The 1898 Special Delivery Issue
The introduction of special delivery services in 1898 required the issuance of a new stamp for the prepayment of those services. The fee for special delivery was to be 10c for a letter delivered within the city limits of where it was posted.
So on June 28, the Post Office Department issued a 10c stamp in deep blue green of the following design:
I must confess that I do not know who designed this stamp. There are very few if any reference sources on this issue, which is odd, because it makes such a good project for research as we shall see. The engraver was probably Charles Skinner, as he engraved all the other issues that were in use during this time. The American Bank Note Company was the printer, and the stamps were printed from two plates. For the stamps printed from plate 1, the sheets were 100 subjects and the sheets were sent to post offices intact. Thus it is possible to obtain intact plate blocks showing the full inscription from plate 1. Plate 2 printings were also 100 subjects, but the sheets were guillotined down the middle for distribution to post offices. Thus was a common practice in the late 1910's and early 1920's, and it suggests that plate 2 dates from around this time.
What makes this issue so interesting is its longevity - 24 years before the next special delivery issue replaced it. Only the 15c Large Queen and the low values of the Small Queens have a longer period of use than this. It was not a heavily used stamp, as this would have been an expensive luxury at the time and would only have been used in cases where it was important for the letter to reach the recipient on the same day. Thus only 3,667,500 stamps were issued during the entire 24 years. But these stamps were spread out over a very large number of printings, which I do not think have necessarily all been identified and studied. This provides a budding specialist with a fantastic research project, as this stamp was issued over three reigns: Victoria, Edward VII and George V.
Points of Interest
The main point of interest is trying to identify all the printings of this stamp, but that is done mainly by studying the various attributes, which are points of interest in their own right:
1. Colour shades
2. Paper vaarieties
3. Gum varieties
4. Plate varieties and re-entries
5. Multiples and plate blocks
6. Covers and cancellations
7. Proof material
As usual, I will discuss each of these in more detail.
The colour of the green varied greatly over the life of the stamp, but it followed the same general pattern as the 1c green stamps of the period. So you can use the general shades of the 1c Numeral, 1c Edward VII and 1c Admiral to guide your identification of the printings. However, some shades are repeated on different sets, so to identify the printings with the right period, one needs to consider paper and gum as well. Matching mint stamps with a collection of dated used stamps, will, I think be the only way to attribute a particular shade to a specific time period.
The shades that I have seen so far on this stamp are:
1. Bluish green - this is a dark green that has a slightly bluish tint
2. Deep dull green
3. Deep green
4. Yellow green
5. Dull blue green
6. Deep yellow green
7. Deep blue green
Some illustrations follow:
Attributing the shades to a period is tricky for the reasons that I explained above, though some generalizations can be made.
1. The blue green shades are likely from the period from 1898 to 1911.
2. The bluish green shades start in the Edward VII period in 1903 and continue to the early Admiral period, i.e. about 1915-1916.
3. The green shades are from the mid-Admiral period, i.e. 1915-1919.
4. The yellow-green and dark yellow green are late Admiral period, i.e. 1919-1922.
However, these are very rough suppositions that would need to be supported by years of diligent research using hundreds or thousands of mint and used stamps.
The stamps are found on a variety of vertical and horizontal wove papers, that vary in thickness from 0.003" to 0.0045". Some of the papers are thick and fibrous, while others are thin and stout.
Unitrade does not list any re-entries for this stamp, but I have discovered one very spectacular re-entry. It was on a creased mint stamp from what appears to be a Victoria period printing. Most of the middle lettering and all of the top lettering, as well as the upper vertical framelines show distinct doubling. The doubling in "Canada Postage" is obvious and visible without a loupe. Pictures of this re-entry are shown below: