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Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Shout Out To Modern Philately - A Very Misunderstood And Unappreciated Field

Back in 1990 I worked for Weeda Stamps in Vancouver, BC. My boss, Chris Weeda once made a remark that influenced my choice of collecting for many, many years to come. He said "I think that modern stamps are the most uninteresting material, and that there is nothing worthwhile in collecting it. All you are doing is giving the post office free money." That statement resonated with me, because I was a fickle collector, and at that time I was at a crossroads in my collecting. Up until that point, I had always enjoyed collecting Elizabethan stamps from Great Britain, Australia and Canada, and I was a specialist. But I felt the desire to collect something prestigious - something that would elicit "oohs and aahs" from my fellow collectors. I could see from Chris Weeda's remark that modern material was not regarded in this fashion, and was not accorded any respect, with Chris proudly telling his own customers that he used anything after the War for postage. Of course, he meant World War II, though there have been many wars since, and by speaking like that today, one is seriously dating oneself.

Back then, the practice of dealers using stamps from the 1940's,50's, 60's, 70's and 80's as postage was firmly entrenched, and I'm sure that it started long before then. I remember being puzzled by the practice and I once asked Chris: "I know they are common now, but won't you guys deplete the existing stock of early material if you do this for 20 or 30 years?". His reply was "Do you have any idea of how big a million is? These stamps were issued in the millions. They will never be rare!". Back then, it was commonplace to find large quantities of the 1953 Karsh Issue, the 50's high value definitives, the 1954 Wilding Issue, the 1967-73 Centennial Issue, and the 1972-77 Caricature issue in massive quantities, selling for 70% of face value. It seemed at the time as though this material was so plentiful that they would never run out. Fast forward to today: You almost never see massive quantities of these issues anymore. Occasionally, you will find a few singles or blocks here and there, in "postage lots" but the massive quantities that could be had 25 or even 15 years ago are all but gone now. Even large lots of 8c, 10c, 12c and 17c stamps are getting harder and harder to find. 5c and 6c commemoratives are still plentiful, but not nearly to the extent that they once were. So Chris was very clearly mistaken.

So what though? I can hear some of you thinking. It still isn't rare. Besides, most of the varieties are just random paper varieties and flyspeck varieties, right? Well, no actually. And herein lies the misconception among philatelists that is the heart of the reason why modern philately is not more respected and popular among philatelists than it is: most philatelists fail to recognize that modern philately and classic philately are very different fields and that you cannot use the same standards to judge them.

Classic philately is about the collection of stamps that were printed at a time when printing involved a great deal of technological in-exactitude:


  • Papers were often handmade, or came from several sources and were ordered and used in smaller batches than today.
  • Perforating was in its infancy, and subject to much more experimentation than today.
  • Colours were mixed by hand, using quantities of pigments and chemicals that were not exact, and the chemicals themselves were often unstable, which resulted in a lot of shade variations. Today, inks are mixed by machines, using exact chemical formulas that are designed to match them perfectly as far as the human eye can tell. 
  • Printing plates were made either of soft steel, copper or were lithographic stones that all wore quickly and frequently, resulting in the requirement to repair them frequently, and this in turn led to the plethora of re-entries, varieties and plate flaws that we are so familiar with today.
Varieties are thus the norm on classic stamps, so much so that you can sort a pile of 1000 3c Small Queens and find several hundred varieties. Most will be shade variations or paper variations, but I would highly doubt that you will find 10 or 20 stamps from among that pile of 1000 that look completely identical in every respect. You have to go to the 1920's before you start to see that degree of uniformity on any issue. Because of this, most philatelists who came of age with classic stamps, tend to eschew most varieties unless they consider them significant. Of course, given how normal variations in those days were, a variety usually has to be quite visually striking to be considered by most philatelists to be significant. 

In modern philately, printing technology has become so exact, that it is possible to sit down with a large lot of 5,000 of the same stamp and sort them into a dozen or fewer varieties, and maybe 35-40 varieties if it is a definitive. There will be very large swaths of stamps that look completely identical in every conceivable way. The variations that can be found are much, much more subtle:

  • Papers that vary in such a way that they can only be distinguished with an ultra-violet light, or show very slight differences in texture, thickness or colour (off-white versus bright white).
  • The occasional shade variety that is minute and would be dismissed as nothing significant on a classic issue.
  • Perforation variations that are measured in 1/10th of a hole, or 1/4 hole that are nonetheless consistent across many tens of thousands of stamps. 
  • Minute differences in the colour, sheen or type of gum (dextrine or PVA).
It is the high degree of consistency during the modern period that makes the varieties that do surface so interesting and meaningful in my opinion. To me, the fact that a modern issue might exist in 30 different varieties over a print run of several hundred million stamps is not at all unreasonable, and while there is nothing wrong with deciding to collect in a simplified fashion, I think it is a mistake to assert that modern philately is inherently simpler than classic philately. Quite the contrary, I believe that it is much more complicated in many respects, and that correctly identifying the subtle varieties requires a great deal of skill - the kind of skill that only the more advanced and experienced philatelists have. Yet it is usually the experienced philatelists that denigrate this material, which is a real shame, I think. 

