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The Second Issue

The third report of the Postmaster-General for Canada, dated March 31st, 1854, refers to a change in the rates of postage on single letters sent abroad and also mentions the possibility of additions to the meagre set of three values then current, viz.:—

In March, 1854, the charge on packet letters between Canada and the United Kingdom and most foreign countries was reduced by the Imperial Government from 1s 2d sterling to 8d sterling t

e ½ oz., when sent in the closed mails through the United States, and from 1s sterling to 6d when sent from a provincial port—Quebec and Halifax. Should no further changes be likely soon to take place in the charges on the correspondence with England, it would promote the public convenience to procure postage stamps of the value of 10d and 7½d respectively, to correspond with the present packet charges.

In the Postmaster-General's fourth annual report, issued in the following year, the above recommendation was adopted so far as the 10d value was concerned, for we read:—

To promote the general convenience of the public in prepaying letters to the United Kingdom at the new rate, postage stamps of the value of 10d currency, equal to 8d sterling, were procured, and issued to the public.


According to documentary evidence unearthed by Messrs. King and Howes the plate for this value was made, and the first stamps were printed from it during the last quarter of 1854, for in the Post Office accounts for that period the item, “Rawdon, Wright & Co., Making Stamps, £42-18-6,” appears. According to another list compiled from official sources the stamps did not reach Canada until January 2nd, 1855, and though we know of no official document bearing on the actual date of issue, or of any very early dated cover, in view of the fact that the stamps represented a denomination for which there was an urgent demand, it is only reasonable to suppose that this 10d value was placed on sale some time during the month of January, 1855.

Mr. King states that this value was printed in sheets of 100 stamps, arranged in ten horizontal rows of ten, and with the manufacturers' imprint shown eight times on the margins, as in the case of the three stamps previously issued. Mr. Howes, however, is of the opinion that these 10d stamps were printed in sheets of 120, 10 rows of twelve each, like the 7½d value issued later, and in support of his theory points out that the quantities delivered in the first supply (100,080) and second supply (72,120) are exactly divisible by 120 into 834 and 601 full sheets respectively, whereas neither of these numbers is divisible by 100 into an even number of complete sheets. In view of the absence of positive evidence in the shape of an entire sheet or full horizontal row of stamps, it must be admitted that there is much to be said in favor of Mr. Howes' theory. It will be noted the stamps have the values expressed in English currency, and the almost universal rule for stamps printed with values in shillings or pence, has been sheets of 60, 120, or 240 owing to the fact that with such an arrangement reckoning in this currency is greatly simplified.

The design corresponds in its general appearance to the 6d and 12d of 1851 though the portrait in the central oval is of Jacques Cartier, the discoverer of Canada. In the 'eighties there was some little discussion regarding the portrait on this 10d stamp some claiming it was not intended to represent Cartier, but Sebastian Cabot. A writer on the Halifax Philatelist for 1888 says: “It is identically the same as all the existing portraits of Jacques Cartier, and totally unlike those existing of Sebastian Cabot. The style of dress and the way the beard is worn is that of the sixteenth century, instead of the fifteenth. There is a very rare and old print of Sebastian Cabot, taken from the original painting in the possession of Charles Jost Harford, Esq., in the Legislative Library at Halifax, and anything more dissimilar to the face on the 10 pence stamp cannot be imagined.” The official notice announcing the issue of the stamp, to which we have already referred, makes no mention of the design at all but the portrait is undoubtedly that of Cartier and Mr. Howes tells us that the original is a “three-quarter length portrait in the Hotel de Ville at St. Malo, France, the birthplace of Cartier.”

Jacques Cartier was born at St. Malo, as stated above, in 1491. In 1534 he sailed with two small vessels on a voyage of discovery, touching at Newfoundland, and discovering New Brunswick. In a second voyage (1535-6) he explored the St. Lawrence, and took possession of the land he discovered in the name of Francis I of France. He made a third voyage in 1541 and died in 1557.

