The Arch Issue of 1930-1935 Part 3

This week's post will deal with the remaining aspects of the 1930-1935 Arch Issue, including a scoping out of the potential catalogue value of a large collection, just to give you some idea of what is involved in assembling a comprehensive collection of this issue.

Postal History and Cancellations

Image result for arch issue postal stationery

There were some interesting postal rate changes during this period which make the collection of postal history challenging, as well as a fairly comprehensive range of postal history. The main rate changes that took effect during the life of this issue were as follows:

  • The surface rate for non-UK letters was reduced from 8c per oz. to 5c per oz. on July 1, 1930. 
  • The 1c War Tax, which had been abolished in 1926, was re-instated on July 1, 1931, so that the domestic rate for the first ounce was now 3c, while US mail was now 3c per ounce. 
Printed matter continued to be 1c per 4 ounces and the rate the the UK was also still 2c per ounce. The airmail rate was also still 5c per ounce, while registration remained at 10c and special delivery at 20c.  Most local covers featuring stamps of this issue are not particularly scarce or special unless they are heavier weight covers (i.e. 3 ounces or above), or they featuring interesting graphic designs or advertising, such as the cover shown above. This period also saw the introduction of many creative forms of advertising, and one can spend a lot of time accumulating collections of advertising covers, without spending a lot of money. 

Precancels were in fairly wide use for this issue, with many types and styles known on several values as follows:

  • 1c orange -35 styles
  • 1c myrtle green die 2 - 45 styles
  • 1c myrtle green die 1 - 52 styles
  • 2c deep dull green - 10 styles
  • 2c deep red die 1 - 16 styles
  • 2c deep red die 2 -20 styles
  • 2c blackish brown die 2 - 20 styles
  • 2c blackish brown die 1 - 6 styles.
  • 3c deep red - 3 styles
  • 5c dull blue - 2 styles
These are just the basic styles of precancel. Many of the styles exist with different town names, different numbers and in addition, there are doubled, and inverted styles as well. The Walburn precancel catalogue gives a complete listing of all the known types. The Unitrade prices are for the most common precancel, and many precancels will cost you much, much more than these prices. 

Then there is the collection of cancellations themselves on this issue. As I had said in my last post, some of the smaller stamps had very short periods of use, and so finding in-period usages in nice condition, particularly of the smaller post offices, can be quite a challenge. The small stamps are quite challenging in general, as most of the values below the 4c are found either machine cancelled, or with roller cancels, while the 4c-8c values are often found with roller or parcel cancels. Finding them with nice, readable CDS town cancels, and well centered is quite challenging indeed. The high values, due to their size are easier to find with CD cancels, but finding them well centered with CDS cancels is still very challenging. 

Another very extensive area is the postal stationery. The scan below shows a special order postcard.

Image result for arch issue postal stationery

The pre-stamped envelopes continued to utilize the same design as for the Admiral period, except that die 5 was used in which the hair of the King's head was shaded. 1c green, 2c brown and 3c red envelopes were issued in #8 and #10 sizes. In 1931, when the War Tax was re-instated, the 2c red envelopes from the earlier issue were altered by adding an impression of the 1c green to make a 3c envelope. This was issued in #8 and #10 sizes. An error is known in which two impressions of the 1c green were added to the 2c envelope, resulting in a 4c envelope. This is quite scarce. Most or all of these are known on special order stationery as well. 

Post bands and wrappers were the first postal stationery items to feature the Arch Issue design. The 1c orange was issued in both post band and wrapper format, and was issued on manila paper. The 1c green was issued in both formats as well, but is also found on both kraft paper and manila paper. 

There were many types of postcards issued during the life of this issue. 10 basic types of cards are listed, which becomes 36 different collectible types, when die type differences and inscription type differences are taken into account. Two dies are known on the post cards:

  • Die 1 cards have horizontal shading lines behind the king' head.
  • Die 2 cards have diagonal shading lines behind the king's head. 
In addition to the die type differences, there are different types of inscriptions on the cards, as well as up to 70 different views on the divided back 2c brown cards. The different types of inscriptions are as follows:

  • Canada/Business Reply Card" in 2 lines in the upper left corner (Unitrade type 9).
  • As above, but with additional line "Carte Reponse D'Affaires" (Unitrade type 10).
  • No inscription (Unitrade type 1).
  • "Canada Post Card" in centre of card (Unitrade type 5).
  • Bilingual "Canada/Post Card" at top centre of card (Unitrade type 7).
  • "Canada Post Card/Reply" in two lines (Unitrade type 12).
  • "Canada/Reply Post Card - Carte Postale Reponse" in two lines (Unitrade type 14).
In addition to the die and inscription differences, some of the cards are found rouletted, as well as printed on mimeograph stock.

