site logo

The King George Stamps

On May 6th, 1910, King George V succeeded to the throne but the Dominion of Canada did not take steps towards issuing a series of stamps bearing the portrait of the new monarch until some time later. The 1c and 2c denominations were recorded in the Monthly Journal for January, 1912, so they were doubtless on sale on the 1st day of that month. The other values—5c, 7c, 10c, 20c and 50c—were placed on sale very soon afterwards and we believe the full series was in

circulation before the end of January.


The new stamps form a highly attractive set and they are without question the handsomest set of “George” stamps issued by any of the British Colonies. The portrait, which shows His Majesty in an admiral's uniform, three-quarter face to left, is, as the Monthly Journal states “the best portrait of King George that has yet appeared on stamps.” The portrait is contained within an oval above which the words CANADA POSTAGE are curved in bold sans-serif capitals. Below is the value ONE CENT, etc., in words while in each of the lower angles the value is shown in figures on a plain square as in the case of the King Edward stamps. In the upper corners are crowns, again like the King Edward labels, but the treatment of the stamp as a whole is widely dissimilar. The portrait oval is smaller than before so that in place of the almost microscopical maple leaves shown on the King Edward stamps we now find a spray of these leaves, beautifully drawn, in each of the lower spandrels.

The stamps were printed in sheets of 100 as before with the usual arrangement of marginal imprint and plate numbers. No record seems to have been made of the plates but that a very large number of the 2c at any rate were used is obvious from the high numbers found.

The 1c and 2c values show a number of prominent shades. Just a month after the stamps were first chronicled the Monthly Journal noted that the 1c existed in two distinct shades—“yellow-green and blue-green”. In October, 1912, the same journal mentioned the receipt of the 5c “in a very markedly altered shade, deep ultramarine instead of the previous deep indigo”, while in January, 1913, we read of two very pronounced shades of the 2c—bright carmine and dull rose-red—in addition to the usual rose-carmine tint. In November, 1913, this denomination was noted in still another striking shade described as “almost carmine-lake”.

In the February, 1913, issue of the Philatelic Gazette reference is made to these shades and other varieties as follows:—

Collectors of shades should not fail to secure before it is too late, the interesting series of such varieties in the current King George series of Canada. In the 1 cent stamp four distinct shades are noted and in the 2 cent value no less than ten distinct shades from a pale carmine rose to deep carmine and from a real brick red to a reddish-brown or sienna red.

Several “errors” or “freaks of printing” have appeared, mostly in the early impressions, caused probably by the rush and push of the printers in trying to meet the large demand. I have noted the following and believe they will be of interest to collectors:

1 Cent.—An accent between CANADA and POSTAGE; also accents between N and D of CANADA.

2 Cent.—The same varieties may be found on the 2 cent stamp printed from plate one.

2 Cent.—On plate two there appeared on the 97th stamp on the plate a marked accent on the C of CENTS.

2 Cent.—In February, 1912, some few sheets were issued, having the red horizontal guide lines running across the stamps. These were printed from unfinished plates from which the guide lines had not been removed. They are easily distinguished, having the lines about 2 millimeters apart running across every stamp on the sheet. The lines are very plain where they run through the figures of value.—C. L. P.

The variety last described is a very interesting one which may also be found in connection with the 1c denomination. To term them guide-lines and prints from “unfinished plates” is, however, quite incorrect. Such guide-lines as are marked on a plate are only placed vertically or horizontally to correspond with the top or bottom or one of the sides of the stamp design. The lines, which we are now considering, appear comparatively close together though they are not equi-distant, as the above description would lead us to imagine, nor are they always parallel or straight. They are undoubtedly due to some inherent defects in the plates. Possibly, in the rush to finish sufficient plates to cope with the demand for the new stamps some of them were hardened too quickly with the result that the surfaces cracked. These defective plates were certainly among the earliest ones used and judging by the scarcity of the stamps showing these peculiarities they were not in use long before they were discarded.

The 1c and 2c values of this series were issued in coil form for use in automatic vending machines. These were first issued in November, 1912, perf. 8 vertically and imperforate at top and bottom. In October, 1913, the 1c was issued perf. 8 horizontally and imperforate at the sides and shortly afterwards the 2c appeared in the same way. These coil stamps show quite a number of distinct shades. The 1c in coil form was also issued with the 12 perforation at top and bottom and imperforate at the sides.

Reference List.

Engraved and Printed by the American Bank Note Co., Ottawa. No wmk. Perf. 12.

  • 93.  1c   green, Scott's No. 104.

    • (a)  Perf. 8 vertically. Scott's No. 104c.

    • (b)  Perf. 8 horizontally, Scott's No. 104b.

    • (c)  Perf. 12 horizontally, Scott's No. 104a.

  • 94.  2c   carmine. Scott's No. 105.

    • (a)  Perf. 8 vertically, Scott's No. 105a.

    • (b)  Perf. 8 horizontally, Scott's No. 105b.

  • 95.  5c   deep blue. Scott's No. 106.

  • 96.  7c   olive-yellow, Scott's No. 107.

  • 97.  10c  dull purple, Scott's No. 108.

  • 98.  20c  olive-green, Scott's No. 109.

  • 99.  50c  sepia, Scott's No. 110.