The words CANADA POSTAGE and TENPENCE on the inscribed oval frame are separated by a small beaver at the right and three maple leaves at the left. In the lower corners are the numerals “10” followed by “cy” for currency, while in each of the upper angles is “8d stg”, representing the equivalent value in sterling.

Only the two supplies of this value, mentioned previously, were printed making a total of 172,200 stamps. When the decimal currency was introduced there was a balance on hand of 31,200, which were afterwards destroyed so that the total quantity of 10d stamps issued was 141,000.

A double-transfer variety of this denomination is described by Mr. Howes as follows:—

In this case we find the letters A D A and S of “Canada Postage”, and P E N of “Pence”' showing a distinct doubling at the bottom, the transfer roller having been set a little too high at first and a very slight impression made on the plate. The stamp has not been seen in a pair to prove its character absolutely, but it bears all the ear-marks of being a proper plate variety and not due to a careless impression when printing.

The Postmaster General's report dated Sept. 30th, 1857, refers to the many benefits accruing to both the Department and the public by the increased use of postage stamps in the prepayment of postal charges and also mentions the issue of two new denominations, viz:—

There is a very material economy of labor to the Department in dealing with letters prepaid by stamp as compared with letters on which the postage is collected in money, as well as a manifest gain to the public, in the increased facilities which prepayment by stamp enables the Post Office to afford for posting and delivering letters so prepaid.

It is gratifying, therefore, to observe that the use of stamps is gradually gaining ground, encouraging as it does the hope that it may be found practicable and expedient ere long to make prepayment by stamp the prevailing rule in Canada, as it has for sometime been in, the United Kingdom, in France, and in the United States.

A reduction in the charge of Book Post Packets when not exceeding 4 oz. in weight, between Canada and the United Kingdom of one-half the former rate has been made.

To facilitate the prepayment of letters passing from Canada to England by the Canadian steamers, a new stamp bearing value of 6 pence sterling, or 7½ pence currency, being the Canadian Packet rate, has been secured and put in circulation.

A new stamp has also been introduced of the value of one halfpenny to serve as the medium for prepaying transient Newspapers.

Moreover, the Department has been led, by the increasing use of Postage Stamps, to take measures for obtaining the Canadian Postage Stamps in sheets perforated in the dividing lines, in the manner adopted in England, to facilitate the separation of a single stamp from the others on a sheet when required for use.

It will thus be seen that the 7½d value, which was recommended three years earlier (at the time the 10d was issued), materialised at last, though there appears to be no official record bearing on the date the new value was placed on sale to the public. The volume dealing with the postage stamps of British North America, published by the Royal Philatelic Society some twenty years ago, gives the date of issue as June 2nd, 1857, though no authority for this statement is given.


The design was adapted from that of the discarded 12d of 1851, the same portrait of Queen Victoria adorning the central oval. The inscribed band around this contains the words CANADA PACKET POSTAGE at the top, and SIX PENCE STERLING at the bottom, the two inscriptions occupying so much space that there was no room for dividing ornaments of any kind. In the upper and lower left hand corners is “6d stg.” and in the right hand corners “7½d cy.” is shown. A word of explanation regarding the use of the word PACKET in the inscription is necessary. This does not refer to any parcel post (indeed, there was no parcel post at that period) as has sometimes been erroneously asserted, but refers to the fast mail steamers of the day which were then known as “packets”. This denomination, as shown by the extract from the Postmaster-General's report printed above, was intended for use on single letters sent to England via the Canadian packets.

This 7½d stamp was, according to Mr. Howes, printed in sheets of 120 arranged in ten horizontal rows of twelve each, each sheet showing the imprint of the manufacturers eight times on the margins as in the case of the values issued previous to 1857. Only one consignment, consisting of 834 sheets (100,800 stamps) was received, and as 17,670 of these were still on hand when the decimal currency was introduced in 1859, a simple calculation will show that the total quantity issued was 82,410 stamps.

