On today’s date in 1851, Nova Scotia – then a colony of British North America (BNA) – issued its first postage stamps.
Two years earlier, legislators in several BNA colonies reached an agreement regarding their postal services. On July 28, 1849, British parliament approved An Act for Enabling Colonial Legislatures to Establish Inland Posts, which provided “a reduction in postage charges on all letters passing between places within the provinces or within British North America to a uniform rate of three pence per one-half ounce (14 grams),” according to a chronology of Canadian postal history by the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Qué.
The British act was followed by similar legislation in 1850 in the Province of Canada, a BNA colony from 1841-67 before being divided into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec. A year later, similar laws were passed in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, all of which became stamp-issuing entities wielding control of their respective postal services.
Previously, from 1754-1851, Nova Scotia’s mail was controlled by London’s general post office.
Three denominations – three pence, six pence and one shilling – were printed in a diamond shape for Nova Scotia’s first issue.
Printed by Perkins, Bacon & Petch, the stamps were prepared on unperforated sheets and then cut by postmasters at the post office.
In July 1851, Nova Scotia introduced a registration system with receipts given to senders of registered letters, which were also signed by the addressee upon receipt.
After gaining control of its postal service from 1851-67, Nova Scotia joined the newly formed Dominion of Canada, which then controlled the country’s mail through the Post Office Department.