Coming back to the issue of scarcity, we can see now why the practice of using modern stamps for postage may not have been such a good idea in retrospect. If a modern definitive exists in 30 or 40 different printings, and most of the surplus mint stamps have been used up for postage, it is probable that many of the scarcer printings in this group may no longer exist in mint condition, in quantity. The tragic rub is that these scarce stamps have been either destroyed or turned into used stamps without most philatelists recognizing what they were at the time. We have seen that happen over the last 170 years, time and time again, with issue after issue and country after country. The modern era is no exception to this, mark my words. What is common today, will not be common in another 30 years, especially at the rate we are going, if the practice of selling "discount postage" continues unabated. 

So I think the future for modern philately is very bright indeed. If you are one of those collectors who likes the modern designs and enjoys studying the complexities of these stamps, I think you would do well to stick with it. Learn as much s possible as you can about every aspect of the stamps' production. Don't take anything for granted and check every attribute of your stamps: paper, perforation, gum and printing for varieties. Don't worry if the stamps are not valuable. Focus instead on looking for the scarce varieties, and be bold when you find them. You won't regret it in the long term, I'm sure of it. 



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Printing Inks Used On The 1967-1973 Centennial Issue - Part Six of Eight

Today's post continues our examination of non-transformative and transformative inks as they were used on the printings of the 1967-1973 Centennial Issue. Specifically, we will look at the 5c through 7c values.

5c Blue - Atlantic Fishing Village

The vast majority of the printings of this stamp are in a transformative ink that comes very close to being black under UV, while a smaller portion of the stamps are printed in non-transformative inks that either do not appear significantly different under the lamp, or they merely appear deeper, without losing the essential character of their original colour.

Non-Transformative Inks

Let us start off with five stamps that are all printed in various shades of deep blue:


The first two stamps on the top row are CBN sheet stamps with PVA gum, one of which is tagged with a Winnipeg centre bar, while the upper right stamp is a CBN booklet stamp on dead paper. On the second row we have a BABN perf. 10 booklet stamp, and to the right, a CBN coil, perforated 9.5 horizontally. All of these stamps are printed in various shades of blue, with the stamps on the top row being the darkest, and closest to violet blue, and the two stamps on the bottom being bright blue.

Under the UV lamp, those same five stamps look like this:


If you look carefully at this picture and compare to the scan, you can see that all of these stamps still appear to be printed in blue ink, although the ink of the top three stamps now appears darker than it did before. The stamps on the bottom row, especially the perf. 10 BABN booklet stamp do not appear all that much different under UV from how they appear in normal light. This picture does also do a good job of showing the stark differences between the papers, all of which look extremely similar in normal light, but nothing alike under UV.

The non-transformative inks seem to occur mainly on the PVA gum stamps, which is the opposite of what we typically find on the other values, and on most of the booklet stamps and some of the coils.

Transformative Inks

Now, let's take a look at seven more stamps:



These stamps are all dex gum printings showing nearly the full range of gums, and all on plain, dull fluorescent paper, except for the bottom right precancelled stamp, which is on highbrite paper. Five of the stamps are sheet stamps, and two are coils, all printed by CBN. One sheet stamp is tagged with a Winnipeg centre bar. Again, these are all printed in various shades of blue, with the bottom centre stamp being duller, the coils all being a brighter blue and the others being deeper blue. 

Let's look at them under UV:


On these stamps, the ink has turned black or very close to black on all but the coil stamp at the top right. The top right coil stamp is still blue, but is is now a very dull blue and has lost all the brightness that it had in normal light. The other stamps are so close to black that they have lost their essentially blue appearance that they had in normal light. Therefore, I have classified these as being printed with transformative ink. 

The transformative inks seem to predominate the CBN dex gum stamps. 

6c Orange - Transportation

With the exception of the coil stamps, all of the 6c orange stamps were printed by the BABN. The inks are always transformative, with one exception: the commonly known fluorescent ink printings.

Non-Transformative Fluorescent Ink

Let's start off looking at an example of the fluorescent orange ink, from one of the 25c booklet panes:


The basic shade of this stamp in normal light is that of a bright orange-red, which is to say, orange that has a touch of red. It is quite a bright colour under normal light.

