Today's post will present the basic stamp designs, some background information, and will discuss in very broad terms the ways in which this issue can be approached. The remainder of the post will present an outline for the way in which I intend to address all aspects of this issue in future posts. My expectation is that full coverage of all aspects of this fascinating issue will take from 2 to three full months to complete.
The inspiration for the designs of the issue was Canada's centennial year in 1967. The desire was to fully celebrate Canada's diversity from coast to coast, and true Canadiana. So the low values of the series were designed to show different scenes from each different region of the country, alongside Anthony Buckley's portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. For the high values, the decision was made to feature Canadian landscape paintings by the Group of Seven. There were seven artists, and seven high values. Each one depicted a landscape scene from a different part of the country. So in this way the entire series was intended to be a pictorial celebration of Canada's diversity and history. Even though the Centennial celebrations were largely over by 1968, the series was kept as the current definitive series and not replaced fully until late 1973. The next series to replace it, dubbed the Caricature and Landscape Issue began to appear in 1972, with the high values being replaced first, followed by the low values in October 1973.
There were several significant milestones in Canadian stamp production that impacted the complexity of this series:
- Postal rate increases resulting from strikes, created the need for additional low values that had not been issued as part of the original set. By the time these were issued, stamp sizes were changed from Imperial measurements to metric ones, so that the new designs were slightly smaller than the original stamps.
- The introduction of multi-colour engraving by the British American Bank Note Company paved the way for the production of booklets that contained se-tenant combinations of different denominations of stamps, rather than just separate panes of stamps. It was also possible now to produce booklets in which the panes were attached to the booklet cover by their selvage tab rather than stapling several panes together between two covers. Thus, the first integral booklets were produced as part of this issue.
- The introduction and use of papers that contained whitening agents began during the life of this issue. The whiteness of the paper interfered with the optical scanning equipment that had been designed to read the Winnipeg Tagging that had been introduced in 1962, with the result that it became necessary to come up with a new way to tag stamps that would work with these new paper types. Thus Ottawa tagging was born during the life of this issue.
- Coil stamps had previously been produced in rolls of 500 stamps which were made by splicing together long strips of stamps which had been guillotined from large sheets that were printed for this purpose. However, during the life of this issue, a new method of producing coils was devised in which a sheet consisting of ten full strips of 100 stamps would be rolled up, sealed and then scored along a line between the rolls so that an entire sealed roll of 100 coils could be split off and sold.
- The abandonment of dextrose or dextrine gum as the adhesive of choice on the backs of the stamps occurred during this issue. Like many of the innovations introduced during this period, the new PVA gum was introduced in stages, taking more than one physical form before the final chemical formula that would endure to this day was decided upon.
- Both the British American Bank Note Company and the Canadian Bank Note Company were involved in the production of these stamps at the same time. This was the first issue not to be produced entirely by one printing company. Both companies used different papers, different versions of gum and different perforating equipment, which has resulted in many different perforations.
- The abandonment of the Cello-paq as an issuing format for stamps occurred during the life of this issue also, so that this is the last definitive issue to exist in the form of miniature panes of 20 or 25 stamps.
- The paper
- Plate characteristics.
- The direction of the paper weave, i.e. horizontal or vertical.
- The presence of any ribbing on the paper surface, either the front or the back.
- Whether or not the paper is porous on the surface or not. You need a good magnifying glass for this, but if you have one, you definitely find papers that appear to be coated and non-porous, while other ones will be quite porous on the printed surface.
- The width and spacing between the tagging bars.
- Error shifts of the tag bars, that result in single bar tagging when it should be two.
- The chemical makeup of the taggant, as evidenced by difference in the colour of the glow under UV light.
- The amount of taggant applied, i.e. light, moderate and heavy. This affects how obvious and dark the bands are when the stamp is viewed in normal light.
Prior to this issue, all Canadian stamps were line perforated. While most of the stamps of this issue were line perforated 11.85 x 11.85, the stamps printed by the British American Bank Note Company introduced comb perforations into this issue. There were two measurements that were introduced: 9.9 and 12.5 x 12. However, beyond this, there has not been much research conducted to see whether or not there were any minute gauge changes like the one that has recently been discovered for the period from 1962-1965, where the Canadian Bank Note Company switched from an 11.95 gauge to 11.85. It is entirely possible that similar changes may have occurred for the stamps of this issue.
