Expertising a needed and growing service

The expertising service is on the front line of the war against those people who alter stamps, often seeking windfall profits as a result of some of this tampering. I’m not talking about someone who soaks a stamp to clean off grime, or even may use an eraser to eliminate a tiny pencil mark. There are people out there who intentionally alter the colour of a stamp, or remove a cancellation, or even change the back of a stamp to a different sort of paper. The problem is, even experts can make a mistake. For that reason most services are prepared to explain the reasons behind their decision, and even agree to reconsider when a reasonable case is presented. But one big advantage of having a stamp expertised is that it can be bought and sold with a fair amount of confidence that it is the genuine item. Continue reading →

Arbour, Fox among 4 honoured for making a difference

Four more living Canadians have been honoured on stamps, this time honouring “difference-makers,” to be issued May 22. The stamps depict Rick Hansen, Michael J. Fox, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, and Louise Arbour. Hansen, who became famous for his Man in Motion World Tour, later established the Rick Hansen Foundation. Fox has committed his life to campaigning for increased research into Parkinson’s disease. Watts-Cloutier is a champion of aboriginal and human rights. Arbour was an International Criminal Tribunals prosecutor for war crimes that took place in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Continue reading →

No fooling Greene machine

Garfield Portch demonstrated the machine with the massive $10 blue whale stamp. Blowing the stamp up revealed microprinting and a number of fluorescing details. Moving up the edge of the stamp, he revealed how the software makes it possible not only to count the perfs, but to actually make measurements. In a second demonstration, two earlier stamps were compared. Using the comparator, it was possible to backlight the stamps to reveal the laid paper line, and compare details of the wire weave. It appeared identical in both cases. In the case of a cover, Portch showed how it was possible to compare a spectral signature of the ink used in the cancel on a stamp with a separate date stamp. In this case, the inks matched, revealing that both stamps had been applied at the same time. Continue reading →

Collecting world still leaves room for mystery

We sometimes imply that there is a sort of natural evolution; that the collector starts out just accumulating, then eventually develops a plan, and finally becomes serious. At that point they start thinking about publishing and exhibiting. I don’t think that is always the case. I know some very experienced collectors who sort of do both things at once. They have a serious collection, which takes up most of their collecting budget and a chunk of time, and one or two fun collections which have little value but give them great pleasure. We also know generalist collectors, who take their hobby very seriously. My point here is that whatever you call it, the hobby is just not something that is easy to sum up in a single sentence. It is not just about acquisition, and it is not just about study, and for way too many of us, it is not just about profit. Continue reading →

Stamp-smartphone connection a-mazing

“For the first time, anyone who owns a smartphone or tablet will also be able to enjoy the digital side of stamps,” she said, “with an enhanced view of a physical, real-world environment augmented by computer-generated ‘virtual elements’ such as sound, video, 3D graphics, web-based information or GPS data.” Losier also pointed out that the technology is Canadian-made and while relatively new to stamps has been used in other businesses. “The interactive content was created by Ad-Dispatch, a 12-year-old Halifax-based company, which has worked with many of North America’s finest marketing agencies and big brands like Chevrolet, Walmart, Marvel, Disney and the Home Depot to create memorable and meaningful consumer experiences using augmented reality technology.” Continue reading →

Cool new Canadian stamps tough to track down

Yet I remember very clearly a set of British stamps issued in 1966 to mark the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest. Granted those stamps, based on the famous Bayeux Tapestries, with scenes of arms, armour, and combat, had a lot more appeal for a young boy, but I think it was also the colour and vitality of the stamps. Face it, in the 1960s, Canadian stamps, while artistically well done, were often somewhat conservative in tone. What I am stating here is pretty obvious. However, in the more recent history there has been a dramatic change, not just in the look and style, but in the content. Continue reading →

More of the same… or is it?

Frankly, I wondered if we would see similar changes in the regular stamp lineup. The truth is, stamp programs have some flexibility, but the 2013 issues were well on the road to being settled months ago. What I do see are a couple of interesting issues such as motorcycles and ghost stories, which seem a bit out of the ordinary. But on a second look, they are not that much different from issues such as Canadian motor vehicles, and the spooky stamp month issue of some 15 or more years ago. The truth is, this stamp program, with the exception of some as-yet-undefined special effects, is not that different from those of past years. Continue reading →

Canada Post presents haunting 2013 program

Canada Post’s 2013 stamp program runs the gamut, with everything from motorcycles to pets. At the end of May, Canada Post unveiled the program, although in some cases details were somewhat sketchy. “The diversity of Canada is reflected in this year’s stamp program, offering a stamp every Canadian can identify with, whether it is history or rock and roll,” said Minister of State (Transport) Steven Fletcher, who is also the minister responsible for Canada Post. Continue reading →

CFL still biggest game in some towns

Weather permitting, we played football in backyards, inventing ways to play two-on-one, or even two-on-three, running the length of the yard for a down, then turning around and running the other way for a touchdown. For me, life was simple and Russ Jackson was the king. Then, over the years, something happened. When I moved to southern Ontario I discovered that the most populated part of Canada, star-struck by the drawing power of our neighbours to the south, was enamoured with the National Football League. What’s your favourite team? was more likely to bring a response such as Miami or Buffalo, instead of Ottawa or Hamilton. One day, a friend of mine remarked, “They will hold a Grey Cup game in Toronto and nobody in the city will notice.” I’ve seen that happen twice. Continue reading →

Canada Post goes no-huddle with Cup’s 100th

The CFL started out in the 1880s as the Canadian Rugby Football Union; the game was originally known as rugby. The league evolved over the years, as did the game. While Canadian football is now more like United States gridiron football, it retains several rugby traditions such as only three down, a larger field, and more players on the field. The Grey Cup was donated in 1909 by the then-Governor General of Canada, the fourth Earl Grey. No games were played from 1916 to 1919 due to the First World War. Continue reading →

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