Now, let's take a look at it under UV:


As you can see, the colour appears a little deeper, but it is still a shade of orange-red, and it is still very bright. The introduction of UV light has not changed the colour significantly. This is what is commonly known to collectors as the fluorescent orange ink. It is found on a small portion of the perf. 10 sheet stamps, and the booklet stamps from the 25c booklets. It is known in two different shades under UV: one being the bright orange red that you see here, and another in a deeper red-orange. 

Transformative Inks


Now, let't take a look at eight stamps commonly found of this value:


With the exception of the bottom right tagged perf. 12.5 x 12 sheet stamp, which is a dull red-orange, all the other shades are shades of orange-red and are quite bright. On the top row we have a perf. 10 booklet stamp on hibrite paper, with type 1 dex gum, two coil stamps with type 2 dex gum on dull fluorescent paper and a perf. 10 precancel on dull fluorescent paper with type 1 dex gum. The coils are shades of almost pure, bright orange, that do not have the reddish undertone that is present in the other stamps. On the bottom row we have two sheet stamps, one tagged and the other untagged. The untagged stamp has type 1 dex gum, while the tagged stamp has type 3 dex gum. Then we have two perf. 12.5 x 12 sheet stamps, one untagged and the other tagged. Both are on dull fluorescent paper, with type 3 dex gum.

Lets now take a look at the stamps under UV light:


The stamp on hibrite paper appears now to have been printed from black ink rather than orange ink. The others still appear orange, but it is no longer the bright orange that we see in normal light. It is actually quite close to a very deep brownish orange, and the bottom right stamp is almost brown. So because the colour has lost the brightness that it had in normal light, I have classified all of these inks as transformative in nature.


6c Black - Transportation

As one might expect, due to the nature of the colour, this is the only stamp from the series that I know of, that is printed entirely from non-transformative ink, which in nearly every instance appears almost identical under UV to how it appears in normal light.

Let's take a look at seven stamps, which comprise several of the BABN printings and the CBN coil:


All of these stamps are printed in a shade of black that contains a hint of silver, with the top right and bottom left stamps being just a bit more intense. On the top row we have three die 1 sheet stamps, with the first being on dull fluorescent paper with type 2 dex gum, the second being on low fluorescent paper with type 1 dex gum, and the third being Winnipeg tagged, on dull fluorescent paper and type 1 dex gum. On the top right, we have a die 2 sheet stamp on dull fluorescent paper with type 2 dex gum. 

On the bottom row, we have die 2 with a Winnipeg centre bar tag, dull fluorescent paper and type 1 dex gum. The there is a die 1 booklet stamp, perf 10 on dull fluorescent flecked paper, with type 2 dex gum, and finally a CBN coil on hibrite paper with type 2 dex gum. 

Let's take a look at them all under UV:


While the papers look slightly different, the colour of the inks do not appear significantly different under UV light as compared to normal light.

Now, let's take a look at two of the CBN sheet stamps that were printed using the revised die:



On the left, we have a general tagged sheet stamp on smooth, low fluorescent flecked paper, with matte PVA gum, while on the right we have a precanceled sheet stamp, printed on horizontally ribbed low fluorescent flecked paper, also with matte PVA gum. Both of these stamps are printed in a deep grey-black in which the grey undertone is quite pronounced. 

Now, let's look at them under UV:


In reality, the greyish undertone does become every so slightly more pronounced under UV, but the colour does not appear significantly different from how it appears under normal light.


7c Myrtle Green - Transportation

Most collectors who have experience with this value notice after a while that there are two basic shades: a deep emerald green, and a myrtle green which is quite deep and dull. Those stamps printed in the deeper, duller shade, are printed in a non-transformative ink, while those printed in the deep emerald, tend to be printed in a transformative ink that tends to look black under UV.

Non-Transformative Inks

Lets take a look now at five of the stamps printed in the deeper, duller myrtle green:



On the top row we have three sheet stamps and the booklet stamp. All four of these stamps have type 1 dex gum, and are printed on dull fluorescent paper. The second stamp from the left is Winnipeg tagged. The stamp on the bottom row is also on dull fluorescent paper and has type 3 dex gum. All of these are clearly green, but the shade is deep, dull and lacks the blue undertone and brightness that the emerald green has. 

Here is how they appear under UV:


Although they look blackish in this picture, in reality, they are actually just much darker shades of green. The colour though is still the same fundamental deep dull green here that appears in normal light, which is why I classify this ink as non-transformative. 

The non-transformative ink seems to have been used for all BABN printings with dex gum. 

