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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The 1c Brown Northern Lights and Dogsled Stamp of the 1967-1973 Centennial Issue - Part Two

Today, I delve into the PVA gum printings of the 1c Northern Lights and Dogsled sheet stamps. According to Unitrade, the first time these appeared was in November 1971, with the general tagged  stamps, and then in December 1971, the untagged sheet stamps were issued. Finally, in January 1972, the stamps with Winnipeg centre bar tagging were issued.

This all raises a few questions, which may never be adequately answered:


  • Why were the Winnipeg Tagged stamps issued at all, when the general tagged stamps were already available 2 months before?
  • Why are there no OP-4 tagged stamps? All the GT-2 stamps seem to be OP-2, yet the general consensus among specialists is that OP-4 taggant was used first and abandoned when it became clear that it was unstable. Yet the lack of OP-4 stamps on this issue suggests that the situation may have been more complicated than this. 
The answer to the first question may be that the equipment in operation in Winnipeg was still the old Sefcan machinery and that these required Winnipeg tagging to operate, until new machines that could read the OP-2 tagging were installed in Winnipeg sorting stations. On the second point, it would appear that OP-2 was used first, with OP-4 being an experimental taggant that was abandoned after it was discovered to be wholly unsuitable. After it was abandoned, the use of OP-2 resumed. 

All of the stamps were printed from plate 5, although the plate inscriptions were trimmed off of all the tagged panes. Although these stamps are less complicated than the stamps with Dextrose gum, there are still some interesting varieties to be found, as we shall see, and the full extent of them provides quite a bit more scope than just the four basic listings in Unitrade.

Before I get into a discussion of the specific stamps, I had promised to discuss the differences between the paper of the PVA gum printings, and the paper used on the printings with dextrose gum. There are important differences between the papers used on these two groups of printings that will enable you to distinguish the stamps, even when they have no gum, as with used stamps. 

Like the paper used for the dextrose gum printings, the paper tends to be vertical wove. However, if you look at the back of the stamp, you will never see any trace of ribbing. If you look at the printed surface under 10x magnification, you will be able to see a little surface porosity, but not too much. At the same time, the paper does not have a highly finished look, being smooth, but not burnished in the  way that some of the earlier papers are. At the same time, it is not as porous as the paper used for the plate 3 and plate 4 printings. If you hold stamps or plate blocks printed on this paper up to a strong light and look carefully, you will see fine vertical striations running through the paper from top to bottom. You will not see these on any of the papers used for the dextrose gum printings. The paper used for the PVA gum printings is also white when viewed against a white background, whereas the paper for the dextrose gum printings always appears creamy and off-white by comparison. 

However, the appearance of the paper under UV light is what will likely be your go-to characteristic, as it is completely different from the papers used to print the stamps with dextrose gum. 

Unitrade lists only one paper type for the PVA gum stamps: low fluorescent flecked. In reality though, there are two broad paper types, with each type having several sub-types:

  1. A low fluorescent paper in which the paper appears low fluorescent overall, and does not appear flecked. Upon close examination with a 10x loupe under UV light, some fibres are indeed visible, but they are the same brightness as the overall paper, so that they disappear into the overall fluorescence of the paper. The colour of this paper under my UV light is generally a light bluish white. But other colours are possible, such as violet, bluish etc.
  2. A dull fluorescent paper that contains fluorescent fibres that vary from low fluorescent in brightness, all the way up to hibrite. The composition and concentration of these fibres is such that the paper overall appears low fluorescent, and indeed this is what Unitrade refers to as LF or LF-fl paper. The colour of the paper under UV can vary from greyish white, to light violet, through bluish violet and finally to light blue. 
The photographs below show both these types of paper:


This first picture shows the first type of paper on the bottom single stamp, and the second type is shown on the two blocks. The fluorescent fibres do not show up too well in this picture, but show up very clearly in the picture below of a corner of a sheet of the stamp with Winnipeg cbar tag:


You can see the fluorescent fibres clearly in the selvage at the right, as well as in the margins of the stamps. 

Although, you will come across examples of stamps with dextrose gum that are printed on paper with fluorescent fibres, they generally will not contain the sheer depth and brightness of fibres that these stamps will. In my nomenclature to describe fluorescence, I generally distinguish between 7 levels of concentration in a stamp, as follows:

  1. 1-2 fibres: literally 1 or 2 fibres across the entire surface of the stamp.
  2. Very few: anywhere from 3 to 10 fibres across the entire surface of the stamp. 
  3. Very sparse: a very light sprinkling of fibres across the entire stamp surface. Gaps between fibres are as large as 3-5 mm.
  4. Sparse: a light sprinkling of fibres across the entire stamp surface. Gaps between fibres are smaller: 1-2 mm.
  5. Low density: an even distribution of fibres across the stamp surface. Gaps between fibres are generally no more than 1 mm.
  6. Medium density: a heavier distribution of fibres in which the fibres overlap and the largest white spaces are no more than 1/4 to 1/2 mm.
  7. High density: the fibres are so dense and close together that it appears at first as if there are no fibres, but one even fluorescence level. It is only after examination with a 10x loupe that it becomes apparent that there are actually fluorescent fibres in the paper.

Levels 6 and 7 generally do not occur on this issue, and will not be encountered until the 1970's with the paper manufactured and supplied by Abitibi-Price. Most of the dextrose gum printings exhibit levels 1-4, but generally not 5. The brightness of the fibres in the paper, will not usually be brighter than high fluorescent (HF), with most being either low fluorescent (LF) or medium fluorescent (MF). Very seldom will you see HB fibres in the paper, and if you do, it will not be more than 1 or 2 fibres. With the PVA gum printings, the second paper above exhibits the low density (level 5) of fibres. The brightness of these fibres varies from low fluorescent to highbrite (HB), with a large number of hibrite fibres being present. So in conclusion, the papers used for the PVA gum stamps are very distinct and with experience, sorting used stamps out should not be too difficult. 

I will now discuss each of the major groups of PVA gum stamps:

  • Untagged
  • Untagged precancelled.
  • Winnipeg tagged
  • General tagged
Untagged Sheet Stamps: Unitrade #454iii

Unfortunately, I do not have a great deal of untagged stamps to work with at the moment. However, I do have enough to be able to comment on and illustrate some shade differences, as well as a very subtle difference in the PVA gum that could be very easily overlooked. 

Papers

I have so far found three different papers on the untagged stamps:


  1. Dull fluorescent violet grey, with a low density concentration of dull fluorescent fibres, and sparse concentrations of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres.
  2. Dull fluorescent grey, with a low density concentration of dull fluorescent fibres, and sparse concentrations of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres.
  3. Low fluorescent bluish white, with a sparse concentration of low florescent fibres, and a very sparse concentration of medium fluorescent fibres. 

The photograph below shows all three types:


The first paper is shown at the top left, the second at top right and the third on the bottom. The differences between the first two types do not show up well in a photograph, but the difference between the third and the first or second, shows up quite readily. 

