Canadian philatelist helps ‘solve philately’s puzzles through science’

Behold the power of science and philately.

Hosted by the Institute for Analytical Philately (IAP) and Smithsonian National Postal Museum, the second International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately was held Nov. 17-18, 2015 in Itasca, Ill. The proceedings—edited by John Barwis and Thomas Lera, both of whom presented parts of the symposium—are now available online as a PDF file. A limited-edition softcover book is also available.

Of particular interest to collectors of Canadian material is presentation No. 15 by Toronto, Ont.’s Ted Nixon, who offered a detailed summary of the expertizing process used for a two-cent Large Queen on laid paper (Scott #32) in 2013. Beginning on page 115, the presentation explains a two-cent Large Queen was submitted to the Expert Committee of Toronto’s Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation in March 2013 showing laid lines in the paper.

“It was not an obvious fake and considerable analysis was undertaken to determine if it was genuine. If genuine, it would be the third known genuine copy,” reads the report.

“Given the potential significance of the item the Committee decided to do as much analysis as necessary and to be sure the result could be defended analytically why the stamp was determined to be either genuine or a fake. It would not be sufficient to say it ‘does not feel right; if the decision was negative. The Committee would need to determine how it was created. Equally, the Committee would ensure a positive decision could be supported scientifically and analytically.

“The Foster + Freeman VSC6000 is the scientific tool used to advance the analysis. In order to complement the examination by members of the Expert Committee, additional known experts on the Large Queen issue were brought to the Foundation with their material to examine the submitted stamp and to provide extremely useful and important knowledge. Specifically, Richard Gratton, Glenn Archer and Lawrence Pinkney were most helpful. There were no less than twelve different aspects of the submitted stamp that were examined in relation to Two Cent Large Queen stamps and laid paper varieties in particular.”


“The purpose of the expertization of the submitted copy was to determine if it was genuinely printed on laid paper. This was successfully accomplished in the opinion of the Committee. The submitted Two Cent Large Queen stamp with the Hamilton, March 16, 1870 date stamp was genuinely printed on horizontal laid paper which is about .0036 in thick. It has two diagonal creases and has an internal tear on the right side,” reads the report. “Certificate G20118 was issued, dated June 24, 2013 (Figure 9).”

To read the Greene Foundation’s original report on the two-cent Large Queen, click here.

To read more about the 2015 Symposium, click here.

The third International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately will be held Oct. 13-15, 2017, in London, England.

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