear within a circle. Usually the circle is a single circle as is the one shown above, but occasionally, the ciurcle can be a double, or even triple circle. They are the preferred form of cancellation for most collectors because of the fact that they tend not to deface the stamps as much, and as a matter of fact, can even enhance their appearance. The first CDS's appeared in the 1870's, though they were not common until the 1890's and they were popular until the 1980's in many countries. Since then, they have fallen largely out of favour, much to the dismay of collectors who are finding very recent stamps very challenging to find in attractive used condition. 

Coil Stamp

One popular form in which stamps started to be issued, just before World War I is in roll form. Such stamps are called "coil stamps". Coil stamps will always have perforations on two of the four sides only - either vertically or horizontally. Vertical perforations are the most common, though a few issues are horizontally perforated, such as the 1962 Cameo Issue 5c stamp shown above. 

The first coil stamps were only sold by vending machines and had to be purchased one stamp at a time. However, many postal authorities eventually started selling complete rolls of 100 or in some cases 500 stamps, as with the above issue, to the general public. Companies started selling dispensers in which you could store the roll on your writing desk, and these dispensers would often come with a small water well and roller that would enable you to moisten the stamps without having to lick them. 

They are still a very popular issue format today, though many are now die-cut self-adhesives. 

Comb Perforation

A comb perforation is one where the sheets of stamps are perforated either by a single stroke, or a few strokes of a perforating comb, in which the pins are all pre-spaced. This is in contrast to the more traditional line perforation in which the sheets are perforated one row at a time. You can recognize a comb perforation by the fact that there is always a perfect intersection of holes where rows and columns meet, as shown in the centre of the above block.

Commemorative Stamp

A commemorative stamp is stamp that is issued to commemorate a specific event, person, place, or organization. Usually there will be anniversary dates or some other indication of what is being commemorated. The above stamp was issued in 2000 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Department of Labour. This type of stamp is in contrast to a definitive stamp, which generally features either a portrait of the ruler or depicts a common theme. Commemorative stamps are usually only sold for a short period of time, usually 6 months or less, while definitive stamps are on sale for several years. 

Complete Booklet

Ever since the turn of the 19th century, stamps have been available for sale in booklet form. A complete booklet consists of a front cover, a back cover and one or more stamp panes. The above booklet is a self-adhesive booklet from the year 2000 of stamps featuring Canadian rivers. For this particular booklet, the backing of the self-adhesive stamps is folded over to form the front and back covers of the booklet. 

Cork Cancellation

Cancellations for a long period between the 1860's and 1890's were often fashioned by local postmasters using corks that they would carve patterns into. These would then be dipped into the cancellation ink and then used as handstamps. Segmented geometric designs, such as those shown above are the most commonly seen, but occasionally some postmasters with superior carving skills got very creative indeed, producing highly sought after designs, such as the Waterbury Running Chicken cancel shown below:

Image result for waterbury running chicken

Counting Mark

On Canadian stamp booklets printed by the British American Bank Note Company, every 50th booklet was marked on the cover with a solid rectangular marking as a way of keeping track of how many booklets were printed. The above booklet cover shows an example of such a marking at the top centre, in the form of the solid red rectangle. These are highly sought after by specialists, due to their scarcity.


A cover refers to an entire envelope which has been sent through the postal system, complete with the original stamps used to pay the postage, called the franking. In the very earliest days of stamps, up to the 1850's, envelopes were not used. Instead the letters were folded, sealed with wax and then the outside was addressed and sent. These are also covers.

Cutting Guide Line

With many stamp issues, the stamps are printed in much larger sheets than what gets distributed to postal counters for sale to the public. For example the above commemorative issue from 1948 was printed in sheets of 200 divided into 4 panes of 50 stamps each. So some method has to be devised to separate the panes of 50. Usually they are simply guillotined apart.

However, guide markings are usually placed in this case in the margins of the sheet so that the guillotine operator knows where to position the stamps, so as not to damage them of leave a margin around them that is too small. If the guillotine operator lines the markings up perfectly with the guillotine, the cutting action will split the guide line down the middle, and it will not be visible on the resulting pane. However, the markings and guillotine are sometimes not perfectly aligned, with the result that the cutting guideline is visible, as on the block shown above. These varieties are usually quite sought after by specialists.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Cameo Issue of 1962-1967 Part Three

Today's post will deal with the remaining aspects of this issue that were not covered in my first two detailed posts.