Transformative Inks

Let's take a look at two booklet stamps with PVA gum, and the CBN coil stamp on hibrite paper:


The coil stamp is printed in a shade that is closest to pure myrtle green, being neither overly bluish, nor blackish. The middle stamp is both deeper and duller, while the right stamp is more toward the deep emerald end of the shade range. Both booklet stamps have satin PVA gum, but the middle stamp is printed on dull fluorescent paper, while the right stamp is on low fluorescent paper. 

However, under UV light, the colours are completely different:


The ink colour of the coil is almost pure black, while the two booklet stamps are a very deep blackish green. I have classified these as transformative because the colour has completely lost the brightness and the bluish tone. 

So it would appear that the transformative inks are found on the coils and the booklet stamps that were printed with PVA gum. 

This brings me to the end of my post for this week, and my discussion of the inks on these two stamps. I may not have a post next week, as I will be taking a break with family for the first two weeks of October. However, I will try to complete the next post nonetheless. However, if I am unable t publish one, I would encourage you to go back and review all of the posts on this issue thus far to help you solidify your knowledge. My next post will look at the 8c Parliament, and the first three Group of Seven paintings: the 8c through 15c. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Printing Inks Used On The 1967-1973 Centennial Issue - Part Five of Eight

Today, we get into the inks used to print the Centennial issue, as they appear under, or are affected by long-wave ultraviolet light, or black light. Today's post will discuss what I mean by this, and then will look at some of the differences that appear on the 1c through 4c values of the series.

Our perception of colour is a function of how the pigments interact with the light that illuminates them. How an ink will appear under yellow incandescent light will be different from how it appears under daylight, which will differ still from how it appears under various forms of coloured light. However, usually a colour will appear more or less the way you would expect it to appear with the addition of the colour that is inherent in the light. Long wave ultraviolet light is of course, a purple light. So the appearance of most colours would appear darker and washed over with a purple undertone. I would refer to these inks as non-transformative, because the introduction of black light does not transform the colour from one to another, but merely modifies it by making it appear, darker, duller or brighter.

However, there are some inks used on the Centennial issue that are a completely different colour under the ultraviolet light from their colour in normal light. Quite often, that colour is black, but in many other instances, it is a different colour other than black. These inks are what I would call transformative, for this reason. So in studying the inks used for this issue, after you have considered the shade differences as they appear under normal lighting conditions, there is the question of whether of not the inks are transformative, and what colour they appear under the ultraviolet light. It is quite possible, and quite common, in fact, to find many instances in which two stamps that appear to be more or less identical under normal light, will appear to be different colours under ultra-violet light.

To illustrate what I am talking about, let us now take an example of three 1c stamps shown below:



On the left we have a deep brown booklet stamp with type 8 dex gum and printed on dull fluorescent paper. The other two stamps are BABN booklet stamps printed in two slightly different shades of deep reddish brown, with the middle stamp being more reddish and the right stamp being closer to chocolate. However, none of these shade variations is overly dramatic. 

Lets take a look and see how these three stamps appear under UV:


If you look at the stamp on the left, although the purple light of the lamp has cast a light violet shadow over the paper, it has not significantly changed the colour. From the appearance of the shading in the sky and on the ice, it is clear that the colour is still deep brown. The stamp on the right is still deep brown also, albeit darker than it was under normal light. However, the stamp on hibrite paper, in the middle, looks clearly black now, and not brown. 

In actual fact, although the scan does not show it clearly, the colour of the right stamp is unchanged under the lamp as well. So I would classify these inks as follows:

Left stamp: non-transformative, deep brown/deep brown.
Middle stamp: transformative, deep reddish brown/black.
Right stamp: non-transformative, deep chocolate brown/deep chocolate brown. 

Where the colour to the left of the slash denotes the colour as seen in normal light, and the colour to the right of the slash denotes the colour as seen under ultraviolet light. 

Now, lets take a look at the 1c-4c stamps in detail:

1c Northern Lights and Dogsled Team

Non-Transformative Inks.

Within the classification of non-transformative inks, there are essentially three categories:

1. Those inks that appear either deeper, duller, deeper and duller, or deeper and fuller under the light.
2. Those which do not appear significantly different under UV, once the light colour is taken into account, and,
3. Those which appear, lighter, brighter, or lighter and brighter under the light.

We have already seen an example of a non-transformative ink that does not appear significantly different under UV light: the perf. 12 booklet stamp with dex gum. This type of ink generally seems to pre-dominate in those CBN sheet stamps, and booklet stamps that were printed in plain, deep brown ink. 

However, let's take a look at some more examples where the ink appears deeper and fuller under the light. Take a look at these three stamps:


Here we have two shades of chocolate brown, on the first two stamps, and deep brown on the right. The middle and right stamps are both BABN booklet stamps, untagged and printed on high fluorescent and medium fluorescent papers, with satin PVA gum. The stamp on the left is general Ottawa OP-2 tagged and is printed on low fluorescent, vertical wove paper with matte PVA gum.

