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Monday, January 2, 2017

The Fourth Postage Due Issue of 1935-1967

Today's post deals with what I consider to be one of the most neglected issues in all of Canadian philately: the fourth postage due issue, which had one of the longest runs in Canadian postal history, being in use for 32 years, from its introduction in 1935 until its replacement in 1967 by the first designs of the Centennial series.

Unitrade barely does this issue any justice either, listing only a few hibrite paper varieties, and the so called "red-violet" shades. It completely ignores the intermediate shades that can be found on the 1c, 2c and 4c values, especially, not to mention the numerous paper and gum varieties that chronicle the changes made by the CBN during the 32 year period from 1935 to 1967.

This is clearly the issue for paper and gum varieties if these are of interest to you. The paper varieties do not just encompass the usual weave variations, but fluorescence as well, as this issue was current during the period of experimentation in the 1960's.

The Stamp Designs and Quantities Issued


1c blackish purple.
Issued: October 14, 1935.
Replaced: February 8, 1967.
51,429,000 stamps.


2c deep reddish lilac.
Issued: September 9, 1935.
Replaced: February 8, 1967.
93,710,000 stamps.

Image result for Canada #J16B

3c deep rose lilac.
Issued: April 1965.
Replaced: February 8, 1967.
3,020,000 stamps


4c deep rose lilac.
Issued: July 2, 1935.
Replaced: February 8, 1967.
61,502,000 stamps.


5c deep rose lilac.
Issued: August 11, 1948.
Replaced: February 8, 1967.
20,666,000 stamps.


6c deep reddish lilac.
Issued: January 16, 1957.
Replaced: February 8, 1967.
9,500,000 stamps.


10c deep reddish lilac.
Issued: September 16, 1935.
Replaced: February 8 1967.
65,963,000 stamps.

As you can see these stamps are by no means rare, although the 3c and 6c values are considerably scarcer than the others, as the Unitrade values reflect. The 3c in particular had a very short period of usage, being less than 2 years, so that proper use on cover is very scarce. 

Points of Interest

Although there are fewer points of interest for this issue, compared to the definitives of the period, there are still a good number of directions that you can take a specialized issue in:
  • Shade variations
  • Paper varieties
  • Gum varieties
  • Plate blocks
  • Plate flaws
  • Proof material
  • Covers and cancellations

Shade Variations



Unitrade describes the colour of these stamps as either dark violet or red violet. In actual fact, the shades are all shades of lilac, with the deepest ones being blackish lilac, and the reddish ones being deep red lilac. The so called "red violet" shade, shown on the right in the above scan, is really a light plum. The shades that I have seen on these stamps include, but are not limited to:


  • 1c blackish purple
  • 1c deep reddish lilac
  • 1c light plum
  • 1c deep reddish lilac
  • 1c deep rose lilac
  • 2c deep rose lilac
  • 2c blackish lilac
  • 2c deep rose lilac
  • 2c plum
  • 3c deep rose lilac
  • 4c deep rose lilac
  • 4c plum
  • 4c deep reddish lilac
  • 4c light plum
  • 4c deep plum
  • 5c deep rose lilac
  • 5c deep plum
  • 6c deep reddish lilac
  • 6c deep rose lilac
  • 10c deep reddish lilac
  • 10c deep rose lilac
This list covers most of the shades that exist on this issue, but I suspect there are other plum and light plum shades from printings made before World War II. These are not nearly as common as the later printings from the 1950's and 1960's. Generally it would appear that the deep rose lilacs hail from the later printings, while the deep reddish lilacs are from printings made slightly earlier. The earliest printings are the plums, and blackish purples. 


