Parallels Between 1967-1972 Sweden and Canada During the Centennial Period

Parallels Between 1967-1972 Sweden and Canada During the Centennial Period

One of the most important aspects to philatelic research is the making of new discoveries that have the potential to open up new avenues for study of an already popular topic, thus advancing the body of philatelic knowledge about a particular subject.

What is often overlooked in the philatelic community is the fact that most stamps in existence today were printed and distributed by a relatively limited number of printing companies who did their work under contract. Most of these companies will have followed the same procedures, used largely the same technology, and the same papers, inks and gumming compounds. For more modern issues, they will also have made use of similar taggant compounds most likely. What are the implications of this? The main one is that we can use the information that we learn about the stamps printed by a particular company for one country to provide clues about what we should be looking for when we study the issues of another for the same period of time. Even if the entities doing the printing are different, this information can still be useful if we can show that the production techniques or materials are sufficiently similar. 

Back in November 2023 I bought a large accumulation of complete booklets from Sweden, which I thought would be nice to offer. I like booklets, and always have a soft spot for them when large lots of them come up for sale, as there are just so many aspects to study when looking at them. Also, there is the scarcity factor: booklets are generally much scarcer than the basic sheet stamps, especially with the passage of time. This week, with Will off I decided that now would be the time to list them in the auction. I figured it would be really simple, but was very wrong.

One of the things that is very interesting about Sweden is that they stopped issuing sheet stamps in 1938, which is very early. Every single stamp from Sweden issued since then is either a booklet stamp or a coil. So if you really want to understand coil stamps, or booklets, then it follows that Sweden would be a really great choice for a country to collect.  

As I started working on them I noticed a lot of things about them that were eerily similar to Canadian issues from the same period, including:

  1. The same general transition away from dextrine gum. This transition happened in stages, with the very last booklets to include dextrine gum stamps being issued in 1972. Replacement of dextrine gum began in 1969, being replaced first by what Facit, the specialized Scandinavian catalogue refers to as "dull gum". This gum, upon closer examination is identical to the spotty white gum found on some of the Canadian issues from a few months in 1971, as well as the printings of the Centennial issue stamps found during this period. Later, a PVA gum was introduced as well on some issues in 1970, and also an invisible gum, almost identical to the DAVAC gum found on the 1966 Highway Safety Stamp and the 1967 Centennial commemorative stamp of Canada was introduced in the same year. This invisible gum would prove to be more popular than the PVA gum, and unlike Canada, which abandoned its use, Sweden embraced it, making it the standard stamp gum, by the end of 1972. 
  2. The use of counting marks on the spines of every 50th booklet printed, in order to aid in packaging and shipping of booklets to post offices. According to Facit, these markings are applied by letterpress machines when the covers are printed using that method. 
  3. The printing of black control numbers on the tabs of the some booklets. Facit explains that the purpose of these numbers was to control the number of stamp rows printed, and that the numbers would be printed at every 20th row, i.e. every 10th booklet, as booklets contained two rows of stamps. It was not always printed in the same location along that row, so that after cutting, the booklets apart it could either appear intact in the tab, with all digits, or only part of the number would appear, depending on where the number was originally printed. These numbers have been reported on some examples of BK58, BK59 and BK62, but not on the other booklets. Also, the full numbers are not usually seen, and in any event they are very rare. This suggests that they were not used as often in Canadian booklet production, but the exact reason for their scarcity is not clear. 
  4. The appearance of tiny divots in the cover stock, which Facit refers to as a dot pattern, and which they state appear on covers printed by offset, and are caused by the rollers that drive the cover stock forward in the press. If we look closely at many of the Centennial issue integral booklets, beginning with BK56, we will see these divots in the stock on many of them, while other booklets will not show such divots, and have a textured appearance to the cover instead. We see the same thing on some of the Swedish slot machine booklets with cardboard covers as well. 
  5. The use of card stock for booklet covers that is cream in colour, or white in colour. Sweden made use of both on its booklets sold through slot machines, while their over the counter booklets were printed with flimsier paper covers. Canadian Centennial booklets were all produced using predominantly cream coloured card stock. However, the 1968 and 1969 Christmas booklets of Canada did utilize a fimsier paper cover, as did BK67 and BK70, the large $1 booklets containing the 7c and 8c Centennial low values. 

Here are some visual examples:

The above shows a 1971 Christmas booklet showing a 6 x 2.5 mm black counting mark on the spine. 


Here is a close-up of an Iron Age issue booklet from 1967 showing the divots in the cover stock, that Facit refers to as a dot pattern. 

 Here is another cover from this issue, showing the scribed horizontal lines and the dot pattern. 

 An example of a Gustaf VI Adolf definitive booklet showing 4 of the 5 digit control number in the tab.


Here are two outside covers of the above booklet, one with a white cover stock and one with a cream cover stock.

This is quite a few similarities. There were some interesting differences also:

  1. Swedish booklets are found with horizontal cylinder numbers in the selvedge of some panes. These come from either the top or the bottom of the cylinder, where they were punched in, to help facilitate the placement of the stamp images. I have not seen any Centennial-era booklets that show any cylinder numbers printed on the tabs. According to Facit, in the case of Swedish booklets, there are usually 17 booklets produced for one cylinder rotation, when the booklet contains 20 stamps of normal definitive size. Usually, one of these 17 will contain a full cylinder number, while the rest will have bisected numbers, due to the cutting of the booklets. Thus, the full cylinder numbers are much scarcer than the bisected ones. Larger format stamps generally yield either 12 or 24 booklets, depending on whether the booklets contain 10 or 20 stamps.
  2. Most Swedish stamps issued between 1967 and 1976 are found on what Facit calls fluorescent paper. It is important to note that the term fluorescent does not mean the same thing it means to a Canadian specialist. The term instead refers to an all over tag that glows bright yellow under long-wave UV light. This taggant is very similar to, but not identical to that used for the later GT-2 or GT-4 Ottawa tagging introduced in 1972. However, Canada did not adopt the practice of all-over tagging using a fluorescent compound, instead opting to utilize phosphorescent bands. 

Here are some illustrative examples of those aspects of Swedish booklets:

A portion of the tab of the 1968 Lund University booklet showing a red horizontal cylinder 1 in the tab.  

Three examples of the 1968 Flying Swans booklet showing different levels of fluorescent tagging.

Seeing the similarities between Swedish and Canadian issues of this period encouraged me to keep an eye out, as I identified each of the booklet issues in Facit for varieties listed in Facit that we have never considered when studying the Centennial era booklets. It turns out that there were no fewer than 11 attributes of Swedish booklets from this period that may open up possible avenues for further study of the Centennial era booklets. 

Aspects of Booklets Covered In Facit, But Never Studied In Centennial Issue Booklets

  1. Method by which panes are attached to the cover - The 1967 Finnish settlers issue exists machine glued and manually glued. The machine glued versions have the pane attached by a continuous bead of glue, while the manually glued panes are attached with a few dots of glue. I believe that most all of the integral booklets had been mechanically glued to the covers, but most all of BK63, the OPAL booklets show clear dots of glue under the tab, which suggests that those were manually glued. However, I have never looked at the method of attachment of the panes for any of the Centannial issue booklets. 
  2. The total width of the printing on front and back covers, and the size of the gap between the text panels on both covers. Same for inside covers.
  3. Whether cover spines are rouletted or cut, and if rouletted, how many roulettes along the length. The Swedish booklets exist with both types, and in the case of rouletted covers, the number of roulettes in the spine varies, depending on whether the cover was printed by offset, or letterpress. 
  4. Size of and colour of counting marks. Initially, the counting marks were the same colour as the booklet cover printing, but later, markings of a different colour can be found. Most of the counting marks are either 6 mm x 2.5 mm, 6 mm x 3.5 mm or 8 mm x 2 mm. 
  5. The distance between stamp impressions and whether or not stamp impressions are slightly out of alignment. . On several of the Swedish issues, the cylinders are distinguished from one another by measuring the distance between certain stamp impressions in the pane, or by looking at whether the bottom edges of adjacent stamps are in alignment. Leopold Beaudet has done some research on BK69 where he has looked at the alignment of the vertical edges of the 8c Parliamentary Library stamp in relation to the other stamps above it in the pane, and has posited the existence of three settings. But other than this, no other such study has been carried out on the other booklets. 
  6. Actual cover dimensions. On a few of the Swedish issues the actual dimensions of the cover can vary by up to 5 mm. 
  7. Cover colour variations, including the colour of the printing. There are many instances with the Swedish booklets in which the colour of the paper or card stock varies on both the inside and outside of the cover. On a few issues the colour of the ink used to print the cover text has shown distinct variations. It is true that BK69 has been classified as to whether or not the text is coarse or finely printed, but beyond that I am not aware of any listings that refer to colour variations in the covers themselves. 
  8. Whether or not the perforations at the edge of the pane are trimmed mechanically, or torn by hand. I have seen this difference on the 1968 Wildflowers issue and a few others. I have never considered the possibility that the edge perforations on BK60, BK61 or BK64 could exist both ways. 
  9. Cover colours that are either darker or lighter on the inside than the colour on the outside.
  10. Whether or not there were any font differences in the control numbers printed. Facit notes that the original font used for these numbers was an antique font, giving numbers 3 mm tall. Later, sans-serif fonts with 3.3 and 3.2 mm tall numerals are found. 
  11. Texture of cover paper stock: smooth versus rough. I have seen these differences on several issues from 1971 and 1972. 

In addition to the aspects that are covered in Facit, there is the question of cover fluorescence - an attribute that shows considerable variation, as shown by the following images:

The 1968 Bruno Liljefors issue with dull fluorescent and high fluorescent covers that appear identical under normal light. 


The slot machine booklets from the 1967 Iron Age issue, showing a range of different fluorescence levels on the cover, ranging from dull fluorescent to high fluorescent, with some covers being flecked as well. 

Facit does not make any reference to cover fluorescence at all, even though very clear differences exist. I am not aware of any study being done to check the fluorescence of the cover stock on the Centennial booklets. Later definitive issues, beginning with the Caricature issue have been studied in this regard, but not the Centennial issue booklets. 

Implications Of The Above In a Potential Re-Examination Of The Centennial Era Booklets, BY BK#

The implications that the study of the above attributes could have on a new and comprehensive re-examination of the Centennial-era booklets, for each booklet, in our view is, as follows:

  • BK56 - The dimensions of the text frame on the front cover, the distances between this frame and the back cover text may vary, as could the vertical spacing between text lines. Width of text could also vary. The spacing between rows of stamps in the booklet may vary, or stamps may be slightly out of alignment. The method by which the tab has been attached to the cover should be carefully examined to see if the manual vs machine attachment dichotomy applies. Cover fluorescence and colour should be re-examined also, as differences may exist. Check the cover stock for dot patterns or scribed lines as well. Look carefully at the spines and counting marks on counter booklets and note any differences in size, as well as whether or not the covers are scored (cut) along the spine, or rouletted, and if rouletted, how many roulettes there are. 
  • BK57 - As above for BK56, but the manner in which the perforations have been cut at the sides should be examined. 
  • BK58, BK59, BK60, BK61, BK62 and BK64 - same as for BK56, as the attributes of these booklets are largely the same. 
  • BK63 - Check the dimensions of cover text and spacing between blocks of text. Look for differences in the cover stock, with respect to the presence of dot patterns or scribed lines, colour and fluorescence. Pay close attention to how the panes have been attached to the booklet and with how many roulettes there are in the cover spine. 
  • BK65 - This is the first booklet without a frameline on the front cover, and much fatter, bolder text. The spacings between the text, both horizontally and vertically, as well as the font size will likely be different from the earlier booklets. All the other comments made under BK56 will apply here too.
  • BK66 - This is the first of the 25c booklets to place the Pre-stamped" and "Free Dispenser" text on the back of the covers. Here, the width of this text, the spacing between lines, and the spacing between text blocks when the cover is opened out and examined from left to right should be noted, as important differences may exist. The other comments made under BK56 will apply here also. One thing we have never really looked at in detail are the sealing strips. We have noted clear versus black, but we have not noted the width of the strips, whether or not glue was actually applied to them, machine versus manual sealing, and the significance of breaks in the sealing lines. With the clear strips, we have noted the differences between two types of Caricature booklets, but have not extended that back to the clear sealing strips on this booklet. 
  • BK67 - This is the first softcover booklet of this issue and is very similar to Swedish booklets in this regard. Special attention should be paid to the colour, texture and fluorescence of the cover, as well as whether the spine is folded or rouletted. All the comments I have made about the text on the front and the counting mark sizes would apply to this also. 
  • BK68 - this is really the same as BK 66, but with an additional pane of stamps added and the stickers applied over top of the original denomination to effectively surcharge the booklet. I'd pay special attention to where the panes have been attached in relation to one another and see if we can see any differences, as well as how the panes were added. The comments about sealing strips would apply here also. 
  • BK69 - here is where it gets really interesting. With this booklet the initial cover design is as BK66, so all the comments made on that booklet apply here as well. The 10 designs in brown are a different ball game entirely. For one thing, The Free Dispenser and Pre Stamped slogans tend to be associated with certain cover designs, so I'd look for them on designs that they are not normally associated with. Secondly, the usual comments that apply to dimensions of the text, and the spacing between the lines will apply here as well. We have never looked at the coarseness or fine nature of the 10 cover designs, even though there are clear differences that may result from the letterpress/offset distinction. We should look more closely at this. The comments regarding sealing strips apply on these booklets of course, and I would also look carefully at image dimensions and spacing between images and text. Finally, I would be checking the cover stocks carefully for fluorescence and colour differences, as well as the presence of a dot pattern or scribed lines, or for covers that have a rough surface and no apparent gripper markings. 
  • BK70 - This is similar to BK67, but contains the 8c instead of the 7c as the main stamp. It too is a softcover booklet, so I would take another look at the same attributes for this one that I would be looking at on BK67. 
  • BK71 - These are very similar in all respects to BK69, but with twice as many stamps, being a 50c booklet, rather than a 25c one. All of the comments made for BK69 above that have the cover designs would apply to this booklet as well.

So there you have it. Many, many possible dimensions that could yield new discoveries across the range of booklets for this issue. 

Broader Implications

I have discussed how the information I have gleaned from a study of Swedish booklets could be used to re-study the Centennial issue booklets. However, the conclusions I have expressed here could probably be applied to the later vending machine booklets produced by BABN. This is the essence of philatelic research in my mind. 


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1 comment

My “expertise” lies with Bk80 printed by the same company BABN and with the same type of equipment as Sweden. The BABN printing press was bought in Sweden and shipped here.
1. Counting marks (every fifty) are also used to count how many are left inside vending machines and are used extensively for accounting inside every post office with booklets.
2. Control numbers are printed along the booklet pane selvedge and are needed in order to know how many have been printed but these numbers are cut off in Canada. Seems they can adjust where these are printed. On Bk80 it is every tenth pane along a continuous web that is four panes wide.
3. Gluing of the panes onto the roll of cardstock that is always done mechanically. Since the panes are still all attached together in one column (about 14,000 per column) while the other three columns are slit off and re-wound, they are directed to a roll of cardstock that has been printed and scored on the back to prepare it for folding, then lined up properly to the cardstock, spot glued and pressed onto this cardstock. It then travels still all attached flat together, cardstock and glued panes until it reaches the electric eye that “sees” the cutting guides on the tab, and cuts each pane separately before they are folded. The cover is glued and pressed closed mechanically.
4. Since there are ten different covers the ten come out always in the same order and every fiftieth booklet gets a counting mark. (always Douglas Fir cover) What is interesting with this is that any flaw in this column will all be packaged together in criss-crossed bundles ready for a stamp vending machine.
5. What is even more difficult is finding where the other columns land up in Canada since they get distributed all over the country. Also interesting is that in Sweden there are normally 17 rows of stamps per cylinder. In Canada, for Bk80, there are 18 rows for the lithograph cylinder, 12 rows for the gravure cylinder and 10.6 rows for the tagging cylinder all on the same column of panes. This is a nightmare for the plating enthusiast. Four columns each with its own flaws, three-cylinder sizes for each column and ten different booklet covers. Ouch.
With apologies for such a long post but there is so much to study and so little time to make it shorter.
If you are interested, I can illustrate much of what I say here.

Jean-Pierre Mayer

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