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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wet Versus Dry Printings On The 1911-1928 Admiral Issue


This aspect of the series is a source of confusion for the beginner - especially when they only have a few stamps from the series and are trying to figure out which printings are which. However, I will show you a series of tests you can employ that will help you decide how to properly classify your stamps. 

First it helps to know which stamps exist only as wet printings, and which exist only as dry printings. Studying these and applying my tests to them will help you become comfortable with the reliability of the tests and will help you when the time comes to applying the various tests.

The following values of the set exist only as wet printings:

  • The 1c green
  • The 2c carmine
  • The 5c dark blue
  • The 7c yellow ochre
  • The 10c plum
  • The 1c and 2c perf. 8 horizontal coils
  • All the perf 12 horizontal coils
  • The 1c green and 2c carmine perf. 8 vertical coils
The following values exist only as dry printings:

  • The 8c blue
  • The 10c bistre brown
All the others exist both wet and dry. 

Test #1 - Appearance of Engraving and Width (or Height)

The above stamp is a wet printing. Hopefully it is visible from a comparison of this scan and the one below that the printing lines of this stamp are not raised, being smooth to the touch. Also, if you look at the upper right corner, you can see that the horizontal shading lines stop abruptly and then there is the vertical white line before the outer vertical frameline. On most wet printings, where the stamps were also printed using the dry method, the horizontal shading lines will end abruptly like this with no vertical line enclosing them. the shading lines will appear like this. There are some dry printings of the 20c olive green that appear this way, but in general, if you see upper right corners like this, chances are you have a wet printing. 

Also, many of the wet printings will have framelines that show whiskers of colour and uneven slubs protruding from them as though the ink has splashed during printing. This never occurs on the dry printings. 

On most wet printings, the width is 17.5 mm. For the 1c green and 2c booklet stamps, the normal printings are 17.75 mm wide and 21.5 mm tall, and the squat versions are 18 mm wide and 21 mm tall. 

The above stamp is a dry printing. On these printings the impressions are sharper and the lines appear raised. Also, with the exception of a one printing of the 20c olive green, these stamps almost always have an extra vertical line added in the upper right corner where the horizontal shading lines end. This is called the "re-drawn" frameline, and it is a characteristic of the later dies that were used to engrave the later plates. 

The dry printings are always 1/4 mm wider than the wet ones, being 17.75 mm wide. Although this does not seem like much of a difference, it is obvious if you place a wet and a dry printing end to end like so:

The pair on the top is the dry printing, while the one on the bottom is wet. 

I find this to be the best test, when you have a lot of stamps to sort, particularly if the stamps you are sorting are used. 

Test #2 - Appearance From the Back - The Gum

This is the back view of the wet printing 5c shown above. As you can see, the gum is smooth in appearance, with no engraving lines from the design being visible. All wet printings have smooth gum like this that is either shiny or satin-like in terms of sheen. 

Here is the back view of the dry printing 5c violet. On nearly all mint dry printings, some embossing of the design details will be evident. The most prevalent details will be the portrait oval and the outer framelines. However, there are some dry printings, particularly early printings of the 3c carmine, which do not show much, if any embossing and appear at first to be wet printings. Here the key to correctly classifying them are the width measurements, the general appearance of the engraving and the gum. 

The gum of the dry printings is usually a smooth, cream gum, not particularly yellowish, with either a satin sheen on the early dry printings. On the mid-period dry printings, the gum becomes shiny and then on the last printings it becomes somewhat streaky in appearance. 

This is the most useful test by far for sorting the mint stamps, but it next to useless for used stamps, which will generally not show embossing. 

Test #3 The Appearance of the Paper on Used Stamps

This is a back view of a used wet printing stamp. Most of the wet printing stamps will exhibit a clear vertical mesh pattern like the one above. 

Here is a back view of a typical dry printing. Despite the hinge remnants, there is clearly no visible mesh. Occasionally you will find fine vertical mesh on some dry printings, so this is not a foolproof test, but it will help you narrow down the classification. 

Combining The Tests - A Sorting Algorithm

Step 1: separate the stamps that can only exist as wet and those that can only exist as dry as detailed above.
Step 2: separate the mint and used stamps.
Step 3: look at the gum - smooth gum are almost certainly wet, while embossed are always dry.
Step 4: look through the smooth gums for 3c carmine sheet stamps. These are always dry printings. Any remaining smooth gum stamps are wet printings.
Step 5: for the used stamps, look for re-drawn framelines in the upper right corner. Any such stamps are always dry.
Step 6: for any remaining used stamps check the appearance of the paper. Sort them into mesh and no-mesh piles. The no-mesh piles are likely dry printings.
Step 7: for the pile of remaining used stamps with mesh, measure the width. If they are 17.75 mm, they are dry printings. If you don't want to measure them, then line them up against a known dry printing like an 8c blue or 10c bistre brown. If they are narrower, they are wet printings. Use this method to double check any you are not sure of that you identified in the above 6 steps.

