The 2c Pacific Coast Totem Pole Stamp of the 1967-73 Centennial Issue Part One

Today's post will be the first of two posts dealing with the 2c value from this series, which depicts a Pacific Coast totem pole in British Columbia.

Unitrade 's listings for this stamp are fairly straightforward for the untagged stamps. There are just four listings included to cover all of the untagged printings made from 1967 to 1973. These are quite inadequate to describe all of the variations that can be found, as we shall soon see. The tagged stamps are accorded many more listings in Unitrade, with seven variations listed. However, again, this is an over-simplification of what actually exists.

This is one of the few values of the set that was issued in booklets, and also one of only two that are known to exist on paper that shows clear horizontal ribbing on the surface, the other value being the last printings of the 6c black. This ribbed paper is found quite extensively in the next definitive issue that replaced this one in late 1973. So it would seem logical to conclude that stamps on this paper are from extremely late printings made in very late 1973. The only booklet to contain this stamp is known to collectors as the OPAL booklet, because it was produced by the OPAL Manufacturing Co., based in Toronto.

Today's post will examine the OPAL booklet stamp and the untagged stamps that were issued both with dextrose gum and PVA gum.

The untagged stamps can thus be divided into three broad categories:

  1. The stamps issued with dextrose gum, and printed from plates 1 and 2 between February 1967 and March 1972.
  2. The stamps issued with PVA gum, printed from plates 1 and 2 also, from March 1973 until October 1973.
  3. The OPAL booklet stamps with dextrose gum. 
The remainder of this post will look at each of these categories in detail, considering such attributes as paper, paper fluorescence, shades, perforation and gum. 

The Stamps Issued With Dextrose Gum - Unitrade #455 and 455xx

Paper Characteristics Other Than Fluorescence

The paper used on these printings is a creamy vertical wove that has a burnished appearance on the printed side. Under magnification, there often appears to be a surface coating that keeps the fibres on the surface from coming loose. Sometimes, feint horizontal ribbing is visible on the gum side of the stamp. 

Paper Fluorescence

Unitrade only lists this stamp as existing on dull fluorescent paper. However, in my limited study of my stock, I have found no fewer than 9 varieties. One is a definite low fluorescent paper, one contains definite fluorescent fibres, and a few are non-fluorescent. The rest are variations of dull fluorescent, which appear different colours under UV from deep blue grey to greyish white. 

The pictures below show these varieties, though not always very well:

The block on the left is a dull fluorescent yellowish grey, while the one on the right is a low fluorescent bluish grey with very few medium fluorescent fibres visible in the paper.

The block is an dull fluorescent greyish colour under UV, while the middle stamp is dull fluorescent greyish white, and the far right stamp is dull fluorescent grey.

These are both dull fluorescent ivory, but the block on the right contains a few low and medium fluorescent fibres.

The left stamp is a non fluorescent deep bluish grey, while the block is a non-fluorescent grey colour.

The plate block on the right is non-fluorescent greyish, while the block on the left is on dull fluorescent greyish paper with very sparse concentrations of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres. 


Collectors may be quite surprised to learn that there is quite a wide range of green shades on the dextrose gum printings. I have identified no fewer than 7 different shades just from a very limited study of what is in my stock. I'm sure that if you were to diligently study the shades on many hundreds or thousands of stamps, you would find at least a few more. 

The scans that follow show these seven shade varieties. I have used corner or plate blocks, to try and make it easier to see the differences. 

The block on the right is printed in deep dull green, while the one on the left is myrtle green, according to the Gibbons colour key.

The block on the left is paler myrtle green, while the one on the right is green on the Gibbons colour key.

The block on the left is deep green, while the one on the right one is deep bright green.

Finally, this block is printed in a deep emerald green. 

Under UV, some of the inks, such as the bright emerald green, retain their character, and are thus non-transformative, while others, like the deep dull green, become almost black, and are thus transformative. 


There are two basic types of dextrose gum found on the 2c. Both are a deep cream colour and generally have a semi-gloss sheen. One type is completely smooth and of uniform thickness, while the other is a streaky gum that has a regular pattern of "weak" spots where the gum is thinner. These are what gives it the streaky appearance. 

The scan below shows both types:

The streaky gum is shown in the left, while the smooth gum is shown on the right. 

It does not appear that either type is limited to a particular shade or paper type, so it would seem that both can occur on each of plate 1 and 2, in any shade and any perforation. 


These stamps can be found with four perforations: line 11.85, 11.95, 11.85 x 11.95 and 11.95 x 11.85. 