Although there had been a real need for a halfpenny value since the first adhesives made their appearance in Canada—as shown by several rates it was impossible to prepay in stamps without them—it was not until 1857 that a stamp of this denomination was placed in use. The following circular announced their impending issue:—

Postage on Newspapers and Periodicals.

Post Office Department.

Toronto. 18th July, 1857.

Under the Post Office Law of last Session taking effect from 1st August, 1857, Newspapers printed and published in Canada, and mailed direct from Office of Publication, will pass free of Canadian Postage.

Periodicals so printed, published, and mailed when specially devoted to Religious and to General Education, to Agriculture, or Temperance, or to any branch of Science, will pass free from any one Post-Office to another within the Province.

Transient and re-mailed Papers and Periodicals will pass by Post if prepaid by Postage stamp—one halfpenny if not exceeding 3 oz. in weight, and 2d if over 3 oz.

Postage Stamps of the value of one halfpenny each will be sold to the public at all the principal Post Offices (including all Money Order Offices), with a discount of 5 per cent. upon purchases of not less than twenty stamps and will be available in prepayment of Newspapers and Periodicals, and of Drop and Town Letters.

R. Spence, Postmaster-General.

The Royal Philatelic Society's book gives the date of the above notice—July 18th, 1857—as the date of issue of the new stamp but, as Mr. Howes observes “it is more likely that the stamp was issued on 1st August, the day the new rates took effect.”

Although this stamp is generally conceded to be the last of the “pence” values to be issued, until more definite information regarding the date of issue of the 7½d can be procured, this supposition can rest on no more substantial basis than that of mere conjecture.


The design is quite unlike that of any of the other values expressed in pence and consists of the conventional profile portrait of the Queen shown on so many of the stamps of the British Empire, within an oval band inscribed CANADA POSTAGE, at the top, and ONE HALF PENNY, at the bottom. There are no numerals or inscriptions in the corners but merely a plain pattern of diagonally crossed lines. Mr. Howes states “the stamp was printed in sheets of 100, ten rows of ten, with the right marginal imprints as described for the series of 1851.”

From the Postmaster-General's report we gather that 1,341,600 halfpenny stamps were received prior to October 1st, 1857, though whether these were all in one consignment or not is not quite clear. At any rate judging from the statement in the same report that “the Department has been led to take measures for obtaining ... sheets perforated” it would appear that the above quantity comprised all the imperforate stamps of this denomination. On the other hand the total number of halfpenny stamps issued was 3,389,960 and catalogue quotations for the imperforate and the perforated varieties hardly bear out the supposition that only the first lot were issued without perforation.

While the 10d value is found on several sorts of paper no such extreme variation is provided as in the case of the stamps of 1851. The 7½d and ½d values, printed at a later date, provide still fewer varieties, which would seem to indicate that as time progressed the manufacturers exercised a nicer discrimination in their choice of paper. Most of the stamps seem to have been printed on a hard wove paper, varying a little in thickness; the 10d is found on a very thin paper; and the ½d is recorded on ribbed paper, though whether this is a true “ribbed” variety or merely the result of some peculiarity in printing is open to discussion. As the ribbed lines are anything but distinct, though the paper showing this peculiarity is a little softer than that generally used, it is more than likely that the ribbing was purely accidental.

Owing to the differing qualities of paper used the same idiosyncrasies of measurement in the size of the designs may be noted, especially in the case of the 10d as was referred to in a previous chapter. But as all variations of this character in stamps printed from line-engraved plates were long ago conclusively proved to be due to nothing more exciting than paper shrinkage it is hardly worth while wearying our readers with a resurrection of all that has been written on the subject leading up to the proof. While examples showing the extremes of size are of interest in a specialised collection little can be said in favor of their philatelic value.

Reference List.

1855-57. Engraved and printed by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, New York, on wove paper. Imperforate.

  • 4.   ½d  pink, Scott's No. 8.

  • 5.  7½d  green, Scott's No. 9.

  • 6.  10d  blue, Scott's No. 7.