First Day Covers

This is the last issue in which first day covers are extremely scarce and expensive. Without exception, every value of this set is at least $300 on a first day cover, with the 50c and $1 being valued at $1,600 each. There are a number of different cachets that can be collected for these, and forming a complete collection is quite challenging indeed.

Coil Stamps

Image result for arch issue coil stamps

All of the 1c, 2c and 3c values of this issue were issued in coil form, in rolls of 500 stamps. The rolls start and end with 11 blank tabs on each end, before the stamps begin, and after they run out. Complete rolls from this issue must be just about non-existent because they would have been broken up to harvest the line pairs and cockeyed king varieties - all of which are pricier, not to mention the well centered pairs and strips. There are several points along the roll where the stamps were joined together and pairs or strips of these are collectible and very scarce. These are called repair paste-up pairs and strips. There are also several points along the strips where a vertical line can be seen in the margins. This is called a line pair or line strip in the case of four stamps. Often, but not always, there is a jump in the spacing at the line, so although Unitrade doesn't list them, there are also jump pairs and strips. The cockeyed king variety is found on several stamps to the left of the joint line on the 2c values only. 

The only values known precanceled are the 1c orange, which exists with one style being three pair of horizontal black bars, and the 1c dark green which exists with two styles. 

Thus there are several ways to collect the coil stamps:

  • A complete set of 6 regular pairs or strips of 4.
  • A complete set of regular singles or pairs on cover.
  • A complete set of 6 line pairs or strips without the cockeyed king variety.
  • A complete set of 6 line pairs or strips showing the cockeyed king variety. 
  • A complete set of 6 start strips.
  • A complete set of 6 end strips.
  • A complete set of 6 repair paste-up pairs and strips.
  • The 1c stamps with precancels in pairs or strips.
  • Pairs and singles with different CDS town cancels.

Imperforate Pairs and Strips

Image result for arch issue imperforate pairs

This is the first definitive issue in a long time in which most of the low values do not exist imperforate. There were only 8 values, including the top five values, which can be found imperforate. Two of these are extremely scarce to unique:

  • 1c orange - unique imperforate strip of 3
  • 1c deep green die 2 imperforate pair - estimated to be 50 printed. 
  • 2c deep dull green imperforate pair - only 3 pairs known.
  • 10c olive green imperforate pair - estimated to be 50 printed. 
  • 12c grey black imperforate pair - estimated to be 75 printed.
  • 20c brown-red imperforate pair - estimated to be 75 printed. 
  • 50c dull blue imperforate pair - estimated to be 75 printed. 
  • $1 bronze green imperforate pair - estimated to be 75 printed. 
These are all very expensive, selling for well over $1,000 per pair, and as much as $6,000. 

Perforated 5-Hole OHMS Stamps

All values of this issue, and all die types exist with the 5-hole OHMS perforation, which can potentially exist in 8 different orientations:

  • Upright reading from left to right.
  • Upright reading from right to left.
  • Sideways with the O pointing left and reading up.
  • Sideways with the O pointing left and reading down.
  • Sideways with the O pointing right and reading up. 
  • Sideways with the O pointing right and reading down.
  • Inverted reading from left to right.
  • Inverted reading from right to left. 

Unitrade lists only the basic types in either fine or very fine used. They state that mint stamps are almost non-existent and that most of the stamps can also be found with a missing pin in "S" variety. The Wrigley's catalogue, or "The Catalogue and Guidebook of Canadian Official Stamps, by J&M Publishing Ltd. will give a more comprehensive listing of these stamps,s howing all the different orientations that can exist for each stamp. These stamps are all very expensive compared to the non-perforated stamps, with a basic VF used set, including the airmail and special delivery stamps listing for $3,730. For this reason, a great deal of caution has to be exercised in purchasing these stamps, as they have been widely faked. Ken Pugh has published a guide titled "Reference Manual of BNA Fakes, Forgeries and Counterfeits Series II - Release 5 A Photographic Guide to the Genuine and Faked Perforated and Overprinted Official Stamps of Canada". This should prove invaluable to anyone contemplating the collection of this aspect of this issue.

