Sending and receiving mail can be a lot of fun

A number of times I have written about the fact that I get more interesting mail than most people. Now when I say that I am not referring to the content of my correspondence, as interesting as it may be, but to the outside, the part that most normal people throw away. In my case, I think I am blessed in that much of my mail comes from stamp collectors. That means that my mail often includes such interesting features as personalized postage, reams of stamps that could best be described as vintage, and a fair number of hand-applied cancels. There are also a few just wonderful uses of stamps and covers. My readers also like to mark their mail with cachets, rubber stamps and more. For them sending a letter is almost as much fun as receiving is for me. Continue reading →

Canadian post offices took to the field of battle a century ago

This letter, mailed in 1916 from France by Flt. Lt. Michael Silley, shows a censor mark. The stamp, applied by the post office after the letter arrived in Canada, partially covers the mark, and has a Toronto cancel with slogan. Soldiers were entitled to free postage, and the stamps were applied to ensure that the letters were not treated as postage due. Images courtesy of Ron Leith Auctions

On Aug. 4, 1914, Britain entered into the conflict today known as the First World War. At that time, Canada did not conduct its own foreign policy and found itself also at war. The next day, the Canadian government determined that it would raise a Canadian Expeditionary Force at its own cost, to serve in Europe alongside British and allied troops. For the Canadian military, this represented a problem because the tiny permanent army was not up to the task. Rather than mobilize the militia, it was decided to raise a separate force, using numbered battalions made up of active militia and civilian and veteran volunteers. Continue reading →

Third Brigham sale to feature never exhibited sheets and back of book

Among the revenues is a corner block of 14-cent overprint, on the 1915 nine-cent excise stamp, van Dam #FX28.

The third sale of the Ron Brigham Collection will feature material acquired but never publicly shown by Brigham, who was a prolific and successful exhibitor of Canadian stamps. The sale will be held Nov. 22, at the Brampton Golf Club, a different venue than the previous two sales, held at the Toronto Airport Hilton Hotel. At the second sale, held this spring, Brigham had said he would be moving to a different location. According to Charles J.G. Verge, chief executive officer of Brigham Auctions, the third session, will feature back of the book items from 1875 to 1978, and sheets from 1857 to 1952. Back of the book is a term used to describe stamps outside of the definitive and commemorative programs, such as air mails, postage dues, revenues, postal stationeries, and registered mail. “None of the material that is for sale has been seen because he (Ron) never put exhibits together of the back of the book material, and never exhibited the full sheets,” Verge said. “Much of it has been put away for a long time.” Continue reading →

Mail played major role in wartime Canada

By now, I’m sure pretty much everyone in Canada knows that the First World War started a century ago. I don’t think we can come close to really understanding the significance of the event. Back in 1914, I imagine things were a bit different. For one thing, it wasn’t called the First World War, or even the World War, it was just a war, which later became known as the Great War. People thought it would be over in just a few months. Our real challenge in comprehending the conflict comes from the fact that the world of 100 years ago was so very different from the one we live in today. Continue reading →

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