Postal Stationery

The postal stationery products available for this issue are reasonably extensive for an issue that saw less than 5 years use, and includes:

  • Pre-stamped envelopes.
  • Special order envelopes.
  • Post bands.
  • Air Letters
  • Post Cards
I will briefly discuss each of these in more detail.

Pre-Stamped Envelopes

During the life of this issue, both #8 and #10 sized envelopes were available that came pre-stamped with either a 3c purple, 4c red or 5c blue image of the basic stamp design. However, there were differences both in the appearance of the Queen's hair, as well as the size of the stamp design. The very first printings of these from 1963 to 1966 had the hair showing as a series of dots. There appears at the present time, to be only one size of stamp design for the 3c and 5c values, but the 4c value is found with both 24mm x 21 mm and 25 mm x 21 mm stamp sizes. Within these, there also appear to be differences in the appearance of the Queen's face, which are not listed in the Unitrade catalogue. One type had no white highlights on the cheek, while the other has a large number of white patches. The close-up scans below illustrate these types:

3c stamp design showing even dots and no white patches.

4c red design which appears coarser, with white patches.

A second group of printings that became available in 1964, and were available for general use until well into 1966 show the Queen's hair s a series of lines instead of dots. Unfortunately I do not have an example to illustrate here. Here there were also differences in size, with the 3c purple coming in two sizes: 23 mm x 19 mm and 25 mm x 21 mm. There was also a scarce type of #10 3c envelope that had a pointed flap (knife) and an inspection notice that was either 36 mm or 41 mm wide. 

I believe that this is an aspect of the issue that deserves much more in-depth study to determine exactly what does exist. At the moment, Unitrade lists both #8 and #10 sizes for every variety that they do list, for a total of 16 listed types. 

Special Order Envelopes

Unitrade lists a 3c purple and 4c red envelope for the stamp design that shows the hair as dots, while a 3c and 5c are listed for the hair consisting of lines. These are just basic listings for the most common size that are found that are neither #8, nor #10. It should be noted that there are many, many different sizes in existence, but many of these are very scarce - especially in used condition. 

Post Bands

Only one 2c green post band was issued during the life of this issue. It exists both normal and pre-cancelled with 5 parallel green lines. I do not know whether careful study of these would reveal any significant size differences or not, but at the moment Unitrade does not list any. 

Air Letters

The use of air-letters continued into this period. There were basically two types of design employed, which was completely different from the basic stamp design:

  • The first type in use from 1960 to 1966 shows a plane in the centre, and in bright red a maple leaf and "Canada" appears above the plane, while the 10c value and "Postes Postage" appears below the plane in a curved 2 pointed ribbon. The differences that are collectible in these envelopes have to do with whether the flap joins are rounded or squared, as well as whether there are 4 or 5 dotted lines for the address.
  • The second type in use from 1966 to 1967 shows a stylized plane, like a paper airplane in the middle. Off to the right above the plane is "10c" in blue hollow numerals. A red maple leaf appears directly in front of the plane, and then below the plane appears "Canada" in large solid blue letters and then "Postes Postage" in smaller letters below "Canada". The back of these letter sheets had "Expo 67" and the Centennial emblem on the back. There were two sub-types of this air-letter. One has a dotted line where it says "first fold here", while the second has no such dotted line. The first type is the most common, but the second type is quite scarce, especially in used condition. 
Post Cards

There were three basic types of postcard that were issued during the life of this issue: the 3c postcard, the 4c postcard and the 3c +3c reply postcard. The 3c and 4c cards in turn were either blank as shown above (what Unitrade calls type 1) of they had the simple bilingual inscription "Post Card/Carte Postale" in the centre. In addition, both the 3c and 3c +3c reply cards exist precancelled with 5 parallel lines as shown above. The 3c cards also exist both rouletted and on mimeograph machine stock, and all of these varieties in turn exist precancelled, so that Unitrade lists 12 different cards.

