The Issues of 1927-1952 A Highly Neglected Period of Canadian Philately
I'm not sure why this is the case and by the time you have finished reading this post, I hope you will agree with me that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I suspect that there is a perception among philatelists that most of the shade, paper and gum varieties are just random variations that are not collectible and not worthy of inclusion in the catalogue listings. However, this does not make sense when we look at the treatment afforded to modern issues like the 1972-77 Caricature Issue, or the 1967-73 Centennial Issue. On these issues, the catalogues now differentiate between completely smooth chalk-surfaced paper, chalk surfaced paper with slight vertical ribbing on the face and chalk surfaced paper with slight horizontal ribbing on the face. This is a level of detail that 20 years ago would have been unthinkable to include in even a specialized catalogue. Most of these varieties were known in specialist circles even back then. But it has taken the better part of three decades for them to become mainstream and popular enough for the catalogue editors to include listings and prices for them.
What convinces me though that the shade, paper and gum varieties are not random and are very much worth collecting is the fact that:
1. There exist, throughout the period, commemorative issues that are known to have had only one print run. On these issues, the shades, paper and gum show almost no variation at all. This is significant because it proves, that the British American Bank Note Company (BABN) and the Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN) were very capable by this time of ensuring a high degree of consistency within a print run that included millions of stamps. If this wasn't the case, then we would see the same haphazard range of varieties on ALL issues, not just the definitives.
2. While a lot of the differences are subtle, there is a high degree of consistency in them and they come up over and over again on different issues. The uniformity of the commemorative issues makes them invaluable to a specialist because now the specialist can use them as a reference source to assign an approximate date range to definitives that share similar characteristics.
The nice thing about collecting this period at a specialized level is the fact that the variations are not infinite and that there is a high degree of consistency. For example, the 3c Small Queen has an almost infinite range of papers and shades. Sure, large numbers can be sorted into groups of papers and shades that are all highly similar, but will not, for the most part, be exactly the same. That aspect of them appeals to a collector who likes collecting in a very open-ended fashion and isn't concerned about attaining completion in his or her chosen field. However, some collectors like to have defined boundaries within which to collect and that can actually be completed. With this period it is possible to achieve completion, while at the same time challenging yourself with a manageable range of varieties.
So at a broad level, what are the main areas of interest in this period, and how can a collection be formed around these points of interest? In my opinion, after examining several thousand mint stamps from this period, the big points of interest are:
- Variations in colour shades.
- Variations in paper.
- Variations in gum, both with respect to colour and sheen.
- Variations in the dies used for the booklet covers.
- Spacing varieties on coil stamps.
- Die variations in the OHMS perfins and orientation of the perfin itself.
- Varieties in the thickness and positioning of letters in the OHMS and G overprints.
- Plate and die flaws.
- Plate blocks.
- Bright Prussian blue (saturated)
- Dull Prussian blue (addition of greyscale)
- Light Prussian blue (addition of white to the colour)
- Pale Prussian blue (less intense but nothing added to the pure colour)
- Deep Prussian blue (more intense than the pure colour but nothing added)
- Dark Prussian blue (addition of black to the pure colour)
- Differences in both the weave direction of the paper and how obvious the mesh pattern is to the naked eye when the stamp is viewed from the back or held up to a light source.
- Differences in the paper texture.
- Paper showing now clear mesh pattern unless held up to a strong light source.
- Paper showing a very clear mesh pattern when viewed from the back.
- The 1935-37 Dated Die Issue can be found with vertical wove paper that has clearly visible mesh, vertical wove with mesh that is only visible when held up to the light, horizontal wove paper, and horizontal wove paper with a ribbed texture.
- The 1937-42 Mufti Issue can be found with the same paper varieties as above, but in addition, a vertical ribbed paper can be found on the 10c Memorial Chamber definitive.
- The 1942-1949 War Issue can be found with the same paper varieties as above on the 1935-1937 issue, but in addition, the very last printings can be found on a smooth paper that shows no mesh pattern whatsoever, even when held up to the light.
- The 1946-51 Peace Issue can generally be found with the smooth no-mesh paper, and a horizontal wove paper that either shows light ribbing, distinct ribbing, or no ribbing. There is also a scarcer, thin paper that shows ribbing, and through which the design can be seen. Unitrade only lists this last type on the 14c and 7c values, but I suspect that it must exist on the other values as well.
- The 1950-1952 Natural Resources stamps can be found on the same range of papers as the Peace Issue, except for the thin paper.
- The 1949-1952 Postes Postage Issue can be found with the same range of papers as the Peace Issue, but there is also a thick, soft, ribbed paper, where the ribbing is very obvious on the face of the stamp. This paper continues in use for the early Elizabethan period and stamps on this paper often have ragged of short perforations due to the softness of the paper.
- A mottled, splotchy brownish yellow with a satin sheen.
- A smooth brownish yellow, or brownish cream that is very shiny.
- A deep yellowish cream with a stain sheen.
- A deep cream with a mottled appearance and a satin sheen.
- A transparent cream with a satin sheen.
- An opaque whitish cream with a satin sheen.
- A shiny cream gum showing vertical streaks used only on the low value rotary press stamps/
- A white gum showing bubbles and vertical streaks again used only on the low value rotary press stamps.
- The mottled brownish yellow gum is only found on the 1932 Ottawa Conference Issue, so it is from before 1933.
- The smooth, brownish yellow, shiny gum is only found on some of the 1933 Grain Exhibition stamps.
- The deep yellowish cream, deep cream and transparent cream gums are found on the 1932 Ottawa Conference, 1933 UPU, Royal William, Grain Exhibition issues and some of the 1934 New Brunswick Issue. So it can be concluded that definitives airmails, special delivery stamps and postage dues with this gum are generally from 1932-1934.
- The opaque whitish cream gum is only found on the 1934 commemoratives, so again any definitives, postage dues, airmails and special delivery stamps with this gum are probably printed in 1934.
- Vertically streaky yellowish cream, with a stain sheen often found on the issues from 1935-1938.
- Smooth cream gum with a satin sheen found on the 1935-1938 issues.
- Mottled, smooth brownish yellow with a satin sheen found on the 1935-1938 issues.
- Smooth white gum found on the 1935-1938 issues.
- Shiny yellowish gum found on the 1935-1942 issues.
- Light cream gum with a satin sheen and finely crackly texture found on the 1938-1942 issues.
- Blotchy cream gum with a satin sheen found on some printings of the 1942 War issue and 1946 Peace Issue.
- Smooth shiny yellowish cream found on the 1946-51 issues
- Streaky cream gum with a satin sheen found on the 1946-1952 issues.
- Smooth yellowish cream gum that is extremely shiny, found on the 1950-1952 issues.
- The Scroll Issue coils printed by the CBN
- The BABN coils from the Arch and Medallion Issues.
- The remaining coils from 1935-1952 printed by the CBN.
- The extended mustache varieties on the Arch Issue.
- The cockeyed king varieties on the Arch Issue.
- The "broken E" on the 1932 Ottawa conference issue.
- The "scarface" and "burr over shoulder" on the 1934 Cartier issue.
- The "shilling mark" and "weeping princess" varieties on the 1935 Silver Jubilee issue.
- The "air" and "moulting wing" varieties on the 1935 airmail.
- The "narrow 1" and "damaged 2" varieties on the 1935 coils.
- The LL corner flaw on the 1949-52 Postes-postage coils.