The 1932-1934 Commemorative Issues - Part 2

My apologies to those of you who were checking the blog and expecting to see a post on October 10. I returned from my honeymoon in NYC on the 9th and it has been pretty crazy around here ever since. So without further delay, I will discuss the remaining aspects of these issues that were not covered in my first post.

Proof Material

There is a surprising amount of proof and essay material in existence for these issues. The BNA Proofs website does an excellent job of listing, describing and pricing 31 different pieces. Most are very affordable, being in the $200-$900 range. However, the die proofs are expensive, being over $1,000 each. There is a surprisingly large number of items for the 3c Jacques Cartier Issue, comprising 15 of the 24 items. The link to the BNA proofs website is:

The existing proof material is quite scarce, with just 1-6 examples reported of each item. The full range of essays and proofs can be summarized as follows:
  • Large die proofs in issued colours of all stamps except the Royal William stamp and the Ottawa Conference Issues.
  • Stamp sized die proofs in issued colours of all stamps. 
  • Trial colour die proof of the UPU Congress Issue in black.
  • Trial colour die proof of the Royal William Issue in brown. 
  • 2 different essays in black of the UPU Congress Issue.
  • 3 different vignette essays of the Royal William, all in blue. 
  • 12 different essays of the 3c Jacques Cartier issue, all in black. 

OHMS Perfins

The OHMS perfins are, in my opinion, one of the most challenging and overlooked aspects of modern Canadian philately. While I see plenty of overprinted OHMS material, and plenty of the 4-hole perfins, I have rarely come across the 5-hole type that was in use before 1935. This material is so scarce in general, that Unitrade does not even list it in mint condition.

Unitrade lists all of the commemorative stamps with the 5-hole type OHMS perfin, and a basic set of the most common types in fine condition will likely cost over $1,000. However, as I stated before in other posts dealing with other issues, the perfin can be found in up to eight different orientations as follows:
  • Upright, reading from left to right
  • Upright, reading from right to left.
  • Inverted, reading from left to right.
  • Inverted, reading from right to left. 
  • Sideways pointing left, reading from top to bottom.
  • Sideways pointing left, reading from bottom to top.
  • Sideways pointing right, reading from top to bottom.
  • Sideways pointing right, reading from bottom to top. 
I do not know whether all commemorative issues from 1932-34 can be found with all 8 orientations, but it would be a tremendously rewarding challenge to try and find them all. In addition, a "missing pin in S" variety could also potentially be found in each orientation, making a total of 16 potentially different types. With 10 basic stamps, that translates into up to 160 different stamps! Given that the average catalogue price is over $100 each, obtaining them all could be a very challenging pursuit indeed. 

One word of caution here, and any time I discuss the perforated official stamps: always buy from a reputable source that is prepared to either obtain certificates of authenticity, or otherwise stand behind what they sell. These stamps can be very easily faked by altering genuine, unperforated stamps, which are relatively cheap by comparison. There were specific dies used to produce the perfin and a careful study of known genuine examples, to understand the correct size, shape and spacing of the holes can pay huge dividends in helping you avoid being taken. 

Postal History

The limited number of stamps in the series and their short period of use makes this an ideal issue in which to collect the postal history. Generally, the 3c stamps will be found either on local covers, or in conjunction with a 10c definitive, or the 10c Loyalists stamp to pay the 13c local registered rate. The 2c New Brunswick stamp is often found used on cover in multiples, rather than singles, as singles would only be good to pay the local letter rate within the cities, or the postcard rate. The 5c UPU Issue and Royal William issues would have been used singly to pay the non-UK foreign rate. Finally the Regina Grain Exhibition stamp would have been used on either heavier foreign letters, as a special delivery stamp, on bulk mailing receipts or on registered letters that had more than the normal amount of insurance coverage. More interesting uses would be:
  • Registered special delivery covers using both the 20c and 10c stamps, or multiples of the other stamps.
  • Overweight or registered foreign letters using only these stamps.
  • Foreign airmail covers using only these stamps. 
Of course, you could open up the field considerably by accepting covers that use a combination of these stamps and the definitives of the medallion issue. There is almost no limit to the ways in which you could organize a collection of covers of these issues, but some ideas include:
  • By rate, and then by destination.
  • For local covers, by cancellation - i.e. point of origin.
  • By destination for foreign covers.
  • By value and destination. 
Although many people store their covers in plastic sleeves in boxes, I prefer to use black Vario pages as I find they display covers very well and can be integrated in with your stamps. The 1-pocket pages work very well for legal sized covers, while the smaller ones fit very nicely in the 2-pocket pages. 

