Stamp designs seminar entertaining, revealing

When it comes to subjects considered for Canadian stamps, as the Rolling Stones song goes: "You can't always get what you want." But that doesn't mean people should stop submitting ideas. It may take time for approval, but dozens of topics are featured annually and catalogues clearly show expanded themes in recent decades. Various tests are applied by Canada Post staff and Citizens Advisory Committee appointees, explained Jim Phillips, Ottawa-based director of stamp services, during a seminar at the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show in Mississauga, Ont. on March 25. Commemoratives and definitives often require two years of planning. Obvious exclusions include proposals considered criminal, in bad taste, overly foreign based and blatant commercial advertising. Businesses have been featured, including in sponsored Prestige Booklets, but they were judged to have contributed to Canadian culture. Continue reading →

APS reveals survey results

On March 14, the American Philatelic Society (APS) released the results of its recent survey, which saw participation from more than 3,000 APS members and 800 non-members, offering insight into what collectors want from America’s national stamp club. Last November and December, the APS sent a questionnaire to members, former members and non-members in their database using Survey Monkey. Avidix Research Director of Research David Paddock, who’s also a long-time APS member, analyzed the results and authored the report. According to the APS Blog, Paddock also volunteered to lead focus groups at StampShow 2016 in Portland, Ore. Continue reading →

Topical stamps a great alternative collectible

“Topical collecting is so entertaining, artistically satisfying and versatile … it can be the panacea for most stamp ills such as sheer boredom, disgust, disinterest and disillusionment. “It can be taken very seriously as a major collecting interest with extensive research and planning, or it may be used as an entertaining and decorative sideline or supplement to a major specialty.” This colourful definition, from a Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 1960s club bulletin, quotes thematic collector James McMeen. This hobby has many forms, and as many similar and different hobbyists as you can imagine. Continue reading →

New definitives seemed eerily familiar

The 2016 Canadian UNESCO heritage sites consisted of five stamps, including Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta.

In a case of déjà-stamp – you thought you’d seen them before – the UNESCO set of five P-denominated 85-cent definitives released on Jan. 11 repeat the designs of the five larger-format 2014 commemoratives that feature photos of World Heritage Sites in Canada. They are: Canyon cliffs at Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo Jump, Alta.; the harbour at Lunenburg, N.S. and the Landscape of Grand Pré, N.S., on $1.20 stamps (Scott #2739a-41, 2739b-40 and 2739c-42); plus an evergreen forest at SGang Gwaay, B.C.; and the Rideau Canal beside Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on $2.50 stamps (SC #2739d-43, 2739e-44). The same photographs provided by Ward Isnor, François Gaudet, the Alberta government, Brodie Guy, and Tourism Ottawa were again used by Lime Design Inc. The Victoria, B.C. firm’s staff placed small red and white Maple Leaf flags in the bottom-left corners of the 2016 definitives, beside “CANADA” in red and white lettering, with the “P” symbol in black lettering within small white maple leaves to the right. Continue reading →

Collectors on the hunt for ‘experimental’ kiosk stamps

The first 18-digit code version of 2016 British-style horizontal artwork postage labels sold briefly from an experimental kiosk machine at a Vancouver specialty Canada Post centre when it opened Oct. 31.

There is a rush on by some dealers and collectors seeking a new series of illustrated “experimental” computer-vended Canadian postage labels. They are being sold from recently-installed dispensers installed on kiosks at three 24-hour “Concept Store” postal stations in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Like the previous program launched in late 2012 and cancelled seven months later, there was no official public announcement about the current stamps. Staff were notified internally about the “New print-on-demand postage service at concept stores!” via Canada Post Magazine in October. The colorful ‘print-on-demand’ issues, which feature five different landscape paintings by Canadian artists, first went on sale Oct. 31 at the new downtown Vancouver main post office.They resemble similar self-stick “Post & Go” labels sold in Great Britain for more than 10 years. Continue reading →

Fakery expert correct in stressing ‘get to know the real thing’ first

From long experience, well-respected bogus stamps expert Ken Pugh narrowed his decades-old message perfectly during a recent round of lectures in Toronto: “Get to know the real thing.” Despite echoing what others have said since fakers first sought to woo the unwary with spurious replicas or altered genuine stamps, the teacher and forensic specialist knows full well how collectors can still be duped. “You have to know what they look like to compare,” he says. That’s a lesson I learned during my first visit with Royal Canadian Mounted Police anti-counterfeit experts in Ottawa in the 1970s, before writing about bogus banknotes for a newspaper and once for Reader’s Digest. Continue reading →

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