Interestingly there are no listed variations either in the stamp image size or in the appearance of the Queen's hair with these cards, as there was in the case of the pre-stamped envelopes. This does not make a whole lot of sense to me, and leads me to think that such varieties do in fact exist, but that this material has simply not been studied in enough depth to reveal their existence. 

There are several different ways to collect this material, from obtaining one mint and used example of each, to looking for uprated usages to foreign destinations, to seeking out one used example from each major Canadian city, in the correct time period. What is certain is that this material will prove to be much more challenging than the catalogue may make it appear, once you actually start to seek the material out. 

Proof Material

The BNA proofs website only lists one proof item for this issue, and it is shown above. It is a unique, signed trial colour proof of the Export $1 in black. I have to admit that in all my years of perusing auction catalogues and working in the auction trade, I have never seen any proofs offered for sale of any other value. Why this is, I do not know. They must exist somewhere. My suspicion is that they are all in the National Postal Archives and have not yet made it into private hands. 

First Day Covers

I'm going to spend a bit more time discussing the covers from this issue than I usually do, as there are several varieties that you can pursue, both with regards to the cachets that you can collect, the configuration of the stamps on the cover, and the cancellations that can be found. The most common cachets that can be found on this issue are ArtCraft and Rosecraft cachets. Each of these cachet makers produced several different cachet designs, as well as several different colours of cachet, making for a very large number of collectible covers. In addition to these two cachet makers, there were upwards of 25-30 different cachet makers who were active at the time of this issue, who produced their own designs as well.

The general manner in which these were sold was to eventually address them to customers who had subscribed for them and to send them through the mail. So in order to go through, each cover had to have at least 5c postage, or 4c in the case of a local cover. This is one factor that determines how many, and which stamps appear on the cover. The cachet makers also recognized that many collectors liked to collect pairs, blocks, plate blocks and sets on cover. Thus many covers will be found that bear more than 5c or 4c postage in order to accommodate the interests of collectors. Thus in addition to differences in the cachets, there are also differences in the combination of stamps found on the covers.

Finally, there were several different first day cancellations used, which I will call attention to as I go through the different cachet that I want to illustrate. I do not know if each potential stamp and cancel combination exists with each type of cachet. This would be the basis for a potentially very fun and rewarding collecting project aimed at seeing exactly what does exist.

Art Craft Cachets

In my examination of the first day covers of this issue, I have so far come across three different cachets from ArtCraft, which are all shown below:

This type, showing the queen seems to exist only in black and white, but it is possible that coloured versions could exist as well. 

This third generic type seems to exist only in black and while as well.

Here is the fourth type, which also only seems to exist in black and white as well.

You will notice that all four of these covers have the same cancellation. It is an Ottawa duplex bilingual slogan cancellation which simply reads "Date of Issue" in English and French. The crown and E2R then appears in the lower left corner of the cancel. This is one of the types of cancellation that is often seen on these covers.

Rosecraft Cachets

So far in examining the First Day Covers of this issue, I have come across six different types of Rosecraft cachet, although I do recognize that there may be more out there.

This first type is thermographed and there appears to be five different colours, corresponding to the colours of the low values, as well as a black type. Generally, the colour of the cachet matches the colour of the stamps on the cover as in the above example. However, I have noted several instances where the wrong colour cachet is found with a particular stamp. I do not know whether every possible combination exists, but if they do, then this would mean a minimum of 6 x 5 = 30 different covers for a particular stamp combination. 

In addition to being used on the low values, it would appear that they were also used on the high values as well - initially with the colour matching the stamp, but probably all colours exist with each of the higher value stamps, as shown in the following cover of $1 lower left plate block:

This cover illustrates nicely the second type of first day cancellation: they wavy line "Day of Issue" bilingual cancellation. 

This type of cachet was engraved and is value specific. Like the first type above, it appears to exist in 6 colours as well corresponding to the stamp colours and then black as well. Like the first type, it appears that the wrong cachet can be found with a particular stamp, so that there could also be as many as 30 different covers for a particular stamp combination. 

This design in black appears to have been used for the Jet Plane stamp, although given that the 8c Cachet exists in blue, I have to think that this 7c cachet also exists in blue as well. I would appreciate clarification as to whether this is the case. 