The above steps should enable you to get it right practically every time.

To see the admiral stamps that I have in stock, click on the following link:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The 1911-1928 Admiral Issue - An Overview


The death of King Edward VII on May 6, 1910 necessitated a new series of stamps to be issued bearing a likeness of his son, George V. The design for this new issue, came to be known as the Admiral design because it shows King George V dressed in an Admiral's navy uniform. The actual design was a composite in which the head taken from a photograph by W. & D. Downey and the chest and uniform from a photograph by W. Barnett. The design was engraved by Robert Savage and the first stamps of the series were issued on December 22, 1911. The American Bank Note Company of Ottawa was the printer as with the earlier issues. It changed its name to the Canadian Bank Note Company in 1923.

Of all the modern issues before the current reign, it is this one which offers collectors a vastness of scope that cannot be rivaled. It is the first issue to feature regularly issued coil stamps and booklets which are within reach of the collector with modest means. It offers different printing methods, shade and paper varieties as well as the usual range of imperforates, proofs and re-entries to challenge even the most experienced philatelist. It is also the only issue to feature War Tax stamps, as we shall see.

The issue appeared in three general stages:
  • December 22, 1911-February 1913: the first colours of the 1c, 2c, 5c, 7c, 10c, 20c, 50c, first coils and booklets of the 1c, and 2c. 
  • April 1915-August 1918: the War Tax stamps and the 3c brown in all its formats.
  • April 5, 1922-October 16, 1926: the second and third colours of the 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c, 7c and 10c; the 4c, 8c and $1, as well as the remaining coils, booklets and the surcharged stamps. 
You could truly spend a lifetime and a veritable fortune on collecting this issue and you still would probably never be able to finish it all. Or, if that is not your preference, you can focus on obtaining one of each value and colour to adorn a single album page. 

The Stamps, Issue Dates and Quantities


1c green - December 22, 1911
        3,218,000,000 issued. 


     1c yellow orange - June 7, 1922
         1,278,000,000 issued.


2c carmine - December 22, 1911 
         3,043,000,000 issued.  

     2c green - April 5, 1922
        2,229,000,000 issued.


    3c brown - August 6, 1918 
         2,044,000,000 issued.     


   3c carmine - December 18, 1923
           1,092,000,000 issued.


4c olive bistre - July 7, 1922
           75,900,000 issued. 

  5c dark blue - January 17, 1912
          198,000,000 issued.


5c deep purple - February 2, 1922
           185,650,000 issued.

7c yellow ochre - January 7, 1912
         103,200,000 issued.


7c red-brown - December 12, 1924  
             16,280,000 issued.   

     8c blue - September 1, 1925
             25,350,000 issued.


  10c plum - January 12, 1912
           148,800,000 issued. 

    10c blue - February 20, 1922
            128,382,000 issued.


10c bistre brown - August 1, 1925 
            89,713,000 issued.      

 20c olive green - January 23, 1912
            95,416,000 issued.


50c black brown - January 16, 1912
             11,070,000 issued.    

     $1 orange - July 22, 1923
           2,600,000 issued.


   1c green War Tax - April 15, 1915
             quantity unknown. 

    2c carmine War Tax - April 15, 1915
           quantity unknown.


2c rosine War Tax - January 1, 1916
             quantity unknown.


 2c dark brown War Tax - August 29, 1916
             quantity unknown. 

With issue quantities like these, it is fairly easy to see just how scarce many of the issues prior to this one really are, when we consider that even with these very large issue quantities, all mint Admiral stamps in very fine or better condition are scarce. Even in fine condition, some varieties can be challenging. The overall quality of this issue is indeed better than say the King Edward VII issue and the Small Queens, with most stamps that one encounters being at least fine. However, there are still a number of stamps, especially the used high values that are often found in VG condition, either on account of the centering, or the cancellations. 

It is unfortunate, but the increasing demand from collectors for never hinged stamps has meant that many collectors are overlooking the very fine hinged stamps from this issue, which is how most of the very fine stamps are found, since it is these stamps that yesterday's collectors chose to display in their albums. Consequently many position multiples and larger blocks have been destroyed at an alarming rate in order to supply the demand for never hinged examples. 

