Shade, Perforation, Paper and Gum Varieties on the Karsh and Heritage Definitives of 1953-1967

Shade, Perforation, Paper and Gum Varieties on the Karsh and Heritage Definitives of 1953-1967

This post will explore some of the shade, perforation, paper and gum varieties that I have seen on this issue over the years that I have both collected and worked with these stamps. I should note upfront that I have never undertaken a disciplined study of these stamps. Consequently, the varieties that I am going to talk about may indeed not be all the varieties extant. Indeed, because of the large quantities printed and the fact that only about 10-20% of the surviving stamps are mint, it will likely prove necessary to study the used stamps in detail in order to be certain of identifying all the existing varieties. Fortunately all the stamps in used condition are very inexpensive and readily available for study. Certainly any statistically valid study of the paper and shade varieties must take the used and mint stamps into account, in all condition grades.

Shade Varieties

In general, the shade varieties on this issue are quite subtle and become most obvious when collected in large multiples that are mounted in such a way as for the multiples to overlap. That way, the contrast between the two shades will highlight each one and make the differences more obvious to your eyes. I will now describe and illustrate the shade varieties that I have seen on each value in the series:

1c Violet Brown

Unfortunately I do not currently have two different shades of this stamp to show here. However, I have seen a deep violet brown and a lighter, brighter purple brown as well as a milky brown.

2c Green

Here I have not seen any variation in the basic shade of green - only varying densities of ink, and at that not very often, The printer did a very good job of ensuring uniformity of this colour.

3c Carmine Rose

On this value I have seen the three shades shown above. The stamp in the middle is both lighter and brighter than the stamp on the left and can really be called a shade of cerise rather than carmine-rose. The stamp on the right is darker and more carmine than the other two and is the true carmine-rose shade. I have seen all three shades on both the sheet stamps and the coils. I haven't checked enough booklets to know which shades are found on the booklet stamps.

4c Violet

This stamp exhibits the greatest variation of all and I show five shades above. The shades at each end are both very similar and are a kind of milky violet, but the left shade is slightly deeper than the right. The second stamp from the left is the regular violet and the middle stamp is the light, bright violet. Then the second stamp from the right is a deep, dull violet. There are very likely other shades in addition to these and I have seen at least two shades on the coils. In all likelihood though, the coils will exhibit more than two shades, although probably not the same range as the sheet stamps because the quantity printed was so much less.  I haven't checked enough booklets to know which shades are found on the booklet stamps, though I have not typically seen the brighter violets and instead tend to see the deeper, duller violets.

5c Ultramarine

This stamp exhibits almost as much variation as the 4c violet. The first and second stamp from the right are the regular ultramarine, with the one on the right being slightly lighter than the one on the left. The second and third stamps from the left are especially bright versions of the ultramarine, with the middle stamp being brighter than the second stamp. Finally, the stamp on the extreme right is not ultramarine at all, but a shade of blue. It really is a completely different colour when compared to the middle stamp.

7c Blue

Although I only show 2 shades here, there are at least three. The stamp on the left is a brighter blue than the stamp on the right, and both are printings from the 1950's as signified by the horizontal ribbed paper. Later printings of this stamp made in the early 1960's show a distinct greenish tone to the blue, or a dull greyish tone.

20c Slate

I have not seen a lot of variation in the tone of this stamp, though I suspect that there are shades that exist that are closer to grey, lacking the bluish tone of the two stamps above. In the case of the slate shades above, I have seen clear differences in the intensity of the colour, with the stamp on the left being clearly darker than the stamp on the right.

50c Light Green

Unfortunately my scanner would not co-operate with me on this colour, giving me grey-scale images that did not show the very subtle shade differences to be found on this stamp. The green shade is basically a form of sea-green. There is a bright version of the colour and a dull, light version which is more commonly found on the later printings of the 1960's.

$1 Grey

There are two obvious shades on this stamp as shown above, and possibly two sub-shades of the grey stamp on the right. The two shades are slate on the left and grey on the right. They occur on both plates 1 and 2 and the slate shade appears to me to be the scarcer of the two. The slate has a clear, unmistakable bluish tone compared to the grey, which contains no blue whatsoever. The grey, in turn appears to exist in a lighter grey and a darker, almost charcoal grey. It is not surprising given that over 27 million were printed and issued over a 10 year period. I have seen both shades on the official stamps as well as the regular issue.


Unitrade lists the perforation of this issue, and all issues after 1935 printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company as 12. However, in actual fact, the perforation is 11.9 as measured on an Instanta gauge. This will prove significant, as sometime in 1961 or 1962, a new perforating machine was introduced, which produced 12.1-12.25. In a recent Canadian Stamp News publication, an article was written announcing the discovery of this later perforation measurement on the 7c. However, given that the 50c and the $1 were both used after 1962, I would expect that a detailed study of perforations on this stamp will turn up the later perforation as well.

Given the late date of its introduction, I would expect that it will be scarce on the 7c and $1, as well as the 7c and 50c official stamps, as these had all been either replaced or discontinued in 1963, just a short time after this perforation was introduced.

Paper Varieties

I have seen eight paper varieties on this issue, not all of which exist on all values. However, it is probable that at least three of the varieties exist on all the values. All the papers I looked at measure between 0.0035-0.004" thick on a micrometer for the mint stamps.

By far the most common, standard paper found on this issue is a horizontal wove paper, giving no reaction (dull white or light violet) under long-wave ultraviolet light (UV) and showing clear, strong ribbing on the paper surface and through the gum on the back. The second type is similar, but has less strong ribbing, being smooth on the paper surface, but showing the ribbing only when held to strong backlighting. As far as I know, both these types can be found on all the sheet and booklet stamps. I have not seen it on the coil stamps.

The third type, which I have only seen on the 7c is similar to type three, except that instead of being white is a creamy off-white, almost light straw colour. Like the other papers, this paper gives a dull violet reaction under UV light.

The fourth and fifth types which I have only seen on the coils is a vertical wove paper that shows either strong vertical ribbing or very weak to no ribbing.  Again, these papers give a dull white reaction under UV light.

The sixth type of paper that I have seen shows no ribbing at all, even when held up to a strong light. It was first introduced on the War Issue towards the end of its life and is common on the 1949-1952 Postes-Postage Issue. It seems to be a scarce paper on this issue, and I think it may exist on all the stamps, but I am not sure. Again, this paper gives a light violet or dull white reaction under UV light.

The seventh, eighth varieties I have only seen on the 50c light green. The seventh type is a speckled fluorescent, horizontal wove paper with a smooth appearance. The term speckled fluorescent means that the basic paper is dull, just like the other types, but contains individual fibres, sparesely spread throughout the stamp that give a bright bluish white reaction under UV light. This type of paper first appears toward the end of 1960-1961 and becomes common throughout the 1960's.

The eighth type is listed in Unitrade as "high fluorescent" paper and is very rare. It is a horizontal wove paper with weak ribbing that gives an overall bright bluish white glow under UV as shown in the picture below:

The stamp on the left is the normal dull paper, giving a greyish white reaction under the lamp, whereas the rare variety gives a bright white glow. However in the grand scheme of paper fluorescence, this variety is not nearly as bright as what we see on later issues like the Centennial issue or the commemoratives of the early 1970's. So while I do not agree that it is truly "high fluorescent", being really more of a low fluorescent, this is how Unitrade lists it at $200 against $5 for the normal stamp in mint NH condition.

Both types seven and eight are only listed on the basic 50c stamp, through I have to think that they must also exist on the official stamps, possibly on both the regular "Casson" font and the "flying G" varieties.


The basic gum is a smooth yellowish cream, bordering on yellow and is found on all the stamps in the series. There is also a lighter cream gum as well as shown in the scan below:

It is difficult to see, but if you look carefully, you can see that the left stamp has yellower gum than the right stamp. Also you can see the vertical ribbing in the paper more strongly on the left stamp.

On the horizontal and vertical larger format stamps the gum is a smooth cream that has very slight patchiness to it as shown on the left stamp. The later printings from the 1960's have super smooth shiny yellowish cream gum containing no uneven spots or streaks as shown in the stamp at right.

Obtaining a UV Lamp

Many collectors shy away from studying paper fluorescence because the UV lamps available in the trade are very expensive and often contain both short-wave, which is very dangerous in addition to the harmless long wave light. However, for Canadian stamps a cheap and readily available alternative is shown below:

This is a simple black light and can be found at any party supply or lighting store. They are sold for use in nightclubs and for dance parties. I think I paid something like $20 back in 2000 when I bought this, plus $15 for an extra bulb. This bulb has lasted me over 10 years. The light it gives off is strong enough that it can be used in a lit room to identify the more obvious varieties, although it still gives better results in a dark room.

Bringing it All Together

As as I am aware there are no studies that have been published for this issue dealing with these attributes. Nobody really knows what shade varieties are found on each plate, each paper type, each gum type or perforation. How large the potential scope could become for just the sheet and coil stamps can be illustrated below:

There are 19 basic sheet stamps if you count both types of G overprint on the 50c, and three coils. There are also five basic booklet stamps for a total of 27 stamps. Lets assume that there are 2 shade varieties of the 2c, 20c, 50c and $1; three of the 1c, and 7c and 5 each of the 4c and 5c. Lets further assume that types one through three and six of the papers exist for all stamps, types four and five exist only on the coils. Lets assume that type seven exists on both the 7c and the 50c, but eight only exists on the 50c. The gum types are tied to particular paper types, so lets assume for the moment that they add no further complexity. So the possible combinations of varieties are as follows:

1c: (3 shades x 4 papers x 3 issues) = 36 stamps
2c: (2 shades x 4 papers x 2 issues) = 16 stamps
3c: (3 shades x 4 papers x 4 issues)  = 24 stamps
4c: (5 shades x 4 papers x 4 issues) = 40 stamps
5c: (5 shades x 4 papers x 2 issues) = 40 stamps
7c: (3 shades x 5 papers x 2 issues) = 30 stamps
20c: (2 shades x 4 papers x 2 issues) = 16 stamps
50c: (2 shades x 6 papers x 3 issues) = 36 stamps
$1: (2 shades x 4 papers x 2 issues) = 16 stamps
2c coil (2 shades x 2 papers) = 4 stamps
3c coil (3 shades x 2 papers) = 6 stamps
4c coil (5 shades x 2 papers) = 10 stamps

For a total of up to at least 338 different, identifiable stamps - a far cry from just the basic set that it first appears to be.

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