Niche modern Canadian collecting area uncovered in webinar

For collector Ingo Nessel, one of the thrills of his many hunts is finding the low-value stamps issued with Canada’s 50-cent Parliament booklets from 1985-89.

Earlier this month, Nessel, a Brampton, Ont.-based collector and past president of the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada, uncovered the issue at a virtual North Toronto Stamp Club (NTSC) meeting.

“Part of what got me interested in this in the first place was trying to find covers with those low-value stamps because they had no actual postal use—there were no rates you could use them for, except, sometimes, the two-cent or one-cent,” Nessel said during his April 8 webinar. “They could add to make up when a rate change came, but the sixes and fives were completely oddball rates, and finding covers with these stamps—once I started looking for them, I realized these are not so easy to find.”

His research looks at “very specifically the vending machine booklets,” he added.

“They had other kinds of booklets you could buy over the counter at the post office and from different sources.”

For the vending machine booklets, there were “a lot of them printed, so it’s easy material to get,” Nessel said.

“You can still buy them in bulk, mint, and so there’s a lot of scope for study. Once I started getting into this issue, I realized how complex it is.”

He considers Bill McCann the “key master of Canadian booklets.”

McCann, who died in 2010, published the third edition of his booklet catalogue, the Standard Catalogue of Canadian Booklet Stamps, in 1993. It hasn’t been updated and remains Nessel’s “primary reference.”

During his talk, Nessel also highlighted the cardboard booklet covers showing architectural details from Canada’s Parliament, papers and tagging varieties, printing errors and freaks plus “some challenging modern postal history.”


According to Robin Harris, the editor of the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps, the Parliament booklet stamps were issued through vending machines for 50 cents a booklet. Four booklets, each containing one first-class letter-rate stamp (then 34 cents, 36 cents, 37 cents or 38 cents), plus additional values to make the total face value 50 cents, were sold, Harris added.

The NTSC seminar is now available on the club’s YouTube channel,

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