Wednesday, 5 December 2012





Without doubt, the one cent yellow admiral is one of Canada’s lowliest stamps.  It was purchased for a penny which, even back in the early part of the twentieth century, was not a lot of money.  It was in use for 15 years and, during that timeframe, 1.2 billion were printed, distributed and mailed across town, across the province, across the country and around the world.  Over one billion were produced at a time when the population of Canada was only eight million; the equivalent of every man woman and child using 150 a year.  Of course, at that time the mail was the main method of communicating both for business and personal affairs. No emails, no faxes, minimal use of telephones, no TV to advertize products, no on-line bill payment, so the mail was vital to communicate messages and information.

                             Lathework                          Two rare items                A “combination” block
                                                                                                  Top pair triple inverts


One billion stamps is a lot of stamps.  How much paper was used?  How many trees felled? How much glue mixed and applied to produce that many 105’s?  How many miles did such a lowly stamp travel? 

It is quite a boring stamp too.  Like all Admirals, it is mono-chrome and features the engraving of a long-dead monarch [Jan 20th 1936] who is unknown or forgotten by most Canadians.  However, stamp collectors know he was one of us: a philatelist and avid collector.  King George V played a large role in building the Royal Philatelic Collection into the most comprehensive collection of United Kingdom and Commonwealth stamps in the world.  He must have collected a lot of stamps with his own face on them since during his reign the British Empire still extended across the globe.  He had a tattoo of a red and blue dragon on his arm when he was still the Duke of York.  He was serving in the Royal Navy on HMS Baccante and his tattoo was done by a Japanese tattoo artist called Hori Chyo. 

I wonder what he thought of the Canada Scott 105?  He probably found it boring too; unless he collected precancels. 


                                                              King George V tattoo

Used examples of the 105 are catalogued at a mere 20 cents.  As a used stamp it has no real value and the color is pretty bad.  Maybe the color of the 108 is worse.  Even a well-centered MNH example in pristine condition would barely fetch $100 [2010].

It does have its scarce items but they are few and far between.  Even the lathework tops out at $500 per block catalogue value and less at auction.

However, during its lifetime the humble 105 was precancelled in many ways with one bar and fifty different town styles.  A relatively small quantity of the 1.2 billion was overprinted with a number of different printing plates over a number of years and the 105 was given many new identities and the lowly stamp was made different, more interesting, special and collectible.  So special, in fact, that putting together a complete collection of just precancelled 105’s would be a tall order.  It would contain 259 different precancels excluding plate blocks, perfins, lathework, constant plate varieties etc.  Of the 259 stamps, according to the 6th Edition of the Canadian Precancel Catalogue, ten are valued at $100, nine at $150 and thirty five at between $200 and $300. In addition, there are three rarities:  Amherst at $3000, Chatham at $700 and Sydney at $3000.   All of these higher value stamps, in particular the rarities, would likely sell at well above catalogue at an auction.  So, sixty two of the 259 are more difficult to come by but most of the rest can be found over time and an interesting collection built up.  It would be an interesting way to begin a precancel collection, but even without the rarities it would still cost around $10,000 to put together, plus, of course, a lot of time.  A complete collection would make an attractive exhibit.

Any collector who needs more technical information on the one cent yellow Admiral should check Unitrade’s catalogue of Canadian Stamps and read Marler.





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