Shades

So far I have seen three distinct shades of brown on this stamp that are quite different from the shades seen on the early dextrose gum stamps. Two are very similar to one another, while the third is a very distinct shade of brown, containing no reddish undertone, but no blackish undertone either:


The block on the left is a perfect match to Gibbons's chocolate. The block on the right is a perfect match to Gibbons's reddish brown.



This stamp is printed in a slightly deeper shade than the reddish brown above. In fact, it is an almost perfect blend of the chocolate and reddish brown shades. 

These three shades are closest to those found on the dextrose gum printings on the hibrite paper, but are generally quite different from the other dextrose gum printings. Under ultraviolet light, the colours are merely deeper versions of brown, but are not essentially different from what they are under normal light. Therefore the inks used are non-transformative. 

Gum

Upon close examination of the stamps, it will become apparent that there are actually two different types of PVA gum used in printing these stamps:

  1. A very white gum that has a satin sheen.
  2. An off-white gum that has a duller and thinner appearance, an eggshell sheen.
A side-by side comparison scan showing the two types of gum together follows, along with individual high resolution scans of each type:


The white satin gum is shown on the right, while the off-white cream gum is shown on the left. The difference is easily overlooked, but if you compare them side by side, they are quire distinct. I am not sure if the sheen differences will show up here, but here is a high resolution scan of the off-white gum:



and here is the white gum:



Apart from an slight difference in thickness (the white gum appears slightly thicker), the differences are not too obvious from a scan. I see my cat Viktor has left little bits of his coat all over my scanner!! Sorry about that, but he sheds a lot, and even with several wipe-downs a day, it is hard to get them all. 


Perforations

The only perforation I have found on the stamps I have looked at is 11.85 x 11.85. I do not know whether or not the 11.95 gauge was still in use at this point, but it does not appear to have been. However, if I find 11.95 or compounds on the other types of stamps, then I will know that it should also exist on these stamps as well.

Bringing it All Together

I have found three shades, three paper types and two types of gum. I do not know if every shade exists with both gum types and all three paper types. However, as there are likely other paper types that I have not found yet, I will assume that for purposes of determining how many collectible varieties there are, I will assume that there are 3 x 3 x 2 =  18 collectible varieties. The only plate blocks that exist are plate 5, as well as blank blocks that can be found in 12 positions, with different selvage widths. So the number of collectible blocks should be at least 16 x 12 = 192 blocks.

Untagged Precancelled Stamps: Unitrade #454xxi

Paper

The paper that I have seen so far on this stamp is a dull fluorescent bluish white paper under UV light, that shows a low density concentration of dull fluorescent fibres and very sparse concentrations of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres. There are both fewer fibres in the paper of these stamps, and the fibres are not as bright as on the untagged stamps.


Shade

So far, I have only seen this stamp printed in the reddish brown shade, as shown below:



Gum 

On these stamps, I have come across a third type of PVA gum. This one is very white, but is much shinier than the other two. The sheen on this is actually more of a semi-gloss, rather than a satin sheen. The white is even whiter than the white gum with the satin sheen. Here is a high resolution scan showing the differences between the earlier satin gum and the semi-gloss white gum:


The very white gum of the precancelled stamp is shown on the right. Here is a scan showing it next to the cream eggshell gum:


The difference between these two gums is even more stark, to the point where I just can't see how anyone would think they are the same.

Perforation

Again, as with the other untagged stamps, all of the stamps that I examined were perf. 11.85.

Bringing It All Together

Here I have only found a single collectible variety so far. Generally, the precancels are collected as warning strips when they are collected in multiples, and there are two positions, right and left. So the maximum number of collectible strips is 2. This is likely the simplest of all the sub-types of this very complicated stamp. 


Winnipeg Tagged Stamps: Unitrade #454piv


Paper

Two papers seem to exist on these stamps:


  1. Dull fluorescent violet grey paper under UV, showing sparse concentrations of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres, that give it a low fluorescent appearance overall. Some stamps may also have 1 or 2 hibrite fibres visible. 
  2. A similar paper, except that the colour under UV is grey, instead of violet grey. 


Shades


I have seen two shades of these tagged stamps that differ from the chocolate and reddish brown shades seen on the untagged stamps. The stamp on the left is a deeper version of the chocolate shade as compared to the chocolate of the untagged stamps. The stamp on the right is a deeper shade of the reddish brown as compared with the untagged stamps. 

Under UV light, the colours simply appear as deeper versions of what is normally visible under normal light. Therefore the inks are non-transformative. 

Gum 

The gum on all the stamps I have examined is the second type of white PVA gum with a satin sheen.

Perforation

Again, the perforation on all the tagged stamps that I have looked at is still 11.85. I have not yet found any instance of the 11.95 gauge.

Appearance of the Tagging


The above image is the lower right corner of a full sheet of the Winnipeg tagged stamps. As you can see, the colour of the tagging under UV is a pale greenish yellow, as we saw on some examples of the stamp with dextrose gum. I have not come across any examples in which the tagging shows any bluish or bluish white reaction, as we had seen on some of the earlier 2-bar Winnipeg tags. This suggests that the bluish tagging is an earlier form, from before 1971 that utilized a taggant that had a slightly different chemical formula from the one used here.

The tagging bars are 4 mm wide and the space between the bars on the sheet is 20.5 mm all the way along the sheet. A full sheet contains 10 bars.

The bars do not run continuously down the full sheet, but stop just beyond the end of one pane, before a second series of bars covers the pane below. You can always identify corner blocks from the junction of the upper and lower panes by the fact that you will see one bar end and another begin in the lower selvage.

Bringing it All Together

I have found two paper types and two shades, though only one gum type. This means that there could be up to four collectible varieties, assuming that every paper type exists with every shade. Like all of the tagged stamps, blocks are all blank and can be collected in the usual 12 positions. This suggests that there are up to 48 different collectible blocks of this stamp.


General Tagged Stamps: Unitrade #454piii


Papers

I have found four different papers on these stamps:


  1. Dull fluorescent greyish ivory under UV, with a sparse concentration of dull fluorescent fibres, and very sparse concentrations of low and medium fluorescent fibres. 
  2. Dull fluorescent light blue under UV, with a low density concentration of dull fluorescent fibres, and sparse concentrations of low, and medium fluorescent fibres, a very sparse concentration of high fluorescent fibres, and very few brownish woodpulp fibres visible in the paper.
  3. Dull fluorescent violet grey under UV, with a sparse concentration of low and medium fluorescent fibres.
  4. Dull fluorescent violet grey under UV, with a low density concentration of dull fluorescent fibres, sparse concentrations of low and medium fluorescent fibres and a very sparse concentration of high fluorescent fibres.
There may be other varieties, and I will add additional entries for any that I come across as I come across them. The second type introduces a new phenomenon with papers that we do not see until the early 1970's: brownish woodpulp fibres. These are brownish flecks in the paper that are invisible until the paper is viewed under UV light. Paper containing these flecks can generally be regarded as being from the very last printings made in late 1972 or early 1973. 