Now, let's take a look at them under UV light:



My phone camera does not do the greatest job at representing the colour as it actually appears, but it should be apparent that in all cases, the colour is still brown, with the centre stamp being the darkest. In each case, the colour is darker and fuller under UV light than under normal light. This type of ink seems to be found on some of the later CBN printings with PVA gum in the deeper brown shades and in several of the BABN booklet stamps that are perf. 12.5 x 12.

Now, let's take a look at ink which looks slightly lighter, and/or brighter under the light. Take these four stamps:


Here, starting on the left, we have the perf. 10 BABN booklet stamp in the reddish brown, shade, a deep brown CBN sheet stamp on dull fauorescent paper, a very deep violet brown sheet stamp with Winnipeg tagging, and finally another BABN booklet stamp in a dull reddish brown shade. What all of these four stamps have in common, is the somewhat dull nature of the colours.

Now let's take a look at them under UV:


This picture is, once again, not truly representative of how these stamps actually look. However, the left stamp does appear slightly brighter here than it does under normal light. The other three stamps, do not really appear lighter, per se, but they all appear brighter, and less dull, as compared with the colours in normal light.

This type of ink seems to be found on both perforations of the BABN booklet stamps, and many of the CBN sheet stamps, with the deeper, duller browns, both untagged and Winnipeg tagged.

Transformative Inks

As I said earlier, transformative ink is that which completely changes colour under UV light. Sometimes the change merely involves the loss of a predominant tone, for example, red-brown losing the red undertone and becoming dark brown. Other times, it involves the ink becoming a completely different colour altogether, like green changing to black.

Let's take a look at the following four stamps:


Here we have a BABN booklet stamp in the deep brown shade, with satin PVA gum, a Winnipeg tagged sheet stamp in chocolate brown, a General Ottawa Tagged stamp in reddish brown, and an untagged sheet stamp on hibrite paper in the chocolate brown shade.

Let's take a look at how they appear under UV:


Both stamps on the ends appear to be printed in black when viewed under UV, losing all the brown. The middle two stamps both appear dark brown, with no reddish undertone, when under normal lighting conditions, both stamps have a clear reddish tone. Generally, these inks seem to be limited on this value, to those stamps printed on hibrite paper, and the PVA gum stamps with a some hint or red to the colour, whether untagged, Winnipeg centre bar tagged, or general Ottawa OP-2 tagged. 

2c Pacific Coast Totem Pole

Non-Transformative Inks

In discussing the non-transformative inks on this value, let us begin with the ink that appears more or less the same under the UV light as in normal light: the myrtle green from the dex gum printings. Take a look at the following 2 stamps:


Here we have two of the CBN sheet stamps in two slightly different shades of the myrtle green, with the left stamp being printed in a slightly brighter shade, and Winnipeg centre bar tagged. Both are printed on dull fluorescent paper with type 8 dex gum. As we will see, under the UV light, they do not look much different, once your eyes adjust to the violet light:



The picture makes the right stamp look a bit black, but in reality it looks very close to the same shade of deep myrtle green as the stamp does in normal light. This ink seems to predominate on the dex gum sheet stamps. 

Moving on to the printings with PVA gum, the vast majority are printed in a non-transformative ink, which merely looks darker under the light, but is still green, rather than black. Here are four such stamps in normal light:



These are all shades of deep green, except for the second stamp from the left, which is a distinct bright green. The first two stamps on the left, are printed on smooth, white vertically wove paper, while the last two are printed on a horizontally ribbed, white vertical wove paper. All the stamps except for the second last stamp, are untagged, and have eggshell PVA gum. The second last stamp is general Ottawa OP-2 tagged, and has matte PVA gum. 

Under the UV light, the first and last stamps get to be a very dark green, but not black:



The picture, makes the two end stamps look black here, but they are actually, very dark green. The middle two stamps are clearly dark green, and are deeper than the shades as they appear in normal light. These inks appear in several of the PVA gum printings, with various grades of fluorescence. 

Transformative Inks

Some of the PVA gum printings and the CBN printing on hibrite paper that was made for the OPAL booklet are found with transformative inks, which in all cases appear black under the UV light. 



Here we have a Winnipeg centre bar tagged printing on horizontally ribbed, white vertical wove, with eggshell PVA gum. Then we have a general Ottawa OP-2 tagged printing in bright green, on horizontally ribbed, white vertical wove with eggshell PVA gum. Then there is an untagged printing on smooth, white vertical wove with matte PVA gum, and finally, there is the OPAL booklet printing on hibrite vertical wove paper, with vertical mesh and dex gum. The shades are generally either deep green, or deep bright green, with the OPAL booklet printing being a slightly lighter and duller version of the deep green. 

