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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Constant Plate Flaws on the 1967-1973 Centennial Issue

Today's post will delve into some of the more prominent constant plate flaws and varieties that are known to collectors of this issue. I will attempt to provide a high resolution scan of each flaw where I can, describe the flaw and provide its location as to plate and sheet position. In instances where I do not have an example, and cannot find an image, I will provide a description, and will add an image later, when one becomes available.

1c Northern Lights and Dogsled Team - Airplane in Sky

This variety is found on selected 25c booklets printed by the BABN that contained the 1c, 6c and 8c stamps, that were first issued on December 30, 1971. It is constant in the sense, that it is always found on the same stamp when it occurs: the 1c stamp from the middle row of the booklet. It is quite a prominent variety, being visible to the naked eye, without a magnifying glass. However, it is not found on every example of the 25c booklets that were printed, but only on a few printings. It consists of a blob of colour appearing in the sky roughly in the middle of the design as shown in the above scan.

The scan below shows the booklet that it comes from:

This is the 25c booklet with the brown motorized vehicle design on the front cover, the "Pre-stamped envelopes" slogan in the inside front cover, and the clear sealing strip. It is printed with the medium fluorescent paper, that has 3 mm OP-4 tagging. The OP-4 tagging was only used between December 30, 1971 and about mid-1972 to late 1972. So it would appear that the variety likely occurs in the later printings of this booklet, as opposed to the earlier ones. 

5c Atlantic Fishing Village - Line in 5 

This is a very easy variety to miss, as the Unitrade illustration has been enhanced to make the line appear much deeper and stronger than it actually appears most of the time. The variety consists of a faint vertical line that joins the top of the "5" near the diagonal downstroke, to the top of the curved portion. It occurred only on position 11 of the upper left pane of plate 3. I know that it only occurs here because it is always found in an upper left plate block, which must come from the upper left pane. 

The scan below, which is 1200 dpi, shows the variety below:

You have to look closely in the space between the top of the 5 and the top of the curved portion. However, if you look carefully, you can just make it out. But it is not nearly as obvious as the illustration in Unitrade would lead one to believe. So you have to check carefully when going through your 5c stamps. Also, it is critical to look in the right place: not within the curved portion of the "5", but in the space above it, but below the top of the "5". 

Here is the plate block from which this variety comes. It is the lower left stamp in the block:

5c Atlantic Fishing Village - Broken Necklace

This variety occurs only on the BABN perf. 10 printing that was issued in $1 booklets of 20 stamps. It generally occurs on the second stamp in selected booklets, so it is not perfectly constant. If you look at the above scan, you can see the broken necklace on the right stamp, which appears as a gap between the fourth and fifth pearls. The necklace on the left stamp is the unbroken necklace. If you compare the two, you can very clearly see the difference. 

6c Transportation - Doubled C in Canada

This unfortunately is the one variety that I do not currently have an example of. However, it is a fairly straightforward variety to describe and recognize. It consists of a shadow of a double "C" for the "C" in "Canada", that is placed just to the right of the main letter on the inside. Unitrade notes it's position on the sheet as position 10, but makes no note of whether it comes from plate 1 or plate 2. It is listed as having come only from the perf. 10 printings, which means that it must have originated from one of these two plates. Curiously enough, Unitrade does not list a plate block for this variety, which is odd, because every upper right corner block from the upper right pane should have this variety, if it is indeed from position 10.

8c Parliamentary Library - Extra Spire

8c Centennial Extra Spire (42k)

This variety was unknown in mint condition until relatively recently. It was first discovered and reported in 1989, some 17 years after the 8c stamp was issued. The variety consists of an extra vertical line at the design. It is very rare, as Robin Harris, the editor of the Unitrade catalogue only managed to find three examples in his examination of 15,000 used examples of this stamp, several years ago. 

According to Harris, it is thought to have occurred only on printings from plate 4, which were made in 1972, and generally from the top positions in the sheet, though the exact positions are unknown. Many collectors will assume then, that it will only occur on stamps with PVA gum. This may indeed be true, but it is important to check all printings including those from the earlier plates, just in case this is not the full story. Enough complete sheets exist that one would expect that the exact plate number and position would have been identified by now. The fact that it has not been positively identified, suggests that it does not occur on every sheet, and only exists on certain printings. 