Shades

In my examination of all the general tagged stamps in my stock, I have encountered three shades, one of which is extremely distinct, and the reddish of the shades on this value. The other two are close to one another and easily overlooked if one is not paying very close attention:


The left stamp is the deep chocolate shade that we saw on the Winnipeg tagged stamp, The centre stamp is similar to the reddish brown of some of the untagged stamps, but is just a touch brighter. The right stamp is a perfect match to Gibbons's deep brown, which is similar to what we see on some of the dextrose gum printings from plate 4.

Under UV light, the inks appear as deeper versions of themselves, so they are non-transformative.

Gum 

There appear to be two different types of gum on these stamps:


  1. The second white type with satin sheen, which seems to occur on the deep chocolate and deep brown shades.
  2. The third white type with the semi-gloss sheen, which seems to occur only on the reddish brown stamp with the deep yellow tagging. 
One defining characteristic of the paper with the semi-gloss gum that stands out is that the perforations are often blind and not fully punched out as is the case with the centre stamp in the previous scan. I believe these are generally the last printings made just before the 1c John A. Macdonald stamp of the Caricature issue replaced it in October 1973.

Perforation

All of the stamps that I examined with general tagging are perf. 11.85. Therefore, I believe that the 11.95 machines had been retired by the time these printings were made. Of course, it is possible that examples perf. 11.95 and compound with 11.85 do exist, but it seems unlikely, as I generally would have found one by now in the stamps I looked at. So you should be aware that they could exist. 


Appearance of the Tagging

All of the tagging that I have seen on all the stamps that I have examined is 4 mm wide, and the horizontal spacing between tag bars is 21 mm. There are 11 bars per sheet, all applied to the outer edges of the pane at right and left, as well as down the perforations between the stamps. Occasionally, the tagging is found so badly shifted as to produce either centre bar (G1aC) or right bar (G1aR) varieties. Ken Rose, in his handbook dealing with tagging errors on Canadian stamps, lists both types on this stamp, but he only lists them in used condition.

While I have not found any spacing or size variations in the tagging, I have found two different colours of tagging under UV light: bright yellow and very pale green. The picture below shows both types:



The upper left stamp shows the bright yellow tagging, while the stamp at the bottom shows the very pale green tagging. Generally, it appears that the yellow tagging is the later version, given that the colour is very close to what we see on the subsequent 1973-78 Caricature stamps. The gum on these is the thicker, shiner PVA and the colour is the reddish of the brown shades.

It appears that the tagging bars may run continuously down the length of the post office sheet from one pane to the next, as I have not seen any instances of blocks in which one tagging bar ends, while the next one begins.

Bringing it All Together

Although I have identified three shades, four paper types, two gum types and two tagging types, it is unlikely that every variety exists in combination with all the others. Specifically, the reddish brown stamp with the semi-gloss gum and deep yellow tagging seems to exist with only 1 paper type. But the others may exist with each of the varieties. So it would seem that there could be as many as 2 x 3 + 1 = 7 collectible varieties. All of the blocks, as with all tagged stamps are blank, and can be collected in up to 12 positions, so that the maximum number of collectible blocks is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 84 blocks.

So in conclusion, although there is not nearly as much scope offered with the PVA gum stamps as those with dextrose gum, there is still a great deal more than what the Unitrade listings would suggest. This concludes my discussion of the sheet stamps of this value. My next post will cover the perf. 12 CBN booklet stamps and the perf. 10 BABN booklet stamps.



Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Very Special Offer! A Complete Set of 1897 Jubilees For As Little As $540!!

I interrupt my regular posts this week to bring you a very special offer: a complete mint, used and unused set of the 1897 Jubilee Issue. I am offering this at auction on E-bay for a minimum bid of $540! That works out to be just over $100 for each of the five dollar values!

This set has long been regarded by collectors of Canadian stamps as one of the Crown Jewels of a Canadian collection. Although many collectors do manage to complete half or maybe two thirds of this set in their collecting lifetimes, with Unitrade valuing a complete set at anywhere between $3,165 for very good mint, all the way up to $35,000 for very fine NH, completion eludes most collectors. Issue quantities of most values in this set, were very low compared to other stamps of the period:


  • 150,000 of the half cent,
  • 75,000 of the six cent,
  • 150,000 of the ten cent,
  • 100,000 of the fifteen cent,
  • 100,000 of the twenty cent,
  • 100,000 of the fifty cent,
  • 24,900 of the one dollar,
  • 25,000 of the two dollar,
  • 13,500 of the three dollar,
  • 14,500 of the four dollar,
  • 16,500 of the five dollar.
To put these quantities in perspective, you have to remember that the survival rate for stamps of this period in any condition is somewhere between 5% and 10% of the total issue quantity, and includes every possible grade from absolutely terrible to superb. The bottom line is that there are likely fewer than 1,000-1,500 possible complete Jubilee sets in the entire world for all collectors, and there are many more than just 1,500 collectors for Canada obviously. This is why the Jubilee page remains partially blank for most collectors of Canada. 

The set on offer here, is at the lower end of the condition spectrum to be sure, but it is not at the very lowest end of the scale: the $5 is a completely sound used example, that is nicely centered with the standard smudge cancel of the period. A lot of collectors dislike the roller and smudge cancels, but that type of cancel is really the only one that most collectors will see from this set. There are a few CDS cancelled high-values, but they are generally quite expensive and out of reach of most collectors. 

To get an idea of how much of a bargain the minimum bid is, lets take a look at each of the stamps in the set. I will grade them comprehensively, list all the flaws, and give what I think is a fair value for each stamp. Then I will total them up and you can see for yourself what a bargain this set actually is.

So let's take a look at the stamps, starting with the dollar values. First up is the $5 olive green:



The only issue that really affects the appeal of this $5 is the cancel, which, as I said, is pretty standard for a stamp of such a high denomination. The centering is quite nice, and the stamp is completely sound with no creases, tears or thins.

Let's take a look at the back:



As you can see, the back is nice and clean, and there are no creases or tears. There is just a hint of a wrinkle in the middle of the stamp and in the middle on the right, but these are really not consequential at all on a used stamp like this.

So, barring the cancel, this would be a VF-75. As it is, I would grade it as F-65. Unitrade for fine is $800. So a fair price, I think, at a minimum for this is $350.

Now, let's look at the $4:



This is the least attractive of the dollar values in the set. The main issues in terms of condition are the worn perforations on the left side, there is a crease along the left side as well, which you can't see from the front, and the smudge cancel. The colour is actually not bad for a $4 - usually, they are quite faded.

Here is the back:



The crease that I am taking about does not show up clearly on this scan of the back either, but it is a light diagonal crease that starts about half way up the stamp on the right side and bisects the third bottom perforation tooth. But other than that, there are no other defects.

