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Monday, November 23, 2015

Brief Hiatus in Posts and No Longer Posting to Groups on a Daily Basis

I have come to the end of my detailed posts on the Wilding definitive issue of 1954-1967. However, I am way, way behind on my listings of this issue in my E-bay store. So while I could write about a completely different topic, I have decided that it would be best if I completed the listings of the material for this issue in my e-bay store. If you are intrigued about these issues having ready my posts on the topic and wish to view the stamps that I have for sale, the link to my store is:

I expect that listing all the material that I have for this issue will take me at least a full week. Once I have completed it and I am ready to start working on the next definitive issue, which is the 1963-1967 Cameo Issue, then I can start to write posts again about that issue. So if you have read all my posts, I would encourage you to check back here around December 2 or December 3, 2015. By then, I will either have my overview post of this issue published, or an update as to when I expect to have it done. If you haven't read all my posts, I encourage you to go back through the listing at the right sidebar, as I have a large number of posts about all aspects of the Queen Victoria issues. They are not quite as detailed as the postings for Queen Elizabeth II, as I don't have as much material to work with as I do for QE2. However, you should still find plenty of useful insights that come from my years of personal experience in working with these stamps, that are not listed in any stamp catalogue.

Also, I will not be sharing my posts with Facebook groups each and every time I publish a post, as it is taking far too much time to do this with every group I am a member of. I will post every post to both my timeline and my store page:

So if you like reading my posts and want to receive notifications of new posts as they are published, you can either follow my store page, or become a follower on my blog. I will occasionally share posts to groups, but not every day.

Happy collecting everyone!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Understanding and Studying Paper Fluorescence on Modern Stamps


Probably no topic causes more confusion for collectors than the study of paper fluorescence. Many feel that there is too much subjectivity involved in evaluating and studying paper fluorescence and there is a tremendous amount of inconsistency among the stamps listed in Unitrade. Indeed many of the stamps listed are described as having the same degree of fluorescence, but appear completely different under the UV lamp. This makes positive identification of single stamps next to impossible for those unfamiliar with the papers, unless the varieties are unmistakably obvious.

This post will attempt to explain why this confusion arises and break the topic down into more manageable components, so that you will be able to see that the study of paper fluorescence is not impossibly complex.

The Cause of Confusion and Basic Grades of Fluorescence

The subject of paper fluorescence is confusing because many of the papers used contain fibres in varying densities that react differently to the UV lamp than the main paper. In addition, the use of paper coatings in the early 1970's has resulted in many papers that give different reactions on the face of the paper from the back.

To begin with it is important to understand the basic levels of fluorescence and what they look like:

1. Dead paper (Dead)
2. Non-Flourescent (NF)
3. Dull Fluorescent (DF)
4. Low Fluorescent (LF)
5. Medium Fluorescent (MF)
6. High Fluorescent (HF)
7. Hibrite (HB)

Dead, Non-fluorescent and Dull Fluorescent Papers

The picture taken with my I-phone camera shows the three lowest grades of paper fluorescence: Dead, non-fluorescent (NF) and dull fluorescent (DF). It is important for me to point out that the camera does not adequately capture the differences between the grades, dulling them. So in reality the differences between the following stamps are much greater in real life:

Dead paper appears either a dark brown or a very dark purple under the UV lamp. There is no bluish white or white glow whatsoever. This paper absorbs light and reflects none. True dead paper prior to the early 1990's is rarely seen. Much more common is NF paper. The stamp on the left is printed on dead paper.

NF paper appears a lighter brown or lighter purple. Again it absorbs and does not really give off any glow at all. The main difference between NF and dead paper is in the depth of colour that the viewer sees. The stamp in the centre is NF. It appears darker than this in real life. But if you look closely at the picture, you can see that it is definitely duller than the stamp on the right.

DF paper is the most common paper type prior to the Centennial issue. This paper type varies quite a bit in colour under UV, but generally, it gives off a very dull, bluish or greyish white appearance. It will not have the brownish or violet appearance of the NF or dead papers. It will not appear to be at all fluorescent, but compared to the above 2 types it looks quite fluorescent.

It is important to note  that fluorescence refers to the brightness of the reflected light, not the colour. DF paper can come in several different types, each of which reflects a different colour under UV:

  • Greyish white
  • Greyish
  • Ivory
  • Bluish white
  • White
  • Yellowish ivory
  • Light violet
These are some of the colours I have seen. The difficulty for the novice is that it is very easy to mistake the bluish white or greyish white DF paper with fluorescent paper if the person has never seen true fluorescent paper. This is especially the case if you are used to seeing NF paper. 

Low Fluorescent, Medium Fluorescent, High Fluorescent and Hibrite Papers

The picture below shows three of these four grades of fluorescence on the top row, with DF, and LF on the bottom row for comparison:

LF paper gives off an unmistakable light bluish white glow under UV. Generally it can be quite bluish. The stamp at the top left is DF. In this picture, it doesn't look that much duller than the LF stamp at the bottom, and indeed the example here is definitely toward the dull end of the scale. Most LF papers are about mid-way in brightness between the stamp at the bottom and the stamp that is second from left in the top row.

MF paper gives off a brighter, lighter bluish white glow. The second stamp fro the left is MF. In addition the stamp shown has the bright Ottawa General Tagging that glows bright greenish yellow. This tagging replaced the Winnipeg tagging and was introduced in 1972.

HF Paper is very bright, but less so than the hibrite. The stamp third from left is HF. There will still be a slight hint of blue or violet to the light.

Hibrite paper (HB)  is unmistakable in the sense that the glow is almost pure, bright white. The stamp on the right is HB.

The above picture does not show the differences between DF and LF or HF and HB quite as clearly as I would like, so hopefully the following additional shots will capture the differences better:

In this picture, you can see very clearly that the 8c stamp is much brighter than the right stamp. In addition it has a mottled appearance. That is because the paper is actually DF, but contains a large number of LF fibres that make it appear LF. This is one aspect of paper fluorescence that gives rise to the most confusion because Unitrade has two different ways of describing this paper. On some issues, they call if "speckled fluorescent" (SF) and on others simply "fluorescent" (F). There doesn't seem to be any particular reason for this, but in reality the presence of fluorescent additive fibres should be considered separately from the issue of the ambient fluorescence of the paper because it is possible to have a dead paper that contains a small number of low fluorescent fibres.  

This picture shows the difference between HF and HB more clearly. In practice many of the so called HB stamps listed in Unitrade are really either MF or HF rather than truly HB. The problem is that the issues of definitives have all been studied independently of one another and the descriptions have come about as a result of comparison of one stamp to another. Because fluorescence is relative and a continuum, it really is necessary to study all the issues together and compare stamps across different sets. This is what I have done in listing my stamps.

Fluorescent Fibres In The Paper and Naming Convention

What complicates the picture is that in addition to the basic grade of the paper, there are often found, fibres which show a different level of fluorescence. These fibres can be very dense, to the point where you can barely see individual fibres, right down to very sparse, where there are only 1 or 2 fibres visible on the stamp. Often these fibres can fool collectors into thinking that a paper is more fluorescent than it actually is, with the above 8c stamp being a good case in point. To deal with this, I have devised a naming convention as follows:

(basic fluorescence-fl, fluorescence of the fibres in the paper, concentration of said fibres)

So a stamp that had a basic fluorescence of DF, that has a high concentration of low fluorescent fibres would be abbreviated as follows:

(DF-fl, LF, HD)

For concentrations, I recognize six different levels of concentration as follows:

Very, very sparse (VVS) - no more than 1-5 fibres across the whole surface of the stamp.