That concludes my discussion of these varieties for this week - a very short post compared to my others. However, next week's post will be much longer, as I will be getting into the "blinky flaws" or "totem pole eyes" on the 2c green next week, and I expect that illustrating and describing most of the 33 known varieties, will take a considerable amount of time. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Plate Characteristics and Plate Flaws on the 1967-1973 Centennial Issue

Today, I will start my discussion of the final, physical characteristic of the stamps from this issue: the plate characteristics and flaws. Today's post will be an overview of the different plate characteristics and flaws, followed by a detailed discussion of plate characteristics. Then I will deal with the specifics of plate flaws in more detail through some additional posts over the next few weeks.

At the broadest level there are three aspects of interest: plate characteristics, freaks and plate flaws. Plate characteristics are those properties of the printing itself that are intentional and by design. They are, consequently generally present on every stamp in the print run, and distinguish one printing from another, or one group of printings from another. Plate flaws on the other hand are anomalies in the stamp design that occur on a limited number of stamps in each sheet. Those which occur randomly in the printing are dubbed "non-constant", while those that occur on every sheet in the exact same position are called "constant plate flaws".

Freaks, which by their nature are random and thus difficult to document completely are those anomalies which are caused by mishaps in the actual printing. This is a topic for an entirely separate post, and will be addressed as such.

There are several different classes of plate flaws to be found on this issue, each of which is interesting for different reasons. Some of these are quite major, very scarce and eagerly sought after, while some are quite minor, and worth only a small premium over the price of a normal stamp.

Plate Characteristics - Die Type Differences

The most famous of the different plate characteristics which are widely known to Canada collectors are the die 1, die 2 and die 1a of the 6c black transportation. The dies are distinguished by differences in the depth of the engraving and strength of the shading lines. They are so prominent and notable that separate catalogue numbers have been assigned to them (or at least major variety status). These differences are detailed in the catalogues largely because several printings of the 6c that have the same paper, perforation or gum, differ only in terms of these die types, and so it becomes necessary to be familiar with them to sort the stamps.

The differences between the three dies are illustrated in the scans below:

On the die 1 stamps, the horizontal shading lines in the sky are uneven and weak. The framelines at the right and left are thin.

On die 2, the most noticeable difference is the shading in the sky which is full and even. On some stamps it is darker than on others, but the evenness of the lines is key. The other thing is that the framelines at the sides have been recut making them thicker and stronger. 

Die 1a, also known as "the CBN die" is mid-way between these two extremes. On the one hand, the framelines at the sides are thin, just like the BABN die 1. However, the shading in the sky is full and even as with die 2, but is not as dark.

These differences are the ones that are identified specifically in stamp albums and in the catalogue. However, there are other instances in this issue where the die characteristics of the stamps differed notably from the standard Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN) printings, that are not discussed explicitly in the specialist literature, but should be (at least in my opinion):

  • The BABN printings of the 1c, 3c, 4c and 5c stamps that were issued in booklet form.
  • The 2c and 3c stamps from the OPAL booklet.
  • The 7c transportation as compared to the 6c values.
  • The 6c orange perf. 10 sheet stamps, booklet stamps and coil stamp compared to the perf. 12.5 x 12 stamps. 
  • The 7c coil versus the sheet stamps (CBN versus BABN)
  • The 8c coil versus the sheet stamps (CBN versus BABN)

BABN Printings of Sheet Stamps That Were Normally Printed by CBN

1c Brown - Northern Lights and Dogsled Team

Here is the normal design of the CBN printed sheet stamp. The strength of the printing does vary slightly with some of the later printings being somewhat weaker, across the entire design. But there are several characteristics to note:

  1. The lines of the Queen's hair are clearly defined, but there are not many contrasting highlights in the hair itself. 
  2. The Queen's eyebrows are full and evenly shaded.
  3. The shading lines on the cheek are weak.
  4. The detail in the shading of the dogs is complete and in the sled: the pack is clearly visible, as are both feet of the sled. You can usually see the face of the eskimo.

In contrast, we have two examples of the 1c booklet stamp printed by BABN. The entire design appears coarser, but there are several details which they have in common, and which differ from the CBN sheet stamps:

  1. The lines of the Queen's hair are clearly defined, and there are many highlights that make the detail stand out. 
  2. The Queen's eyebrows are fullest toward the centre of the forehead and become weaker as they extend toward the temples.
  3. The shading lines on the cheek are stronger.
  4. The detail in the shading of the dogs is much weaker, as well as in the sled: the pack is much less clear, and you have to look more closely to see both feet of the sled. The detail of the eskimo's face is often not visible at all.