First Day Covers

This is the first period in which First Day Covers, are not very, very expensive. They are not cheap, but at $15-75 they are very much within the reach of the average collector. By 1932, First day covers were very popular, so there should be a reasonably wide range of cachets that can be found. Again, there is more than one way to organize a collection of FDC's. However some suggestions include:
  • Either by issue, and city for covers with no cachet.
  • By cachet, and then by issue for the cacheted covers. 
The only issue you are likely to encounter in collecting these is freshness, or lack thereof. Many of the envelopes manufactured during this period utilized adhesives that tend to bleed through the envelope and brown with age, resulting in overs that are less than fresh.

In addition to FDC's, many of these issues can also be found on First Flight airmail covers as well as Dogsled covers. These are an extensive, specialized field in their own right, with these covers generally being collected by route, as well as the cachet that is generally found on the envelope. 


The size of these stamps means that they generally caught most of the cancels that were applied to them. Consequently, it is possible to form collections of CDS cancels. My suggestion in this regard is to worry less about centering and more about the clarity of the cancellation. You could aim for a simple cross-section collection, in which you attempt to obtain 1 of each stamp cancelled in each province. This will be fairly easy until you get to Prince Edward Island, Yukon and Northwest Territories, when it will be more challenging. This would become a relatively modest collection of 100 stamps. Alternatively, you could try to obtain as many different CDS cancels from all, or a selection of the 10 provinces and territories. Given that many provinces had over 5,000 post offices, it could take you a lifetime to seek them all out. If you settle on obtaining 2,000 different cancels per stamp, then you are looking at seeking out 20,000 used stamps. These stamps catalogue from $1-$10 each, so over time, you will form a fairly valuable collection.

Bringing it All Together - Scoping Out A Specialized Collection

If you decided to specialize in these issues, your lifetime budget for an in-depth collection could look something like this:

1. Mint plate blocks - all VFNH - Unitrade $10,188
2. Imperf pairs - all VFNH - Unitrade - $11,390
3. Gutter multiples of the 3c Cartier vartieties - all VFNH - Unitrade $2,150
4. Proof material - all items listed - $39,900 - likely higher as bidding on these items is often fierce.
5. OHMS Perfins - assuming all 160 possible positions - $2,780 x 16 = $44,480.
6. First day covers - assuming 5 different cachets of each - $1,850.
7. Covers - assuming 20 different of each stamp at $25 each - $5,000.
8. Cancels - assuming 2,000 different of each, all VF - $164,000

Total catalogue value of the above is a staggering $278,958! Without the used stamps, it is still $114,958 - much more than I bet you would ever have thought possible for such an innocuous group of 10 stamps. You probably wouldn't have to pay $164,000 for the used stamps, as you could acquire some in bulk lots. However, bulk used lots with nice VF stamps from this period do not come up very often at all, so you will still have to obtain most singles at retail and will have to pay a fairly high percentage of Unitrade if you want VF.

This illustrates very nicely how most collectors vastly underestimste the cost involved in forming an in-depth specialized collection of an issue of stamps. We are talking here about a period which many now dismiss as "modern". Indeed, this material is often relegated to the last heading in most auction catalogues all too often titled "1927 to Modern". However, it is still quite expensive if you want to go beyond the basic stamps. Over a 35 year period, $278K translates into roughly $8,000 per year, which is a hefty amount for most of us to spend on our hobbies. As we shall see, this trend does not really stop until we get well into Queen Elizabeth's reign, and even then any issue always has rarities associated with it that make a specialized collection expensive.

This concludes my discussion of the 1932-34 Commemorative issues. My next post will look at one of my favourite definitive issues: the 1932-35 Medallion Issue. 


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