OTD: Post Office Department issues new definitive denomination

On today’s date in 1902, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) issued a seven-cent stamp (Scott #81) featuring Queen Victoria.

With 1897 marking Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, there was no shortage of reasons to celebrate.

Towards the end of her reign – she died in 1901 after more than 63 years on the throne – the Post Office Department issued two series of definitive stamps as well as Canada’s first commemoratives.

A total of 16 commemorative stamps were issued on June 19, 1897, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s reign. The stamps’ shared design depicts an 18-year-old Queen Victoria in 1837 alongside a portrait of a 78-year-old Queen Victoria in 1897. Each of the stamps was engraved, un-watermarked and printed by the American Bank Note Company.

In 1897-98, a series of eight definitive stamps were issued. These stamps’ designs depict a contemporary portrait of Queen Victoria with maple leaves in each of the corners.


Between 1898 and 1902, the aforementioned definitive stamps were re-designed.

The maple leaves in the lower corners were replaced by tablets featuring the denomination numerals, and two new denominations – one of which was the aforementioned Scott #81 – were added. The other new denomination was 20 cents (SC #84).


The seven-cent olive-yellow stamp was printed by the American Bank Note Company in Ottawa.

Lower domestic postage prices warranted a new seven-cent stamp to prepay the combined domestic postage and registration fee as well as to replace the eight-cent stamp (SC #72) originally intended for that purpose, according to promotional material released by the Post Office Department in 1902.

“The new design for the King Edward stamps had not yet been decided upon, and therefore these 7-cent stamps portrayed Queen Victoria although Her Majesty had been dead nearly two years,” reads the department’s press release.

“The decorative and symbolic use of the maple leaves on the Diamond Jubilee commemorative and the regular issues of 1897 met with instant public approval. But the designers of the Maple Leaves issue failed to give sufficient prominence to the denominations in words rather than figures. As a result, the public was not able to distinguish the face values quickly. The Post Office Department accordingly modified the design and prepared a new issue of postage stamps.”

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