Canadian postal stamps date back to 1851 when the three-pence Beaver Stamp was designed by Sir Sandford Fleming. The Beaver Stamp was Canada's answer to the British postal reforms of 1840, under which a single flat rate was established for delivery. Since then, Canada has issued a variety of stamps, many bearing images relating to royalty and Canadian history. The stamps themselves showcase Canada's evolution from a collection of separate provinces within the British Empire to the world's second-largest single nation.
In 1850, the British Empire granted individual colonies the right to establish their own postal systems. During the course of the next several years, Canada issued stamps in denominations of 3, 6, and 12 pence, each in the local Canadian currency. In 1859, the first Canadian decimal coinage was made, and new stamps were issued. The original stamps featured either beavers or portraits of Queen Victoria or Prince Albert, and were issued in only small amounts. With the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, stamps were issued for all of Canada, which at first included only Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. New provinces would be added over the years.
A famous series of early Dominion of Canada stamps is known as the Small Queens. The Small Queens are so called because they are low-denomination stamps that feature an engraved image of Queen Victoria. Issued from 1870 to 1897, they changed slightly over the years. The paper was of particularly good quality in the earlier printings, and the gauge of the perforations at the stamp's edge actually varies by minute amounts. Small Queens range from deep orange to bright red-orange in color, with later issues increasingly more yellow in appearance. The Small Queen, and its cousin, the Large Queen, carried out the British tradition of placing the sovereign's portrait on postage stamps.
Events of the 20th century saw the issuance of stamps as a means of rousing patriotic feelings. Stamps released during World War II are often called war effort definitives. King George V is shown in a naval uniform on both the 1-cent and 5- cent stamps. Others play up the successes of Canadian industry. A grain elevator stamp recalls both the nation's agricultural abundance and its modern industrial infrastructure. Other wartime issues speak more directly to the war effort with pictures of tanks and ships. A stamp bearing the image of government buildings in Ottawa was specifically intended to remind Canadians of the enduring nature of their democracy.
As with all stamps, Canadian issues vary in value depending on demand. The 12-penny black of 1851 is valued at between $50,000 and $80,000, but it is not the most valuable Canadian stamp. This honor belongs to the 2-cent large Queen Victoria laid paper issue of 1868. Only two of these stamps are known to exist and are believed to be worth at least $250,000. Web sites, such as Canadian Stamp Auctions and Canadian Stamps, list prices for a wide range of issues. Commemorative jubilee stamps from the 19th century can fetch from $250 to $450 or more, while a 1983 Commonwealth Day stamp can sell for as little as $5 for a used stamp, to as much as $12.50 for an unused stamp.
Single issues are not worth a single price. Stamp condition influences value. Stamps in original unused condition are usually worth more than canceled stamps. A special postmark might raise value under unusual circumstances, such as that of a significant historical date. Stamps that contain printing errors are often in demand. Sellers should consult auction houses and dealers to keep abreast of current prices. Describe stamps to online dealers before sending them in. Only sell stamps when you are sure you're receiving a fair price.
- Photo Credit http://www.canadiandesignresource.ca/officialgallery/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/three-pence-beaver_canadian_.jpg
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