Points of Interest

There are several points of interest for this issue which include:

  • Wet and dry printing varieties
  • Shade varieties
  • Paper and gum varieties
  • Die types
  • Retouched and re-drawn framelines in the upper right spandrel
  • Re-entries 
  • Plate blocks, position pieces and pyramid guide lines
  • Imperforate pairs
  • Proof material
  • Precancels
  • Postal history
  • Booklet panes and complete booklets
  • Experimental coil stamps
  • Issued coil stamps
  • The philatelic imperforates and part perforate coils
  • The 1926 surcharges
  • The war tax overprints on the 5c, 20c and 50c
  • Lathework
I will now touch briefly on each of these aspects. Separate future posts will cover each in detail.

Wet and Dry Printings

The method used to print these stamps until December 22, 1922 was the wet method, in which the paper was moist during the printing process and the gum was applied later, after the paper had dried. Thus the first colours of the 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c, 7c, and 10c exist only as wet printings. This is true of the sheet stamps, the booklet stamps and the coils. 

However, on December 22, 1922 a dry method was introduced whereby the stamps would be printed using dry pre-gummed paper. As many of the second colours of the 1c, 2c, 5c, 7c, and 10c had been issued just prior to the introduction of this method, it is possible to find them in both wet and dry versions. Similarly, the 4c and $1, which were new values were issued prior to the introduction of this method and exist in both types. Finally the 20c and 50c exist in both types because the basic colour of these stamps was not changed during the life of the issue. In addition to the sheet stamps exhibiting such variation, we also see these varieties on the coil stamps and booklet stamps. 

The existence of these varieties means that a truly complete set consists of almost twice as many stamps as just the basic number of values and colours. 

Shade Varieties

Where this set really shines is in the number of different shade varieties that can be collected for practically every stamp in the set. Unitrade does list several shades, but doesn't even come close to listing them all. What they really do is list broad groups, each of which contain several sub shades. Because of this, collectors often try to slot their stamps into one of the listed groups not realizing that all of their stamps may belong to the same group. Another frustrating aspect of Unitrade's listings is their inconsistency. For example, the 2c and 3c stamps are both listed as "carmine", even though they are completely different shades of red. Also the coils are given different colour names from the main sheet stamps, while none of the names are referenced to an external colour key that all collectors have access to like the Stanley Gibbons colour key. What this effectively means is that you have to have experience working with these stamps to know which colours are which. This can be very frustrating for the beginner who is new to the series and has just a few stamps that they are trying to identify. My post on shades will attempt to explain the shade names and cross reference them to Gibbons Colour Key names and explain the tricks for identifying some of the scarcer ones. 

Paper and Gum Varieties

This is an aspect of the issue that is not well covered by Unitrade. In fact the catalogue downright ignores several of the differences in paper and gum that are really quite apparent. However, they do list thin paper varieties on the 1c green, 2c green, 5c violet and 7c red brown, as well as a thick and greyish paper on the 1c green. Finally, a horizontal wove paper variety is listed on the 10c blue. As will be discussed in much more detail in a later post, there are variations in the fineness of the mesh on all values, and in the thickness of the paper that go well beyond what Unitrade lists. 

In addition to paper, the gum also varies on this issue, with the early printings having a transparent yellowish gum that is relatively shiny. By the 1915 or so the gum becomes a shiny yellowish cream that has a "sponged" on or "rolled on" appearance. This lasts all the way through to the end of the wet printing period. Then in the early dry printings, then gum is a clear or slightly yellowish shiny gum. Then the gum becomes less shiny, having more of a satin sheen before becoming both shiny and somewhat streaky on the last printings. 

Die Types

Both the 1c orange yellow and the 3c carmine from the sheet stamps, as well as the 1916 War Tax stamps were each produced using two different dies. These die variations can be found on the corresponding coil stamps and some of them are very scarce to rare. They generally require a magnifying glass to distinguish, but some, like the types on the War Tax stamps can usually be seen with the naked eye. 

Retouched and Re-Drawn Framelines

The upper corners of the design outside the oval are called the spandrels. These spandrels are usually filled with coloured horizontal shading lines that end in a white vertical line just before the outer frame-line. Usually these lines just end abruptly. But on some stamps, they can be found with an extra vertical coloured line joining the horizontal lines. These varieties can be found on the both 5c values, the 7c yellow ochre, the 10c plum, the 20c olive green and the 50c brown black. On some listings, Unitrade calls them the "retouched frameline", while on others, they are called the "re-drawn frameline". The difference seems to lie in the strength of the line, with the re-drawn line being much stronger than the retouched one. 


