Whenever a new edition of Details arrives, I always take a few minutes to absorb the contents page. Getting three months’ worth of stamp issues at one glance is a good chance to get a handle on the look and feel of the stamp program. Of course I have my own opinions, but I also realize that our stamp program has to do its best to have something for everyone, not just something to suit middle-aged editors of Canadian stamp magazines. I suspect that putting the final touches on a stamp program is a thankless task. No doubt somebody will wonder why Big Brothers and Big Sisters are there when there are so many other deserving bodies, while someone else will be mystified about Chinese gates.
Having said that, someone else out there will be wondering why Big Brothers and Big Sisters didn’t get the souvenir sheet that they deserve, and somebody else will figure that the Canadian motorcycles series should have had a few more stamps. So without getting into specific subjects, the stamps featured in this latest edition seem to be a mixture of history and contemporary society. It seems pretty balanced. History has Laura Secord, the first regular mail route, motorcycles, and an old army regiment. Contemporary society has the Queen, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Chinatown gates, and adopt a pet. A group of collectors could debate the fine points all day, and the only conclusion would be that, in the end, the matter is subjective.
It would be even more confusing if you drew in the millions of Canadians who don’t collect stamps. Here in the hobby we are pretty well informed and have the chance to look at the whole program. Most Canadians only see a small part of the picture. Later this year, in the town where I live, there will be some events to honour Laura Secord. It makes sense since I live just a short walk from the place where she met with the native warriors and British soldiers, and even closer to the site of the battle that followed. There is a good chance that the stamp showing Secord will get some play. I know if I ran the local post office I’d be selling special covers and cancels whenever I got the chance.
However, I am equally sure that while some may recall a similar stamp for Maj.-Gen Isaac Brock, nobody is likely to mention Canadian motorcycles or Chinatown gates. For this part of Canada, the stamp program will be summed up in a couple of stamps, and the rest will simply not be relevant. That is largely because most people buy their stamps at convenience stores, which means they are most likely to get a flag definitive. Let’s face it: we probably do look at stamps in a very different way than almost everyone else in the country. A second story in this issue deals with counterfeit stamps.
As I wrote in that piece, counterfeiting is not a new problem. Collectors sometimes try to distinguish between counterfeit stamps, made to cheat the post office, and forged stamps made to defraud collectors. Somehow, ownership of a forged copy of a rarity, fabricated by a famous criminal is deemed more acceptable than owning a counterfeit stamp of a definitive, fabricated by an anonymous criminal. I’ve never understood that, because to me a fake is a fake. It doesn’t matter if the criminal was trying to cheat a collector out of hundred of dollars, or trying to cheat the post office out of a few pennies, both are counterfeits to me. Having said that, I will admit that I find the idea of owning a Speranti a lot more glamorous than having a laser-printed fake of a Vancouver Olympic Commemorative.