Very sparse (VS) 5-10 fibres across the stamp with no discernable pattern.

Sparse (S) a very light sprinkling of fibres across the entire stamp. Gaps where there are no fibres will be quite large - as much as 2-3 mm.

Low Density (LD) the entire stamp is covered in fibres, but there areas with no fibres evenly distributed throughout that are up to 1 mm.

Medium density (MD) the spaces between the fibres are smaller than 1 mm, but the fact that the fibres are individual is still very clear.

High Density (HD) there are so many fibres in the paper that the fluorescence almost appears uniform, but under close inspection it is possible to make out individual fibres.

Now it is the case that some stamp papers contain more than one grade of fluorescent fibre. This explains situations where you have two stamps with fibres that appear to have the same overall fluorescence, but look different when you compare them to one another. To name these varieties, I simply add another two sets of initials for the second type for fibre, and more sets for each type of fibre present in the paper. So for example, a DF paper that contains a low density of LF fibres and a sparse concentration of MF fibres would be named as follows:

(Df-fl, LF, LD, MF, S)

Paper Coatings, Different Readings on Front and Back and Impact on Naming Convention

With the advent of chalk coatings that began to be added to papers starting in 1970, the subject of paper fluorescence becomes much more complicated because often the reaction of the front of the stamp will differ from the back. The pictures below illustrate this for the 25c Polar Bears definitive from 1976:

The two blocks shown here are both DF paper. However, one block is pure DF, with a chalk coating that gives the appearance of being dead on the front. The other block has such a high concentration of HF fibres that it appears HF from the back and MF on the front.

The naming convention will thus have to be modified to allow the back and the front of the stamp to be differentiated where the reaction on the front differs from the back. This is done by means of a slash. Everything to the left of the slash refers to the front of the stamp or multiple and everything to the right refers to the back.

So these two blocks would be named as follows:

The left block in the top picture would be: Dead/DF

The right block in the same picture is: DF-fl, MF, MD/DF-fl, HF, MD, MF, MD

What is interesting here is that the second block actually has two different types of fibres, only one of which can be seen from the front. The reason I know there are two is that on the back the overall density appears to be HD. But then looking at the front there is a lot of space consistent with MD. The reason for this difference is that the MF fibres that are visible from the back are not bright enough to show through the front. If there is only one type of fibre present, then the concentration will either be the same on the front an back, or visible on the back only, but not the front.

Finally, there also exists a chalk-surfaced paper during the 1972-1976 period which comes with either a smooth surface, a distinct vertical ribbed surface and a distinct horizontal ribbed surface. The reactions of this paper under UV light are quite varied, but there is a DF paper which shows very clear woodpulp fibres on the back under UV. The descriptions of these stamps will include the word "woodpulp" after the initials describing the paper fluorescence.

I recognize that this is very complicated and may appear at first to be to complicated to be workable. However, I believe breaking it down like this will take much of the subjectivity out of the study of paper fluorescence and introduce a bit more objectivity.

Anyone have any thoughts about this?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Modern Versus Classic Philately - Just As Interesting If You Know What To Look At

I have now completed two series of posts that describe all aspects of two relatively modern Canadian definitive issues, that have until very recently been thought to contain relatively little to interest a specialist: The Karsh Issue of 1953-1967 and the Wilding Issue of 1954-1967. When I was a boy, there were almost no detailed catalogue listings of either issue, and even today, the Karsh Issue has almost no listed varieties. However, as my posts demonstrate, these two issues are hardly straightforward, and have much to keep a devoted specialist busy for an entire lifetime. So why, after such a long time, are these issues still largely neglected?

There are several reasons, but I think the main one is that there is a strong bias in the hobby to dismiss any variety that is not either very obvious, or from the classic period as being little more than random variation. Indeed, within the professional circles of philately, there is a strong bias against the serious study and collection of stamps issued after World War II, dismissing them as nothing more than discount postage. Pretty well all of the professional attention in philately, especially at the exhibition level is directed towards the classic period. For Canada, the definition of the boundary between the classic and modern period has shifted with the passage of time. When I was a boy, it was the end of the Small Queen period and now it is the end of the Admiral period.

So why is there this tendency to dismiss the modern material? Part of it has to do with its availability: the stamps of issues like the Karsh and Wildings are widely available in almost perfect condition. I will say though, that they are noticeably less common than they were back in the 1980's, as usage on mail by stamp dealers has had its impact. Another reason is that classic philately has created a set of expectations and beliefs in collectors about what is considered significant and collectible, and these beliefs and expectations are slow to evolve. I'll explain further what I mean.

Most collectible varieties of the classic period result from the inherent technological limitations of the time in which the stamps were printed, such as:

  • Major and minor shade varieties
  • Major and minor re-entries
  • Differences in paper thickness
  • Plate flaws
Others are the result of deliberate variations in the production process:

  • Differences in perforation measurement result from different perforation machines
  • Wet and dry printings result from differences in the printing process
  • Flat plate and rotary press printings result from different types of printing presses
  • Watermarks
Not all of these were considered significant by philatelists at the time the related stamps came out, but the most obvious ones were recognized almost immediately. Slowly over time, as the classic issues have become more and more popular, collectors have begun paying closer and closer attention to them so that less obvious varieties like minor re-entries, minor shade variations and minor differences in perforation measurement are now receiving attention, whereas they were largely ignored for most of the last 100 years. 

What do all of these varieties have in common? The answer is that all of them can be identified with tools that collectors are highly familiar with: a good magnifying glass, a perforation gauge, and a watermark tray. Furthermore, they can all be seen with the naked eye in normal spectrum light. This has created the expectation among collectors in general that in order to be significant, a variation must be objectively identifiable and with relative ease using tools that are readily available. 

So the major issues contributing to the lack of popularity of these issues is:

  • A belief that they are too common to represent a worthy challenge.
  • A belief that there is little about them to warrant study.
The issue of availability is an interesting one because it illustrates a fact about the human condition that has implications for the past and future scarcity of this material. Humans generally do not appreciate that which is abundant. The interesting thing is that there are very few stamps today that were scarce right from the start. The 12d black of issued in 1851 is one example of a stamp that was always rare. Most issues that are very popular today were not considered to be particularly special or beautiful at the time they were current because they were readily available, and because their aesthetic was the norm for the time. I've heard from one long since deceased philatelist that in 1954 you could still buy the $1 Admiral of 1923 at the post office. Given that I can buy the 1997 $8 Grizzly Bear definitives at my local post office, I can certainly believe this old man's story to be true. Another story involves the father of Official stamps, Roy Wrigley. He was a boy when the Small Queens were current in the 1890's. He tells of a time when a relative gave him dozens of 5c Large Queen stamps that had been saved from mail clippings. These stamps today have a minimum value of $50 each most likely. What did Wrigley do with them as a young lad? He traded them for Seebeck issues of Latin America - beautiful but worthless in comparison. I tell  this story here to illustrate the fact that Wrigley's attitude toward the Large Queen stamps at that time was the same as many collectors and dealers attitudes toward modern material are. 

