The booklets issued by the Canadian post office between 1935 and 1955 are a fascinating and complex field for the specialist. Unitrade lists many varieties of each booklet, but it may not be apparent to the average collector what the significance of those varieties are. The purpose of this post is to simplify the complexity of these booklets somewhat and to highlight the significance of the various varieties.
The booklets issued can be divided into different periods, which roughly correspond to the different issues they covered, but not perfectly:
- The Type I Covers Period - 1935 to 1937
- The Type III Covers Period - 1937
- The Type II Covers With No Rate Page - 1937-1938
- The Type II Covers With 6c Airmail Rate -1938-1942
- The Rate Change Period - 1943
- The Type II Covers With 7c and 6c Airmail Rates - 1943-1947
- The Type II Covers With the 7c and 5c Airmail Rates - 1947-1952
- The Bilingual Period - 1953-1955
It is worth noting that throughout periods 1 through 5, every booklet exists in both English and French versions. The English versions are by far the most common, outnumbering the French booklets by anywhere from 10 to 20 to one. So, even though the catalogue prices are 50%-100% higher for the French versions, this still comes nowhere close to reflecting the true scarcity of the French booklets.
Then, during period 5, French booklets disappear by the end of 1947 and are replaced by the first bilingual booklets in 1947. Thus throughout periods 6 and 7 all booklets are found in English and bilingual versions only. Again, the bilingual booklets are much scarcer than the English ones, but not quite as scarce as the French ones in the earlier periods are. By 1953 all booklets are bilingual only.
The above clears away 2 levels of complexity and brings them into focus: (1) the various rate pages and (2) the languages. Now, I will make a general note, which will overlay on all the above, a third layer of complexity, which collectors can ignore, or decide to incorporate into their collecting, which will add considerable challenge if they choose to include it: each front and back cover can be found in a number of different die types. I'll explain this in more detail as I describe each of the above periods below
The Type I Covers Period - 1935 to 1937
The type I cover first appears on the booklets of the 1935-1937 Dated Die Issue, and has a coat of arms on a dotted background with simply the words "Canada Postage". There is no description of the contents and no other slogans. There are no known die type variations of either this front cover, or the back cover, which looks like this:
This is known as the Type A cover, when it is English or Type B when it is in French. This is important because all of the booklets from the 1937-42 Mufti Issue have this type of back cover, as do all of the War Issue booklets from periods 3, 4 and 5.
So, collecting these booklets is fairly straightforward. You can still find gum variations and shade variations of both the booklet panes themselves and the covers, as well as the occasional plate flaw on the cover, or the odd stapling error, in which the staple is either doubled, or in the wrong place.
The Type III Covers Period - 1937
I don't know this for sure, but my guess would be that the public likely complained about the lack of descriptive text on the covers, saying that it was too difficult to tell the booklets apart. Whatever the reason, a decision was made to add descriptive text to the front covers in the form of the price and the contents.
Initially, the text was 63 mm wide, but as you can see this left the end of the text on the right side unacceptably close to the right edge of the cover and meant that many booklets would have wound up with truncated text when the booklets were guillotined apart.
Thus, they were very short lived, being replaced by a cover that had the text only 57 mm wide.
At this point, I can introduce the first level of complexity in the die types, as this front cover exists in 4 different types, two for English and Two for French. Both are the same, in terms of what the difference is. The thing to look for is the arrangement of the dots inside the loop of the "P" of "Postage or "Postes".
Two types are shown as follows:
This is Harris Type IIa, one dot inside the "P". This is the English version.
This is Harris Type IIb, two dots inside the "P". This is also English.
This is Harris Type IIj - similar to IIb above, except this is French.
This is Harris Type IIk, with 3 dots inside the "P". This is also French.
Each of the booklets, those being the combination booklets, and those containing only 1c, 2c or 3c stamps will have 4 different front covers, with the types being different for each booklet, with some overlap in terms of how many dots correspond to a particular type and how those dots are arranged.
Some of these types are markedly scarcer than others. Due to the very short-lived nature of these covers, these booklets are extremely scarce.
The Type II Covers With No Rate Page - 1937-1938
The first booklets with the 57 mm front cover text, as with all the earlier booklets contained no rate page. These were in use for most of 1937 into 1938. They comprised the bulk of the large first printing and so they are the most common of these booklets, in the case of the Mufti Issue, which is why the catalogue values are the lowest for this type.
All the booklets in this period exist with the four die types for the front covers of the English and French booklets. In addition, the panes can be found printed on both smooth vertical wove paper and horizontally ribbed paper. The gum varies from white to streaky coffee coloured cream as well. The covers can occasionally be found with plate flaws affecting the lettering or the dot pattern and stapling errors can be found as well.
The Type II Covers With 6c Airmail Rate -1938-1942
Starting in 1938, a rate page was included in the booklet. The catalogues generally quote the last line or the last two lines of the rate page.
These booklets can be found with all the variations outlined above for the booklets without a rate page.
The Rate Change Period - 1943
Here is where it gets really interesting. In mid-1943 the postage rate increased from 3c to 4c for domestic mail, and the basic airmail rate went from 6c for the first ounce, to 7c.
Initially, the change in rates was indicated by placing a red or black crayon "X" on the rate page. The size and style varies of course, as they were applied by individual postal clerks to booklets. These are again very short lived and were in use for a brief period until surcharged rate pages could be produced. These had the text overprinted by a single black line and new rates printed at the bottom of the page.
So, for every booklet, in addition to all the varieties, there are two different forms of altered rate page: one with an "X" and a surcharged one.