Proof Material

Image result for arch issue postal stationery         

As if all the other aspects of this issue are not sufficiently challenging, there is a very large amount of proof and essay material in existence for this issue. It is all listed in the BNA Proofs website, the link for which is given below:

The site lists 58 different essays and die proofs including 6 of an unissued 7c value in brown. All of these are very expensive, selling for between $1,500 and $5,000 each. This you would need access to well over $150,000 and a lifetime to have any chance at acquiring them all. Generally, the material can be categorized into two groups of items for each value:

  • Stamp sized essays in the issued colours, with the word "Post"in the design, instead of postage. These are either uninitialed, or bear the initials JPV and the date of approval.
  • Stamp sized essays on wove paper in black, with the word "Post"in the design instead of "Postage". 
  • Stamp sized die proofs on glazed paper in issued colours. Again these can either be unmarked, or marked with approval initials and the approval date. 
  • Stamp sized die proofs on wove paper in issued colours. Again, these can either be unmarked, or marked with approval initials and the approval date. 
  • A 2c green essay of a rejected design, featuring the side bust of King George V as found on the coins of the period. 

Scoping Out A Complete Collection

Ignoring unlisted varieties, the following gives you some idea of what is involved in forming a comprehensive collection of the best quality items available in this issue:

  • Basic stamps in VFNH condition: $1,707
  • Major re-entries: $360
  • Other plate flaws in VFNH: $800
  • Double paper variety on 10c: $750
  • 1c orange unique imperf strip of 3: $5,000
  • Imperforate pairs in VFNH: $22,000
  • 1c orange plate blocks in VFNH: $48
  • 1c myrtle green plate blocks in VFNH: $1,348
  • 2c dull green plate blocks in VFNH: $2,298
  • 2c deep red plate blocks in VFNH: $1,293
  • 2c blackish brown plate blocks in VFNH: $1,966
  • 3c deep red plate blocks in VFNH: $2,050
  • Other plate blocks (4c-$1) in VFNH: $49,150
  • Cancel collection: 1000 copies of each stamp in VF: $119,800
  • First day covers: $8,975
  • Coil stamps in VFNH pairs: $1,956
  • Cancel collection of coil stamps - 1000 copies of each in VF: $30,500
  • Booklets - all types and listed varieties in VF condition : $28,462.50
We haven't even gotten into the back of the book material, the postal stationery, the postal history, the proof material or the 5-hole OHMS material. Already, the Unitrade value of the above is well in excess of $250,000. The total value of the remaining material likely takes it up to $400,000. If you collect over a 40 year period, that works out to be $10,000 per year, or $833 per month, if you were to pay full Unitrade. Of course, you will be able to obtain most material for less than that, say $500 per month. So if you can afford to spend at least $500 per month on your hobby and you have 40 years or so over which to collect, you could form, with a lot of hard work and patience, a reasonably complete collection of this issue in all its aspects. This will undoubtedly surprise many of you, who will not have thought of this issue, as something that could form the basis of a lifetime collection. 

My next post will deal with the 1931 provisional surcharges on this issue as well as the 10c Sir Georges Etienne Cartier stamp. 


  1. So much for the Arch issue being just a simple, shorter-lived definitive issue for Canada. Amazing the possibilities, even just when you restrict yourself to shade varieties.

  2. It really is amazing Gene, how complicated these issues can be made. It gets better through. Just wait until you wait until you read my posts about the 1935-37 Dated Die Issue, the 1938-42 Mufti Issue and the 1942-48 War Issue. These are even more complicated, and once again, any one of them could occupy you for many years.

    The nice thing about these issues is how manageable the complexity is. You can actually complete them in all their aspects in a lifetime, without having to be a millionaire. In contrast, it is virtually impossible to do that with issues like the Small Queens or the Admirals because much of the material either does not exist anymore, or it is so expensive that you have to be extremely wealthy to acquire it all.


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