Without the defects, and the cancel, it would be a fine used $4. As it is, I would grade it as a Fair-35 used example. Unitrade prices fine used at $800, so VG should be $400, Good should be $200 and fair should be about $100. So I would think that this stamp is worth at least $75, even in this condition. 

So we're up to $425. Let's take a look at the $3:



It is hard to tell exactly, but I think there are two short perforations at the top left, namely the third and fifth perforation teeth from the upper left. Other than that, the only real issue is that the perfs are a bit worn looking and are not crisp and sharp. But they are intact, except for the two short perfs. The cancel is a smudge cancel again, but it is not as heavy as many that are found on these. The colour is good and vibrant. 

Here is the back:



You can just make out a light guarantee handstamp in the bottom right corner, and as you can see, there are no creases, tears or thins.

So again, without the cancel, it would likely be  a F-65 example. As it is, I would grade this as VG-60. Unitrade lists fine used at $800, so VG should be $400. I think at a minimum, this is a $250 stamp.

So on these first three dollar values, we are up to a minimum value of $675, and we still have 13 more stamps to go. So already, we are $135 over the minimum bid.

Let's take a look at the $2



This is a pretty standard example of the used $2, except that it has much nicer, more vibrant colour than most examples of the $2, which fade quite easily. The only condition issue other than the cancel is a very small crease affecting the upper left corner perforation. It is not visible on the back, as you can see in the scan:



The diagonal line in the lower right corner near the "137" is a hair that got on the scanner. It is not a crease. So, as you can see from the scan, there are no other defects.

With the roller cancel, this would normally be a F-65 example, but with the corner crease, it is VG-55. Unitrade for fine is $400, so VG should be $200. So I would say a fair value for this is $150.

So now we are up to $825. Let's take a look at the $1



This is very close to a fine mint example, but for a missing lower right corner perf. Let's take a look at the back:




There are a lot of hinge remnants here, which you could actually remove with a great deal of patience and a sharp scalpel, although I wouldn't recommend it unless you have experience with hinge removal on these stamps. Otherwise, there are really no serious defects. 

So, with the corner being what it is, I would grade as G-50. Unitrade for very good is $375, so good should be worth about $200. At a minimum, this stamp should be worth $150.

With all the dollar values now examined and graded, we are at $975, which is $435 over the minimum bid. So even if the rest of the stamps are completely terrible, which they are not, the minimum bid is about 40% less than what I would consider the absolute minimum value of these dollar values to be.

Now, let's start looking at the mid-range values, starting with the 50c:



This is the deep ultramarine, which is listed as Unitrade #60i. It is unused, without any gum, but is sound, except for some shorter perforations at the top. 

Here is the back:




So as you can see, nice and clean, with no creases, tears or thins. Normally this would be a F-65 example, but with the perfs they way they are I would grade it as VG-60 unused. Unitrade for VG with gum is $75. So without gum, it should be worth about $30. I would say that at a minimum $20 would be fair. 

So now we are at $995.

Here is the 20c:



This example is also unused without gum. It is normal vermillion shade and is completely sound, but just off centre.

The scan below shows the back:



As you can see, there are no creases, tears or thins. With the centering being what it is, I would grade this as VG-55 unused. Unitrade for VG with gum is $80, so without gum should be $40 or so. So at a minimum, $25 would seem fair.

So now we are at $1,020. Let's look at the 15c:



There is a small light corner bend affecting the lower right corner, that is not a full crease, and two perforations at the bottom that have split laterally with the front end being creased upwards under the "N" of "fifteen" and in the lower right corner. Without these issues it would be a F-65 mint example, but as it is it is VG-55.

Here is the back:




You can just make out the light bend in the lower left corner, but otherwise, there are no other defects. Unitrade prices VG at $75, so I would think $30 would fair for this stamp.

So now the running total value stands at $1,050. Next is the 10c:



This is a completely sound VG-60 mint example, with nice deep colour. The scan below shows a nice clean back, with no creases, tears or thins:


Unitrade prices VG at $30 and this is at the higher end of VG, as it is really almost fine. So A fair price for this would be $15.

So now we are up to $1,065 of value. Now for the 8c:



This is a VF centered example, with full original gum and nice colour. The problem though is the four short perforations at the lower right, and a light tone spot at upper left.


Here is the back. As you can see, there are no other issues. In terms of grade, without the short perforations, it would be a VF-75, but with the perforations and the tone spot it is a VG-55, which lists for $20 in Unitrade. A fair value for this would this be $15.

The running total value, with the dollar values and mid values evaluated and graded now stands at $1,080. Now, let's take a look at the low values, starting with the 6c:



This is a completely sound mint example, centered to the top, but fresh and fine in all respects. The perforations on the left are a little uneven, but all intact. Here is the back:


Some hinge remnants, but all the gum is present, and no creases, tears or thins. So I would grade this as a F-68. Unitrade for fine is $150, so a reasonable value for this would be $60, which brings the value to $1,140.

Here is the 5c:


A pretty standard fine appearing used example with colour that borders on slate blue. 


Here is the back. There is a very shallow thin at the top that is not readily visible in the scan. That takes this from F-65 down to VG-60. Unitrade prices fine used at $20, so VG should be worth $10. A fair value for this would thus be $5. 

This brings the value to $1,145. 

Now, let's look at the 3c:


Here we have a perfectly fine mint 3c in the rose shade. Let's take a look at the back:


The gum is full and fresh, with just a light hinge mark. So this is a F-70 mint example. Unitrade is $10 for this grade. A reasonable value is again $5, bringing the total value to $1,150. 

Now for the 2c:


This is a very fine appearing used example, which unfortunately does have a vertical crease down the left hand side that is not noticeable from the front. You can just barely see it on the back scan of the stamp on the right:



This crease reduces the grade from a VF-75 to VG-55. Unitrade lists fine used at $9.50, VG should be about $4 and so this is really only worth about $2, bringing the total value to $1,152.

Now let's take a look at the 1c:


This is a nice, fresh fine mint example in the deep orange shade. Here is the back:



Fresh, clean original gum that has only the slightest disturbance from a hinge. This would be a F-70 example. Unitrade for fine mint is $10, and $6 would be a reasonable value. 

So with all the stamps up to the last stamp, the 1/2c black, the total minimum value, in my estimation, is $1,158. 

Here is the last stamp, which is also the worst in terms of condition:


As you can see it would normally be a F-70 mint example, but there are two edge tears, a number of creases and the perfs are very worn. You can see the creases a bit better from the back scan:



So, I would grade this as a fair-35, on par with the $4. Unitrade prices VG at $40, so G should be $20, which would mean fair should be worth $10. Thus a fair value for this as a spacefiller would be $5. 

