|With Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year, it seems appropriate to devote some attention to these issues which have now come of age, and are revealing themselves to be well worthy of serious study by philatelists.
With the immense popularity of the Admiral issue and the correspondingly high prices now being paid at auctions for choice mint singles, lathework pieces, plate multiples, postal history and cancellations, it would be difficult to imagine a time when serious study of these issues was the subject of mockery.
Yet as late as the 1950's, that is exactly what they were. High brow philatelists back then were of the attitude that Pence Issues, Large Queens and Small Queens were the issues most worthy of serious study, and many breathtaking collections were formed. The Admirals were not very popular. The shade varieties now sought after were largely ignored, as was the lathework and the distinction between wet and dry printings. I can well remember the 1979 Canada Specialized catalogue listings of this issue, in which there were very few varieties listed - perhaps one-third the number listed in Unitrade today.
But over the past 30 years, we have seen the interest in this issue grow steadily, with more and more printings being recognized, with corresponding price increases in situations where philatelists have recognized the scarcity of many of the printings.
Over the past 20 years, with the possible exception of the 1967-73 Centennial Issue, interest in the Elizabethan issues has languished. I believe that this is a function of the fact that they were too recent to interest many older collectors, and also because the trade has done much to impress upon collectors the idea that material issued after World War II is no better than postage.
That idea may be true for the most common commemoratives. But it cannot be true for those printings of the definitive issues and commemorative issues that are genuinely scarce. But are there many truly scarce varieties? The answer of course is that there are many.
One aspect to the way that stamps are produced in Canada lends itself out well to this phenomenon. In Canada, there is a separation between stamps that are printed for the philatelic bureau and stamps that are printed for sale at postal counters. The former are announced to the public, and are generally printed and distributed in sufficient quantity to supply nearly all of the demand that will exist for a particular issue. However, such is not the case with field stock. Many times in the past 40 years, Canada Post will experiment with perforations, papers, inks and tagging. But they will generally not announce these changes, and most of the printings will be limited to field stock.
The consequence of course is that most of these stamps will be used up in the general course of events by the public before collectors even become aware that they exist. This means of course, that they will be quite scarce and definitely worth collecting.
The good news is that collectors have been slow to recognize the significance of many of the varieties that exist, so that many opportunities exist to specialize in the definitive sets and make rare and spectacular finds.
The wonderful complexity of the Centennial issue is well known now, thanks to the efforts of an entire study circle devoted to them and several philatelists, such as Harris, Keane, Hughes, Gronbeck-Jones and the like, who have published extensive reference works dealing with this issue. But much work still remains to be done on the 1972-1978 Caricature Issue, the 1977-1983 Floral Issue and the 1983-1988 Artifacts Issue to name just a few.
For collectors, on a limited budget who are seeking an area that is challenging, and bursting with interest, the issues of Canada from 1952 to date should be seriously considered.
To illustrate the immense complexity and interest of this period, I am beginning to list this material with exhaustive descriptions that go far beyond the Unitrade specialized catalogue. I am describing every detail possible - tagging, paper type, fluorescence level, gum, plate flaws, perforations and shades. Many of the varieties are not listed in Unitrade and some are undoubtedly better than the basic stamps described in the listings.
I am happy of course to answer any questions about the material or my descriptions, but I hope I can inspire a few of you to take up the challenge. With dealers continuing to use modern stamps for postage, the issues from 1952 will only keep getting scarcer in mint condition.
My grading policy with respect to this period is a bit different in the sense that I will offer only 2 condition grades - Fine and very fine. I am not explicitly sorting according to the numeric grades of my earlier issues because of the labour intensive nature of this activity. I offer my stamps with an unconditional guarantee that you may always return a stamp if you are not satisfied with it. Consequently all scans of material from this period are stock scans and the actual stamp that you receive may differ slightly from the stamp shown in the scan, but should be of comparable quality. I felt that it was much more important to spend my available time describing the tagging and paper varieties rather than focusing on determining and exact numeric grade.
If you want a specific grade, like VF-75, XF-90 simply notify me when you are making your purchases and I will advise you of availability and any price adjustment.