It is worth remembering too that scarcity is a function of demand. Admirals and Small Queens today are probably no scarcer in absolute terms than they were 50 years ago. A small percentage of the material that was in existence in 1965 may have been lost through mishandling, destruction etc. But for the most part, collectors are a very careful lot and hate to throw away even damaged stamps. So most of the material that existed back then is still with us today. The reason why the material is expensive (even in used condition it is expensive if you are buying it in quantity) today is because there are so many collectors who specialize in this material. So all it will really take to make the modern issues as scarce will be an upsurge in demand. This is also the case, as print quantities of stamps have been declining over time. Although the issue quantities of the stamps from these two issues may seem astronomical, being in the hundreds of millions for the low values, they are much lower than the issue quantities of the Small Queens and Admirals which numbered in the 2-3 billion range for the values 3c and under. 

In terms of finding interesting varieties to study, the problem with modern philately is that there is much more precision inherent in the technology of the printing process than there was in the classic period:

  • Inks are mixed by machines and now by computers using formulas and exact measurements resulting in very little variation in shade. 
  • Watermarks are no longer used because other security measures to prevent counterfeiting have superseded them.
  • Engraving is no longer the main method of printing, whereas photogravure is. 
What this uniformity does mean though is that any variation in shade, even if relatively minor by classic standards, may actually be very significant because it is so uncommon. 

The push during the classic period was to find a way to cut the cost of printing stamps and to find more efficient ways to print large numbers of stamps as the demand for stamps at the turn of the century exploded. This is the main reason why photogravure is now the printing method of choice rather than engraving - it is much less expensive. Initially printing was engraving, done on damp sheets which were dried out and gummed. Then the efficiencies of printing on pre-gummed, dry paper were discovered during the Admiral period, which is why we have the change from wet to dry printing. Before the Admiral period, printing was done on steel plates that wore and had to be continually re-entered. By the end of the Admiral period, printing was done on chromium-nickel plated steel plates, which did not wear the way the earlier ones did. This is the reason why re-entries almost entirely disappear after the Admiral period. 

The push during the modern period after 1950 was to figure out how to save labour costs in the mail sorting and cancelling process, as well as speed the process since the volume of mail had become so much larger. This has led post offices from all over the world to develop machinery that was designed to detect the stamps on the envelopes, be able to differentiate whether or not they were first class or lower class rates and to both sort and cancel the mail accordingly. In order to work the way they were designed to, a way had to be devised for the machines to detect the stamps. This led postal administrations all over the world to experiment with fluorescent or phosphorescent inks, or tagging that would react with either short wave or long-wave ultraviolet light as follows:

  • The US has employed an overall phosphorescent coating on their stamps that glows bright yellow under long wave UV and either green or orange I believe under short wave UV.
  • Great Britain experimented with graphite lines in the late 1950's before adopting phosphor bands in 1959. These only react to the more dangerous short wave UV and initially they glowed green, then blue and now violet. 
  • Australia experimented with helecon coating in the 1950's and 1960's as well as adding helecon to inks. Helecon is a zinc-sulfide related substance that glows orange under long wave UV light. I believe that in the 1970's to the 1990's helecon was added to the papers and now they use an overall fluorescent coating.
  • Nearly all the Western European countries have some kind of fluorescent coating on their stamps that was the subject of experimentation in the 1960's. 
  • We introduced Winnipeg tagging in 1962 that glowed bluish white under long-wave UV. This was abandoned in favour of Ottawa tagging in 1972, which glows bright green or greenish yellow. In addition some of our stamps that were printed in Australia have either a yellow or orange fluorescent coating. 
So the most major point of interest in modern philately is also the one that is least understood and consequently ignored by collectors: the subject of tagging and paper fluorescence. Paper fluorescence is a significant topic because while all this experimentation was going on with mail sorting, paper recycling was becoming prevalent and the recycling process was producing envelope papers that were brighter under UV than the tagging on the stamps, making it impossible for the sorting machines to do their job. So these problems sparked a lot of experimentation in papers that would not interfere with the tagging. 

Finally, the transition from more costly engraving to modern photogravure was made during the 1960's and this introduced a whole series of other problems in terms of the paper that could be used. papers had to be developed that could accept a wide range of inks and which could also absorb cancellation inks. All of these papers had to be developed in such a way that the tagging on the stamps would still be visible to the sorting machines. 

Consequently, while a perforation gauge is still an important tool, it is not the most important tool of modern philately. The most important tool is this:

A long wave ultraviolet lamp. Many collectors have shied away from using these for a number of reasons:

  • They are too expensive
  • A belief that they are dangerous to the eyes
  • A belief that paper fluorescence is too difficult, subjective and confusing to study
It is true that the hobby suppliers like Lighthouse and Uni-Safe charge quite a bit for their deluxe models of UV lamp. There are cheap, hand held, battery operated models, but I find the quality of the light to be so weak from them that they can only really be used in a dark room. The model I have shown above is cheap - mine cost me less than $20 and has paid for itself hundreds of times over in terms of what it has revealed for me. You can buy these at most party supply stores or specialty lighting stores. 

Short wave UV is extremely dangerous to the eyes, which is why these lamps come with eye shields and boxes that shield your eyes from the light. Long-wave UV is not dangerous though. 

As for the subjectivity and complexity, my response would be that yes it is a complex area and there is some subjectivity involved, but no more really than would be involved in the study of shades, or papers on classic stamps. 

So I believe that the key to recognizing the potential of modern philately is to recognize that one has to look at different aspects of the stamps using different tools than one is accustomed to using on classic stamps. I'd be interested to know your thoughts on this topic. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Postal History and Postal Stationery of the Wilding Issue 1954-1967

This will be my last post on the 1954-67 Wilding Issue. In this post I will talk about the collecting of postal history including first day covers and postal stationery. As we will see this is yet again a field that contains ample scope to keep you busy for quite some time.

Postal History

15c airmail cover to Germany with 1c-4c plus 1959 St Lawrence Seaway commemorative paying the first class airmail rate. 

25c domestic forwarded registered letter with a complete booklet pane of 5 of the 5c blue paying 5c postage, plus the 20c registration fee.

The collecting of covers to various destinations, paying various rates offers many different opportunities for specialization, which are basically as follows:

1. Collecting by postage rate
2. Collecting by destination
3. Collecting unintentional first day covers
4. Collecting covers addressed to significant individuals
5. Collecting covers that document significant historical events
6. Collecting business advertising covers

Collecting By Postage Rate:

As was the case with the Karsh Issue the airmail rate to the UK and Commonwealth countries and most of Europe was 15c per ounce and that it was 25c to non-Commonwealth countries outside Europe. The surface rate to the UK was the same as the domestic forwarded rate which was 5c per ounce. The local city rate for first class mail was 4c per ounce and third class and postcards were 3c. Registration rates continued to be 20c per ounce, while special delivery was 10c. So you can organize a collection of covers along the lines of these rates. The more interesting ones will be those where the rates were paid through an unusual combination of lower value stamps, as customary practice was generally to use as few stamps as possible to make up the rate.

Below is a link to the Canadian Postal History Corner website that lists all of the Canadian postage rates for this period:

Quite frequently, you will see mixed frankings of this issue and the earlier Karsh Issue or the later Cameo issue, as the stamps of the definitive issues were often not replaced all at once. For example the current 50c stamp during this period was the 50c textile industry stamp of the Karsh Issue. The current 10c stamp did not replace the 1950 Fur Resources stamp until February 21 1955. Likewise the $1 totem pole stamp from the Karsh Issue was not replaced during the entire period of this issue.