There are a large number of re-entries that can be collected on these stamps, though it would appear that most are limited to the stamps printed using the wet method before 1925, when nickel-chromium plates were introduced, which did not wear in the same way as the softer steel plates did. The most famous of these on the 1c green is a very rare stamp and worth several thousand dollars. Most are not that rare and worth between $20-$100. 

Plate Blocks, Position Pieces and Pyramid Guide Lines

Over 200 different plates were used to print each of the 1c and 2c values, while fewer were used for the other values. This makes for a very daunting challenge in trying to collect all the different plate blocks. Generally, the inscriptions occupy top four stamps in the sheet and so customarily the plate blocks of this issue consist of eight stamps plus the inscription. 

This is the first issue in which several of the pane layouts required guillotining rather than perforating. The result is that there are many stamps that exist with straight edges on 1 or two sides. There were in fact four different layouts used to produce the post office sheets:

  1. 200 subjects divided by a vertical gutter into two panes of 100 stamps each. 
  2. 400 subjects divided by vertical and horizontal gutters into four panes of 100 stamps each.
  3. 200 subjects arranged in 10 rows of 20 with a guide arrow between the 10th and 11th rows.
  4. 400 subjects arranged in 20 rows of 20 with guide arrows between 10th and 11th rows and 10th and 11th columns. 
Stamps from the first two layouts will always be perforated on all sides. Stamps from the third layout can have straight edges at the top or bottom, while those from the fourth layout can have them on any side or two adjacent sides. 

The second colours of the 2c, 3c, 5c, and 10c, as well as the 4c and $1 all exist in blocks that show several guidelines in the margin, arranged in a pyramid shape. These are highly sought after and worth upwards of $1,000 each. 

There also exists an "R-Gauge" inscription that is found on the sides of some sheets, reading vertically downwards just below the guide arrows. These are also desirable and worth quite a bit of money - $200-$3,000. It is found on the following stamps:

  • 2c green
  • 3c carmine
  • 5c violet
  • 10c blue
  • $1 orange

Imperforate pairs

A number of the stamps of this series exist imperforate, although only three stamps including the one above were regularly issued to the public. The regularly issued stamps included the 1c yellow orange, 2c green and 3c carmine, and were issued between January 23, 1924 for the 3c and October 6, 1924 for the other values. The 1c and 2c are always wet printings, whereas the 3c only exists as a dry printing. These three imperforates were issued in relatively low quantities: 50,000 each of the 1c and 2c, and 100,000 of the 3c. Despite these low quantities, a large number appear to have survived, because while they are somewhat scarce, they are not, by any means rare and are worth less than many of the higher value Admirals that were initially issued in far greater numbers. 

The imperforates that were not regularly issued, that exist in a quantity of no more than 100 stamps each include:

  • 4c olive bistre
  • 5c violet
  • 7c red brown
  • 8c blue
  • 10c bistre brown
  • 20c olive green
  • 50c brown black
  • $1 orange
As far as I know they are all dry printings. They are all worth between $2,000 and $4,000 each in a pair, which is normally the only way they are collected. Unlike the 1908 Quebec Tercentenaries, these imperforate stamps were all issued with gum. 

Proof Material

Like the other issues I have written about, there exists a healthy range of die proofs, essays and trial colour proofs of this issue. Surprisingly, there are fewer variations than one would expect given the number of stamps and colour changes. However, there is more than enough material here to challenge a dedicated specialist for an entire lifetime. On interesting aspect to the proofs is that there was a proposed 6c value that was never issued. 


All of the sheet stamps exist precancelled. it is on this issue that precancels really come into their own with as many as 71 styles on the 1c green and most values having 30-40 different styles. It is on this issue that we begin to see more town names, and the familiar three sets of parallel lines. This is an extremely complicated aspect of this issue that could be made as simple or as complicated as you wish. 

Postal History

The postal history of this issue is complicated by several rate changes that took place during its life, including the imposition of the War Tax on domestic mail in 2015 and its abolition in 1926. In addition to the rate changes, the use of postal stationery mushroomed during the period. Prior to this issue postal stationery consisted of a few basic envelopes, post bands, wrappers and a few post cards. However, starting with this issue, we begin to see surcharges, precancelled stationery, return notices on envelopes, die types and paper varieties on the post bands & wrappers, and a very large range of different post cards, including mimeograph stock. This one can collect rate covers to different destinations franked with just different combinations of stamps, postal stationery that was used for its intended purpose, or uprated postal stationery. 

Booklet Panes and Complete Booklets

All of the low values, being the 1c, 2c and 3c were issued in booklet panes of either 6 stamps or 4 stamps plus two labels as shown below.