For the 8c on 7c surcharge, it appears that a standard type 1 cachet in blue was modified by adding "Air Mail Par Avion" at the top in red, the words "Emergency Surcharge. Inaugurating new air mail rates to the U.SA. 8c on 7c. July 15, 1964." inside design, above and to the side of the parliament buildings. However, there may be other types as well, like the above first type with a line through 7c and corrected to show 8c. 

This envelope shows no special first day cancel. Instead it is just a Montreal wavy line machine cancel that just happens to correspond to the date of issue. 

For the 8c stamp, here is a design that is almost exactly the same as the one used for the 7c. The existence of this design in blue calls into question whether both the 7c and 8c exist with both blue and black cachets. 

Finally, here is the design that was used for the 15c Canada Geese. Again, I do not know whether or not this cachet exists in blue.

I have to assume from the above that there likely was a special cachet designed for the $1 Exports, although I have not seen it. 

Other Cachets 

There are many, many other cachets possible as there were well over 30 cachet makers active during this period. Here are two from my stock:

Here is a thermographed black Canada Post Office Cachet. The date at the bottom suggests that this is an official cachet, of what the post office was before it became Canada Post. Thus the assertion that Canada Post did not issue first day covers prior to 1971 is not actually correct. 

I do not know who this cachet is by, as there is no identifying marking. However, I have seen it used on both this issue and on several commemoratives as well, so it would appear to be a very generic cachet design. 

Postal History

Because this issue was released in stages between late 1962 and mid-1963, you can divide the covers into three basic categories:

  • Pure frankings in which all of the postage was paid using only stamps of this issue. The earliest possible cover like that would be a single forwarded cover from October 3, 1962 with a copy of the 5c blue. But most covers like this will be from late 1963 or later. 
  • Mixed frankings involving this issue and commemoratives of the period. Again, these covers will generally date from after mid 1963. 
  • Mixed frankings using this issue and the previous Wilding Issue. These will be most common between October 3, 1962 and March 11, 1964 when the replacement of the Wilding issue was underway, but not fully completed. 
The scans below illustrate these three basic types of cover:

Here we have a postcard from 1966 to Germany where the airmail rate of 15c was paid using one of each of the low values from the 1c to 5c - a much scarcer thing than you would think.

This is  double weight registered airmail cover from 1964 to Germany. Here the 50c rate was paid using pairs of three different commemorative issues from 1964, plus two values from this issue. This is a really nice cover because of the number of different issues that were used, and the fact that they are all used in the proper period. 

Finally we have a cover to Germany where the 15c rate was paid using no fewer than five stamps, including two commemoratives and both this issue and the previous Wilding Issue. This cover was postmarked in 1964, which is a wee bit late, as the 2c Cameo was already widely available for use. This would be a much more desirable cover if it was dated before May 2, 1963 and had two 2c Wildings instead of the 2c Cameo and the postrider stamp had been replaced by an earlier commemorative, like say the 1962 Trans-Canada Highway commemorative. But still, it is quite nice in the sense that you do not see multiple frankings like this all that often.

So from a collecting standpoint, you can focus on either one or more of the above categories, or you can collect according to rates, and/or destinations. The possibilities are vast with this material being generally highly undervalued for its scarcity - at least for the better frankings.


In terms of types of precancel there are only two types. The first are the three sets of thin horizontal bars as shown above. These are found on all five low values. The second type three pairs of thicker vertical bars which are found only on the 2c and 3c coil stamps.

In terms of varieties, you may be able to find double or triple printed bars, or slanted bars. Another way to collect the sheet stamps with precancels is in warning strips of 20, which come from either the left side of the left panes, or the right side of the right panes:

The above scan shows a block of 50 from the right hand pane, and shows the warning strip of 20 on the right side. Because of their size and the fragile nature of the paper in this gummed state, these strips are getting harder and harder to find. They currently list for between $40 and $56 in Unitrade - a minimum premium of 300% over the value of the single stamps.

This concludes my exploration of this often overlooked Elizabethan definitive issue. I had some requests by readers to do a series of posts dealing with philatelic terminology, which I think is an excellent idea. So for the next couple of weeks, I will write an illustrated glossary of sorts, consisting of several posts dealing with philatelic terminology from A-Z. Then after these are done I will look at the commemorative issues from 1963 to the end of 1966.