This is the scarcest of the precanceled stamps from the series - so scarce in fact, that I do not have a sufficient quantity on hand to be able to study the different shades, papers and gum types on which it occurs. This pair shown here is on paper giving a dull fluorescent greyish reaction under UV, printed in deep myrtle green, with smooth gum and is perf. 11.95 x 11.85. I would assume that at a minimum, there would be 8 collectible varieties if all of these are the same shade, and paper, but with both gums and four different perfs. If there are paper and shade variations, then the number of collectible varieties is even higher. 

Bringing it All Together

With 2 gum types, 9 varieties of fluorescence, 4 perforations and seven shades, there should be at least: 2 x 9 x 4 x 7 = 504 collectible stamps, 4,032 different plate blocks and 6,048 blank corner blocks. So there is a lot of potential scope to collecting this value, despite how simple Unitrade makes it appear. 

The Stamps Issued With PVA Gum - Unitrade #455i, 455ii and 455iii

Paper Characteristics Other Than Fluorescence

The PVA gum printings of these stamps can be found on two distinctly different papers, not taking fluorescence into account:

  1. A stiff vertical wove paper that appears slightly off-white against a bleached white background, but is very white compared to the cream papers that were used for the dextrose gum printings. When you look at this paper under magnification, it has a very smooth surface, and you can see fibres on the surface, but they are not loose. Quite often, if you view the paper against strong back-lighting you can just make out fine vertical striations in the paper. These are sometimes visible on the gum as well. 
  2. A stiff vertical wove paper that also appears slightly off-white, though a shade whiter than the smooth paper does. Under magnification, the ribbed surface is what is most noticeable, but again, if you look closely, you can see what appears to be a very light surface coating that keeps the fibres of the paper that are visible on the surface from coming loose. 
The above high resolution scan shows the difference in these two papers very clearly, with the smooth paper on the left and the ribbed paper on the right. Unitrade lists the smooth paper as 455i and 455ii, depending on the fluorescence, while the ribbed paper is listed as 455iii. 

I have found two basic versions of the ribbed paper: the standard white paper, and a more cream, off-white version, which seems to be quite a bit scarcer than the whiter version. The scan below shows these two types of paper clearly. 

The whiter ribbed paper is shown on the left, while the more cream version is shown on the right. 

Paper Fluorescence

Unitrade lists the ribbed paper as only low fluorescent, while the smooth paper is listed as either low fluorescent or low fluorescent flecked. 

In reality, the situation is slightly more complicated than this. For the smooth paper, I have found at least five different varieties, that roughly correspond to the two Unitrade listed varieties. The confusing thing is that all five paper types contain fluorescent fibres. But in the case of two of these, the ambient fluorescence of the paper is ldull fluorescent, so that the fibres are not as readily visible as on the other paper types. This is what I believe Unitrade means when they refer to the LF paper as opposed to the LF-fl paper. In reality, as we will see, the LF-fl paper is really NF or DF paper that contains fluorescent fibres, that makes it appear LF-fl. 

The first scan below shows the first two of these varieties, that correspond with the Unitrade listed LF paper:

The stamp on the left is on a dull fluorescent greyish paper, that contains a sparse concentration of both low and medium fluorescent fibres. The stamp on the right is on a dull fluorescent greyish-white paper that contains a very sparse concentration of low and medium fluorescent fibres. In both cases, these fibres make the paper appear low fluorescent overall. 

The next scan shows three paper varieties that would be listed by Unitrade as LF-fl:

The block on the left appears much more deep grey in reality than it does in the above picture. It is a dull fluorescent deep grey, which almost borders on being non-fluorescent. But it contains a sparse concentration of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres, which make it appear LF overall. The right block is on dull fluorescent greyish paper that contains a sparse concentration of low and medium fluorescent fibres, and a very sparse concentration of high fluorescent fibres. The single stamp is printed on a dull fluorescent greyish white paper with very sparse concentrations of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres visible in the paper.

In the case of the ribbed paper, I have found four different varieties of fluorescence, as shown in the picture below:

All of the variations in this picture are dull fluorescent in my mind and not truly low fluorescent. None of the papers show any fluorescent fibre inclusions. The upper left block appears a deep grey-blue under the lamp, while the right field stock block is almost greyish white. However, the two papers are clearly different. The bottom left stamp appears a lighter grey blue, while the bottom right stamp appears more of a bluish grey under the UV lamp. 

Shades - Smooth Paper

On the smooth paper stamps, I have found four shades as shown below:

The top two shades are very similar, with the stamp on the top right, being just ever so slightly brighter than the top left stamp. The lower left stamp is brighter still, while the bottom right stamp is both brighter and lighter than the others. 