The panes were housed in cardboard booklets that bore the Canadian coat of arms as the earlier Edward VII issue had. These booklets sold for 25c each. Starting with this issue, the booklets were issued in both English and French versions. The French versions are priced higher than the English in Unitrade, but not nearly as much as one would expect, given that the issue quantities for French versions were minuscule compared to English. For example, 9,139,000 2c carmine booklet stamps were issued in English booklets compared to just 168,000 stamps in the French booklets. Given that each booklet contained 12 stamps, that is 761,583 English booklets versus just 14,000 French booklets. In addition to the two versions, there were also different fonts and slogans associated with several of the booklets, as well as surcharged rate pages. Together, this results in a very large number of collectible varieties. Because these are listed at the back of the catalogue, collectors often overlook the complete booklets. 

Experimental and Issued Coil Stamps

This was the  first issue to feature coil stamps that were issued to the public. As I explained in my posts about the 1903-1911 King Edward VII issue, the experimentation that led to the issuance of these stamps began with that issue in 1910, but did not result in an issued product. Experimentation with different methods of joining the coil strips continued with this issue in May 1915, and several rare varieties can be found on the 2c carmine. However, the first coil stamps of this issue were actually issued in October 1912.

The picture above shows the three basic formats in which coil stamps were issued for these stamps. The coils were issued for all the low values, being the 1c, 2c and 3c values, as well as both the rosine and brown War Tax stamps. 

The first format to appear and the one that endured throughout the life of the issue was the one on the left, in which the stamps were perforated 8 vertically and delivered horizontally by the stamp dispensing machines. The perforation is very coarse and consequently used examples with intact perforations are hard to come by. The War Tax coils were only issued in this format. This format was used for both colours of the 1c, 2c and 3c.

The second format was introduced in February 1913, and from what I can see from the cancellation dates I have come across, it was relatively short lived, being completely gone by 1920. The only stamps to be issued in this format are the 1c green and 2c carmine, and they are only found in the early shades. 

The third format on the right was experimental and in use from about 1915 to 1924. It was thought that finer perforations would be suitable for dispensation by vertical delivery. All the stamps that were issued this way are wet printings, and it was employed for the 1c green, 2c carmine, 2c green and 3c brown. Judging by the fact that it does not appear again on subsequent issues, it was not a success. 

The Part Perforate Coil Stamps

The post office decided in 1924 to issue sheets of left over coil stock that had not yet been guillotined to the public. 50,000 of each of the 1c yellow orange and 2c green dry printing were issued in sheet form. These have been cut a part by philatelists using scissors and are usually collected as vertical pairs or blocks of 4. Like the imperforates, a very large number of these were saved by collectors, with the result that they are not values nearly as highly as one would expect, being $20-$60 a pair depending on condition. 

In additon to these dry printings, both values and the 3c carmine were also issued in a quantity of 2,200 by favour only, in the wet printing format. This is the only way, other than the regularly issued coil that the 3c carmine exists as a wet printing. These are very rare and worth $200-$1,500 a pair depending on condition. 

The image below shows the dry printing of the 1c orange yellow in a vertical pair.

The 1926 Surcharges

The War Tax on domestic mail was abolished in 1926, lowering the domestic letter rate from 3c to 2c, and consequently creating a swell of demand for the 2c stamp. When stocks of the 2c ran low in 1926, the post office decided that rather than waste the existing stocks of the 3c stamp, they would surcharge them down to 2c. Two different surcharge settings were employed as shown below:

The surcharge on the left was issued October 12, 1926 and was issued in a quantity of only 50,000. The vast majority of the overprinted stamps are die 1. A very small percentage were the die 2 variety which had just appeared two years earlier. The setting on the right is the more common of the two, being issued in a quantity of 103,600. Once again, despite relatively low issue quantities, while these stamps are scarce and desirable, they are not valued as highly as one would expect. There are several varieties of overprint that can be collected including double, triple and shifted surcharges.

The 5c, 20c and 50c War Tax Overprints


Quantities of the 5c, 20c and 50c were overprinted as shown above. The overprint on the 50c is red because of the fact that the basic colour of the 50c at this time was black. They were intended for revenue, rather than postal use, so that postally used stamps are very rare. For some reason it appears that the sheets supplied for these overprints were the poorly centered ones, with the result that these stamps are very hard to find well centered. They are all worth upwards of $50 up to a few thousand dollars for superbly centered NH examples. 