So, all told, the minimum value of these stamps in my professional opinion, taking them individually is $1,163 which is over double the minimum opening bid. So the set is clearly a very reasonable attractive bargain for a collector who has a limited budget and wants to fill this page in their album. Most dealers would simply grade this set as VG and call it a day, advertising its value as $3,100 plus, but my grading is more stringent and I wanted to start this at a reasonable price. Hopefully, you can see that at $540 it is eminently reasonable, and still leaves quite a bit of room for bidder competition, so that if it sells for $900 or $950 even, it is still well within what the stamps are worth on a resale basis.

To view the set on E-bay access the following link:

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Canada-50-65-Complete-Mint-and-Used-Set-1897-Jubilees-Reasonable-Start-/222819605561?hash=item33e1155c39

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The 1c Brown Northern Lights and Dogsled Stamp of the 1967-1973 Centennial Issue - Part One

Today, we delve into the individual stamps of the fascinating 1967-1973 Centennial issue. We start with one of the most complex of the stamps from this issue: the 1c Northern Lights and Dogsled design. Perhaps the only stamp more complicated than this is the 8c slate Parliamentary Library.

Because of this complexity, I have decided to deal with this stamp over four separate posts, which will be as follows:


  1. The sheet stamps with Dextrose gum, both tagged and untagged.
  2. The sheet stamps with PVA gum, both tagged and untagged.
  3. The CBN booklet stamps, perf. 12 and the BABN booklet stamps perf. 10.
  4. The perf. 12.5 x 12 booklet stamps that come from the 25c, 50c and $1 integral booklets.
Once I have presented these stamps in detail, I will conclude with a sorting algorithm which will help you sort through large quantities of mint and used stamps, with maximum efficiency, as there is an optimal sequence of steps to follow. Of course, there is more than one way to approach sorting thesse stamps, but only one way that is most efficient. 

In terms of Unitrade listings, there are four basic listings for the untagged stamps:

  1. Dull fluorescent paper with separate plate block listings for plates 1-2, 3 and 4.
  2. Non-fluorescent flecked paper.
  3. Hibrite paper.
  4. Precancelled on dull fluorescent paper.
There are three listings for the tagged stamps:

  1. Dull fluorescent paper, with 2 bar Winnipeg tagging.
  2. Dull fluorescent paper, with Winnipeg centre bar tagging.
  3. Hibrite paper with Winnipeg centre bar tagging.
In reality, things are quite a bit more complicated than this. For starters, there are several different varieties of dull fluorescent paper that appear different colours under ultraviolet light. These colours range from ivory to light violet. In addition, the non-fluorescent paper also appears in several different colours as well. Then the gum varies, with all the different types as discussed in my earlier posts dealing with the dextrose gum. The papers can all exist with different concentrations of fluorescent fibres. Next, the tagging can vary, both in terms of spacing between the tagging bars, the existence of tagging errors, in which the 1-bar tags exist with wide bars, which are actually 2-bar tags that have been shifted so severely as to produce 1-bar tags, the intensity of the bars in normal light, and the colour under UV light. Finally, the shades of the brown ink vary, from a deep, dull violet brown, to a bright brown. 

I will take each of these attributes in turn and go through each of these listings, and expand them to include as many varieties as I cab identify. Please note, that I am limited by the stamps that I actually have in stock to work with, so that this, and all the remaining posts of this issue mus be considered a work in progress. 

Finally, on most if not all of the varieties listed here, the stamps will exist with up to four different line perforations: 11.85, 11.95, 11.85 x 11.95 and 11.95 x 11.85. In detailing these, I am going to take a slightly unorthodox approach in that I am not going to start with the basic untagged stamp. Instead, I am going to begin with the tagged stamps, and those on hibrite paper. The reason is that I expect that there will be certain shade, paper and gum characteristics that are unique to printings made from the time periods while these other stamps were printed. My hope is that I can use what I learn from these stamps to help sort the sequence of printings out for the untagged stamp. 

The Hibrite Paper Stamps - Unitrade 454ii and 454pii

Paper

Unitrade lists the paper of these stamps as hibrite. While it is certainly true that it appears hibrite when compared to the dull and low fluorescent papers, it is not the absolute brightest on the scale, and consequently, I would tend to classify is as more of a high fluorescent than a hibrite paper. In ordinary light, it still has a fairly creamy, off-white appearance, though less so than the original dull papers. The picture below shows an example of the untagged block and a single tagged with the Winnipeg centre bar:


As your can hopefully see from the picture, the appearance under UV light is a mottled bluish white. In reality, it is a little brighter than the picture shows, but it definitely appears bluish. 




For both the tagged and untagged stamp, the paper appears quite distinctly ribbed, in the horizontal direction as shown in the above scan. Sometimes the ribbing is more distinct, and sometimes less, but it is always visible. The direction of the paper weave on all the stamps I have examined is vertical, i.e. mint stamps will curl from side to side. The printed side of the paper appears smooth, with a highly porous surface when viewed under 10x magnification. 

Shades

I have found a total of three very close shades on these stamps. So far, only one of these shades has been found on the tagged stamp, but all three have been noted on the untagged stamp. These three shades are shown in the scan below:


It is a tad difficult to see on this sized scan, but if you carefully compare the stamp on the left with the one on the right, you can see that there is definitely more red in the stamp on the left, whereas the stamp on the right is more of a pure brown. The middle stamp is very, very close to the shade on the left, but is just a touch duller. Let's take a look at each of these individually and see how they compare to the Gibbons colour key. 


This shade is an almost perfect match to Gibbons reddish brown in normal light. Under UV, it appears black brown. So the ink used is transformative. 


This is almost an exact match to Gibbons's chocolate shade in normal light, however, there is a slight hint of red to the colour. Under UV, the colour again appears black brown, so that the ink used is transformative. 


This is also a near exact match to Gibbons's chocolate, but is deeper. Under UV light, the colour appears black brown. So again, the ink is transformative. 

Gum

The gum on these stamps is a deep yellowish cream and is quite shiny. I would classify the sheen as glossy to high gloss. I have seen both the completely uniform smooth gum and gum that shows tiny vertical blemishes, which I refer to as the streaky dex gum. 

Appearance of the Tagging


The tagging on these stamps is very difficult to see, both in normal light, and under UV. The above tagged stamp shows a very light yellow vertical band that starts just left of the "P" of "Postage" and ends just past the "G" of "Postage". It is much, much lighter than the earlier Winnipeg centre bar tagging, which was dark yellow by comparison. Under UV light, the bars appear a light brownish yellow, and there is no afterglow whatsoever, when the lamp is switched off. Again, that stands in contrast to the earlier Winnipeg centre bar tagging, which usually gives a 1-2 second afterglow after the UV lamp is switched off. 

The scan below shows the difference in appearance between these tagged stamps and the Winnipeg centre bar tagged stamps on the dull paper:


Note how much more difficult it is to see the tagging on the hibrite paper example. 

