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Official Stamps

Canada has never issued special postage stamps for use on departmental correspondence but in November, 1884, a German paper,—Der Philatelist—on the advice of a correspondent, chronicled a series for official use. These were said to consist of the ordinary adhesives, two envelopes and a post card surcharged with the word OFFICIAL in black. To quote from the Philatelic Record:—“It is alleged that they were prepared and issued in 1877, but aft

r a short time were called in again. The surcharges are in some cases oblique, and in others perpendicular. It is at least strange that, considering our intercourse with Canada, our first knowledge of the issue of official stamps so far back as 1877 should reach us from Temesvar, wherever that may be”.

Doubts were, naturally, expressed on all sides with regard to the authenticity of these labels and a letter addressed to Ottawa on the subject resulted in the following reply:—

Post Office Department, Canada,

Ottawa, 18th May, 1885.

Sir:—I am directed by the Postmaster-General to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 29th ult., enquiring whether postage stamps bearing the word “Official” on their face are in circulation in the Dominion of Canada, and beg, in reply, to say that no such stamp, card, newspaper wrapper, or envelope has ever been issued by this Department. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

(Signed) Wm. White, Secretary.

Two years later, in April, 1887, after this canard had been satisfactorily disposed of another set of alleged official stamps was referred to in the Philatelic Record as follows:—

Mr. Hechler sent to the Transvaal correspondent of Major Evans a set of Canadian stamps surcharged SERVICE, and he certainly vouched for the authenticity of the Royal arms and supporters, with the word SERVICE on some Canadian envelopes, which he declared had been issued to the troops that were sent out in the Indian rebellion in 1885, and with whom Mr. Hechler was serving. This rebellion did not break out until April of that year, and yet we find these envelopes described in the Timbre-Poste of February of the same year, on the authority of Der Philatelist of the previous January. This all seems to be very remarkable, especially as no one but Mr. Hechler appears ever to have had any of them.

A little delving into the history of these stamps and envelopes soon showed that they were nothing more than a private speculation on the part of their sponsor, Mr. Hechler. It appears that Hechler was a captain in a Volunteer regiment which was despatched to assist in putting down the rebellion. He had the words SERVICE printed on a number of envelopes, postcards, and probably stamps as well, which were used in sending notices of drill, etc., to his company. But they were never issued or recognised by the Government of Canada.