Paper and Gum Varieties



Like the 1935 Dated Die issue and the issues that follow, these stamps are found on a wide variety of papers, with as wide a range to gum types. I have come across the following varieties, though I would emphasize that the following list is just a small subsection of what is to be found out there:


  • Light cream gum, with a glossy sheen on white wove paper showing no distinct mesh. 
  • Cream gum, a bit streaky, with a semi-gloss sheen on thick, white horizontal ribbed paper.
  • Yellowish cream gum, a bit streaky, with a semi-gloss sheen, on thick, white horizontal ribbed paper.
  • Brownish yellow gum with a semi gloss sheen on vertical wove paper with fine mesh.
  • Cream gum with a satin sheen on greyish white vertical wove paper with a fine mesh.
  • Yellowish cream with a semi-gloss sheen on white wove paper, showing no distinct mesh.
  • Cream gum with a high gloss sheen on white, horizontal wove paper.
  • Cream gum with a semi-gloss sheen on white, horizontal wove paper that is smooth, but gives a dull bluish violet reaction under long-wave ultraviolet light, with a low density of medium fluorescent, bluish white fibres embedded in the paper. This, I believe, is what Unitrade refers to as the "hibrite paper". 
  • Yellowish cream gum with a semi gloss sheen on thin white horizontal ribbed paper. 
The scan below shows a good example of the horizontal ribbed paper:


The ribbing is very plainly obvious on this stamp and yet no distinction is made to give recognition to it in Unitrade. 



Plate Blocks

The stamps of this issue were printed in sheets of 100, with the "Canadian Bank Note Co. Ottawa" inscription appearing twice in the upper and lower margins as follows:


  • In the upper left above stamps 3, 4 and 5.
  • In the upper right above stamps 6, 7, and 8.
  • In the lower left below stamps 93, 94 and 95.
  • In the lower right below stamps 96, 97 and 98
The blocks can either be collected as lower left blocks of 4, or blocks of 6 or 10 for the other positions. Occasionally you can find blocks with wide enough selvage to show the cutting guidelines for the sheets in the margins. 

There was only one plate used for all values except the 2c which used 2 plates. Unitrade does list "red violet shade varieties for all values except the 6c, and hibrite varieties for the 1c, 2c and 6c. 

The scan below shows an upper right block of 10 of the 1c. On this block, the horizontal cutting guideline is visible in the upper margin:



Note the small position dot just opposite the lower right stamp in the selvage. It is not really known what purpose these dots served, but they begin to appear in the George VI period and are prevalent all the way into the 1960's.

The scan below shows a lower left block of 10 of the 2c from plate 2, showing the order number and plate number.


Note the position dot just below the second stamp from the left at the bottom. 

The printing order numbers that I have seen on the lower left plate blocks are as follows:


  • 2c plate 2 - #1117
  • 3c plate 1 - #1398
  • 4c plate 1 - #503
  • 5c plate 1 - #282 (wide spacing of numerals)
I only have a few of the numbers here, as I have only examined a fairly limited range of plate blocks that I currently have in stock. I'd be indebted to anyone who can tell me what some of the other numbers are. 

Position dots are found in at least four configurations:

  • One dot in the selvage, just to the right of the 20th stamp, as shown in the UR block above.
  • One dot in the selvage, just below the 91st stamp in the LL block, as shown above.
  • Two dots in the selvage of LL blocks: one below the 91st stamp, and one to the left of the 80th stamp, just to the left of the order number. 
  • One dot in the margin just to the left of the 11th stamp. 
  • Two dots in the selvage of LR blocks; one to the right of the 80th stamp, and one just below the 99th stamp. 

So, while the basic set of plate blocks is no more than 16 blocks if you count the "red violets" and hibrite papers, it can be expanded greatly if you include:


  • Different configurations of position dots.
  • Different paper and gum varieties other than the plain or "hibrite" papers.
  • Different shades other than just the basic "red violet" and deep reddish lilac shades. 


Plate Flaws and Re-Entries

Unitrade does not list any plate flaws on this issue. However, I am in possession of a 6c plate block that shows a prominent plate crack.  A scan is shown below:


The crack shows up on the lower right stamp next to the arrow. Here is a close-up"


The crack shows up as a heavy, squiggly line protruding from the left of the "6". 