Image result for admiral lathework

In 1916 the American Bank Note Company began the practice of engraving a solid band of an engine turned pattern at the bottom of the sheets. This was intended to help them gauge the state of wear on the plates, as the pattern would become weaker and weaker as the plate wore. Specialists have identified up to seven different patterns. These are referred to as lathework, and pieces like the one above are highly sought after by specialists. Some stamps, such as the 3c brown can be found with as many as 10 different types of lathework. Some of these are extremely valuable and most are several hundred dollars a single. In addition, some new discoveries in terms of types have been made in the past few years, so this is an area which shows some promise for specialists. 

This concludes my overview of the issue. My next posts will begin delving into each aspect of the issue in more detail. I will start with the difference between wet and dry printings, and the tricks you can use to distinguish them, and then before I get into the shades, I will do a quick crash course in the language of colour and how to use the Stanley Gibbons colour key to name colour shades.

To view the Admiral stamps that I have for sale in my shop, please click on the following link:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Update to Post Regarding Duckworth Paper Types on the Large Queen Issue

I have just purchased a copy of the 1/2c black on a thick fibrous wove paper, that is clearly not one of the other Duckworth types that I wrote about in my earlier post on this topic. I have therefore updated this post to include a picture and description of this paper type. Those of you interested in Large Queens may wish to re-read this post:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Collecting the Postal History of the 1908 Quebec Tercentenary Issue


Because of its brief period of use and the scarcity of the basic stamps for values over the 2c, this is one of the more challenging issues to collect on cover. The above cover is an extraordinary example of the entire set used to pay the postage on a cover sent to Japan. As you can see, the condition is tatty, but this cover is of extreme rarity both because it is franked with the complete set, and also because of how exotic the destination is.

There are essentially five angles that one can collect the postal history from:

1. Edward VII postal stationery uprated using stamps of the set to pay higher rates.
2. Single usages on cover of each value to various destinations.
3. Multiple frankings to pay higher rates.
4. First day covers.
5. Philatelic covers.

Today's post will examine these collecting angles in a bit more detail and will illustrate examples of some of the better usages of these stamps that can be found.

Uprated Edward Postal Stationery

The only denominations for which postal history was issued during the reign of Edward VII, during which this set was current was 1c and 2c. These items, whether they were envelopes, postcards, letter cards, post bands or wrappers were all intended for local use only. and the pre-printed stamp impressions were intended to be sufficient to cover the postage. However, occasionally, this stationery would be used for local registered, foreign registered and foreign letters. In these cases it was necessary to add more postage to make up the required rate.

It is not that uncommon to see postal stationery which has been uprated using definitives of the 1903 Edward VII issue. However, it is much less common to see them franked with stamps of this issue. The above cover for example is a local 7c registered cover which has been made from a 2c envelope and the 5c value - a very nice item, worth a few hundred dollars.

Single Usages

1/2c Brown Black

This is a rare stamp to find a single usage of, as the printed matter rate had increased to 1c per 4 oz. A single usage of this value is a $350 cover according to Unitrade. More often than not when you see this value on cover, it is in larger multiples. These are not rare and such a cover is generally worth between $25-$50 plus the value of the corresponding stamps.

1c Blue Green

This value was used for the local postcard rate, printed matter and drop letters. So you most often see it on postcards. It is the most common value on cover next to the 2c and is worth $5-10 usually, depending on condition and whether it is a letter or postcard. postcards are generally worth less than letters. However, as I had said in my posts about the Edward VII Issue, this is the golden age of the postcard and there are loads of possibilities as far as obtaining some very beautiful postcards with this value on them.

2c Carmine Rose

This value paid the foreign postcard rate, as well as the local postage rate on letters up to 1 oz. So not surprisingly it is much more commonly found on local covers such as this one:

This is an example of a more collectible local cover in that it has a nice stylized corner card in the upper left corner for W.B Mosier. This is another sideline that you can form a collection of local covers around. In addition, these covers can also be collected for the postmarks of smaller towns or post offices that have since closed. For example, the Lion's Head split ring on the cover above, is quite a desirable postmark in and of itself. Postcards franked with this value are not rare, but are not anywhere near as common as local postcards, or postcards franked with the 2c Edward VII definitive.

5c Dark Blue

5c was the UPU rate to Europe, and so this value is most commonly found on cover addressed to European countries such as this one to Paris, France:

Image result for 1908 Quebec Tercentenary Covers

These are not common and are worth upwards of $200 in contrast to the much more common covers franked with Edward VII 5c stamps that are generally only worth about $50 each.