Here they are under the UV light:



As you can see, there is no green colour left in the ink. Everything appears black. These inks seem to occur on the PVA gum printings with either very low, or very high fluorescence. 

3c Combine Harvester and Oil Rig

Non-Transformative Inks

On this value, very few of the printings were made with ink that did not look darker under UV light than in normal light. However, there are a few of the printings made on dead, non-fluorescent paper that appear deep dull purple in both normal light and under UV light. Here is an example of one such printing: a precanceled example of the deep dull purple, on stiff vertical wove with type 1 dex gum:



Here is how it looks under UV:


The picture is a bit blurry, but you can clearly see that it is dull purple and it's appearance hasn't changed significantly. 

Most of the printings of this stamp, in various shades of dull purple, including those with a reddish undertone, all appear darker when viewed under UV. Here are four examples on various papers, which appear darker under UV light as compared to normal light:



On the left, and second from the right, there is the deep, dull purple on two different types of dull fluorescent paper, one with type 1 dex gum and the other with type 2 dex gum. Second from the left, is a lighter, duller shade, with shiny type 3 dex gum and on low fluorescent paper. Lastly, on the right is a deep dull purple precancel on speckled dull fluorescent paper, with type 8 satin dex gum. 

Here they are under UV:



If you look at the shading in the wheatfield, rather than the Queen, you can see that none of these stamps appear black, but they generally appear to be much deeper shades of purple. This is the type of ink in which the vast majority of the stamps of this denomination were printed.

Transformative Inks

Two printings of this value were made on white fluorescent paper: the general Ottawa OP-2 tagged precancel with matte PVA gum, and the OPAL booklet printing on hibrite paper:


Both these stamps appear black when viewed under UV light:




4c Seaway Lock

Unlike all the other values examined so far, I have not come across any 4c stamps printed in a transformative ink. All of the inks either appear more or less the same under UV and normal light, or they appear darker under UV.

Let us begin with those stamps whose colour appears more or less the same under UV. Here are five such stamps:


On the left we have scarlet printed on a dull fluorescent, stiff vertical wove paper with horizontal mesh, and type 3 or 4 dex gum. This stamp is Winnipeg tagged with a right side bar. Then we have a scarlet booklet stamp on dull fluorescent horizontal wove paper, with type 8 satin dex gum. In the middle, is a scarlet stamp on less stiff, non-fluorescent vertical wove with type 4 dex gum. Then second from the right is a scarlet stamp printed on a non-fluorescent vertical wove, with type 2 dex gum. Lastly, on the right, we have a perf. 10 BABN booklet stamp in carmine red , on dull fluorescent, horizintal wove paper with type 1 dex gum. 

Let's take a look at these under UV:


Although they do look slightly deeper here in the picture, in reality the stamps look very similar under UV to how they look in normal light.  These inks appear to be limited to the CBN sheet stamps, booklet stamps and coils with dex gum, as well as the BABN booklet stamps. 

The remainder of the stamps printed with dex gum and those with PVA gum, seem to all be printed in brighter shades of scarlet, which merely look darker under UV, but do not become black. Here are five more dex gum stamps and three with PVA gum, all of which appear darker under UV than they do in normal light:



If you compare the scans carefully, you can see that many of the dex gum stamps, being the three on the right, and all the PVA gum stamps are in brighter shades than the earlier dex gum stamps. Most of the stamps on the top row are printed on dull fluorescent paper, or speckled fluorescent paper, and generally with a satin dex gum like type 3 or 4. On the bottom row, we have a bright scarlet stamp on medium fluorescent vertical wove, with matte PVA gum. This stamp is general Ottawa OP-2 tagged. The stamp on the right is the same, except that instead of being general tagged, it is the scarce printing with the Winnipeg centre bar. The middle stamp is similar, but the shade is a bit duller, and the paper is dull fluorescent rather than being fluorescent at all. 

Let's take a look at them under UV:


As you can see, every stamp under here looks red and not black. If you compare the images of each stamp carefully under both UV and normal light, you will see that the colours, in every case, appear darker. 

That brings me to the conclusion of this week's post. Next week, I will continue with the 5c through 8c values. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Printing Inks Used On The 1967-1973 Centennial Issue - Part Four of Eight

Today's post will conclude my examination of the visible shade varieties on the 1967-1973 Centennial issue

20c Dark Blue - Quebec Ferry

There are two distinct groups of shades on this value. On the stamps issued with dex gum, the shades range from a steel blue to a deep blue and finally to indigo. This last shade contains quite a lot of black, and is very dark. The stamps issued with PVA gum tend to be printed with much brighter shades of blue, with the deepest ones being close to the brightest of those with dex gum.