3c Violet - Combine Harvester and Oil Rig

Here is the CBN printing of the 3c sheet stamp. As with most of the CBN sheet stamps, the shading on the neck is of uneven strength, and the shading on the face is of uniform strength. The detail of the hair is visible, with some, but not many highlights. The impression overall has a fine appearance.

Here is the BABN booklet stamp. Unlike the CBN printing, the overall impression appears coarse. However, in addition, the shading in the neck and face is not even, and on the cheek, it is strongest, the closer you get to the Queen's eyes, and on the neck it is strongest over the throat. 

4c Carmine Rose - Seaway Lock

Here is the CBN printing of the 4c carmine rose, The characteristics of the Queen's portrait are similar to the 1c, except that the hair contains more highlights. The shading lines in the rest of the design are full and unbroken, especially the water. 

Here is the BABN printing from the booklets. There is not much if any difference in the appearance of the Queen's portrait, but the shading lines on the water, and portions of the lock appear of uneven strength. 

5c Deep Blue - Atlantic Fishing Village

Here is a CBN printing of the 5c blue. Generally speaking the shading in the sky is quite light, and is of moderate strength. Again, the overall printing impression appears fine.

Here is the BABN printing from the $1.00 booklet that was issued in 1968. As is common for the BABN printings, the impression overall appears much coarser than the CBN stamps. The shading on the neck, sleeve, sternum, neck and face is also much stronger than on the CBN stamps. 

The 2c and 3c OPAL Booklet Stamps Versus The Regular Sheet Stamps

All of the 2c stamps were printed by CBN. Yet, there are some marked differences between the regular sheet stamp and the 2c stamp that comes from the OPAL booklet. The 3c stamps were printed by the CBN and BABN, but like the 2c, there are major differences between the OPAL booklet stamp and the regular CBN sheet stamp. 

Here is an example of one of the later CBN printings with PVA gum on ribbed paper. As you can see there are some highlights in the Queen's hair, and the shading on the face and neck is uneven, while being quite weak on the sleeve. This is a characteristic that seems to be limited to these later printings, because the earlier CBN printings show much stronger and more even shading. 

Here is a 2c from the OPAL booklet. What immediately stands out is the amount of white highlights in the Queen's hair. followed by the coarse appearance of the shading on the Queen's face and neck. If you look at the rest of the design, it just seems that all the details are more even, but at the same time, the entire design has a coarse appearance. 

Here is the CBN printing of the 3c sheet stamp. As with most of the CBN sheet stamps, the shading on the neck is of uneven strength, and the shading on the face is of uniform strength. The detail of the hair is visible, with some, but not many highlights. The impression overall has a fine appearance. 

Here is the OPAL booklet stamp, which despite the fact that it was also printed by the CBN, appears coarser overall compared to the sheet stamp. What is most noticeable is that there is much more white in the hair, the shading of the face and neck is more even looking, but at the same time it has a coarse appearance. 

The 7c Transportation Versus The Regular 6c Sheet Stamp

The 7c transportation at first glance appears to be the same design as the 6c. However, the die of the 6c has been altered by adding a network of fine vertical lines that run through the entirety of the design. These have the effect of taking away the appearance of depth in the engraving and make the design appear almost "flat". There is also no white space on the design at all. 

Compare the die 2 6c black with the 7c sheet stamps shown below to see what I mean:

Even though the engraving appears to be of almost uniform depth, there is still plenty of white in the design to give it depth and contrast.

Here, all the white is gone, and with it all the contrast that gives the design depth. Notice the fine network of vertical lines that run through the design. Notice also the thick framelines at the sides, which suggest that the 7c die was made by altering the second die of the 6c black. 

The 6c Orange Coil and Perf. 10 Stamps Versus the Perf. 12.5 x 12 Sheet Stamps

Here is an example of a typical perf. 10 sheet stamp of the 6c orange. While the overall depth of the engraving in the impression appears more of less even, there are nonetheless some weak points along the framelines, and in some of the finer horizontal shading lines. 

Here is an example of the 6c orange perf. 10, taken from a 25c booklet, issued in 1968. What is notable here is that the design is more or less evenly printed, with the shading lines and framelines being full, clear and crisp. The design does not have the weak points that the sheet stamps have. It is closest to the die 1a of the 6c that was printed by CBN. 