Now, as if that wasn't enough complexity, I can now introduce the final level of complexity affecting these booklets: the size of the staple. Up to this point all booklets of this design have either 16 mm or 17 mm staples that show no variation in size. During this period we start to see 14 mm and 12 mm staples being used to produce some booklets, but not others. The booklets containing the 1c and 2c stamps only do not show these variations, but all the other booklets can be found thus. Not all staple sizes are known on all booklets - the only ones known with all three sizes are those containing the 3c and 4c stamps only. The combination booklets can be found with 17 mm and 14 mm staples, while the chewing gum booklets are always either 17 mm or 12 mm staples. These differences persist on the booklets in the next period. Of course all these booklets can be found with different gum types and at least 2 types of paper: vertical wove with cream gum and clear vertical mesh, or horizontal ribbed paper with yellowish cream gum.
The Type II Covers With 7c and 6c Airmail Rates - 1943-1947
In this period a new rate page appears, with the airmail rate being quoted as 7c for the first ounce, and 6c for each subsequent ounce. By now the 3c booklets have changed colour from carmine to rose purple. Also, during this period a new type of booklet format is introduced: the "Chewing Gum" booklet. These booklets contained a pane of 3 of each of the 1c, 3c and 4c stamps. The face value only adds up to 24c, so essentially a 1c premium was charged by the post office, as they sold for 25c.
These booklets are the most complex of all, because each of the front and back covers exists with 8 different die types for the English booklets and 15 different types for the French versions. The dot patterns are complicated and I won't get into them here, except to say that of the 64 possible English front-back cover combinations and the 225 possible French combinations, a large number have not, as yet been reported.
It is also during this period that the Type A and Type B back covers were replaced by a new type shown below:
This type of back cover was the last to be used with the single-language booklets. It can be found in 4 die types for each of the French and English languages, and for the English booklets.
The four types are distinguished for the English booklets, by looking at the arrangement of the dots at the top left corner of the text panel, and for the French booklets by looking at the arrangement of the dots at the lower right corner of the text panel. Some types are shown below:
This is Harris type Cai on the English booklets. The inside corner is enclosed by a semicircle of dots.
This is Harris type Caii on the English booklets. Here the midpoint on the corner has two rows of dots "fanning" out from it.
This is Harris Type Caiii. There is a semicircle of 3 dots enclosing the corner.
This is type Caiv. Here the corner is enclosed by a semi-rhombus of 7 dots, with three dots inside.
The French variations, being types Dai through Daiv are similar, but are evaluated from the right side of the text box rather than the left.
So in this period you have paper variations, gum variations, staple variations and the usual,plate flaws and errors involving the covers as well the arrangement of the rate pages inside.
The Type II Covers With the 7c and 5c Airmail Rates - 1947-1952
During this period the rate page changes again showing 7c and 5c rates rather than 7c and 6c rates.
During this period that another new booklet was issued: The $1 gift booklet, which contained the wide panes of the 3c and 4c as well as the 7c Canada Goose from the Peace issue. This booklet was the last booklet to be issued in both English and French.
For the English booklets a few type of back cover is introduced in which "Postmaster" is shown as two distinctly separate words. These are are found with the same 4 die type variations, which Harris calls types Cbi through Cbiv.
Sometime between 1947 and 1949 a new bilingual front and back cover was introduced to replace the French booklets:
surprisingly, there are die type differences on these covers as well, though not nearly as many as were found on the type II covers. The front covers exist in 4 types, 2 of which are unique to the 3c booklets and two of which are found on the 4c and 5c booklets. The back covers can be found in 2 variations that are distinguished by looking at the arrangement of the dots in the lower left of the text panel.
These differences are shown below:
This is type IIIci on the front cover. Look at the appearance of the top left serif on the "E" of "Carnet". On type it is thick and chunky. On type IIId it is thin, and joins the top serif of the "N".
This is type IIIf or IIIh depending on whether the booklet contains 4c or 5c stamps. The hyphen between "Timbres" and "Poste" has squared ends.
This is type IIIe or IIIg, again depending on whether the booklet contains 4c on 5c stamps. Here the hyphen has a rounded right end.
This is back cover type Gi or Mi, depending again on which denomination of booklet it is. Here you can see the dots are straight parallel lines inside the corner.
This is type Gii or Mii. Here you can see two intersecting semicircles of dots enclosing the top part of the corner.
Other than these variations, the booklets become somewhat simpler again, with fewer paper and gum variations, no more staple size variations (all 17 mm). Because they were introduced in 1947 or 1948 and were replaced in 1949 by the Postes-Postage issue, the bilingual War Issue booklets are much scarcer and more expensive than the English booklets.
The Bilingual Period - 1953-1955
This period covers the first 3 years of Elizabeth's reign and is relatively simple. Two issued are covered: the 1953-54 Karsh Issue and the 1954-62 Wilding Issue. For the Karsh issue 3 basic booklets were issued: a chewing gum booklet, a 3c booklet and a 4c booklet. Rate pages have been done away with at this point, so that simplifies them greatly.
There are the die type differences to collect, of which there are up to 225 possible front and back cover combinations on the chewing gum booklet. There are also some shade varieties to be found on all panes from this issue.
The chewing gum booklets were discontinued at the end of 1953, so that for the Wilding issue we have only the 4c booklets and the 5c booklets. However, staple sizes again vary, with 16 mm, 14 mm and 12 mm staples being found on the 5c booklets. Papers exist in 2 basic types, being smooth and horizontally ribbed. Of course there are also the die type differences to be found on both booklets, which create 4 collectible booklets for each denomination and staple size.
Hopefully this simplifies this complex field at little bit, or at least provides some context into which to understand the variations and how they fit into the whole.