7c Olive Green

This value was used to pay the combined 2c postage + 5c registration fee on local registered covers. Like its 5c cousin above, it is much less commonly found on registered covers, which usually bore either a 2c + 5c King Edward VII definitive, or a 7c Edward VII definitive. Covers bearing this value are worth $200-$300 as well. A nice example of the 7c cover is shown below:

Image result for 1908 Quebec Tercentenary Covers

10c Violet, 15c Orange and 20c Brown

These values would only have been used to pay the 10c special delivery fee, insurance on registered money letters and on bulk payment receipts for delivery of bulk mail. They are very scarce and generally worth upwards of $300-$500 on cover, Unfortunately, I do not have any examples to illustrate here.

Multiple Frankings to Pay Higher Rates

Ocasionally, one comes across covers that are commercial that have been rated at very high rates for the time, usually because they contained valuable documents that required insurance, such as the cover below:

This cover is an official government cover as indicated by the O.H.M service at the top. This cover was franked with 72.5 cents postage. I do not know exactly what that rate corresponds to, but it has been paid with a complete set of the issue. It is a very beautiful cover.

First Day Covers

The day of issue for this set is July 16, 1908. All of the covers illustrated that bear the full set are postmarked after this date, so I don't know if there is such a thing as a first day cover with the entire set, but certainly there should exist first day covers of the 1c, 2c or 5c values, if not the other values as well. This would likely be the most challenging group of covers to assemble.

Philatelic Usages

Generally speaking, unless a local cover was a registered money letter that contained a large sum of money that required insurance, there would be little reason for it to be franked with more than 2c. So almost certainly any local cover that bears the entire set, like the one above, is probably philatelic. Similarly, foreign covers, even registered ones where the stamps are arranged deliberately and neatly are also probably philatelic, like the one below:

Despite this possibility, these covers are still of the utmost rarity and will cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars at auction, especially if they are first day covers.

That concludes my coverage of the 1908 Quebec Tercentenary Issue. I hope you enjoyed these posts. If you would like to see the tercentenaries that I have for sale, please click on the following link:

My next post will provide an overview of the 1911-1928 Admiral issue.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pitfalls of Collecting the 1908 Quebec Tercentenaries

I had intended to do one final post today to complete my coverage of this issue. However, the day got away on me and I find myself with only 15 minutes. So I will make this post today very brief and quick and will resume on Monday with my final post about this issue.

One topic I can cover very quickly are the pitfalls and the immense impact that condition has on price.

Impact of Condition on Price

This issue, probably more than most of the Canadian stamp issues during this time is very sensitive to price. Why this is the case is somewhat of a mystery, when all stamps from this period are very scarce in superlative grades. However, the fact remains that stamps of this issue in average condition are worth relatively little compared with those in very high condition grades. Take for example the half cent value, which catalogues $15 for a very fine mint example and $5 for fine mint. There is a 200% premium in the catalogue for NH stamps in very fine condition and a note that extremely fine examples are worth much more than VF.

For example in my store I have:

  • A superb 96 lightly hinged example priced at $60 - 4 times the very fine price. It is perfect as far as the eye can tell, but with a light hinge mark. 
  • A very fine 84 NH example I have priced for $45 - full catalogue. Again, it looks perfect to the naked eye, but measurement of the margins under a calibrated magnifier reveals that the margins are not exactly equal.
  • A very fine 80 lightly hinged example I have priced for $12.
  • A very fine 75 hinged example I have priced for $9.
  • A fine 70 hinged example I have priced for $4.
So you can see that the difference between the superb 96 and the fine 70 is $56 - or almost 15 times as much. If the superb 96 had also been never hinged, this would have been a $150-$200 stamp. If it had jumbo sized margins as well, add 50% to each price. 


Because of the importance of centering and gum on this issue, these stamps have been quite extensively tampered with. The main things to watch for are:

  • Re-perforating to create perfectly centered stamps.
  • Re-gumming and re-distribution of gum.
  • Application of fake or posthumous corner cancels to mint no gum stamps to create equally valuable superb used copies. 
I have covered these types of shenanigans in other posts, so I won't go into great detail here. But suffice to say that perforations should be evenly spaced and should line up more or less perfectly with the "teeth"on opposite sides. Margins should be at least 1 mm on the largest side. If a stamp has margins less than 1 mm around on all four sides, chances are very good that it has been re-perforated. 

The gum should be a smooth, shiny yellowish gum. Overly crackly, brownish or colourless white or matte gum may well not be original. 

Postmarks should generally be dated 1908-1911 generally. If you are going to collect corner cancels, you should make sure that the ink is of a type that is consistent with that found on other used stamps of the period. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Re-Entries, Proof Material and Imperforates of the 1908 Quebec Tercentenary Issue

Image result for 1908 Quebec Tercentenary issue imperforates

Image result for 1908 Quebec Tercentenary issue imperforates

Today's post will address some of the more esoteric aspects of this issue: the re-entries, proofs and imperforate pairs that can be collected for this issue. All of this material is scarce and challenging, and will greatly enhance the experience you have in forming a specialized collection of this issue. 