Collecting by Destination

Collecting by destination is a popular way to collect postal history, and there are plenty of destinations that would be rare and unusual for stamps of this issue. US and UK covers will be quite common, as will covers to most western European countries. However covers to:

  • South America
  • Oceania
  • Asia
  • Africa
will all be relatively scarce, and many will have required the payment of the higher postage rates, which can make for some interesting stamp combinations.

Collecting Unintentional First Day Covers

First day covers that are not philatelic and were created through simple happenstance are the most sought after by philatelists. Unfortunately, I do not have an example of such a cover to show in this post, but I will add one with an update if one turns up.

It will be helpful to learn and memorize the dates of issue for the commemorative stamps that were released during the period of this set, as well as the dates of issue for the definitive stamps as well. Quite often you will find that commemoratives were often used in combination with definitives on commercial covers to make up the required rates.

The issue dates for the relevant stamps are;

#337-343 - 1c-15c - June 10, 1954 for all values except the 5c and 15c, which were April 1, 1954
#337a, 340a - 1c and 4c booklet stamps - January 1, 1956
#341a - 5c booklet stamp - July 14, 1954
#345 - 2c coil - September 9, 1954
#347 - 4c coil - August 23, 1954
#348 - 5c coil - July 6, 1954
#349-50 4c Thompson and 5c Bowell - November 1, 1954
#351 10c Inuk and Kayak - February 21, 1955
#352-353 - 4c Musk ox and 5c Whooping cranes - April 4, 1955
#354 5c ICAO - June 1, 1955
#355 5c Alberta and Sasatchewan - June 30, 1955
#356 5c Boy scouts - August 20, 1955
#357-358 4c Bennett and 5c Tupper - November 8, 1955
#359 5c Hockey - January 23, 1956
#360-361 4c Caribou and 5c Mountain goat - April 12, 1956
#362-363 20c Paper industry and 25c Chemical industry - June 7, 1956
#364 5c Fire prevention - October 9, 1956
#365-368 - Recreation sports - March 7, 1957
#369 5c Loon - April 10, 1957
#370 5c David Thompson - June 5, 1957
#371-372 UPU congress - August 14, 1957
#373 5c Mining - September 5, 1957
#374 5c Royal visit - October 10, 1957
#375 5c Freedom of the press - January 22, 1958
#376 5c International Geophysical Year - March 5, 1958
#377 5c British Columbia Centennial - May 8, 1958
#378 5c La Verendrye - June 4, 1958
#379 5c Champlain - June 26, 1958
#380 5c Health - July 30, 1958
#381 5c Oil Industry - September 10, 1958
#382 5c First elected assembly - October 2, 1958
#383 5c First flight in Canada - February 23, 1959
#384 5c Nato - April 2, 1959
#385 5c Country women - May 13, 1959
#386 5c Royal visit - June 18, 1959
#387 5c St. Lawrence Seaway - June 26, 1959
#388 5c Plains of Abraham - September 10, 1959
#389 5c Girl guides - April 20, 1960
#390 5c Battle of Long Sault - May 19, 1960
#391 5c Northern development - February 8, 1961
#392 5c Pauline Johnson - March 10, 1961
#393 5c Prime minister - April 19, 1961
#394 5c Colombo plan - June 28, 1961
#395 5c Resources for tomorrow - October 12, 1961
#396 5c Education  - February 28, 1962
#397 5c Red River Settlement - May 3, 1962
#398 5c Jean Talon - June 13, 1962
#399 5c Victoria Centenary - August 22, 1962
#400 5c Trans Canada Highway - August 31, 1962
#410 5c Casimir Gzowski - March 5, 1963

I don't have exact issue dates for the G overprints, but I assume that they would have been the same dates as the basic unoverprinted stamps.

Collecting by Addressee or Historical Event

This is yet another very interesting way to collect this issue. It is useful to familiarize yourself with the names of prominent politicians and personalities from these years, as well as all the major historical events of the period that a cover could relate to.

Below are two useful links that will take you to pages listing all the world leaders between 1954 and 1963:

Then we have two links taking you to pages listing significant historical events between 1954 and 1963:

You could also consider researching a list of Canadian politicians active during these years as well as prominent entertainers and business leaders and trying to look for mail addressed to them. Google makes it possible now to research names and places easily, so that a seemingly random name on the front of a cover can turn out to be quite significant.

Business Advertising Covers

Businesses did not generally do entire frontal and back advertising they way that they did in the 1880's until the early 1900's. However, there are still a variety of interesting and colourful motifs and corner cards on business covers of this period that can be quite interesting to collect.

First Day Covers

Collecting of first day covers during this period focuses on the different cover designs, also known as cachets. Some Cachet makers, such as Art Craft  and Rosecraft were very active and their cachets are the most common. The above cover has no cachet, which is much less common during this period than it was in the 1920's and 1930's. However, there were also a number of private cachet makers operating during this period, some of which produced lovely, hand painted cachets. These were often done in very minute quantity and are quite rare now. In addition to the different cachet makers, there are often varieties within the same cachet maker that have gone overlooked over the years, such as the wrong cachet used for a particular cover, or a spelling mistake that was later corrected. These are things to watch carefully for.

First day cover collecting is much less popular than it was at one time, so you can often find accumulations of first day covers for not a lot of money.

Postal Stationery

2c green postcard with no inscription

There was only one series of postal stationery issued during this period, which used the same design as the issued stamps. As with the Karsh Issue, mint postal stationery from this period is not expensive and most used stationery can be acquired for very reasonable prices. The only envelope in use that was available to the public for this issue was the #8 envelope, which was 165 mm x 99 mm. Watch for private order envelopes which were of different dimensions to these, as many of these will be quite scarce.  On this issue there were two different kinds of backflap, called a knife. One was 20 mm deep and the other was 16 mm deep. The envelopes issued were all on white wove paper and were:

  • 2c green  #8 with 20 mm knife
  • 2c green #8 with 16 mm knife
Unitrade notes that gum varieties exist on these envelopes, although it does not state which varieties exist. 

Unitrade lists the following special order and election envelopes:

  • 2c green
  • 4c purple
  • 5c blue
  • 2c green + 1c brown
  • 4c purple precancel + 2c green
  • 5c blue election envelope

However Unitrade notes that the basic listing is for the most common type. No attempt is made to list every type of envelope that may exist. So this is a ripe field for more detailed study. 

There were no post bands or wrappers from this issue.

There were eight Aerogrammes issued during the period of this issue. Five employed the basic airplane over globe design that was introduced with the Karsh issue, while three featured a jet flying straight with "Canada" and a maple leaf above it. The varieties of aerogramme listed in Unitrade are:

  • 10c blue with solid address lines and "first fold here" to the left of the guideline.
  • 10c blue with solid address lines and "first fold here" to the right of the guideline.
  • 10c blue as above but unwatermarked.
  • 10c blue with dotted address lines, unwatermarked.
  • 10c blue with dotted address lines, watermarked.
  • 10c red, black and grey, 4 dotted address lines.
  • 10c red, black and grey, 5 dotted address lines with rounded flap joint.
  • 10c red, black and grey, 5 dotted address lines with square flap joint. 

Several varieties of postcard were issued from this series. Most were on a thin card stock, although the soft, porous "mimeo" stock is found on the 2c postcard. Two very similar designs were employed. The 1954 issues had a coarse design that had the original 1954 date, while the 1955 issue had clearwe impressions and 1955 in the lower right corner. The cards issued were:

  • 2c green with no inscription - 1954 in lower right corner
  • 2c green with no inscription - 1955 in lower right corner
  • 2c green mimeo, also known rouletted - 1954 in lower right corner
  • 2c green mimeo, also known rouletted - 1955 in lower right corner
  • 4c purple with no inscription - 1954 in lower right corner
  • 4c purple with no inscription - 1955 in lower right corner
Generally the postal stationery was issued for the prepayment of local first class, domestic first class, second class and printed matter rates. They were not intended to be used for foreign mail. So one challenging and interesting avenue to pursue in collecting the postal stationery involves collecting pieces that have been uprated by adding additional postage.