The coil stamps came in two documented perforation measurements: 9.5 horizontally and 10 horizontally, though again, it is possible that slight variations may exist.
Most collectors will be familiar with the three die type differences that have been identified in the mainstream literature for the 6c black. However, over the years more and more attention has been paid to studying the design characteristics in more detail, and as a result, many constant varieties have been identified on the 2c, 6c, 7c and 8c values. I believe that there probably are similar die type differences on the other values as well because I have seen stamps that show weak impressions similar to the die 1 6c, and then others where the engraving is very strong. Much more painstaking research would be required to determine whether or not there actually were different dies used for the other values.
Unitrade mentions the existence of the 33 different "totem pole eyes" on the 2c, the "airplane in the sky" on the 1c, the line through the 5c, the doubled C on the 6c orange and the extra spire on the 8c. However, there are very few constant varieties actually listed for this issue. All of these varieties have only been documented in Unitrade in the past 10 years or so. So it seems to me that there must be many more varieties out there that are waiting to be discovered on the other values. However, a detailed study of many thousands of stamps may be necessary to identify them all.
Two stamps from this issue only, being the 4c and 5c, were issued in cello paqs that sold for $1 each. The 4c was thus printed in panes of 25 for this purpose, and the 5c was printed in panes of 20. The 5c was also issued with Winnipeg tagging in this form. Until just a few years ago, there were no listed varieties of the cello paqs. However in the past several years, Unitrade has started to give recognition to a dead paper variety on the 4c, but nothing on the 5c, even though I can confirm that the 5c too exists with dead paper. In addition to differences in paper, I have seen differences in shade, gum and the design of the cellophane packs themselves.
The coil stamps were all printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN), and as such they exhibit the same types of spacing varieties as coils printed by the CBN for other issues. However, in additon to these, I have also seen differences in paper and gum as well. A separate post to adequately address all of these varieties is definitely in order.
The booklet stamps will be discussed under each value, but it is necessary to have an entire post devoted to the complete booklets of this issue, as there are differences in the design of the booklet covers, differences in the fluorescence of the cover stocks, and other constant varieties. The booklets can generally be split up into the non-integral, stapled booklets that were printed by the CBN, and those integral booklets that were printed by the BABN, which comprise most of the booklets of this issue.
There was a very large range of postal stationery items prepared for this issue, which can be studied in much more detail than is listed in either Unitrade or Webb. The postal stationery can be divided into two broad categories: the publicly issued products such as envelopes, postcards, flimsies, and then the private order products, many of which are extremely rare now, especially used. A separate post will definitely be required to do this aspect of the issue justice.
Postal history for this issue also requires its own post. Three postal strikes during the life of this issue, resulted in three rate-increases between 1968 and 1972, which affects what constitutes an interesting cover. There were also new rates established during this period, and the abolition of other other rates and/or services, such as third class mail. An example of a new rate was the "all up" airmail rate of 15c that was introduced in 1971. A separate post is needed to detail the rates, changes in rates, usages for the stamps and to discuss approaches that can be taken to collect the postal history of this issue.
Roadmap of Upcoming Posts
Based on the above discussion, it seems to me that a logical sequence for the remaining posts about this issue to follow is as follows:
1. The papers used to print the stamps.
2. The types of gum found on the Centennial issue.
3. Differences in the inks used to print the stamps.
4. Winnipeg tagging on the Centennial issue.
5. Ottawa tagging on the Centennial issue.
6. Perforations on the Centennial issue.
7. Plate characteristics of the stamps - die type differences.
8. Plate characteristics of the stamps - the totem pole eyes on the 2c.
9. Cylinder flaws on the 6c, 7c and 8c stamps printed by the BABN.
10. Constant plate varieties on the Centennial Issue.
11. The 1c brown Northern Lights and dogsled team stamp.
12. The 2c green totem pole and river stamp.
13. The 3c purple combine and oul rig stamp.
14. The 4c carmine red seaway lock stamp.
15. The 5c blue fishing village stamp.