Dex Gum Stamps


In comparing the shades on this stamp, I find the solid letters of "Canada" to give the best representation of the true colour. The top left stamp is a near perfect match to Gibbons's indigo. The stamp to the right of it is also closest to Indigo, but contains a touch less black, and is brighter.

The bottom left stamp is an almost perfect match to Gibbons's steel blue, and appears much brighter than the two stamps on the row above. Finally, the stamp to the right is very close to Gibbons's deep blue, but is just a little bit darker.

All of these stamps are printed on cream coloured vertical wove paper. The gum types vary from type 1 to types 3 and 4 dex gum.


PVA Gum Stamps


The stamp on the left is a perfect match to Gibbons's deep blue. It is Winnipeg tagged and is printed on a creamy horizontal wove paper, with eggshell PVA gum. The stamp on the right is not a match to any of Gibbons's swatches, but it is closest to the deep blue, but much brighter. I would therefore call it "deep bright blue". The example here is untagged, and printed on white vertical wove paper, with eggshell PVA gum.

To give you a better idea of the contrast between the indigo shade of the dex gum printings and the deep bright blue of the PVA gum stamps, take a look at this scan:


With all the attention given by Unitrade to shade differences on the classic period it is baffling to me that such an obvious colour difference receives no recognition whatsoever in the modern period.

25c Slate Green - Solemn Land

This is another stamp from this series which was only printed by CBN, and was only ever issued with dex gum, as the replacement stamp from the next series was first issued in early 1972. Still it is curious that there were no printings from late 1971 with PVA gum, as this would have been a reasonably heavily used stamp.

There are a surprising range of shades on this stamp, many of which are quite subtle, but some of which are quite extreme. The basic colour is bottle green or slate green, and the shades vary in terms of the amount of blue contained and the green and the amount of black. There is also variation in terms of depth and dullness.


It is a bit tricky to see the differences just from looking at this scan, due to the small size of the images. However, if you allow your eyes to adjust, you should be able to see many of the differences. For instance, on the top row, the stamp on the right is clearly darker than the other two stamps. Both stamps on the middle row are bluer then the stamps on the top row, with the stamp on the right being darker. Finally, the stamps on the bottom row all seem duller than the other stamps. 

However, I will go through the shades, one row at a time, with larger scans. The entire mountain of the design is excellent for comparing shades, as I find that they show up quite easily. 

So, let's take a close look at the first row:


The stamp on the left is a perfect match to Gibbons's deep grey-green. This stamp is printed on cream horizontal wove paper with a clear vertical mesh and type 1 dex gum. The stamp in the middle is close to this shade, but it has a bluish tinge, and contains less grey.  This stamp is on vertical wove with type 1 dex gum also. The stamp on the right is the same basic shade as the left stamp, but without the grey undertone.  This stamp is printed on cream vertical wove, with type 4 dex gum.

Now, lets take a look at the second row:



The left stamp on this row is clearly much closet to blue green, than it is to slate green. It does not really match any of the swatches on Gibbons's colour key. However, it is closest to what Gibbons's dull blue green swatch would be if it were deeper. This stamp is printed on vertical wove paper with clear vertical mesh and type 4 dex gum. The right stamp is closest to the deep grey-green, but has a distinctly bluish undertone. This is the scarce Winnipeg tagged printing on hibrite paper, which is vertical wove, with clear vertical mesh and type 3 dex gum.

Now let's finish with the third row:



The first two stamps in this row are almost the exact same shade, but if you compare them closely, the middle stamp will exhibit a slightly bluer colour. The colour is very similar to the first stamp on the second row, but both these stamps are slightly darker than that stamp. However, all of them are variations of deep dull blue green. Both the left stamp is printed on vertical wove with clear mesh and type 1 dex gum. The right stamp is both bluer and duller than these two stamps, but is still a variant of deep dull blue-green. This one is printed on horizontal wove paper with feint vertical mesh and type 3 dex gum.  

50c Orange Brown - Summer's Stores

This is another stamp that, at first glance, appears not to have a lot of shades, but actually has quite a number. Once again, there is a clear demarcation between the shades found on the printings with dex gum, and those found on the stamps with PVA gum. The two basic shade groupings are orange-brown and brown-orange. The PVA gum stamps and some of the dex gum stamps are shades of brown-orange, while some of the dex gum stamps are more of a brown-orange, where the shades contain more brown than orange.

I will show all the shades together on one scan, will describe the basic differences between the broad shade groups and will then look at each row up close:


Here you can see quite clearly that the middle and right stamps of the second row, and the first two stamps of the third row are more brownish than they are orange, while the brightest, and most orange shade is in the lower right stamp, which is the PVA gum printing. The middle and right stamps of the top row are clearly also more orange than brown. Finally, the first stamps of each the first and second row are a good balance of both orange and brown. I find that the shading on the grain elevators provides a good basis for comparing the shades. 