The overall printing impression of the perf. 12.5 x 12 sheet stamps is weaker than the perf. 10's, but is not as weak as the die 1 6c black stamps. The right frameline is thin, as it is for all of the BABN stamps, but the upper and lower framelines tend to be quite weak. 

That is the BABN sheet and booklet stamps. But what about the coil stamp that was printed by CBN? Let's take a look at that next:

The appearance of this stamp is quite similar to the perf. 10 sheet stamps, but with this CBN printing, the depth of the engraving is even across the entire design, with no "weak spots". The right frameline is still thin, as it is for the other 6c orange stamps. 

The 7c Coil Versus the Sheet Stamps

The 7c value was printed primarily by the BABN, which printed the sheet stamps and all the booklet stamps. However, the coil stamps were printed by CBN, using the same plates. Given the differences between the BABN printed and CBN printed stamps that we have seen so far, we would expect to find similar differences on this value. However, such is not the case. This is actually one of the few stamps from the series that exhibits almost no difference, in appearance, between the BABN and CBN printings:

Here is a typical BABN sheet stamp showing the characteristic even-depth engraving, fine vertical lines and thick right hand frameline that is characteristic of this value. 

Here is an example of the CBN coil. As you can see, there is virtually no difference in the overall appearance of the stamp, except for the colour: there is less blue in the green of the CBN stamp. 

The 8c Coil Versus the Booklet and Sheet Stamps

This is another value in the set that was printed primarily by the BABN, but for which coil stamps were printed by the CBN. Like the 7c stamp, there are very few, if any discernible differences between the sheet stamps, booklet stamps and coil stamps, even though different firms printed them:


Here we have one of the typical sheet stamps. On this value, there is quite a bit of white highlights in the Queen's hair, and the shading has an even appearance on both the face and the neck. There are some weak spots in the shading surrounding the library. 

Here is one of the booklet stamps. Apart from the shade, which contains more blue and less grey, there is really not much difference at all between the appearance of the booklet stamps and the sheet stamps.  

Here is a coil. The coils do appear different from the sheet and booklet stamps, but that is mostly because of colour and not the plate characteristics. There is a slight strengthening of the shading immediately around the library, but the difference is not that significant. 

Plate Flaws

As I explained above, there are many, many different classes of plate flaws that can be found on the stamps of this issue:

  • Constant plate flaws found on certain booklet and sheet stamps.
  • Cylinder flaws that are also constant, but numerous and minor in nature.
  • The "totem pole eyes" on many of the 2c stamps, which occur at selected positions on different panes within the sheet of 600 stamps.
  • Plastic flow varieties, which result in doubling of certain parts of the design on some stamps. These have a similar appearance to re-entries, but are less sharp, and have a different origin. 
  • Ink drag flaws, some of which are listed, like the "extended line from lobster trap" and some of which are not. 
The remainder of this post will look at the cylinder flaws, ink drag flaws and plastic flow varieties in detail. The other constant plate flaws will be discussed in a separate post, as will the totem pole eyes on the 2c. 

Constant Plate Flaws

There are several constant flaws documented on the stamps of this issue, many of which are surprisingly scarce and hard to come by. These are generally all listed in Unitrade, though some are not. Next week's post will discuss these in more detail, including providing as many illustrations as I can for them. However, for now, I will simply mention what they are:

  1. The "airplane in the sky" variety on the 1c BABN booklet stamp perf. 12.5 x 12. 
  2. The "line through 5" on the 5c sheet stamp, which comes from position 11 on plate 3.
  3. The broken necklace on the 5c BABN booklet stamp.
  4. The "doubled C" on the 6c orange perf. 10, which comes from position 10. 
  5. The "extra spire" variety on the 8c parliament, which comes from plate 4.
  6. The "scratch on forehead" variety on the 8c parliament, which comes from one of the later plates. 
Cylinder Flaws

On the sheet stamps printed by the BABN, there are a lot of very minor flyspeck varieties that can be found. Most consist of extra dots where there should not be any, or specks of colour in the margins and so forth. They are of interest because prominent collectors of Centennials over the years have been able to show that they are constant in nature, and are not merely random occurrences:

  • Over 100 varieties are known on the 6c orange.
  • 86 varieties are known on the 7c emerald green. 
  • 75 varieties are known on the 8c parliament. 
An excellent discussion of these flaws and extensive illustrations of them can be found in Robin Harris's book on this issue. Here he describes, illustrates and prices most, if not all of them.  Unfortunately I do not have an example of one handy, but I will add an image of a typical flyspeck flaw when I come across it. 

Totem Pole Eyes on the 2c Green

If you look closely at the 2c design, you will notice that the figures on the totem pole have 4 eyes in total. These eyes normally consist of a large green dot, surrounded by a green circle that is very close to the dot. This is what is termed the "closed eye". The normal appearance of the design is for all four of the eyes to appear closed in this way. However, there are instances in which the large green dot is either not fully printed, or is completely missing on one of more of the eyes. A total of 33 different combinations of open and closed eyes have been found on this stamp. I will detail many of them in a subsequent post. But for now, you should be aware that they exist, and that they are generally worth a good premium over the price of the normal stamps (i.e. in the $2-$5 range per stamp). 

Here is the regular appearance of the totem pole. Notice how the centre of each eye is a solid dot of colour and there is a complete circle around each eye. 

Here is one variation in which the only eye that is full and closed is the lower right one. The lower left eye has a crescent inside it, so is partially open. The upper right eye is the same, except the crescent is much larger. Finally, though it is harder to see, the upper left eye has the full dot, but it is hollow in the centre. 

Here, all eyes except the upper left one are closed. The upper left eye is almost completely open, having just the smallest crescent of colour inside it. 

In a subsequent post I will attempt to describe and illustrate as many of the 33 different variations as I can find. But for now, this gives you some idea of what the differences look like. 

Plastic Flow Varieties

The plates for this issue were made of plastic, rather than steel. When the plates were being molded, in some instances additional plastic flowed into areas where it shouldn't, and the result was partial doubling of the design. In all cases that had been discovered so far, this has affected the numerals only, but in theory any part of the design could have been affected in this way. The values on which these varieties have been found so far are:

  • 6c black die 2
  • 8c Alaska Highway
  • 15c Bylot Island
  • 25c Solemn land on hibrite paper only
The scan below shows a strong example of this variety on the 8c Alaska Highway:

If you look closely you can see slight doubling of the left side of the "8" and of the inside loops of the "8" on the right side. The doubling manifests itself in the form of curved lines inside the numeral and bordering the outside. The difference is readily apparent if you compare the above to a normal stamp where the "8" shows no doubling at all:

Notice how there is absolutely no curved line inside either loop of the "8", nor is there any curved line bordering the left side of the "8". There is no sign of any doubling whatsoever. 

The variety has a similar appearance on the 6c, 15c and 25c, though I have yet to see an example of the 25c with this variety. However, I have no reason to think that it would appear significantly different from the variety shown here. 

Ink Drag Flaws

The BABN printings of these stamps were prepared using printing cylinders rather than flat plates. Quite frequently the high speed rotation of the cylinders would produce extended framelines on stamps, or "whiskers" of colour on the stamp designs that were not supposed to be there. These occur most frequently on the 6c orange perf. 12.5 x 12 and the 8c parliament. The most well known of these though, as well as the only one to be listed in Unitrade is the "extended lobster trap", which consists of a very small extension of the top line of the lobster trap into the margin. 

The scan below shows an example of a common ink drag flaw on the 6c orange transportation perf. 10:

You can see the flaw in the lower right corner, where the horizontal frameline extends into the margin:

This concludes my discussion of the different die type differences on this issue and my broad overview of plate flaws. Next week I will discuss the constant plate flaws that are found on some of the booklet stamps and sheet stamps, and then the following week, I will discuss the totem pole eye varieties on the 2c in greater depth. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Perforations on the 1967-1973 Centennial Issue

Today, I turn to another aspect of this issue that has received little attention from philatelists: the perforations on this issue. Most collectors with a passing familiarity know that five basic perforations exist, but they tend to pay little attention to them, in large part because the stamps with different perforations are often very easily distinguished on the basis of other characteristics. However, as we shall see, there are other aspects to the perforating that should be understood by anyone opting to specialize in this issue, for it is the possession of this knowledge that opens up the possibility of important discoveries being made later. 

There are three attributes of perforations that are of interest here:

  1. Whether the perforations are line perforations or comb perforations.
  2. What the measurement of the perforations are (i.e. the gauge), and whether there is any significant and consistent variation to be found.
  3. Whether the perforations extend all the way through the selvage of the sheets, stop at the outer margins of the stamps, or extend 1 or more holes beyond the stamps, but not all the way through the selvage (called extension holes). 
As I have explained in earlier posts, the stamps of this issue were printed and perforated by both the Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN) and the British American Bank Note Company (BABNC). Each of these two companies used their own perforating equipment, which produced results that differed in terms of the three attributes listed above. The remainder of this post will examine the perforations of the stamps of this issue for the stamps printed by the CBN and the BABNC. 

Comb Versus Line Perforations - General

The above picture shows a plate 1 block of the 1c brown from the upper left corner of the sheet. This block is line perforated. Line perforating is where each row and each column is perforated separately by feeding the sheet through the perforator in one direction first, and then in the other direction. In the case of very early issues each row or column was done individually, and the lines were often not straight, which is why well centered examples of early Canadian stamps are so scarce. However, by the time this issue was printed, it would appear that fewer passes through the perforator were required. However, it would appear that the number was more than 2, because sheets are often encountered in which the alignment of the perforations within the margins does vary, and a single pass through the perforator should, if all the stamps are evenly spaced apart, produce the same degree of alignment within those margins.

Because the vertical perforations and horizontal perforations are not done simultaneously, they will often be double punched where the rows and columns intersect, rather than terminating perfectly at the corners. Notice on this block how the perforations do not terminate in a single hole wherever a row and a column of perforations meet, but instead there are double punched holes. That is the most fundamental characteristic that enables one to tell if a stamp is line perforated. But what about single stamps? Well, the corners of single stamps will appear uneven, and if you take two line perforated single stamps and lay them on top of one another, they will not meet up perfectly, except in rare cases, even though the perforation measurements themselves may be the same.

Now let's look at comb perforating.

Here is a partial booklet pane from one of the early integral booklets printed by the BABNC. This is an example of comb perforating. In comb perforating, the perforating pins are arranged in a comb pattern, often several combs to a sheet. The combs act as a kind of guillotine, which perforates the sheet in one stroke, both horizontally and vertically. Because of this, the rows and columns of comb perforated stamps will intersect perfectly with one single perforation hole. Because the rows and columns are all perforated at once, all stamps perforated by the comb will have more or less the exact same centering. If the sheet is perforated with one stroke, then there will be no variation at all in the centering of the stamps, but if more than one strike of the comb perforator is required to perforate an entire sheet, then of course it is possible to find variation in the centering of stamps from one end of the sheet to another. This can be useful evidence to a specialist who wants to establish how many strokes were required to perforate a particular sheet. 

Now that I have explained the difference between comb and line perforating, I can discuss the specifics of the perforations themselves. 

CBN Printings

All of the stamps printed by the CBN for this issue, and most issues to the mid-1970's are line perforated. The measurement given for the perforations on the CBN printings is 12 for the sheet stamps, 9.5 horizontal for the 3c, 4c and 5c coils and 10 horizontal for the other coils. The reality is slightly more complicated than this though. 

Up until the late 1950's the exact gauge of the stamps printed and perforated by the CBN is known to 
be exactly 12.0, but sometime between 1957 and 1959, a new perforator, or series of machines came into use that gave an exact gauge of 11.95. It is not a big difference, and if you are not meticulously careful when using an Instanta perforating gauge, you will miss it. But if you are very, very careful in taking perforation measurements, you will see the difference. Starting sometime between 1961 and 1962, a further replacement of equipment was completed, which this time gave a gauge of 11.85. 

According to research done by Julian Goldberg, a Toronto based philatelist, and noted in Unitrade, most of the stamps issued between 1962 and 1963 exist with both perf. 11.85 and 11.95. However, the notes in Unitrade suggest that after 1963, all stamps are perforated 11.85. However, this is not the case. In actual fact, I have found that compounds of these two perforations exist for most stamps until well past 1968. Many, many issues exist with four perforations:

  • 11.95 x 11.95
  • 11.95 x 11.85
  • 11.85 x 11.95
  • 11.85 x 11.85
This suggests that some sheets were perforated using two different machines, with the exact gauge depending on whether the horizontal or vertical perforations were made first, and that others were perforated using only one machine. Suddenly, a whole new dimension is added to the collection of stamps from this period for specialists seeking a challenge. A full scale statistical study would be required to establish relative scarcities for each perforation, though my casual observations would suggest that some combinations are indeed scarcer than others. 

The scans below show three of these perforations on the 1c brown:

These two blocks are both printed on dull fluorescent paper. The plate 3 block on the left is perforated 11.85 x 11.95, while the plate 2 block is perforated 11.95 x 11.95.

Here is a block printed from plate 4, which is perforated 11.85 x 11.85:

Plate 4 for this value was introduced some time in 1970, and the mottled appearance of the dextrose gum on the back tends to be consistent with this notion. But what about the stamps printed with PVA gum?

Here is a plate 5 block in the reddish brown shade with PVA gum:

This block is perforated 11.85 x 11.85, and was issued in December 1971. Thus it would appear that the 11.95 gauge ceased to be used at all some time between 1970 and 1971, though a rigorous study would have to be completed to establish this beyond reasonable doubt and to establish which perforation combinations exist for each plate. 

All of the above blocks show the selvage perforated all the way through in both directions. This is the way that CBN did all their perforating on this issue for both the high values and the low values of this issue. 

The 3c, 4c and 5c coils were actually perforated 8.9 horizontally, while the 6c, 7c and 8c coils were perforated 9.9 horizontally. I haven't seen any significant variation in these measurements, through the Instanta gauge is difficult to use accurately once the measurements drop below about 10.5, because there are no vertical lines on both sides of the stamp to help you align the gauge accurately. 

The range of booklets that were printed by the CBN is fairly limited, being just three booklets:

  • A 25c booklet consisting of two panes of 5 of the 1c and 4c stamps, issued February 8, 1967.
  • A 25c booklet consisting of a pane of 5 5c stamps, issued February 8, 1967.
  • A 20c booklet consisting of a pane of 4 2c stamps and 4 3c stamps, issued October 1970.
The first two panes are both line perforated 11.95, 11.85 or compounds thereof, and share the same format as shown in the scan below:

As you can see, the vertical perforations extend all the way through the selvage tab. All of the booklet panes that I have seen of this format, have perforations that extend all the way through the selvage like this. 

Here is the 1970 2c + 3c Opal booklet:

The selvage on this booklet is fully perforated as well. The gutter separating the two panes is folded horizontally here, but there is a scarce version of this booklet that exists with the gutter perforated where the fold would normally be. Notice how the fold is NOT in the centre of the gutter, but is located closer to the upper edge of the gutter. This is where the perforations will be on those examples of the booklet with a genuine perforated gutter. There are plenty of fakes around that are easily caught by the fact that the perforations are located right in the centre of the gutter. 

The high values would appear to exist with the same range of perforations as the low value stamps. It is worth noting that I have found examples of the 10c with PVA gum that were perf 11.85 x 11.95. Given that these were issued in 1972, it appears as though the machines gauging 11.95 were in sporadic use right up to the end of the life of this issue. 

BABNC Printings

In contrast to the CBN Printings, all of the perforating done by BABN was comb perforating. There were two basic measurements used, that are known to most collectors:

  • 10, which was used for some of the early booklet stamps, and the first printings of the 6c orange sheet stamp, and, 
  • 12.5 x 12, which was used for the 6c black sheet stamps, the 7c, 8c parliament sheet stamps and most of the booklets produced after 1969. 
10 Perforation

This perforation is found on:

  • 1c and 4c stamps that came from a 25c booklet that was issued in September 1968.
  • 1c and 6c orange stamps that came from a 25c booklet issued in October 1968.
  • 4c stamps that were issued in $1 booklets of 25 stamps in January 1968.
  • 5c blue stamps that were issued in a $1 booklet containing 20 stamps in August 1968.
  • 6c orange sheet stamps and stamps issued in booklets of 25 in November 1968.
  • 6c black die 1 stamps that were issued in booklets of 25 in January 1970.
  • 6c black die 2 stamps that were issued in 25c booklets of 4 in May 1970.
Careful measurement with the Instanta gauge reveals that the measurement for this perforation is indeed 10.0 exactly. 

Here is an example of the 1c+4c 25c booklet from September 1968:

Here you can see that the vertical alignment of the horizontal perforations is the same for all four rows of horizontal perforations, and that the perforation is indeed a comb perforation. This similar alignment suggests that these stamps were perforated with a single stroke of the comb, which is called a harrow perforation. Notice how the selvage at the top contains no vertical holes extending beyond the top horizontal row of perforations. This is where the perforating comb stops and collectors often refer to this type of perforation as "comb with imperforate selvage". 

Here is a much larger booklet: the booklet of 25 4c stamps:

Again, the alignment of the horizontal and vertical perforations along all the vertical and horizontal rows suggests that all 25 stamps were perforated with a  single stroke, and like the other booklet shown above, this one has imperforate upper selvage as well. 

A quick check of the other booklet containing perf. 10 stamps reveals that the upper selvage tabs on all of the booklets are imperforate. But what about the sheet stamps?

The scan below shows a typical plate block of the 6c orange with the 10 perforation:

Here, you can see that the selvage at the sides is perforated all the way through, but the top selvage contains only a single extension hole past the top row of horizontal perforations. A quick check of the lower left and lower right blocks reveals that the bottom selvage only has one single extension hole as well. 

These stamps were printed in six panes of 100 stamps arranged 3 panes wide by 2 panes tall. Only those panes at the outer edges contain plate blocks with full selvage like the one shown. The middle panes were separated from the outer panes by guillotine, so that each of the outer panes has one straight edge at either the left or right, and the middle panes will have two straight edges at the sides, when the panes are from philatelic stock. 

Here is an example of a plate 1 upper right block from the upper left pane of 100:

Note the single straight edge at the right. 

When panes were designated to be field stock (i.e. to be sold only for use as stamps and not to collectors), the top and bottom edges were trimmed instead of being perforated. The width of the margins tends to suggest that the sheets were originally perforated and have been trimmed below the perforations, although occasionally, the margins on both sides of a block are wide enough that it appears as though they could have been trimmed apart and not perforated at all originally. 

Here is an example of a lower right block from field stock, showing straight edges at the right and bottom. The margins on both sides are quite narrow, which does suggest that it comes from either the upper centre pane, or the lower centre pane. 

12.5 x 12 Perforation

The 10 perforation proved to be far too coarse, and resulted in torn stamps and difficulty separating stamps. It was decided in March 1969 starting with the 6c orange, to use a finer perforation measuring 12.5 x 12. This perforation is found on:

  • All of the booklets containing 7c, 3c or 8c stamps and all the 1c and 6c stamps that come from those booklets. 
  • The 6c orange sheet stamps issued in March 1969.
  • The 6c black die 1 and 2 sheet stamps that were issued between January 7, 1970 and April 1970.
  • The 6c black die 1 booklet stamps that were issued in panes of 25, in December 1970.
  • The 7c emerald green sheet stamps, issued June 30, 1971.
  • The 8c slate sheet stamps, first issued December 30, 1971.
Although this perforation is commonly quoted as measuring 12.5 x 12, it seems to be closer to 12.5 x 11.9 on the booklet stamps when I check it with my Instanta gauge. The sheet stamps do seem indeed to measure 12.5 x 12. 

The scan below shows an example of a 25c booklet from June 30, 1971, containing the 1c, 3c and 7c stamps:

Again, you can see that this pane appears to have been perforated in one stroke, as the alignment of the perforations shows little variation. In addition, the upper selvage is also imperforate. A quick check of all the booklets produced with this perforation reveals that they all have imperforate selvage at the top. But again, that begs the question of the sheet stamps. 

Here is an example of a typical perf. 12.5 x 12 plate block. It is the 6c orange plate 3 from March 1969. As was the case with the perf. 10 block, the selvage at the left is perforated all the way through, while the top selvage has only the single extension hole. What is different though is that if you look at the horizontal perforations, you can see a slight discontinuity where the four holes to the left do not align exactly with the rest of the perforations. This is because those four holes come from a second stroke of the perforating comb, and that the comb that perforated the stamps in the sheet which this block comes from, only extends one hole past each outer row or column of perforations. The only plausible explanation for why there would be a second comb strike is that there was another pane attached to this one on the left, which would mean that this block comes from one of the centre panes. This is odd, because this block has full selvage at the left, which suggests a different sheet layout was used for this perf, which resulted in philatelic stock blocks having wider selvage, regardless of which of the six panes they come from. This would make sense, if the goal was to ensure that any of the 6 panes printed could yield philatelic stock. 

However, just as the blocks with the 10 perf can be found with guillotined edges, so too can those perf. 12.5 x 12:

Here are two of the plate 3 blocks, with the left having a single straight edge at the right, which suggests that it comes from the upper left pane, and the other, with two straight edges, suggesting that it is from one of the centre panes. 

This concludes my discussion of the perforations of the stamps of this issue. I have now discussed all of the primary physical characteristics of the stamps: the paper, the gum and the perforations, that apply to all stamps of the issue. Next week, I will start looking at the plate characteristics that are applicable to specific values and some of the flaws and constant varieties that can be found on the stamps.