The 4c block block below shows two unlisted varieties:

1. A re-entry in the inscription, which shows clear doubling of the letters "Adian Bank No" in the imprint.

2. A slash across the "C" of "Percevoir" in the bottom centre stamp.


Now some close-up scans of those two varieties:


It is difficult to see here in this scan, but you can just make out two impressions of most letters, very close to one another. It is most apparent on the "B" of "Bank", but in the flesh, it is readily apparent on the other letters between "Adian Bank No" as well.



This may not be a constant variety, but rather, just a wisp of ink caused by a strand of stray fibre on the plate. However, it could be constant, and would require further study to resolve its status. 

These two blocks show that this issue is well worth studying in more detail. The print quantities and lack of plates suggest very strongly that there should be some good re-entries to be found, and there should also be some constant plate flaws. It seems difficult to believe that the plates could survive a printing of upwards of 60 million stamps for each of the longest issued values (the 1c, 2c, 4c & 10c) without there being at least some re-entries or flaws. 

Imperforate Varieties

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The 1c, 2c, 4c and 10c values, being the original four values of the set all exist imperforate. According to Unitrade, there are only 100 pairs of each known, which is similar to the quantities of most imperforate items of this time period. Despite their extreme scarcity, they are very affordable, listing for between $150-$250 each. They also exist in plate blocks of 6. These are more expensive, at $1,250 per block for hinged.

Proof Material


The BNA proofs website lists a modest 17 items for this issue. However, they are all very expensive compared to other material of this period, being valued at between $1,000 and $2,000 each. The 17 items can be summarized as follows:
  • 1 trial colour proof of the 5c in black.
  • 12 large due proofs on India paper in violet.
  • 4 stamp sized die proofs on India paper, also in violet. 
Interestingly, there is no known proof of the 6c value.

Covers and Cancellations

Despite the fact that used stamps from this issue are plentiful, most of the stamps you will find either have no cancellation, or are cancelled with some other cancellation other than a CDS. So a rewarding challenge is to look for singles and multiples cancelled with CDS town cancellations. Unlike the earlier issues, all of the values in this set do have a corresponding single use rate, so that single usages can be found on cover for all values. They are in the $20-$60 price range - so not too expensive. The rates to which each stamp corresponds is as follows:


  • The 1c was generally used either when forwarding a local first class letter to a non-local address, or when undeliverable third class mail was returned to sender.
  • The 2c was used initially for shortpaid local or forward first class letters and postcards, and would be affixed when the deficiency was 1c. Later, it was used for undeliverable third class mail returned to sender.
  • The 3c was only intended to be used for undeliverable third class mail at the very end of the life of this issue. 
  • The 4c was used for unpaid local letters and unpaid postcards where the deficiency was 2c. It was also used for business reply envelopes where postage was still required.
  • The 5c and 6c were only intended for unfranked business reply envelopes or cards. The 5c was issued first, and then the 6c when the rates went up. The 6c was also used for entirely unpaid third class printed matter.
  • The 10c will only be found used singly in the 5c period on unfranked forward letters. Before that, it will be used in multiples where the postal deficiency was for larger amounts, such as unpaid registration and special delivery fees.  

Occasionally, you can find entire sheets of some values in used condition. I don't know what these would have been used for, and would love to know more about them.

Other Varieties

I notice that in the current Unitrade, there is a reverse offset variety listed for the 2c, and for no other value in the set. This variety was not listed until very recently, so I would assume that the other values could exist with this variety as well. A reverse offset variety simply means that all, or a large portion of the design appears on the gum.

This completes what is fairly brief glance into an issue that I believe to be very under-appreciated. One of the very nice aspects to forming a specialized collection of this issue is that the stamps and plate blocks are not very expensive - certainly not compared to the postage due issues, or the other material of the period. It is my sincere hope that this post inspires you to look a little more closely at these stamps.

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