That concludes my coverage of the Wilding Issue. I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts and can begin to see this set in a new light after having read them. There really is much more to Canadian philately than most collectors know and much that remains to be studied. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Proof Material and Errors of the Wilding Issue 1954-1967

Today's post on this fascinating definitive issue will look at some of the error material that can be found, as well as the proof material.

Errors, Freaks and Oddities

A good number of the errors that are found on this issue are foldover errors that arise when the paper becomes accidentally folded in the wrong place during printing. This results in void areas in the stamps when the paper is unfolded as shown below:

Because of the random nature of these errors, the Unitrade catalogue generally does not list them. However, there are two gutter pairs that exist for this issue that are thought to have resulted from such an error, and are listed. They are:

  • The 4c violet. Unitrade does not state whether this is the horizontal or vertical ribbed paper.
  • The 5c blue on vertical ribbed paper.
I would guess that the 4c violet gutter pair is on vertical ribbed paper, as the above foldover pair and the 5c gutter pair are all on vertical ribbed paper. Both of these are extremely rare and worth well in excess of $5,000 each. So you will wait a lifetime to acquire both these pieces. 

In addition to the above gutter pairs, there are some partially imperforate varieties known as follows:

  • 3c Carmine rose - horizontal pair, imperforate vertically - 50 known, all mint. and one LR plate block from plate 2.
  • 5c blue - horizontal pair, imperforate vertically - only 5 known pairs. 
  • 5c blue -  imperforate at left margin - 1 known LL plate block from plate 11 and one margin block of 6 known.
  • 15c grey - imperforate  at left margin - 5 blocks recorded. 
Again, all of these are very expensive. The minimum catalogue value of $900 is for a single of the 5c imperforate at left margin without gum. The others are all worth around $3,000 each. There are no imperforate pairs of any of the stamps known. 

In addition to foldover errors examples of the stamps in this issue can be found with dramatically shifted perforations. Usually these sell for between $30-$150 each depending on how dramatic the shift is. Again, because of the random nature of this type of variety, none of them are listed in Unitrade. 

Proof Material


The BNA Proofs website does not list a lot of proofs for this issue. Apart from the above tinplate proof of the 5c blue, printed in black, which is unique, and upon which they place a value of $2,500, the only other proofs they list are of the 15c Gannet stamp (all printed in black):

  • 2 large progressive unhardened proofs on card
  • 2 large progressive hardened proofs on card
  • 2 small progressive proofs on white paper
  • Photographic progressive proof on glossy paper
However, there must be much more proof material in existence than just this surely. At an absolute minimum, there should exist at least finished die proofs on card of all values in their issued colours, because that is the process by which stamps were printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company. That of course assumes that the CBN used all the proposed issue colours and did not go through several trial colours before deciding which colours to use. That would be highly unusual. So there should also be some trial colour proofs in existence. Finally, because this stamp design was based on a photograph, there should also be some photographic proof material in existence. 

Indeed there is. My online research turned up quite a few that are shown on the Postal History Corner Website. I don't want to plagarize this site by reproducing every image that he has on his site, but I will provide the link and a summary of what he lists:

He illustrates the following items

6c Orange:

  • Large die proof on card in brown.
  • Small die proof on card in orange.
  • Large die proof on card in orange.
  • Imperforate plate 1 LL strip of 30 in orange.
15c Grey:

  • Large essay of the approved design in what appears to be pencil.
  • Large proof on card with a smaller proof below and approval signatures. 
20c Green:

  • A black essay similar to the 1952 design, but showing the construction industry.
  • A three ring essay design in black showing a printing press, a book and typeface.
  • A finished essay on card of the approved design.
25c Scarlet vermilion:

  • Essay on card in black, similar to approved design, but with the motifs shown inside the flask, instead of outside, and the value in sign instead of words.
  • A larger version of the same essay on card. 
  • A photographic essay in black on card of the approve design. 
Based on what I found in my search, there must be a fairly wide range of essays, trial colour proofs and die proofs of this issue. The real question is how much of this material is available to private collectors, versus how much of it is kept in the national archives? Of course, just because the majority of them are public property now, does not mean they will be forever.

That concludes my discussion of all the stamps connected with this issue. My next post will look at the possibilities that exist with the postal stationery, first day covers and postal history of the stamps of this issue. I am quite far behind in my listings of this issue on e-bay and need some time to catch up before I start writing about the Cameo Issue. So I will probably do some general posts about collecting modern versus classic stamps and a post about paper fluorescence, in order to try and clarify some of the technical terms that are contained in my posts. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Cello Paqs and Official Stamps of the Wilding Issue 1954-1963 and Frequency of Posts

Today's post will look at the cello-paq miniature panes and official stamps of this issue. The cello paqs were a completely new format of issuing stamps that were introduced with this issue, while this was the second last issue to receive the "G" overprints for official use, as official stamps were discontinued in 1963.

The Cello Paq Panes of 25 and 20

In 1961 the post office introduced the above Cello Paq Panes as a convenient way for the public to carry a larger supply of stamps with them than was possible with the 25c booklets. The packs were to be sold for $1 and were contained inside cellophane wrappers that look like this:

The wrappers as you can see have perforated edges that can be detached to open the pack. Instructions for opening the pack are printed along the right side of this pack, but a second type is known with the instructions along the top. Not much has been studied with respect to the lettering printed on the outside of these packs in terms of size and colour, so some study of this aspect would be welcome as well. 

Two denominations were issued in this format: the 2c green and the 5c blue. The 2c green was used for third class mail and to pay the additional postage on the second weight step for local forwarded (domestic) letters. It is curious to me that the 4c value, which would have been a very common usage, for local letters was not issued thus. The packs either contained one 5c pane or two 2c panes. 

The exact issue date of the panes is not known, so one project that could be very worthwhile is a study of used panes and singles to find the earliest known cancellation dates. 

This is another aspect of this issue that has not received much attention from specialists that I am aware of. Unitrade lists no paper varieties on these panes, even though they were printed after 1960, which makes it very likely that at least some of these must exist on different types of fluorescent paper. From what I have seen subtle shade varieties also exist on these panes as well. 

These panes were all printed on vertically wove paper, so that singles from them can easily be distinguished from singles that come from the 25c booklets, as none of these are known on vertically ribbed paper. In any event, the only singles that may require a bit of experience to distinguish from the booklet stamps are the upper right, lower right, and any bottom or top edge single with only straight edge. Any single from the left of the pane with a straight edge can only be from these panes, as the booklet panes did not have straight edges on the left side. The six stamps from the centre of the pane, for the 5c panes and the centre nine stamps from the 2c panes are not individually distinguishable from the sheet stamps at the present time. 

The Official Stamps

All of the denominations of these stamps except for the 3c, 6c, 15c and 25c were issued with the "G" overprint in the 14 point Casson font, and then sometime in 1961, the 10c Inuk and Kayak and 20c paper industry were issued with the 14 point Bold (flying G) font. 

