The Imperforate Pairs and Proof Material of the 1911-1928 Admiral Issue

The Imperforate Pairs and Proof Material of the 1911-1928 Admiral Issue

1c Green die proof from the 1911-1928 Admiral Issue of Canada


Most early Canadian issues after 1897 have a plethora of proof material to collect and this aspect of most issues is generally the most expensive and challenging. The Admiral Issue of 1911-1928 is no exception. In fact it is especially challenging due to the number of denominations in the set and also the number of colours that were issued during its life. The BNA Proofs website gives a comprehensive listing of proof material for this issue - 73 items in all. The website gives estimated market values that cover an extremely wide range  from as low as $500 for some of the trial colour proofs, up to $20,000 for the composite dies of the 1c. Most items however are estimated in the $2,000-$5,000 range. My intent here is not to copy their work, but to give you a brief synopsis, and a link where you can go look at their page yourself for more information.

The Categories of Proof Material

The 73 items that BNA proofs lists fall into 4 categories:
  • Essays - 5 items. 
  • Composite die proofs - 2 items. 
  • Die Proofs in issued colours, or black (only one) - 30 items. 
  • Trial colour proofs - 36 items.
The breakdown of these items by denomination is:
  • 11 items for the 1 cent.
  • 8 items for the 2 cent.
  • 8 items for the 3 cent.
  • 4 items for the 4 cent.
  • 6 items for the 5 cent.
  • 3 items for the unissued 6 cent value.
  • 9 items for the 7 cent.
  • 3 items for the 8 cent.
  • 6 items for the 10 cent.
  • 4 items for the 20 cent.
  • 8 items for the 50 cent.
  • 3 items for the $1.
Generally in each case, the majority of proofs will be for the first colours of each value. For the re-issued values of 1922, the pattern that seems to emerge is 3 items per value, with one being a die proof in the issued colour and two trial colour proofs for each value. Interestingly, there is no known die proof for the 10c blue. In every single case, except one (the 10c bistre brown) the colour of these trial colour proofs is always black. Generally, the two trial colour proofs for these later issues differ in size only, with large trial colour proofs that look like this:
Trial colour proof of the 1c green King George V stamp of the 1911-1928 Admiral Issue of Canada
and stamp sized proofs on card that look like this:
Orange trial colour proof of the 7c King George V stamp of the 1911-1928 Admiral Issue of Canada
The stamp sized proofs above are the least expensive items, being estimated at around $500 each, while the large sized items are all in the $2,000-$5,000 range each. If you average everything out at $2,500 a piece, you are looking at almost $183,000 minimum, just for this material. In reality you will find that many of these items will bring even more at auction, due to their immense rarity and the incredible popularity of this issue. The availability of this material is better than other issues, with many items having at least 4 or more known examples and only a handful being unique. That being said, to amass all of this would still take decades for someone patient enough to view auction sales religiously and with deep pockets to be able to acquire the items as they come up for sale. 
The link for the BNA Proofs page is:
Imperforate Pairs
Another very elusive aspect of this issue is the unissued imperforate material. This is in sharp contrast to the issued imperforates of the 1c yellow-orange, 2c dark green and 3c carmine from 1924, which although not abundant, are not rare by any stretch. The most interesting thing about these is that they are not known to exist for the first colours, making these the only regular issues in a long run of stamp issues between the Small Queens and 1946 that are not known imperforate. On the low values in second colours, i.e. 1c yellow-orange, 2c dark green and 3c carmine, the booklet panes are known in imperforate tete-beche pairs and these are extremely rare and valuable, listing for $22,500 each in Unitrade. Only between 7 and 9 of each of these panes is known. 
The only other values for which imperforate pairs are known are the 4c, 5c violet, 7c red brown, 8c blue, 10c bistre brown, 20c olive green, 50c black brown, and $1 orange. In each case, Unitrade states that 100 stamps were printed, so that 50 pairs is the maximum number of pairs that could have existed when the stamps were issued. They are all rare and valued at between $2,000 and $8,000 each depending on whether they grade as fine or very fine and whether or not they are never hinged or hinged. Based on the lack of a 10c blue and the fact that the 50c is only found in the re-drawn die of the dry printing, I would say that these imperforates were produced some time between 1925 and 1928. 
This concludes my discussion of this aspect of the Admiral issue, which is probably the most expensive and challenging. The lathework and pyramid guideline material will be discussed in the next post, and while still very challenging, is generally much easier to acquire than this material is. 
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