Now, let's take a close look at the first row:


There is no brown-orange swatch on the Gibbons colour key, but the left stamp matches what I think this swatch would look like if a small amount of brown were to be added to the orange swatch. The stamps to the right are both much more orange, with the stamp in the centre being the deeper of the two. These two stamps are more of a brownish orange, which is what you would have if you took the orange swatch and added about one eighth to one quarter brown, whereas the brown orange is closer to 50% brown.

The two stamps with selvage on this row are printed on low fluorescent, vertical wove paper, with clear vertical mesh and types 1 and 3 dex gum. The middle stamp is printed on dull fluorescent, vertical wove paper with clear vertical mesh, and type 1 dex gum.

Now let's take a look at the second row:


The left stamp is a slightly deeper and browner version of the brown-orange. This stamp is printed on hibrite horizontal wove paper with clear vertical mesh and type 8 dex gum. The middle stamp is closest to Gibbons's orange-brown, but is more orange and lighter. This stamp is printed on dull fluorescent horizontal wove paper, with type 4 dex gum. The stamp on the right is a bit more orange, once again, and a bit deeper than the centre stamp. This one is printed on dead, vertical wove paper with type 1 dex gum.

Now let's move on to the third row:



The left stamp is a similar shade to the right stamp on the row above, but this one is both lighter and duller. It is printed on a dull fluorescent, horizontal wove paper with type 3 dex gum. The middle stamp has the intensity of the yellow brown on the Gibbons colour key, but the orangy tinge of Gibbons's cinnamon. I actually think that it is a fairly close match to what cinnamon would be if it were darker. This stamp is also printed on dead, horizontal wove paper with type 3 dex gum. Finally, the stamp at the bottom right is closest to the Gibbons dull orange swatch, but deeper. However, this colour contains the least amount of brown, and the most amount of orange as compared to the other eight stamps.

$1 Carmine Red - Edmonton Oilfield

Of all the high value stamps of the series, this one has the most subtle of the shade differences, and it may first appear as though there are no shade differences. However, with patience and care, it is possible to see variations in how much bluish undertone is present, versus how much scarlet there is in the shade. The dullest and most bluish shades seem to be limited to the dex gum stamps, while the brightest and most scarlet of the shades seem to be limited to those stamps issued with PVA gum. In comparing the shades of this stamp, I find that it is best to focus on the dirt road in the foreground.

Stamps With Dex Gum


The starting point in analyzing these shades is the stamp in the middle, which is a fairly close match to Gibbons's deep rose red. The stamp to the right is very close to this, but is a closer match to Gibbons's scarlet, while the stamp on the left is closest to what would result is a little carmine were added to the deep rose red, as there is a definite bluish undertone to this shade.

To see the differences more closely, I will show two close up scans, with the first being stamps 1 and 2, and the next one being stamps 2 and 3:


Here, the bluish undertone of the left stamp is much more apparent in this scan, when compared to the stamp on the right. Both these stamps are printed on vertical wove paper with faint vertical mesh, and type 4 dex gum. The paper of the stamp on the left is dead under ultraviolet light, whereas the paper of the stamp on the right is a low fluorescent bluish white.



The scarlet stamp on the right, is clearly brighter than the deep rose red, as it is in the Gibbons colour key. The scarlet stamp is printed on dull fluorescent, horizontal wove paper, with clear vertical mesh, and type 1 dex gum.

Both stamps on the second row are a much duller shade, and both contain a strong bluish undertone, with the stamp on the right being both deeper, and duller than the one on the left. Let's take a close look at these to get a better idea of what the exact shades are:


The stamp on the right is closest to Gibbon's carmine-red, but with more scarlet and less blue that the Gibbons swatch. The stamp on the left is a slightly lighter and brighter shade, but again, it is much closer to carmine-red than it is to any other shade. Both stamps are printed on dull fluorescent, horizontal wove paper, with no visible mesh, and type 3 dex gum.

Stamps With PVA Gum

The PVA gum stamps are closest in shade to the first dex gum stamp shown above. In other words, they are closest to what deep rose red would look like if a little scarlet were added to the mix.


The stamp on the left contains just a hint more blue in the colour than the right stamp. However, both are more bluish than the deep rose red and the scarlet shades. Both are printed on white, low fluorescent, vertical wove paper with eggshell PVA gum.

This concludes my examination of the shades of the Centennial issue stamps as they appear in ordinary light. Next week, I will start looking at the shades as they appear under long-wave ultraviolet light.