In terms of Gibbons shades, the top left stamp is myrtle green, while the top right stamp is a brighter myrtle green. The bottom left stamp is deep green and the bottom right stamp is the basic Gibbons green shade. 

Under UV light, all of the shades become almost black, being barely recognizable as being green. Therefore, I consider all of the inks to be transformative. 

Shades - Ribbed Paper

I have found three different shades of the green on the ribbed paper stamps, as shown below:

I find that the best places to look to compare the shades are the lighter parts of the design, such as the shading on the shore, or the mountains. You should be able to see that the top left stamp is a much brighter green, while the green of the pair is much deeper and the bottom left stamp is a slightly duller green.

In terms of shades on the Gibbons colour key, the top left stamp is deep bright green, while the pair is myrtle green, and the bottom left stamp is deep dull green. Under UV light, the inks are barely recognizable as being green, appearing almost black. Thus I consider the inks used to print these stamps as being transformative.


The gum used on these stamps is a creamy white PVA gum that is smooth and has either a satin sheen or an eggshell sheen. The stamps on smooth paper tend to have gum that has a satin sheen, while  those on the ribbed paper tend to have gum that has more of an eggshell sheen. 


All of the stamps I have checked have been line perf. 11.85, which suggests that the 11.95 machines had been fully retired at the time these stamps were issued. 


There were no precancels produced for the PVA gum stamps. The main reason is because the third class and printed matter rates had increased from 2c to 3c by this time, and so the common precancel in use was the 3c purple, rather than the 2c. 

Bringing it All Together

I do not know if all the shades found are specific to certain paper types. However, assuming that they are not, we have:

  • 3 basic paper types.
  • 9 varieties of fluorescence (5 for smooth paper and 4 for ribbed).
  • 4 shades for smooth paper and 3 for ribbed.
  • one perf.
  • two plates.
  • two gum types that are specific to smooth and ribbed papers. 
So for the smooth papers we could have potentially: 1 x 5 x 4 = 20 collectible singles, 40 x 4 = 160 collectible plate blocks and 40 x 12 - 480 collectible field stock blocks. For the ribbed papers we could have: 2 x 4 x 3 = 24 collectible single stamps, 48 x 4 = 192 collectible plate blocks, and 48 x 12 = 576 collectible field stock blocks. 

The OPAL Booklet Stamps - Unitrade #455x

Paper Characteristics Other Than Fluorescence

The paper used to print these stamps is a horizontal wove paper that has a very smooth, highly finished printing surface. Under magnification you can generally see what appears to be a light surface coating on the paper, and there are no loose fibres visible on the surface whatsoever. On the gummed side, you can often see light, but clear vertical ribbing. You do not see this on any other printing of the sheet stamps - only the booklet stamp. The high-resolution scan below shows this ribbing as well as the gum:

If you look carefully at the scan, you can just make out fine vertical striations in the paper. This is the ribbing that I am referring to. 

Paper Fluorescence

All of the specialized handbooks refer to the fluorescence level of the paper as hibrite. I believe that it is really more of a high fluorescent paper, as I have seen many stamps from other issues that are on brighter paper than this. But as far as this issue goes, it is one of the brightest. There are some slight variations from booklet to booklet. For example, although the difference is very subtle, the booklet on the right is not quite as bright as the one on the left. This can best be seen by concentrating on the tabs and the two stamps immediately beneath them on each booklet. I might classify the left booklet as hibrite, but the one on the right as high fluorescent. 


I have noticed a remarkable uniformity in the green ink that was used to print these booklets. They do not seem to exhibit the same variation as the sheet stamps at all. On the Gibbons colour key, the colour can best be described as a slightly dull myrtle green. 


The gum used on this booklet is a deep cream dextrose gum that has a satin sheen. It is not nearly as glossy as some of the other dextrose gums found on the sheet stamps. There is often a very slight streakiness to it, in the sense that there are some patches on the stamp where the gum is not as thick as other areas. However, for the most part, the gum appears to be fairly evenly distributed. 


In the booklets that I looked at, I found both line 11.85 and 11.95, as well as 11.95 x 11.85. Based on this, I would conclude that the other compound line perforation: 11.85 x 11.95 likely exists as well. 

Bringing it All Together

Based on my examination, I believe that there are at least two different levels of fluorescence, four perforations and no other significant variations to speak of. Therefore, I believe that there are approximately 8 collectible varieties of this stamp. Used singles are particularly undervalued in my opinion, as they are not encountered all that often. The main reason, as I have mentioned in another post is that this was a very unpopular booklet, due to the fact that it sold for 5c over face. So it didn't see a lot of use as a result. 

This brings me to the end of this week's post. Next week, I will look at the printings of the tagged stamps. 


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