The Low Values

The low values were issued on  both the horizontal wove and vertical wove papers. In addition shade varieties exist on all the values. Unitrade just recently started listing the vertical wove papers, but they do not as yet list any fluorescent papers, nor do they list any shades. The exact issue dates and the quantities issued are not currently mentioned in Unitrade either.

I do not currently have any multiples or plate blocks of these so that I cannot give you the normal spacing measurements for the overprints. But I can tell you that the G normally appears over the Queen's neck just to the left of the jaw. A badly misplaced overprint is listed by Unitrade for the 1c, where the G appears over the Queen's mouth. It seems to me that such misplacements should exist on the other values as well. In  addition, Unitrade lists wide spacing strips of three for all the above four values. I will update this post with the exact spacing measurements as they become available to me. 

As with the Karsh Issue, I have seen variations in the appearance of the G overprint itself. If you look at the above scans, you will notice that the G on the 5c blue is slightly thinner than the other three stamps. This appears to be due to wear of the typeface, although it could well indicate that more than one sub-type of movable typeface was used. No blunt G's have been listed for these as yet, but it would be interesting to find an old bundleware hoard and study it to see what turns up. 

The number of plates listed in Unitrade is very limited and naturally leads one to wonder whether or not there are any undiscovered plates:

1c - plates 4, 5 and 8n
2c - plates 1,2,5,6,7 and 8
4c - plates 1 and 2 only
5c - plates 1, 2, 5, 7, 10 and 11. 

What is interesting here is the vertical ribbed papers do not generally come into use until plate 9 for the 1c and plates above 10 for the other values. Yet the only value listed with a plate above 9 is the 5c, with plate 10, and all of the values are listed on vertical wove paper. 

The High Values

The 10c Inuk and kayak and 20c pulp and paper industry are the only two high values of this set that were issued with the G overprint. Both values are known with the "flying G"overprint. As you can see from the scans the normal positioning of the overprint was in the middle of the iceberg on the 10c and in the middle of the press rollers on the right side, just to the left of the right frameline, about mid-way up the stamp. 

A few varieties are listed on these values, which suggests that more should exist on the other values:

  • The 20c is known with a "high flying G" from the right of the sheet. This is usually collected in margin pairs. 
  • The 20c is known with blunt G from positions 49 or 7 of the sheet.
However, no fishhook G overprints have been noted on any of the 10c or 20c values, even though this variety ins known on the flying G overprints of the Karsh Issue. These would be fantastic discoveries when they are eventually made. 

I do have plate blocks of some of these, and can give you the following spacing measurements for the overprints:

10c flying G: 34 mm horizontally and 22 mm vertically. 
20c Casson: 34 mm horizontally and 22 mm vertically.

So although I do not have blocks of the 10c Casson font, or the 20c flying G, it would appear thaat the spacing is the same for both fonts. Unitrade does not list any spacing varieties on these overprints and a dedicated study of them may yet reveal some such varieties. 

The range of plates used for the overprints on these stamps is as follows:

10c Inuk and kayak Casson font: plates 1-4
20c paper industry Casson font: plates 1, 2, 2n
10c Inuk and kayak 14 point Bold: plates 3 and 4
20c paper industry 14 point bold: blank and plate 2n

As far as I know, all of the official overprints on these high values are on stamps printed on horizontal wove paper only. So I don't think there are going to be any fluorescent paper varieties to be found. However, it is still worth investigating, as the 50c textile from the Karsh issue is known on fluorescent paper, and it was never issued on vertical wove paper. You should still be able to see the same range of shades with the purple brown and the green that you see on the un-overprinted regular issues. 

This concludes my discussion of these two aspects of this very much under-appreciated issue. 

I am beginning to find 5 posts a week to be a bit more work than I can handle as I do not have currently have any employees to help me with my business. So I am considering cutting back to three posts a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this - whether I am posting too much now or whether you want me to continue with daily posts. 

My next post will deal with the various errors on this issue as well as the proof material. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Booklets and Coil Stamps of the Wilding Issue 1954-1963

Today's post will deal with the coil stamps of this issue that were in use from 1954 until the Cameo coils replaced them in 1963, as well as the booklets which covered the same period as the coils.

The Booklets

As stated in the earlier post about this issue, there were no English booklets, as all booklets starting with this issue are bilingual. There were also no chewing gum booklets as all booklets were the larger business-card sized 25c booklets. The dotted covers that had been in use since 1935 continued to be used on this issue until 1956, when they were replaced by a new modern design. As we shall see, between cover types, staple lengths, cutting guidelines, paper varieties and shades, there is a considerable amount of scope in collecting the booklets and panes that goes way beyond the basic four booklets that are listed in Unitrade.

The Dotted Cover Booklets

There were two dotted cover booklets issued, one containing a pane of 5 plus label of the 5c blue, first issued on July 14, 1954, and one containing a pane of 6 4c violet stamps, issued July 7, 1955. According to Bill McCann in his booklet catalogue, for the 25c blue booklet there were a total of 77,298,000 booklets issued in stapled form and 4,500,000 that were stitched with thread instead of stapled. All of the stitched booklets are in the dotted cover design, whereas the 77,298,000 includes the modern cover design issued in 1956 and in fact, the majority of these booklets will be the later cover design.

The 25c violet booklet is a much scarcer booklet, with only 301,825 being issued. Despite this huge disparity in issue quantities, Unitrade values it at only $4 compared to the $2 assigned to the most common variety of the 25c blue booklet.

Peter Harris in his book on the Dotted Cover Dies has identified two dies used for the front covers and two for the back. Both booklets used the same cover designs, the only difference being the colour of the cover. The scans below show the overall front and back cover designs of the stapled and stitched booklets:

A stitched 25c blue booklet containing 1 pane of 5 plus label of the 5c blue. 

The front and back covers of the stapled booklets.

The following scans show the two dies used for the front covers:


The main difference between these two dies is the shape of the hyphen between the words. On the first type (left)  the hyphen has a tapered, rounded right edge. On the second type (right) the hyphen is squared off on both ends. 

The following scans show the two dies used for the back covers:


On the left is the first type. Look at the pattern of dots immediately to the left of the diagonal border. You will notice that it looks like a series of intersecting arcs. On the right we have type 2 in which the dots fall along two straight parallel diagonal lines. 

According to Harris, all possible combinations of front and back covers exist for two types of stapled 25c blue booklet - one with a 12 mm staple and one with a 17 mm staple. The staple length refers to the length of the visible vertical bar on the front of the booklet. Therefore he lists 12 different possible booklets and states that the 12 mm staple types are all scarce. He lists 4 different types for the 25c purple booklets, which means that if all four types are equally common, then there were only 75,456 of each type issued, which is not very much at all. 

McCann also notes that all of the 25c blue booklets exist on horizontal ribbed and smooth papers. There are two fluorescent papers known on the blue booklets, medium and low fluorescent and the purple booklets have been seen with low fluorescent panes. This opens up the possibility of several different types of dull paper. Furthermore, all of these booklets exist with cutting guidelines in the upper or lower left corners. So this means that every single booklet can exist three ways: no guideline, guideline at upper left and guideline at lower right. So that means that there are at least 216 different types of blue booklet and 24 types of purple booklet. 

Two areas that have not been studied with these booklets are shade varieties of the blue and purple inks used to print the covers, the fluorescence of the cover stock itself and plate flaws on the covers. careful study of these booklets will likely reveal some significant varieties in this regard. 