Ralph Trimble, the premier student of Canadian re-entries devotes a considerable amount of space on his website to this issue. Rather than copy what he has published, I will provide the link to his web-page and provide a brief summary of what he has found:

There are not a large number of re-entries to be found on this series, though for some values like the 5c dark blue, whose plate was not properly cleaned before being put to press, there are a large number of stray dots, guidelines and plate markings that can be found. However, these are not re-entries and Ralph has devoted a considerable amount of the coverage on this issue to an explanation of why the previously listed re-entry on the 5c was de-listed, as it was shown not to be a true re-entry. 

The values that he provides illustrations for and coverage of are the 1/2c, 1c, 2c and 20c:

  1. The famous 1/2c major-re-entry in which there is a fine line through "Canada" and a stray curved line protruding from the bottom frameline. 
  2. The minor re-entry of the 1/2c in which a fine horizontal line can be seen in the "EN" of "Cent".
  3. The major re-entry of the 1c. In this re-entry one can see traces of doubling in the right "1", the "90" of "1908" and "BEC" of "Quebec". 
  4. A major misplaced entry of the 1c in which markings are seen in the "NA" of "Canada" and the "O" of "One". 
  5. Another major re-entry of the 1c, in which a curved line appears in the oval above the "E" of "One". 
  6. A third major re-entry of the 1c, in which doubling is seen both above and below the "E" of "One", near the oval to the right of Cartier's portrait, and the "AI" of "Air". 
  7. One other major re-entry and misplaced entry for the 1c that are similar to those above. 
  8. Re-entries of the 2c, which are not listed in Unitrade. Generally these involve protrusion of the diagonal shading lines of the value tablet into the white frame spaces and protrusion of the horizontal shading lines into the white space of the wedge shaped ornaments at the sides.
  9. The famous 20c major re-entry in which both "1908"and the entire right frameline are doubled. He also shows some minor-entries that are similar to the major, but not quite as strong and warns against purchasing these as the major re-entry. 
All in all, re-entries on this series provide a nice little sideline, with a limited number of items so that you will not become overwhelmed as a collector in trying to obtain them all. 


Like the last Edward VII issue, there are a lot of proofs that can be collected of this issue. They are all listed on the BNA proofs website whose link is shown below:

The website lists no fewer than 65 items . The values given for these proofs range from $700 for stamp sized proofs on India paper to $6,000 for handpainted essays and large die proofs. The items fall into four categories:

  • Essays - 5 of the 1/2c; one combination essay of the 1c, 2c and 5c; an essay in black of the 2c with unfinished portraits; a handpainted essay of the 7c and the 10c in the issued colours; models of the central vignettes in grey for the 10c and 15c and finally, handpainted essays in orange and grey for the 15c and 20c. These are the most expensive items ranging in price between $1,000 and $6,000. 
  • Die proofs -these range from large hardened die proofs and large unhardened die proofs to stamp sized die proofs on India paper. These are generally printed in the issued colours and range in price between $700 and $5,000. The website lists 31 different die proofs which works out to be between 2 and 6 of each value.
  • Progressive proofs - there are only four of these listed for the 2c, 7c and 20c. They are always printed in black and closely resemble the issued designs, being different only in a few incomplete details. 
  • Trial colour proofs - strangely, except for one proof of the 20c in sepia, all the listed trial colour proofs are black. There are 18 such proofs listed, being generally 2-3 of each value. In most cases there is a large size and a stamp size. 
All of this material is rare, regardless of what the website says about value. In most cases these items are unique in that there is currently only one reported example of each item. There are a few items which have between 3 and 6 reported examples, but by and large you are going to find yourself waiting a long time and perusing a lot of auction catalogues if you hope to obtain a complete collection of this material. 

Imperforate Pairs

All values exist in imperforate pairs. There were two distinct printings of these, each in a slightly different shade. One of the printings was on gummed paper, while the other one was on ungummed paper. The ungummed stamps are from the first printing and generally the shades are deeper. Unitrade values them all at $1,000 per pair, with an NH premium for the pairs that exist with gum. 

This brings me near to the end of my coverage of this beautiful issue. My last post on this issue will look at some of the pitfalls associated with this set and collecting postal history of this issue. In the meantime, if you would like to see the Quebec Tercentenaries that I have for sale, you can view them at the following link:

or for a more general link to all my stamps click: