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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Printing Inks Used On The 1967-1973 Centennial Issue - Part One of Eight

Today's post will delve into another aspect of the Centennial issue, that I feel has received less attention than it should: the printing inks. Apart from the fluorescent orange ink variety of the 6c orange, scarcely any attention is given in Unitrade to the immense variations in ink that can be found on this issue. In discussing the inks used, it is necessary to distinguish between how the inks will appear in normal light, and how they appear under ultraviolet light. In Canadian philately, the long-wave ultraviolet light (UV) is used to study modern issues, as it is this end of the spectrum to which the inks and tagging react the most. This is the safer wavelength of ultraviolet light as well, and is commonly referred to by laypeople as "black light". It is possible that two inks that appear the same in normal light or long wave ultraviolet light, might appear different under short-wave ultraviolet light. However, due to the dangerous nature of this type of light and the fact that it has not generally been in widespread us for Canadian stamps, I have not taken the study of inks in this direction. However, it may well be one worth exploring. What is certain, and will become apparent is that there are many, many instances where two stamps will have almost the same appearance under normal light, but whose inks will appear wildly different under UV light.

Thus, it is logical for me to tackle the issue of printing ink in eight posts: four dealing with variations between the inks in normal light, and another four to deal with variations under UV light. Today's post will look at the variations that are apparent under normal lighting conditions for the 1c, 2c, 3c and 4c. Then, over the next three weeks, I will look at the shades for the other values. Then after that, I will do the same thing, but looking at the differences under UV light. It is strange to me that no shade variations are listed in Unitrade for this issue. Although the differences between the colours of the stamps are generally subtle at first glance, once you become highly familiar with the stamps, you will begin to see that many of them look significantly different from one another. For the CBN printings. those stamps printed on paper with PVA gum tend to printed in colours which on the whole are both brighter and fresher than the earlier Dex gum printings, which are deeper and duller. The dex gum stamps on dead coated paper are the deepest of all, and it is this fact that provides some way to identify these printings, even when one does not have access to a UV lamp. The CBN booklet  and cello paq stamps tend to exhibit many of the same shades found on the corresponding sheet stamps, but such is not the case with the BABN booklet stamps, which are often completely different colours from their sheet counterparts. The biggest discrepancies between booklet and sheet stamps occur on the 1c, 3c, 4c, and 5c booklet stamps, through it must be emphasized that the BABN did not print any of these stamps in sheet form, all that printing being done by the CBN. So, for those stamps, the point of comparison is between two printing firms. However, even with the 6c orange, 6c black, 7c emerald and 8c slate, there are colours on some of the sheet stamps that one does not find replicated in the booklet stamps and vice versa.

Shade variations can be found on virtually every value in the set, and the remainder of this post will look at each of these in turn.

1c Brown - Northern Lights and Dog Sled Team

The basic colour of this stamp varies, depending on whether or not it comes from a sheet or a booklet, and depending on who printed it.

CBN Sheet Stamps And Booklet Stamps

The basic colour of most of the CBN sheet stamps and booklet stamps is deep brown on the Stanley Gibbons colour key. The colour somewhat chocolaty without having either an overly reddish or purple undertone. Some of the early printings were also a very deep and slightly blackish brown, which is often thought of as purple brown, but actually isn't. However, by and large, the colour began to acquire more and more of a reddish undertone, so that by the time the general tagged PVA gum stamps appear from plate 5, the colour is a full-on red brown.

The following scan shows the  basic range of shades found with the sheet stamps:

On the top row we have the basic shades of deep brown (all dex gum), with the blackish brown on the right, the pure deep brown on the left and a chocolate brown in the middle. The middle row shows three PVA gum printings that show the red-browns. The untagged and general Ottawa OP-2 tagged stamps on the left and right are a very close match to Gibbons's red-brown, while the centre Winnipeg tagged stamp is a close match to Gibbons' reddish brown. The bottom row shows two printings, one with dex gum on hibrite paper and one with General Ottawa OP-2 tagging and PVA gum. These two stamps have a brown that can best be described as being mid way between the colour palette of the top two rows. The left stamp is an exact match to Gibbons's chocolate, and is just a touch brighter than the centre stamp in the top row. The stamp on the right is similar to the Winnipeg tagged stamp above it, but there is just a little less red in it, and just a wee bit more brown. But if someone were to sort these quickly, they would probably miss the distinction and say that this, and the stamp above it were the same shade.

Now, let's take a closer look at each of these rows:

It is a little difficult to see the differences between the end stamps here, but the difference between these two and the centre stamp should be readily apparent. Pretty well all of the panes of 5 plus label of the 1c CBN printing that I have seen, will be one of these three shades. 

Again, the end stamps should look quite similar here, and definitely reddish, while the centre stamp looks distinctly browner than the other two. I have not yet seen any booklet stamp printed in any of these shades. That is not to say that none exist, or existed, but just I haven't seen them.

In this scan these two stamps look similar, but if you let your eyes adjust, the one on the right has a purple undertone and is duller than the one on the left, which looks redder and browner by comparison.

Booklet Stamps - Nearly All BABN

The BABN booklet stamps are another range of shades entirely from the ones shown above. They are all closest to chocolate and purple-brown on the Gibbons colour key, with varying degrees of red, or purple in the colour. They lack the bright red of the reddish and red browns, and the blackish undertone of the deep brown. They are all somewhat dull in their appearance as well. I have not seen any of these shades replicated in the sheet stamps.

The following scan shows a range of BABN booklet stamps, with a CBN booklet stamp on the right side of the upper row for comparison. The CBN stamp is the basic deep brown, and it highlights how different the BABN shades are from the CBN ones. Let's take a look at them:

The second stamp from the left in the top row is closest to Gibbon's chocolate, but is deeper. The stamp to the left of it is very similar, but has a bit of a purple undertone. That stamp on white paper with white, shiny PVA gum, while the second stamp from the left is with the type 1 high gloss dex gum. The third stamp with the perf 10, and high gloss dex gum, which I believe comes from the 1c+4c booklets is also a very close match to deep chocolate with a strong purple undertone as well.

On the bottom row, the perf 10 stamp with label, which has the type 2 lower gloss, satin dex gum, which comes from the 25c booklets is almost a perfect match to Gibbons' purple brown. Finally, the perf. 12.5 x 12 1c on the right, which is on ribbed paper with cream eggshell PVA, which comes from the 25c booklets from 1971, is a very close match to the perf 10 stamp on the first row above.

2c Green - Pacific Coast Totem Pole

This is a complex colour due to the overlap found between the CBN stamps with dex gum and those with PVA gum. Generally speaking, most of the dex gum stamps will be found in shades that are all variations of Gibbons's myrtle green, though there will be some brighter greens as well. The PVA gum stamps show considerable variation from shades of deep green to shades of emerald or yellowish green. Finally, the OPAL booklet stamp, which is the only booklet stamp, and was printed by the CBN with dex gum is usually found in a shade of deep green, similar to many of the PVA gum stamps, and quite a bit brighter than the greens found on the dex gum stamps.

Dex Gum Sheet Stamps - All CBN

On the top row at the very far right we have an exact match to Gibbons's myrtle green, and on the bottom left an almost exact match for Gibbons's deep grey green. These two colours are usually what you will see on most of the dex gum sheet stamps. The other two stamps on the top row are also myrtle green, but are not exact matches to the Gibbons myrtle green swatch. The stamp at the top left is just a bit yellower, while the stamp in the middle is the same tone, but is brighter. The stamp on the bottom right is another variation of the myrtle green, being the most yellowish and brightest. This stamp is printed on a very distinct, fibrous, rough vertical wove paper that shows no distinct mesh. It is very distinct from all the others.

Let's take a close look at each of these rows:

The difference between these three stamps is very subtle and not readily apparent from this scan.

Here, the difference between these two colours should be quite obvious. I find that a good part of the design to focus my eyes on when I am sorting shades is the shoreline at the lower left of the design.

PVA Gum Stamps - Again, All CBN

The PVA gum stamps generally lose the undertone of grey or blue that many of the dex gum stamps had.

On the top row at the left we have a printing on the white, horizontal ribbed paper, and to its right, a printing on smooth paper. Both of these are printed in very similar shades, with the left stamp being only every so slightly darker than the right. But the difference is so small, that you could classify these two stamps as being the same shade. These are both an nearly exact match to Gibbons's myrtle green. The stamp at the top right is on smooth vertically wove paper and is closest to Gibbons's green. On the bottom row we have two printings with general Ottawa OP-2 tagging, each in a different shade and a different paper. The stamp on the left is on cream, vertical wove, horizontal ribbed paper and is almost an exact match to Gibbons's deep green. The stamp on the right is a very close match in shade, but is just a bit brighter, and is printed on a similar ribbed paper that is white, instead of cream.

So generally, while some of the PVA gum stamps are myrtle green, most are either green, or deep green. Let's take a closer look at the two rows above:

Here you should clearly be able to see how the stamp on the right is brighter and more yellowish than the other two myrtle green stamps.

Apart from the shades, these two stamps provide an excellent example of how two papers that list as being identical in Unitrade, can be so different in their appearance. 

OPAL Booklet Stamp

Even though this stamp was ostensibly printed by the CBN, it looks completely different to the sheet stamps, for reasons that remain a mystery. The colour is quite similar to the above two deep green stamps, but is just a touch brighter. 

3c Purple - Prairies and Oil Rig

The sheet stamps were all printed by CBN, and the colours of these are all generally shades of lilac, which vary mostly in terms of how much red they contain. Surprisingly, Unitrade does list a red-violet shade, being one of the few shades listed, and it is indeed a very reddish version of the basic colour. However, as prominent as it is, I do not think that it is any more remarkable than many of the shade varieties that are to be found on many of the other values. The booklet stamps were either printed by BABN or the CBN in the OPAL booklet. The colours of both classes of booklet stamp are completely different from the sheet stamps, and are completely different from one another.

Dex Gum Sheet Stamps and Coils - All CBN

At first glance, these stamps all look very similar. However, once you allow your eyes to acclimatize, you will start to see the brownish undertone to the upper right stamp, the reddish undertone to the middle top stamp, and the dull quality of the shades on the bottom row. The top right stamp, which is on creamy vertical wove, with no mesh and satin dex gum (type 5) is closest to Gibbons's deep dull purple. The stamp in the middle is on a creamy wove with horizontal mesh and streaky type 1 dex gum, and is closest to blackish purple on the Gibbons colour key, although it is quite close to blackish lilac as well. The stamp on the top right, which is on a cream. vertical wove with horizontal mesh and smooth type 2 dex gum is also closest to blackish purple, although it is not as red as the middle stamp. The coil stamp, which is on vertical wove, with a clear horizontal mesh and streaky type 1 dex gum is closest to deep reddish lilac on the Gibbons colour key. The stamp in the middle on the bottom row is exactly the same shade, but is printed on vertical wove with no clear mesh, with smooth type 3 dex gum. The stamp on the right, which has the same basic paper and gum as the middle stamp, is closest to blackish purple on the Gibbons colour key.

Let's take a closer look at these two rows:

Here the differences are best seen by concentrating on the uncut grain at the bottom left corner of the design. If you focus on that you can clearly see that the middle stamp is a much redder shade than the other two stamps, which contain a brownish undertone.

These stamps all look very similar, but again, it should become apparent that the middle stamp is much redder in tone than the other two stamps.

PVA Gum Precancelled Stamp - CBN

This is an interesting stamp in the sense that it is the only way that the sheet 3c comes with PVA gum, and it is the only printing of the 3c to exist with general Ottawa OP-2 tagging. On the Gibbons colour key, it is almost an exact match to blackish purple.

Booklet Stamps - Both BABN and CBN

The 3c was printed once by the CBN for inclusion in the 1970 OPAL vending machine booklets, and then was incorporated into the large $1 booklet with dex gum and the 25c booklets with PVA gum.

The OPAL booklet stamp is shown on the left and is closest to either deep purple or plum on the Gibbons colour key. The stamp on the right is from the dex gum $1 booklet issued in 1971. The stamp is printed on horizontal cream wove with no mesh and high gloss dex gum. The colour does not really match any of the Gibbons colours, but is closest to an extremely deep, dull purple.

The colour of this stamp varies

4c Carmine - Seaway Lock

This stamp is described by Unitrade as carmine. However, the deepest of these are really only half way between scarlet and carmine-red on the Gibbons colour key. The basic colour of the dex gum sheet stamps is really scarlet.

CBN Dex Gum Sheet Stamps

On the top row we have a Winnipeg tagged stamp on yellowish cream vertical wove with no distinct mesh and type 3 semi-gloss dex gum. The shade of this stamp is almost a perfect match to Gibbons's scarlet. The middle coil stamp on the top row is the exact same shade. This stamp is printed on yellowish cream coloured vertical wove with type 2 semi-gloss dex gum. The top right stamp above is printed on cream vertical wove, and has type 3 semi-gloss dex gum. The shade is still scarlet, but it is just a touch brighter than the scarlet of the other two stamps.

On the second row we have another example printed on cream vertical wove, this time with a slightly more visible horizontal mesh, and type 3 semi-gloss dex gum. The shade is also closest to scarlet on the Gibbons colour key, but the shade is slightly deeper than the above three stamps. The middle stamp is also printed on cream vertical wove with clear horizontal mesh and type 3 semi-gloss dex gum, but now the shade is acquiring a bit of carmine, being about half-way between scarlet and carmine-red. Finally, the bottom right stamp is closest to scarlet as well and is printed on cream vertical wove, with no visible mesh and streaky type 1 dex gum.

Lets take a closer look at these two rows:

These all look very similar, but with enough time spent looking at the shading around the "4", you should be able to see that the right stamp is somewhat brighter than the other two.

The difference is a bit harder to see in this scan, but if you compare these three stamps with the first three above, you will see the hint of carmine that is beginning to seep into the colour.

CBN PVA Gum Stamps

While there are some stamps with PVA gum that are very close in shade with some of the Dex gum stamps, most of the stamps with PVA gum are a much brighter version of scarlet, with many being either scarlet vermilion, or rosine on the Gibbons colour key.

On the top row we have a printing on white vertical wove paper, with eggshell PVA. The shade here is a slightly brighter version of scarlet. The other two stamps on the top row are both on white vertical wove, with eggshell PVA, one being untagged and one being Winnipeg tagged. These two stamps are brighter, and are closest to scarlet vermilion on the Gibbons colour key. Finally on the bottom row we have an example on white vertical wove with general Ottawa OP-2 tagging. This stamp is closest to a deeper version of Gibbons's rosine shade.

 Let's take a closer look at these:

Although the colours look very similar at first, it should become apparent that the two stamps on the right are slightly lighter and brighter than the one on the left.

And this is the rosiest and brightest of the bunch, but does not contain any hint of vermilion in the colour. Indeed, this colour is about as far away from carmine as you can get while still being a red stamp. 

Booklet Stamps - CBN and BABN

The BABN booklet stamps are one of the shades that is closest to carmine, while the CBN booklet stamps are generally mostly scarlet shades, which are similar to the sheet stamps issued at the same time.

The BABN printed the 4c in two booklets, one being a $1 booklet of 25 stamps and the other being a 25c booklet of 4c + 1c stamps. The colour of the stamps in both booklets is very close to Gibbons's carmine red swatch, being just a little lighter. The stamp shown here comes from a 25c booklet, is printed on cream horizontal wove paper and has the type 1 high gloss dex gum. The CBN booklet stamp shown on the right is printed on cream horizontal wove paper with no mesh and has satin sheen dex gum. The colour of this stamp is closest to scarlet on Gibbons's colour key. This is consistent with my observation that the shades found on the CBN booklet stamps and CBN coil stamps generally mirrors those found on the dex gum sheet stamps.

This brings me to the end of my exploration of the shades on these first four values. I don't claim to have shown you all the shades that can be found, as I'm sure there are more. However, I am fairly confident that the range I have shown here covers what you will see 85-90% of the time that you work on these stamps. Then, every once in a while, you will luck out and come across something that you haven't seen before.

Next week, I will look at the shades on the 5c, 6c orange, 6c black and 7c emerald. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Gum Types On The 1967-1973 Centennial Issue


The topic of gum on the Centennial issue is one that has not received very much attention at all since collectors became aware of the basic difference between dextrine and PVA gums. However, like any chemical compound, the composition of the gum on this issue showed considerable variation as the post office experimented with different formulas as they transitioned away from dextrose gum towards synthetic PVA gum. Indeed the special hybrid gum, termed "spotty white gum" by collectors, that first appeared on a limited basis in 1971 was almost a cross between dextrose and PVA in the sense, that it had most of the properties of PVA gum, but it possessed much of the shine and thickness associated with dextrose gum. In addition to variations within the three major categories of gum, there was also a significant difference in the properties of the gum used by the British American Bank Note Company (BABN) on the stamps that it printed, and the gum used by the Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN).

This post will look at the the variations that can be found in each of the three major categories of gum: dextrose (dextrine), PVA and spotty white gum. I will attempt, where I can, to show scans of the various types. However, the scans will likely not show some of the attributes, such as sheen and streakiness. I will do my best to describe them in these instances.

In asserting that the appearance of the gum is a significant and collectible attribute, I like to draw an analogy between stamp gum and paint on a wall. Almost everyone is familiar with the different paint finishes available: high gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, matte and flat. Most will also realize that the different finishes are possible because of minute differences in the chemical makeup of the paint. I would assert that stamp gum is much the same: the degree of surface gloss, the texture, the colour, and how evenly it adheres to the paper when it is applied, are all attributes that will differ as the chemical composition of the gum changes, or its method of application, and therefore, significant differences in these attributes, are, in my opinion, different types of gum.

Dextrose (Dextrine) Gums

CBN Printings

The gum used by the CBN shows a considerable amount of variation, in terms of colour, texture, its streakiness and sheen.:

  1. One type is a very light yellow colour, that shows very small vertical or horizontal patches of thinner gum, arranged in a regular vertical or horizontal pattern. I have examined large multiples of stamps with this type of gum and can confirm that the streaky pattern extends across all stamps in a pane, so it does not represent a random variation in the gum, but rather a difference in appearance that arose as the gum dried after being applied. The sheen is generally a satin to semi-gloss sheen.
  2. A second type is a very light yellow also, with the same satin to semi-gloss sheen. Only this time, the gum is completely smooth and evenly applied, with no thin areas or patchy spots. 
  3. A third type is a deeper yellowish cream, with a semi-gloss sheen and a completely smooth surface. 
  4. A fourth type is a light cream, with a semi-gloss sheen and a completely smooth surface. It is the same as the third type, except for colour. 
  5. A fifth type is a light yellowish cream, with a satin sheen and a completely smooth surface. This gum has the appearance of being applied either by spraying or with a very fine roller, as it has a very fine, stippled appearance. 
  6. A sixth type is deep yellow, with a satin sheen and smooth surface. 
  7. A seventh type is also a yellowish cream colour and is both thick, and has a semi-gloss sheen. The key distinguishing characteristic is that it is highly mottled in its texture, looking like it was applied with a sponge. 
  8. An eighth type has the same satin sheen as the spotty white gum, except it is yellowish dexrose gum, quite clearly. It has a completely smooth surface. 

The scans below show some of the above types of gum:

The above coil block shows the first type of streaky dextrose gum. The streaks are a little difficult to see at first, but if you stare at the block for a few minutes and allow your gaze to relax somewhat, you should able to see that the gum colour is not even: there are very small spots of lighter colour. These spots are the streaks. 

Here is an example of the same gum on a plate block of the 10c Jack Pine, showing the streaks running in the horizontal direction:

Finally, here is a third example, which shows much more prominent streaks in the gum. This example is a plate block of the 2c totem pole:

Here, you can see the uneven colour of the gum very easily. 

This coil shows the second type of gum. Note the light yellowish cream colour and how the gum on this stamp is completely even and smooth. 

I have prepared an overlay scan, where I place this stamp on top of one of the stamps in the above block to try and show the difference between these two gums a little more clearly:

The scan below shows an example of the third and fourth types of gum on two plate blocks of the 10c Jack Pine:

Here is an example of the fifth gum type, shown in the stamp on the left, next to the third type, on the stamp at the right:

Here is an example of the sixth type on a 1c stamp with Winnipeg centre bar tag:

As you can see, it is similar to types 2, 3 and 4, except that the colour is a deeper yellow. 

Finally, the seventh type is shown on the following plate 4 block of the 1c:

Again, if you look carefully at this gum, you can see that the colour is not completely even, but it is not streaky as the above examples of the type 1 gum are. 

Finally, the eighth type is shown on this 50c Summer's Stores on the scarce hibrite paper:

This scan clearly shows the strong vertical mesh that is present on the paper used to print this stamp. However, not all HB stamps look like this. I have other HB examples of this stamp that show no mesh and have types 2, 3 or 4 gum. 

I have seen types 1 through 6 on all printings from 1967 to about 1970, so these were used throughout the period that dextrose gum was in use. Type 7 seems to occur mainly on printings from 1970, like plate 4 of the 1c, and 5c for example. I have only seen the type 8 gum on the 50c Summer's Stores printed on HB paper, but I suspect that it exists on the other CBN high values on HB paper as well. It looks like a transitional gum that was used in 1971 just before the spotty white gum was introduced.

BABN Printings

The gum used by the BABN on the 4c carmine, 5c blue, 6c orange, 6c black, 7c emerald and 8c slate varies in colour from a very light yellowish cream to a pure white. So it is almost always much lighter than the gum used on the CBN printings. It is never streaky, always being smooth and completely evenly applied to the stamp. However, I have seen three distinct types that vary, both in terms of the sheen and the overall texture, as follows:
  1. One type, is very shiny, being a high gloss sheen, and it has very light horizontal streaks, having the appearance of being brushed on. The streaks are quite light, but once you see them, they are quite obvious. I have seen this type of gum on all six denominations. In terms of colour, this gum is usually either a very light yellowish cream or a pure white.
  2. A second type, which has a semi-gloss sheen and appears completely smooth. Thus gum is a very light cream colour. 
  3. A third type is a cream colour, has a satin sheen., and is completely smooth. Under 10x magnification, a clear diagonal crack pattern is visible in the gum. 
The scans below show two blocks of the 6c orange, perf. 12.5 x 12, with the first two types of gum:

This is the high gloss gum with the horizontal streaks. They are difficult to see, but if you look carefully at the top selvage of the block, you can just see them.

This is the semi-gloss gum that is completely smooth, with no streaks.

The third type of gum seems to occur mainly on printings of the 1c, 6c, 4c and 5c booklet stamps, and is shown in the following scan of a 1c pair taken from the 25c booklet:

Here you can see the diagonal pattern of fine cracks, right from the high-resolution scan.

PVA Gums

CBN Printings

The PVA gum most commonly seen on the stamps printed by the CBN is a light cream colour, is completely smooth, and has an eggshell sheen. Under magnification, more of a sheen is visible, and it is possible to see very fine cracks in the gum, however, when viewed normally, the gum is completely smooth. The gum is a thin gum, as its application does not alter the surface texture of the paper in the way that the BABN gum does. The BABN gum has a completely smooth and solid appearance, even under magnification, whereas with this type of gum, the natural rough texture of the stamp paper is still visible underneath the gum, as the gummed paper appears somewhat rough under magnification.

The scan below shows an example of this gum on the 2c totem pole:

Note the smooth appearance, and the rough texture of the surface. The colour appears quite white when viewed alone, or in comparison to the dextrose gums. However, when compared to the pure white of card stock, it is actually quite creamy and off-white.

There are actually two types of this gum, that only differ in terms of the overall sheen. The first has the usual eggshell sheen with a slight shine when the stamps are viewed at an angle to the light. The second has a matte sheen, even when viewed at an angle to the light. The scan below shows both types on two different 1c stamps, with the eggshell stamp on the right, and the matte stamp on the left:

As you can see, these types are almost indistinguishable from the scan alone. However, you may notice that the gum on the right stamp (eggshell stamp) is slightly thicker than the matte stamp. The paper is also different, with the right stamp being printed on a vertical wove that shows clear vertical mesh when viewed against strong backlighting, and very light ribbing on the surface, when viewed under magnification. The perforations tended not to punch out fully on this type of paper and gum, so quite often you will find stamps with this gum having unpunched perforation discs adhering to the stamp, as in the above example. 

Here is a scan showing the two types of PVA gum on the 10c Jack Pine:

The matte gum is shown on the top stamp, while the bottom two are the slightly creamier eggshell PVA. 

BABN Printings

There are three main types of PVA gum found on the BABN stamps that were produced in booklet form. The main points on which the gum varies are the colour and they surface sheen:

  1. The first type is a pure white colour, completely smooth and possesses a very slight surface sheen. It is too matte to be a satin sheen, but it is shinier than what we would normally think of as an eggshell sheen. 
  2. The second type is a cream colour, completely smooth, and has a satin sheen, being much shinier than the first type above. This type is found on the stamps from the $1 integral booklet issued in 1971-1972.
  3. The third type is also a slightly deeper cream colour, completely smooth, but has the same sheen as the first type. 

The scans below show these types:

This is the first type of gum, on a pair of the 7c taken from a 25c booklet from 1971. 

This is an example of the second type on a block of 6 1c stamps taken from the large $1 integral booklet issued in 1971-1972. The difference between this and the first type above, is not obvious from the scan, but the colour is clearly different, as the overlay scan shows:

Hopefully, you can see from this scan that the first type of gum is clearly whiter than the second. 

The third type of gum is shown in this comparison scan, with the third type being laid on top of the above pair of the first type:

The cream gum is shown on the bottom, while the white gum appears on top.

Spotty White Gum (CBN Printings Only)

The spotty white gum is actually a sub-type of PVA gum, being a streaky PVA with a semi-gloss sheen. The term "spotty" refers to the streaks that can often be seen in the gum, which result from tiny patches where the gum is thinner than the rest of the stamp. This type of gum is so far only known on certain printings of the 10c Jack Pine, made between 1971 and 1972. That this type is not known on the other values is a mystery, since they were all continuously printed in 1971, and common sense would suggest that the other values should exist with this type of gum as well. However, no examples have been reported on any value other than the 10c. There are slight variations in the surface sheen, from satin to semi-gloss, but all of the stamps I have looked at with this gum, have the gum quite white in comparison to the other gums discussed here.

The scan below shows two examples: one on a Winnipeg tagged stamp, and the other on an untagged stamp:

The streakiness of this gum is not visible from the scan at all. However, what is visible here is the distinct vertical ribbing of the paper on which this gum was used.


This concludes my discussion of the different types of gum found on this issue. Clearly there are some very major differences other than just the distinction between dextrose and PVA. Undoubtedly, there are many stamps from this issue which will likely only be found with the one gum type. However, there are many others that likely exist with three or four different varieties of dextrose gum, and many of the PVA gum printings probably exist with more than one type as well. I already gave one example: the 50c on HB paper, where I have seen two radically different types of dextrose gum and paper. So this is clearly an aspect of this issue that is more deserving of detailed study to establish, once and for all, what all the different gum types are, and which printings exist with which type.

Next week's post will look at the different types of ink that were used to print the stamps. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Papers Used To Print The Centennial Definitives - 1967-1973 Part Two

Today's post will tackle the aspect of this issue that has probably received the most attention from specialists of this issue, and is definitely the most fun, but also the most confusing: the paper fluorescence. The study of paper fluorescence has been a "thing" since Irwin, Keane and Hughes, and Gronbeck-Jones published articles about this topic in the 1960's when the issue was current. However, it was, until relatively recently a fringe topic that was well outside the scope of even the Canada Specialized catalogue. I can well remember when I was a child in the early 1980's that the only paper varieties listed for this issue were plain paper and hibrite paper. However, since the late 1980's the topic of paper fluorescence has received more and more attention from mainstream philatelists, and consequently, the number of listings in the Unitrade specialized catalogue has grown considerably.

Despite this expansion in coverage, there is still, in my humble opinion, much inconsistency in the descriptions of papers, as well as some confusion when it comes to describing fluorescence levels. There are also other instances where very subtle, but real varieties are getting overlooked because the current nomenclature to describe the papers cannot accomodate the varieties, so that they get lumped in with other paper types.

The tricky part to today's post will be getting illustrations of the varieties that show the fluorescence well. Because I have to use my ultra-violet light to show the paper types, I cannot use my scanner, and have to rely instead on my digital camera. This does not have the best resolution, but I will try to take the best pictures that I can, and hopefully they will be of sufficient clarity to illustrate what I am talking about here.

Points of Confusion in Describing Fluorescence and Attributes

As my pictures will show, the nomenclature in Unitrade that has been used to describe fluorescence is confusing because quite often two very similar stamps will be described differently, while the same basic descriptor, such as "F" for fluorescent, LF for low fluorescent, or HB for hibrite, can look very different on different stamps. This is not a desirable state of affairs for someone who is trying to properly classify their stamps, and who do not have the benefit of a large reference collection against which to compare their stamps. In any event, it should not be necessary to have such a collection on hand. A good system of nomenclature should enable a complete novice to properly identify and classify their stamps using straightforward descriptions.

Why does this confusion arise?

The main reason is that there are several dimensions to paper fluorescence:

  1. The brightness of the paper under long wave ultraviolet (UV) light.
  2. The colour of the paper under UV. 
  3. Whether of not the paper is of uniform, or compound fluorescence.
The problem with the Unitrade nomenclature that I see, is that papers are classified according to their overall appearance, and these three dimensions are all lumped together, so that where many papers would be described differently if all three dimensions were considered separately, they are all forced into the same general category. Let us consider what these dimensions actually are, and how they vary. 

Brightness of the Paper

The brightness of the paper refers to the light that is reflected back when the stamps are viewed under UV. Keane and Hughes had a numeric scale to describe this that ran from 0 to 10. This is useful for those philatelists who can compare and contrast different papers, but I very highly doubt that a novice, or even two experts would agree, for instance on the difference between say, a 3 and a 4 on the scale, or an 8 and a 9. So the numeric scale suffers from a lack of objectivity. 

Most philatelists use qualitative terminology to describe these different levels of brightness. The terms most commonly used are:

  1. Dead paper, which is at the lowest end of the scale.
  2. Non-fluorescent (NF) paper.
  3. Plain or dull paper (DF).
  4. Low-fluorescent (LF) paper.
  5. Medium-fluorescent (MF) paper.
  6. High fluorescent (HF) paper.
  7. Hibrite paper (HB), at the highest end of the scale.
The difficulty with these terms is how to apply them to classify a particular stamp. The above three pictures taken with my camera show the various levels of brightness and I will attempt to explain how one can get a sense for which fluorescence levels are which. I highly doubt that a complete novice will be able to easily distinguish between dead and NF or between MF and HF, or HF and HB. However, they should not have too much trouble identifying DF versus NF or dead, LF versus DF, and HB. With experience, you will begin to develop a kind of sixth sense that will allow you to tell when paper is LF, MF or HF, as well as the difference between NF and dead, or the difference between HF and HB. 

I prefer to start by considering what we are actually looking at when we view stamps in a darkened room under the UV light. The lamp itself emits a light purple coloured light, and in a darkened room, it is the only light source. So it may make sense to start by comparing how bright the paper appears to how bright it would normally appear in normal, incandescent, or daylight. Plain or dull paper, should, at its essence, be about as bright as paper would normally look in a room under low light, whereas fluorescent paper should always look brighter than this. Non-fluorescent and dead paper should look much darker than paper would appear under normal lighting conditions. Hibrite is reserved for the absolute brightest possible paper - it is so bright as to be a very bright white. So this explanation should help you sort your stamps into four groups:

1. Dead or NF.
2. Plain.
3. Low, or medium fluorescent,
4. High fluorescent or hibrite.

Once you have these four groups identified, you can sort them more finely to identify the finer differences.

The top picture shows dull fluorescence on the left, and high fluorescent on the right, with low and medium fluorescent in the middle. In the second picture, the two stamps on the left are low fluorescent overall, the middle stamp is medium fluorescent, while the stamp on the right is dull fluorescent. In the third picture, the stamp on the left is non-fluorescent, the middle stamp is dead and the right stamp is hibrite. 

Colour of the Paper

In addition to the brightness of the paper, there is also the colour. Some papers will appear violet, or light violet under the UV lamp. Others will appear greyish white, or greyish, while still others appear bluish white. Unitrade completely ignores this aspect of the paper, and there are many instances where there are several different papers, all of which are dull fluorescent, but which appear a slightly different colour.

The following pictures show some examples of these differences:

These 6c orange precancelled stamps are both on dull fluorescent paper, with the stamp on the left being greyish-white and the right stamp is greyish. Most philatelists would probably consider these to be the same paper, but to my eyes they are different. 

These stamps to my eyes are both low fluorescent overall, although Unitrade classifies the one on the right as medium fluorescent. The stamp on the left is dull bluish white while the one on the right is a clear bluish white.

The stamp on the left is on dull fluorescent paper, and is a pure white, while the stamp on the right is a deep violet - almost the same colour as the light itself. The stamp on the right is on dead paper. Interestingly, there is no listing currently in Unitrade for a 4c precancelled stamp on dead paper, which goes to show that while the Unitrade listings are extensive, they are by no means complete. 

Uniform Versus Compound Fluorescence and Naming Convention

This dimension of fluorescence is the most complicated of all. Uniform fluorescence is where the fluorescent reaction of the paper is of uniform colour and brightness across the entire stamp. The stamps in both the first and the third pictures above are uniform fluorescence, being either dull fluorescent or dead. Hibrite is generally a uniform fluorescence as well, as the reaction is the same across the surface of the entire stamp. 

Compound fluorescence on the other hand, is where the paper, in addition to having an overall level of fluorescence, contains a number of fibres embedded in the paper that fluoresce either a different colour, a different brightness level, or both. These first began to appear in papers starting in about 1962. What is confusing is that Unitrade has been completely inconsistent in their naming of these papers, while also being inaccurate in their descriptions. Usually, the overall fluorescence level of these papers would read as low fluorescent, but that would only be because dull fluorescent paper contained a sparse number of fibres that would glow either low, medium or high fluorescent, and it is the presence of these fibres in varying concentrations that gives the overall fluorescent effect. 

The picture below shows an example of this type of paper:

This picture shows the fluorescent fibres that are present in both papers. Both of these stamps are the 6c black transportation, printed from the CBN die. Ths stamp on the left is what Unitrade classifies as LF, while the stamp on the right is what Unitrade classifies as MF. The reality though is a bit more complicated. The stamp on the left does indeed read as a low fluorescent greyish overall, but there are MF fibres in the paper as well. There are a fair number of them, but they do not stand out much because they are only one level brighter than the overall paper. The stamp on the right has a basic fluorescence of MF, but also contains a lot of HF fibres, that stand out very clearly in this picture. 

Unitrade has interchangeably used several names, abbreviations and terms to describe stamps that are essentially the same fluorescence:

  • SF, which stands for speckled fluorescent has been used to describe paper like the above.
  • LF-fl has been used to stand for low fluorescent flecked, which is how the above paper has often been described.
  • F, which stands for fluorescent has also been used to describe the above paper.
So if you find yourself feeling confused when you read Unitrade's listings, it is not without good reason. 

My way of naming this type of paper is as follows, with an example:

DF-fl, Gr, MF, LD for the left stamp and LF-fl, white, HF, S for the right stamp. 

What does all this mean?

On the left stamp:

  • DF-fl stands for dull fluorescent flecked, for the fibres. 
  • Gr. stands for greyish, which is the colour of the paper under UV.
  • MF refers to the fluorescence level of the fibres embedded in the paper,
  • LD stands for low density, which means that the fibres cover the entire surface of the stamp, lightly, such that there is a lot of space between the fibres. 

On the right stamp:

  • LF-fl stands for low fluorescent, flecked, to describe the overall fluorescence, and the fact that there are brighter fibres embedded in the paper. 
  • white, describes the colour of the paper under UV.
  • HF refers to the fluorescence level of the fibres embedded in the paper.
  • S stands for sparse, which means that there is a light sprinkling of these fibres across the surface of the stamp, but the fibres are not at all dense, and there may be areas of the stamp where there are no fibres at all. 

So within this dimension, that of compound fluorescence, there are two sub-dimensions: 

  1. The brightness of the fibres.
  2. The concentration of the fibres.
Unitrade, once again ignores these distinctions, especially the concentration. I would submit that significant differences in the concentrations of these fibres suggest a different papermaking process, and at very least a different composition to the pulp. In my study of this, and other issues, I use the following naming convention to describe the density of the fluorescent fibres in the paper:

  • 1 or 2 - No fibres at all visible, except literally just one of two lone fibres.
  • VVS - very, very sparse - fewer than 10 fibres visible.
  • VS - very sparse a very light sprinkling with no fibres at all on 50-75% of the surface area of the paper.
  • S - sparse - a light sprinkling of individually visible fibres visible on 50-75% of the stamp surface. Large gaps are seen between individual fibres. 
  • LD - low density - a uniform coverage of individually visible fibres across 100% of the stamp surface. 
  • MD - medium density - a uniform coverage of fibres that while idividually visible, are heavily concentrated, and often appear to merge together.
  • HD - high density - almost looks as though it is uniform fluorescence, but on closer examination it is apparent that there is actually an extremely dense concentration of fluorescent fibres that are so close together, you often need a loupe to see them. 
I do not have examples of all seven of these types, as not all of them exist on this issue. Some of these will only be found on later issues of the 1970's. But let me illustrate a few examples now:

The above picture shows four coil pairs for the 8c library coil. Three of these are general tagged: the left pair, and the two pairs on the right. All four of these pairs contain some fluorescent fibres, but in varying amounts and brightness:

  1. The first pair has a very sparse concentration of low fluorescent fibres. The overall paper is a dull fluorescent greyish, so that Unitrade would classify this as LF/fl because of the fibres. My name for this, given the above naming convention would be DF-fl, Gr., LF, VS.
  2. The second pair also has a very sparse concentration of low fluorescent fibres. However, this paper is a dull fluorescent greyish white. Unitrade will likely classify this as "F" paper. My name for this is DF-fl, GW, LF, VS.
  3. The third pair has a sparse concentration of medium fluorescent fibres. The paper is low fluorescent, bluish white. Unitrade will likely classify this as MF. My name for this paper would be LF-fl, BW, MF, S.
  4. The fourth pair has a low density concentration of HF fibres. The paper is a medium fluorescent bluish white. Unitrade will likely classify this as HF, but my name for it is MF-fl, BW, HF, LD. 

Here is a close up shot of the last two papers:

Here you can see that on the left pair there is a light sprinkling of fluorescent fibres across the surface of the stamp, but there are large areas of the stamp that have no fibres, Whereas on the right pair, there is a fairly even distribution of the fibres, right across the surface of the stamp.

Here is a close-up of the first two pairs. As you can see on both, there are still quite a few fibres visible, but they are spread very, very far apart across the entire paper surface. This is what I call very sparse.

Here is another example of sparse on the left and low density on the right. The stamp on the left is the 10c Jack Pine with PVA gum. It is what Unitrade classifies as LF. In reality, the paper is LF-fl, BW, MF, S. The stamp on the right is classified in Unitrade as MF, because it is brighter than the stamp on the left, but in reality is not quite bright enough to be a true MF. Upon closer examination it is really low fluorescent white with a low density concentration of LF fibres, or LF-fl, white, LF, LD, by my naming convention.

Here are two 15c Bylot Island stamps with PVA gum. The stamp on the left is Winnipeg tagged, and is classified in Unitrade as LF. The stamp on the right is general tagged and is also classified by Unitrade as LF. Once again though, they are quite different. The stamp on the left is actually DF-fl, BW, LF, S, while the stamp on the right is LF-fl, BW, LF, LD.

As all of the above examples are stamps with PVA gum, I wanted to show an example of stamps with dextrose gum. The stamp on the left would be classified in Unitrade as dull paper, even though there are a very small number of low fluorescent fibres visible. This stamp would actually be named DF-GW, LF, VS by my naming convention. The middle stamps is what unitrade classifies as the creamy paper LF. In actuality, the paper is indeed a low fluorescent bluish white, but there is also a sparse concentration of MF fibres visible in the paper as well, so that the true name according to my naming convention should be: LF-fl, BW, MF, S. 

More Examples of Confusing Paper Classifications

Hibrite Papers

All the above stamps are listed in Unitrade as hibrite. As you can clearly see, they are not all the same brightness level. In my opinion, only the 6c black block and the 6c coil pair are truly hibrite. The 7c coil pair and the 20c are more of a high fluorescent brightness. 

Dull and Low Fluorescent Papers

Unitrade lists the 6c black CBN die with precancel and general tagging as being on either F, LF or MF paper, while the untagged precancel is listed as LF. The non-precancelled stamps with 4 mm general tagging are listed as being either NF, LF/fl or HF. Clearly, at first glance the first two stamps and the right stamp appear similar, which would suggest LF, even though Unitrade uses LF for two of them and LF/fl for one. The third stamp is clearly what Unitrade classifies as MF.

However, if we take the stamp on the right in the first picture and now lay it on top of the second stamp, we can see that it is clearly DF compared to the second stamp. This is odd, given that the untagged precanceled stamp is only listed as being LF. 

Here is the common, plate 3 PVA gum printing of the 15c that Unitrade classified as F paper. It clearly is no brighter than LF overall and is actually DF-fl, GW, LF, LD.

The stamp on the left is the same, common plate 3 printing while the one on the right is the general tagged version. Unitrade only lists the general tagged version as LF or DF and these two look almost identical. The general tagged version is a little greyer, but is the same in all other respects. 

This concludes my general discussion of paper fluorescence on this issue, and will form the basis for my discussion of fluorescence on the individual values of the series. 

Next week, I will look at the different types of gum used on this issue.