By Jesse Robitaille
This is the second story in a three-part series exploring the history of kiosk stamps.
After a brief trial of computerized stamp dispensers three years earlier, Canada Post revived its kiosk stamp program at the end of 2012.
It was philatelists, rather than mail senders, driving the sales of these stamps, according to collector Dave Bartlet, a member of the Calgary Philatelic Society and Canadian Aerophilatelic Society. Printed using special kiosks at select post offices across the country, “these are the things that everybody thinks of when you say ‘kiosk stamps,’ because no one ever saw most of the stuff that went on before this,” added Bartlet, who has visited all of the kiosks across the country and notes the machines are “basically identical.”
Working with Wincor Nixdorf – a German company offering retail and banking hardware, software and services – Canada Post revived the kiosk stamp program and installed dispensers printing nine rates beginning Dec. 12, 2012.
“The lucky cities were Toronto, London and Vancouver,” said Bartlet, who added the most common rates were 61 cents, $1.05 and $1.80, which “you could easily select off of the machine.”
“If you wanted the other rates, you had to be a little bit more skillful in generating them and bring yourself a stack of magazines, or something to add up to the correct postal rates,” he said, adding the other rates included $1.22, $1.29, $2.10, $2.95, $3.40 and $3.65.
“All of these rates are very rare, and as for the $1.22 rate, no one has ever seen one – so if you have one, we’d really like to know about it.”
There are three known near-complete sets that only lack the as-of-yet unknown $1.22 rate, Bartlet added.
The bottom of the 2012 kiosk stamps – then printed only as singles – feature the same V-shaped separation notches as the dispensed Admiral coils issued nearly 90 years earlier.
“The first generation of these kiosks printed one stamp at a time, so it was not a fast process,” added Bartlet.
The coils used in the machines also had no denomination, which was printed at the time of purchase.
Two constant coil varieties are also known: every 16th stamp printed at the kiosks in Vancouver and Toronto includes upper-left and upper-right guidelines, respectively.
Later that year, on March 5, Canada Post issued an official first-day cover featuring the 61-cent kiosk stamp.
“You can get all three varieties on the cover,” said Bartlet. “There’s the regular cover, but you can also get it with the guidelines in the upper right and upper left.”