Plate Blocks

There are to my knowledge, no plate blocks of either the untagged stamp, or the tagged stamp. They are only available as blank corner blocks.


Bringing it All Together

Given that I have found three shades of the untagged stamp and only one of the tagged stamp, it raises the question of whether the tagged stamp can also be found with the other two shades. According to Unitrade, the untagged stamp was first issued in June 1971, whereas the tagged stamp was issued in October 1971. Given that Ottawa tagging was introduced in December 1971, I would expect that the tagged stamp had a very short period of usage, and had many less printed. This I would expect there to be fewer shades of it as compared to the untagged stamp, which would have been in use longer. So I will assume that there are two shades of the tagged stamp, but not 3. I have only found the one paper, and two types of gum. I have found both 11.85 and 11.95 x 11.85 perforations, which indeed suggests that all four perforations will exist with all varieties of stamp. Thus there should exist 16 varieties of the tagged stamp and 24 varieties of the untagged stamp as follows:

  1. Tagged in the reddish brown shade, with 2 types of gum and 4 perfs each = 8 stamps.
  2. Tagged in the second shade (1 of the 2 described), with 2 types of gum and 4 perfs = 8 stamps.
  3. Untagged in reddish brown shade, with 2 types of gum and 4 perfs each = 8 stamps.
  4. Untagged in deep reddish chocolate, with 2 types of gum and 4 perfs = 8 stamps.
  5. Untagged in deep chocolate, with 2 types of gum and 4 perfs = 8 stamps. 
So, in total there should be 40 possible varieties of these stamps. Given that the corner blocks can be found with wide selvage when taken from the outer panes in the complete sheet, or narrow selvage, when taken from the inner panes, or mixed wide and narrow selvage, this means that there should be 480 = 40 x 12 different corner blocks that can be collected for these stamps. 

The Winnipeg Centre Bar Tagged Stamp on Dull Paper - Unitrade 454pi

According to Unitrade, this stamp was first issued in December 1968, so it should differ quite markedly from the other tagged stamps. Sure enough, it does differ, both in shade, the appearance of the paper under UV, and the appearance of the tagging. 

Paper


All of the stamps I have examined with this tagging are printed on a vertical wove paper that has a very smooth finish. Under 10x magnification, you can see very fine curled indents on the paper surface from the paper fibres, but the paper lacks the porous appearance that the later hibrite paper has. There is no significant ribbing visible when the stamp is viewed from the gummed side. Under UV light, the paper appears as shown above: a dull fluorescent brownish grey colour. A few of the blocks I looked at did have maybe 1 or 2 stray fluorescent fibres in the paper of 1 stamp, but I have not yet found any paper containing any regular concentration of fluorescent fibres. 

Shades


I have found two shades of this stamp, which would appear to correspond to two different printings. The tagging on these also differs, as I shall explain in a minute as well. The block on the right is printed in the deep chocolate shade that we saw with the hibrite stamps above. The block on the left lacks the reddish tone to the brown and is closest to Gibbons's deep brown. Under UV light, both inks appear deeper, but not another shade or colour entirely. Therefore the inks used to print these stamps are non-transformative. 

Gum 

The gum on these stamps, like the stamps on hibrite paper is a deep yellowish cream, but there is a bit more yellow to the cream. The gum is also less glossy, being more of a semi-gloss sheen. I have found both the smooth, even texture, and the streaky gum described earlier. 

Appearance of the Tagging


The tagging found on this stamp exhibits two differences. The first is the intensity of the bands as seen in normal light. The scan above shows these two differences clearly:

  1. On the left we have the deep yellow bands.
  2. On the right we have lighter yellow bands.
Under UV light, the colour of these bands is seen to vary. I have found three variations as follows:

  1. Deep, yellow.
  2. Greenish yellow.
  3. Bluish white.
The picture below shows the greenish yellow and bluish white types. I did not include the deep yellow because the difference between it and the greenish yellow will not show up clearly in this type of picture. However, I assure you that you will be able to see the difference quite readily when you have both types:



On the left we have the greenish yellow, and on the right, the bluish white. The bluish white seems to correspond to the less deep bands, and is much less common than the greenish yellow and bright yellow, based on my examination of several thousand stamps. 


Plate Blocks

As with all the tagged stamps of this issue, there are no inscription blocks, and just blank corner blocks. The blank blocks can be collected with ether wide selvage from the outer corners of the outer panes of the printer's sheets, or with narrow selvage, from the centre panes, or mixed wide and narrow selvage, from the inner corners of those outer panes. So even though collectors typically collect 4 corners, it is really possible to collect 12 different positions. 

Bringing it All Together

Again, as with the hibrite paper stamps, there seems to be only one type of paper. There are two shades, two types of gum and three types of tagging. I only found perf. 11.85 on the two blocks I checked, but I would expect that all four perforations should exist on these too. Thus there should be 2 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 48 different possible stamps, and 48 x 12 = 576 different possible corner blocks that can be collected:

  1. Deep chocolate with yellow tagging: 2 gums and 4 perfs. = 8 stamps.
  2. Deep chocolate with greenish yellow tagging: 2 gums and 4 perfs. = 8 stamps.
  3. Deep chocolate with bluish white tagging: 2 gums and 4 perfs. = 8 stamps.
  4. Deep brown with yellow tagging:  2 gums and 4 perfs. = 8 stamps. 
  5. Deep brown with greenish yellow tagging: 2 gums and 4 perfs. = 8 stamps.
  6. Deep brown with bluish white tagging: 2 gums and 4 perfs. = 8 stamps. 
The Winnipeg 2 Bar Tagged Stamp - Unitrade #454p

According to Unitrade, this was released in February 1967, and would have been in use until the centre bar tagged stamp replaced it in December 1968. So it was in use for a a little under 2 years. Again, there are some marked differences between this stamp and the others. Most notably, the colour, which is either deep brown or light sepia. There is no red at all in the colour, whatsoever, in any of the stamps I looked at. As with the other tagged stamps there are differences in the appearance of the tagging and the paper as well. 

Paper

There are four types of paper that I have found on this stamp: two that most closely fit Unitrade's definition of NF and two that fit Unitrade's definition of DF. As with the Winnipeg centre bar stamp, the paper has a highly finished surface and is vertical wove. Again, there is sometimes very weak horizontal ribbing visible on the back, but not usually. In normal light, all of the papers have a creamy off-white appearance. 

The pictures below show these four types of paper:


The dull fluorescent paper is generally either a light greyish colour like the block on the left, or it is a greyish white colour as shown by the block on the right.

The picture below shows the two non-fluorescent papers:



The block on the left is a brown colour and the block on the left appears bluish violet. This affects the appearance of the tagging, making it appear more bluish than it really is. 

None of the papers I looked at contained any fluorescent fibres. 

Shades


I have found two distinct shades on this stamp as shown on the above two blocks. The block on the left is printed in deep brown ink. The block on the right is printed in a deeper ink that is closest to Gibbons's blackish brown, but is a bit lighter. Under UV light, neither ink changes colour, so the inks used here are non-transformative. 