The New Booklet Designs

These booklets were issued in 1956.  There were two basic booklets:

  • A 25c red booklet containing one pane of 5 plus label of the 1c violet brown and a pane of 5 plus label of the 4c violet. 
  • A 25c dark blue booklet containing a pane of 5 plus label of the 5c blue.
The following scans show the inside and outside front and back covers of the red booklet as well as the outside front and back covers of the blue booklet:

These are the front covers. They were also used for the Cameo Issue. On this issue there are no sub-types known. All of the covers I have examined have a design width of 64 mm or 64.5 mm. There are variations in design width on the next Cameo Issue however. 

These are two examples of outside back cover. The wording is different, and each represents a different type of cover. The red cover that starts with "Postal Zoning"is what is known as a type III cover, and is known on the blue booklet. In fact all of the good fluorescent paper varieties of the 25c blue booklet occur on the type III covers only. The blue cover shown is a type II cover. The red booklets exist with both type II and type III covers and in all grades of fluorescence. 


The are the inside front and back covers of the 25c red booklets. The 25c blue booklet has a similar back cover, but instead of two pointers, only the first one, "Speed your mail...." is statedin both English and French. 

The 25c blue booklets

According to McCann, these booklets with type II cover exist with 12, 14 and 16 mm staples. All of these exist with booth smooth and horizontal ribbed papers, as well as cutting guidelines as before. So there are 6 type II booklets that can exist three ways for a total of 18 type II cover booklets. 

The type III covers exist only with 12 mm staples. They exist with dull smooth paper, dull horizontal ribbed paper, low fluorescent, medium fluorescent and hibrite paper. In addition, the medium fluorescent panes are known with no interleaf page. So there are at least 18 different type III cover booklets for a total of 36 different blue booklets. 

The 25c red booklets

According to McCann, the type II covers exist with 12 mm, 14 mm and 16 mm staples. These are very complicated booklets because they contain two panes. The 16 mm stapled panes exist with both smooth dull and ribbed dull papers. Because they contain two panes, the cutting guidelines can appear on either pane or both. So each booklet can exist 7 ways in addition to the two papers, so at least 14 different with 16 mm staple. The same should be the case with the 14 mm staple as well, bringing the total to 28 different booklets.

The 12 mm staple is where things get really complex. Here we have dull smooth paper, dull horizontal wove, low fluorescent and medium fluorescent. Because there are 2 panes in each booklet the number of combinations possible is 16. Then because there are 7 types of cutting guideline combination that gives a total of 112 possible type II covers with 12 mm staple.

So there are a total of at least 140 different type II cover booklets that can be collected. All the fluorescent booklets and the booklets with cutting guidelines are all quite scarce. 

 According to McCann, the type III covers exist only with 16 mm and 12 mm staples. The 16 mm staples are only listed with smooth dull and horizontally ribbed dull paper. So here there are at least 14 different booklets. The 12 mm staples appear to exist with smooth dull, low and medium fluorescence for a total of 9 possible combinations, which becomes 63 different when possible cutting guidelines are taken into account.

So all told there are at least 77 different type III cover booklets possible and 140 type II for a total of 217 different red booklets.

Not nearly as straight forward as first appears huh?

Then of course, you can challenge yourself by looking for the individual booklet panes in fine or very fine used condition with in-period cancellations, which is not nearly as easy as you might think, though they do exist.

The Coil Stamps

2c green jump strip showing the jump between stamps 2 and 3

The coil stamps are another very complicated aspect of this set. As explained in the post dealing with the Karsh Issue, the following varieties exist with all Canadian coil issues:

  • Start and end strips from the roll of 500 that consist of four stamps plus 10 tabs.
  • Narrow and wide spacing varieties
  • Jump strips
  • Repair paste-up strips
  • Strips that show cutting guidelines. 
So before we even get into paper, shade or plate varieties, there are 12 different collectible strip varieties for each of the three values, for a total of 36 different strips. 

However, it is not this simple. 

All three values exist with a constant plate flaw called the "damaged E", which is shown in a 4c jump strip and close up as follows:

 As you can see the E on the right isn't really damaged, just blurred. But that is what Unitrade calls the variety.

In addition to this, the 2c exists on fluorescent paper, which is generally a dull paper with a sparse concentration of low fluorescent fibres. The 4c is listed on hibrite paper, but the ones I have seen are really just low to medium fluorescent. All of them appear to exist on three kinds of dull paper: smooth with no mesh, vertical ribbed as shown here and horizontal wove. Finally at least 2 shades of each value exist. So there are an additional ten varieties of 2c, an additional 10 of the 4c and 8 varieties of the 5c. When you combine those varieties with the 12 strip varieties above, the potential scope becomes:

2c: 120 varieties = 12 strips x 10 varieties
4c: 120 varieties = 12 strips x 10 varieties
5c: 96 varieties = 12 strips x 8 varieties

So a person focusing on these coils could potentially collect at least 336 different coil strips!

As these coils were intended to pay the rates on third class, local first class and domestic letters, it is unusual to find used strips, especially on cover. So a rewarding pursuit would be to seek out used pairs and strips with nice, in-period CDS cancels.

The next post will deal with the Cello-Paqs and the official stamps.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Plate Blocks and Winnipeg Tagging on the Wilding and Industry Definitives 1954-1967

Today's post will address two significant aspects of this much under-estimated issue: the plate blocks and the Winnipeg tagging varieties. This was the first issue to employ any form of tagging and as such it ushered in the age of automation of the postal system.

Winnipeg Tagging

On January 13, 1962 these stamps were issued with an overprint of phosphorescent bars, which was intended to be used in experiments with Sefacan mail sorting machines. The idea was that the machine would scan the envelope looking for the stamp. When it detects the phosphorescent chemical it would orient the letter in the correct position so that the canceler could apply the cancellation. This would represent a huge labour savings for the post office, who had employed postal clerks to sort and cancel mail by hand.

The following block from the next issue shows this tagging clearly:


As you can see the tagging shows up as light yellowish vertical bars. Under long-wave UV light these bars glow bright bluish white, and this glow persists for a few seconds even after the light is switched off. They do not react at all to short-wave UV though.

The tagging was applied to the first five values of the set that were in use in 1962. With the exception of the 4c, all values were overprinted with the vertical bands running down the perforations, so that each stamp has a band on each side. The 4c was overprinted with a single band in the centre to denote its status as a second class stamp. Many varieties and errors exist with respect to the placement of these bands including stamps with only one band, or stamps with double application of the bands, or even triple tagging. In addition some experimentation had to be done to determine what the optimal amount of taggant was to apply to the stamps. So you will notice differences in the intensity of the taggant. On some stamps the bands will be very light -almost invisible in fact, while on others they will be a deep yellow - though not as deep as the bands found on the Cameo Issue.

In addition to these varieties, there could also possibly be stamps with the tagging printed on the gum by mistake. I have never heard of any being found, but that is not to say that one may not surface eventually. Also, there has not been any study that I know of that has looked at the width of the bands themselves, or the spacing between them to determine whether any variations exist. I know that both types of varieties do exist on the Cameo and Centennial Issues, so it is not inconceivable that they could exist here as well. The band on the 4c measures 3.75 mm wide on the stamps I have examined and on the others it measures 8.5 mm wide (over both stamps) with a 12.5 mm space between the bars.

