OTD: Canada issues its first airmail stamp

On today’s date in 1928, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) introduced the country’s first airmail stamp, which was a five-cent denomination (Scott #C1) depicting two winged figures alongside a globe.

Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Co., the stamp was “symbolic and pictorial in character,” according to the 1964 book, Canada’s Postage Stamps, by Douglas and Mary Patrick. “It was released at a time of intensive activity in Canadian airmail development when service was reaching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and into the far northern regions.”

INAUGURAL AIRMAIL STAMP

According to the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society (CAS), the Post Office Department began budgeting for airmail services in 1927.

“It began with experimental service between Montreal and Rimouski, designed to connect with trans-Atlantic steamers, and to speed up mail to and from Europe. This was soon followed by additional services, mainly to points that were cut off during winter,” reads the CAS website.

“No extra charge was made for initial air mail services. No official cachets were produced for these early services, although mail prepared by dealers with unofficial cachets can be found. The Post Office did not begin providing cachets until 1928.”

The inaugural airmail stamp was issued on Sept. 21, 1928 in conjunction with the regular sovereign and pictorial issue of 1928. The stamp’s two winged figures—symbolic of flight—are set against a globe representing the northern half of the western hemisphere, on which is an outline of the map of Canada.

According to the CAS, post office flights were divided into two types in 1928—”airmail services,” which provided a faster service than regular airmail, and “air stage services,” which carried all its dispatches to a point that was difficult to reach be other means.

Canada’s airmail stamps were issued between Sept. 21, 1928 and Sept. 16, 1946, during which time many countries around the world followed suit as transporting mail by air gained popularity. Postal administrations charged a premium for airmail service, so special airmail stamps were issued to cover the higher rate.

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