Gum

The gum found on these stamps is, once again, deep brownish cream, with a semi-gloss sheen. Both smooth and streaky versions are found. 

Appearance of Tagging



The tagging bars differ in appearance between printings, just like the other tagged stamps. I would note that the tagging bars on this stamp are generally quite a bit lighter in appearance than the centre bar tags. On some printings, the bars are so light, as to be almost invisible to the naked eye. The block on the left, shows clearly visible yellow tagging bars, that are nonetheless, not dark in appearance. In contrast the tagging bars on the right hand block are barely visible. 

Under UV light the colour of the bars does appear to vary, with some stamps having bars that appear greenish yellow and others that appear more bluish white. I believe that this difference is caused more by differences in the appearance of the paper under UV, rather than any difference in the taggant compound itself. However, the spacings between the tagging bars does vary in some panes. The normal spacing is 16 mm. However, on some panes, the spacing between the outer and middle bars is 15 mm. The picture below shows the difference between these two spacings:


The top block, printed on DF paper, shows the 15 mm and 16 mm spacings, while the bottom block on NF paper shows the 16 mm spacing. As far as I know, the narrow spacing is only found on blocks from the left corners. 

Curiously, Unitrade does not list the Winnipeg 2 bar tagging on NF paper, even though it does clearly exist. 

Bring it All Together

Here, we have 4 papers, 2 shades, two tagging spacings, though one only occurs on half the possible block positions, two types of gum and 4 perforations. This should give 4 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 4 = 128 possible stamps, and ((12 x 24) + (6 x 8)) x 4= 1,344 possible corner blocks:

  1. Dull fluorescent greyish paper: 2 shades, 2 gums, 2 spacings, 4 perfs. = 32 stamps.
  2. Dull fluorescent greyish white paper: 2 shades, 2 gums, 2 spacings, 4 perfs. = 32 stamps.
  3. Non-fluorescent brownish paper: 2 shades, 2 gums, 2 spacings, 4 perfs. = 32 stamps.
  4. Non-fluorescent bluish violet paper: 2 shades, 2 gums, 2 spacings, 4 perfs. = 32 stamps.
The Precancelled Stamp - Unitrade 454xx

This stamp is only listed on DF paper, but again, I have found that it clearly does exist on both DF and NF papers. 

Paper

I have found 4 papers for this stamp, that are very similar to those found on the winnipeg tagged stamp. However one of the greyish white DF papers contains very few low fluorescent fibres in the paper. I had not found this type before on the other tagged stamps. Similarly, I have not found the brownish NF paper for this stamp either. 

Shades

I have found two shades of this stamp:

  1. Deep brown.
  2. Blackish brown.
These are the same two shades that we saw with the stamps tagged with Winnipeg 2-bar tagging. This tends to suggest that most of the precancelled stamps with dextrose gum were printed before December 1968, The scan below shows these two shades:


The deep brown is shown on the left, while the blackish brown is shown on the right. 


Gum

The gum on these stamps is a deep cream with a semi-gloss to high gloss sheen. Both smooth and streaky versions have been seen. 

Plate Blocks

Like the tagged stamps, the precancelled stamps were not issued with plate inscriptions. Instead a warning to the effect that these stamps are only to be used as authorized are placed in the left and right sheet margins reading downwards and facing sideways. Usually, the full warning strips of 20 are collected intact, but corner blocks, with and without the warning text can be collected. As with other blank blocks, up to 12 positions are possible. 

Bringing it All Together

Given that I have found 4 papers, two shades, two types of gum and four perforations, there should be up to 4 x 2 x 2 x 4 = 64 different collectible stamps, and 12 x 64 = 768 possible corner blocks. 

The Untagged Sheet Stamp - Unitrade 454

This is the most complicated of the stamps because it was in use from February 8, 1967 until the untagged PVA gum printing replaced it in December 1971, though the hibrite stamp appeared in June 1971. 4 different plates were used to print the stamps and if memory serves me correctly, plate 3 came into use in early 1970, while plate 4 came into use in late 1970-early 1971. So my starting point, must be to look at these plates first, and see which shades, paper and gum types are to be found. Then I can look at the plate 2 and plate 1 printings. 

Plate 4 Printings

Paper

I have found two types of dull fluorescent paper on the plate 4 blocks that I examined:

  1. Bluish white with a very sparse concentration of low fluorescent fibres in the paper.
  2. Greyish white with no fluorescent fibres visible.
Like the other stamps examined so far, the paper generally is vertical wove, has a very porous surface, like the stamp on hibrite paper, and does not usually show visible ribbing on the back. In normal light, the paper has a creamy, off-white appearance. 

Shades 

I have identified three shades for the stamps printed from this plate:

  1. Deep brown
  2. Deep chocolate
  3. Chocolate
The first two of these shades are found on some of the other stamps, but the chocolate shade is entirely new. The scans below show each of these shades:


Deep brown



Deep chocolate


Chocolate

Under UV light, the inks all retain their essential character, though they do appear darker, so they are non-transformative.

Gum

I have found three types of gum on these printings. All of them are a deep cream colour and have a semi-gloss sheen:

  1. A completely smooth gum.
  2. A streaky gum with strong vertical streaks.
  3. A blotchy gum that has the appearance of being "sponged" on. This third type of gum is not found on the plate 1 and plate 2 printings, so it can be used to help identify singles printed after 1969. 
The high resolution scans below show these three types of gum:


Smooth gum. 



Streaky gum with vertical streaks



Blotchy gum

Bringing it All Together

I assume that all three shades identified above, exist with both paper types and all three gum types, though a detailed study would be necessary to establish this for certain. Assuming though, that all shades, papers and gums exist with all perforations, then there should be 3 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 72 different stamps and 4 x 72 = 284 possible plate blocks. Again, there should be blank field stock blocks with this plate, that exist in 12 positions, which means that one could collect up to 72 x 12 = 864 blank blocks. Some of these may be difficult to distinguish from plate 1 and 2 printings, as all three shades found on this plate are also found on plate 1 and 2, but generally only with the smooth gum. Blocks that have either the blotchy gum or the vertically streaky gum will generally not be from either plate 1 or plate 2. Plate 3 also comes with blotchy gum and is found printed in deep chocolate. Some blocks from this plate like this that are blank will not be distinguishable from blank plate 4 blocks when the same type of DF paper was used in printing them. 

Plate 3 Printings

The plate 3 blocks that I examined are all printed in deep chocolate. The gum is either blotchy as shown above or the perfectly smooth gum. The colour of the gum is deep cream and the sheen is semi-gloss to glossy. Again, the paper is quite porous when examined under 10x magnification, it is vertical wove, and shows no significant ribbing on the back. Under UV light, it generally appears dull bluish white. So it only comes on dull fluorescent paper, just like plate 4. The paper can either be found without any fluorescent fibres, or a few low fluorescent fibres in the paper. However, the bluish white colour and greyish white colour is quite unlike what is usually found on the plate 1 and 2 printings. 