So in terms of collecting the tagging, you have at least 4 possible varieties of each stamp:

1. The normal bands
2. Variations in band intensity
3. Misplaced bands
4. Double or triple bands

This was replaced in 1962 starting in early November with the 5c Cameo, which means that these stamps had a very short period of usage - generally about a year. They were also only sold in Winnipeg, so that commercially used examples are hard to find. One relatively challenging pursuit is to collect singles or blocks with CDS town cancels, as the stamps when used as intended will have only Winnipeg machine cancels. Most Winnipeg CDS cancels, especially those from January 13 come from famous Winnipeg dealer Kasimir Bileski, who would have had many of the stamps cancelled at the post office to fulfill the demand for used examples.

The only value that exists in plate block form is the 3c, which comes on both plate 1 and 2. The other values only exist as blank trimmed corner blocks of 4. All of the tagged stamps except the 3c are printed on vertical wove paper (I'm not sure why the 3c isn't) and Unitrade lists fluorescent and hibrite paper varieties on the 1c value only, and plain, dull paper on all the others. I'm fairly confident that these varieties must exist on the other values as well.

Finally, the lack of a 6c orange tagged stamp tends to suggest that the period of usage for the 6c orange ended well before 1962. As a matter of fact, this stamp is only found on horizontal wove paper, which suggests that it may have ended as early as 1958.

Plate Blocks

There is an absolutely staggering number of possible plate blocks that can be collected on this issue as the number of plates used for each value was as high as 20, as follows:

1c - 12 plates including a narrow selvage variation of plate 8. Plate 10 are blank.
2c - 20 plates including narrow versions of 7, 8 and 9. Plate 10 are blank.
3c - 2 plates
4c- 19 plates including a narrow version of 12. 13 and 14 are blank.
5c - 19 plates. Plate 14 is blank.
6c - 2 plates
10c - 5 plates
15c - 4 plates
20c - 4 plates including a narrow version of plate 2.
25c - 2 plates

The blank plates were issued between November 1957 and May 1958 when the post office temporarily discontinued inscription blocks. Plates after these ones typically were on the vertical wove papers, while those before are on the horizontal wove papers. No comprehensive study that I am aware of has tackled the shade and paper varieties that exist on these blocks, and it is this aspect of collecting the plate blocks in addition  to variations in selvage width and the inscriptions themselves that would make the scope balloon out exponentially. Without any varieties at all there are 89 different plates, or 84 if you exclude the blank plates. There are 4 positions for each plate, for a total of 336 basic blocks. So it is easy to see how vast this can become when you add shades and paper varieties.

The Low Plate Numbers


The above picture shows an example of these blocks. They are identical to the Karsh issue in their size, the style of lettering in the inscriptions and the presence of order numbers on the lower left positions. In addition many of the lower left and lower right positions contain a minute guide dot in the lower selvage. The typical selvage width of the normal sized blocks is 13 mm on the sides and 17 mm on the top and bottom. Narrow versions measured 5 mm on the sides and 10.5 mm on the top or bottom for the low values. On the higher values, the normal width was 14 mm on the sides and 14.5 mm on the top or bottom. The narrow version of the 20c measures 8.5 mm on the top or bottom and 5 mm on the sides. 

The order numbers that I have seen so far are:

1c plate 1 - 633
1c plate 9 - no number
2c plates 1, 2 and 3 - 632 (3.5 mm spacing between numerals)
2c plates  4 and 5 - 682 (1.5 mm space between numerals)
2c plate 6 - 682 (1.5 mm and 2.5mm space between numerals)
2c plate 7 - 969 (2.5 mm and 3.0 mm space between numerals)
2c plate 8 - 1129 (3 mm space between numerals)
3c plates 1 and 2 - 634 (2.5 mm and 3 mm space between numerals; 3.0 mm and 3.5 mm)
4c plates 1, 2, 3 - 631 (1 mm and 1.5 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 4, - 676 (2 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 5 - 676 (4.0 mm and 5 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 6 - 676 (4.5 mm space between imprints)
4c plates 7, 8 - 815 (2.5 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 9 - 1061 (1.5 mm, 2 mm and 2 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 10 - 1061 (1 mm and 1.5 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 11 - 1170 (4.0 mm, 4.0 mm and 4.5 mm spacing between numerals)
4c plate 12 - 1170 (4.0 mm, 3.5 mm and 3.75 mm spacing between numerals)
5c plate 1 - 629 (narrow spacing)
5c plates 2 and 3 - 629 (wide spacing)
5c plates 4 and 5 - 677 (wide spacing)
5c plate 6 - 677 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 7 - 782 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 8 - 782 (wide spacing)
5c plate 9 - 782 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 10 - 850 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 11 - 850 (wide spacing)
5c plate 12 - 1062 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 13 - 1062 (wide spacing)
6c plates 1 and 2 - 665 (narrow spacing)
10c plate 3 - 1214 (narrow spacing)
10c plate 4 - 1214 (wide spacing)
15c plates 1 and 2 - 572 (wide spacing)
20c plate 1 - 980 (wide spacing with a dot after the "0")
25c plate 1 - 957 (wide spacing)

Check back regularly for updates to the above listing.

The low plate numbers for each value were:

1c - plates 1-10
2c - plates 1-10
3c - both plates 1 and 2
4c- plates 1-12
5c - plate 1-14
6c - both plates 1 and 2
10c - plates 1-5
15c - plates 1-3
20c - plates 1-3
25c - both plates 1 and 2

The High Plate Numbers

These blocks are from the later printings made after 1958 and are shown above. There are several characteristics that distinguish them from the earlier plate blocks:

1. The selvage is wider on both sides. On the low values the typical width is 19 mm on the side tabs and 15.5 mm on the bottom or top tabs. On the 20c the typical width is 14 mm on the top or bottom tabs and 19 mm on the side tabs.

2. Although the inscriptions have the same font of lettering, the inscriptions are placed much closer to the edge of the selvage.

3. There is no vertical inscription with plate number and order number on the lower left positions.

4. Both blocks from the right positions can be found with guide dots. However, instead of appearing in the bottom selvage tabs, they appear in the right tabs, as a result of the rotation of the printing plates.

5. On the 20c value the inscription appears vertically in the side selvage tabs, whereas on the lower plates it appears in the top or bottom tabs.

6. All of these blocks are printed on vertical wove paper.

This group of blocks includes all of the rare paper varieties on this issue and is thus very challenging to complete.

The plates covered by this group of blocks are:

1c - plates 11 and 12.
2c - plates 11-20
4c- plates 13-19
5c - plates 15-19
15c - plate 4
20c - plate 4

Your options to form a specialized collection of plate blocks from this issue, thus include:

1. Paper varieties on both groups of blocks, being different types of dull paper and non-fluorescent paper on the low plates, as well as smooth and ribbed papers, and dull, non-fluorescent and various fluorescent papers on the high plates.

2. Differences in the order numbers of the lower left blocks of the low plates including different numbers and spacing varieties of the numbers and distance between the inscriptions and the numbers.

3. Differences in the presence or absence of, and positioning of guide dots in the selvage with respect to the inscriptions.

4. Possible differences in the widths of the inscriptions.

5. Possible significant differences in selvage widths. I would expect variations of 1 mm or so due to the variations inherent in the guillotining of these blocks. However more than a 2 mm variation should be considered significant and studied further.

6. Shade varieties on all values.

7. Used plate blocks with proper, in period cancellations.

With 336 basic blocks, if you assume that there are at least 5 collectible varieties of each plate between all the above, then you have a scope of at least 1,680 blocks!

That concludes my discussion of the Winnipeg tagged stamps and the plate blocks. Tomorrow's post will deal with the booklets and the coil stamps from this issue.