So, with 1 shade, two gum types, and two paper types, there should be 4 different stamps and 16 different plate blocks. Again, blank field stock blocks also exist, and there should be up to 12 positions, so 48 different blank blocks for this plate. Again, though, it may be difficult to distinguish between blank blocks from this plate and those from plate 4 and some printings from plates 1 and 2. Generally, the paper will eliminate plate 1's and 2's since the DF paper of plate 3 and the porous surface finish are completely different from plate 1 and 2 stamps. But plate 4 stamps with blotchy gum and plate 3 stamps with blotchy gum, printed in the same deep chocolate shade, on the same DF paper, will not be distinguishable. Now, in practice, it likely will not be possible to distinguish plate 3 and plate 4 singles, though those stamps on paper giving a dull fluorescent bluish white reaction with no fluorescent fibres might be identifiable as only coming from plate 3. More study is required to establish this with certainty. 

Plate 1 & 2 Printings

These plates were in use from February 1967 until 1970 - just over 3 years. So the printings from these two plates should display the largest range of papers, shades and gum types. 

Papers

As Unitrade states, there are two classes of paper for these stamps: the dull fluorescent papers, which comprise the basic #454 listing in Unitrade, and the non-fluorescent papers, which comprise the Unitrade 454i listing, though as we shall see, most of these have no fluorescent fibres, which makes Unitrade's listing confusing. 

I have found the following dull fluorescent papers:

  1. Dull fluorescent ivory white under UV, with 1-2 low fluorescent fibres visible.
  2. Dull fluorescent bluish white under UV with a very sparse very few high fluorescent fibres.
  3. Dull fluorescent greyish white under UV with no fluorescent fibres.
  4. Dull fluorescent greyish white under UV with very few fluorescent fibres.
  5. Dull fluorescent greyish under UV with no fluorescent fibres. 
As far as non-fluorescent papers go, I have found four, all of which show no fluorescent fibres at all:

  1. Non-fluorescent violet grey under UV.
  2. Non-fluorescent blue grey under UV.
  3. Non-fluorescent grey under UV.
  4. Non-fluorescent yellow tinged grey under UV.
So, all in all, there are at least 9 different paper types for 454 and 454i. I only had a very limited range of 1c stamps to work with here, and so I suspect that there are many more variations than just this. But for now, this is plenty. Generally speaking these papers have an extremely fine surface finish on the printed side of the paper, with no surface porosity at all when viewed under 10x magnification. This is especially the case for some of the non-fluorescent papers, which can sometimes appear to be coated, with some type of non-fluorescent coating. The weave direction is almost always vertical, and some copies sometimes show a fine hoizontal ribbing on the gummed side, though it is nowhere near as strong as what we saw on the hibrite paper stamps. 

Shades

The shades found on these stamps run the gamut from blackish brown all the way to chocolate:


From the top left to the bottom right we have:

  1. Blackish brown.
  2. Lighter blackish brown.
  3. Very deep brown.
  4. Deep chocolate brown.
  5. Deep brown
  6. Chocolate
The stamps on non-fluorescent paper tend to be found in the first three shades, while the stamps on dull fluorescent paper are found in all shades shown here. I suspect that if one looks hard enough, all papers exist in all shades, but a full scale study would be required to establish this for certain. For the moment, I will assume that all shade, paper, gum and perforation combinations exist. 

The following close up scans will hopefully help you distinguish the shades more readily:


Blackish brown



Lighter blackish brown



Very deep brown



Deep chocolate brown



Deep brown



Chocolate


The shades can appear quite similar to one another when viewed individually, but when you compare them to one another the differences become apparent. The chocolate browns have some red undertone to them, whereas the blackish browns and deep browns do not. Under UV light all the inks retain their essential character, appearing as merely darker versions of themselves. Thus, these inks are non-transformative. 

Gum Types

I have found essentially 4 types of gum on these printings. All the gum is a deep cream to yellowish cream:

  1. A thinner smooth cream gum with a satin sheen.
  2. A  smooth cream gum with a semi-gloss sheen (most common).
  3. A streaky cream gum with a semi-gloss sheen (next most common).
  4. A smooth cream gum with a high gloss sheen. 
The scans below show these gum types:


The satin gum. Note the completely even colour and fine crackly pattern.



The semi-gloss gum. Again, the colour is even, with a fine crackly pattern.



The streaky gum. If you look closely you can see the light and dark patches in the gum that cause it to appear streaky.



The high gloss gum. The colour appears slightly deeper and less crackly in the scan. 


Bringing it All Together

So far, for these printings, I have identified 9 paper types, 5 shades and 4 gum types, as well as the general observation that there could be as many as four different line perforations. Thus, the number of potentially identifiable varieties from plates 1 and 2 is:

9 x 5 x 4 x 4 = 720! 

Given that there are 2 plates and 4 corner positions for each plate, there can be 8 plate blocks for each variety and up to 12 blank corner blocks. So one could collect 8 x 720 = 5,760 plate blocks and up to 8,640 blank corner blocks, that could all potentially be different. Given the immense print quantity, it is indeed possible. 


Some Sorting Tips

If  you do not have a UV lamp handy, it pays to be aware of some general tips to help you sort your stamps:

1. Check the shades first. If you see reddish brown, that shade is unique to the hibrite papers, and it is very likely a HB paper. If there is strong horizontal ribbing visible on the gummed side, then it almost certainly is. 

2. If the shade is a chocolate or deep chocolate brown, then it could be from any of plates 1 through 4. In this case, check the paper surface. If it appears porous under magnification then it is either a plate 3, a plate 4 or a highbrite from plate 4. If it has a smooth finish it is from either plate 1 or 2. If it is a blackish brown shade then it must be from plate 1 or 2, and is quite likely to be on non-fluorescent paper. 

3. Check the gum. If the gum is blotchy in appearance, then it must be from either plate 3 or 4. If it has a thin appearance with a satin sheen, it must be from plate 1 or 2. If it has strong vertical striations and not merely the small uneven spots, then it is the streaky gum from plate 4. 

The above tips will help you pre-sort your stamps into groups, which you can then check more carefully with your UV lamp later.

If your stamps are used, the question is: how will you know that they are not PVA gum printings with no gum? The answer is that the shades will be completely different for PVA gum stamps as is the paper. You can tell PVA gum paper, even without a UV lamp. I will explain how in my next post. 

This concludes my discussion of the sheet stamps of the 1c Northern Lights and dogsled design, printed with dextrose gum. Next week, I will look at the stamps printed with PVA gum. Hopefully this post will have given you some appreciation for the vast scope that is possible with this issue and shows you that Unitrade only scratches the surface and provides a broad overview of what actually exists.