After the 1988-1991 Architecture and Wildlife Definitive issue, the definitive issues of Canada become much simpler to collect and study. For one thing, there are many fewer fluorescent paper varieties. There are differences in paper, but most of them are by paper manufacturer, and most of the remaining listed varieties come from differences in perforation. So, most varieties that can be collected are listed in Unitrade, except for tagging errors.
So, in discussing these issues, I am not going to repeat everything that is already covered in Unitrade. Rather, I want to focus on discussing two aspects of these issues that have not received, what I would consider to be adequate coverage: distinguishing the printings of the low values, and shade variations and fluorescent paper varieties on the medium value fruit tree definitives.
Unitrade makes the assertion at the beginning of both issues that it is not possible to distinguish between the printings of the low value stamps without having imprint copies that show the actual printer name. While I would agree that these are difficult stamps for the novice to sort, I intend to show you that you actually can distinguish between them with reasonable certainty if you know what to look for, and so most of this post will focus on explaining the differences between the printings and showing you how to distinguish them.
Edible Berries Definitives
The edible berries stamps were first issued on August 5, 1992 and were
originally printed by Ashton Potter on Coated Papers Paper (CPP). Thyen, between March/April 1994 and April 1995/May 1997 three additional printings appeared of most values in the series:
- In March/April 1994 the CBN reprinted the stamps on Harrison paper. This included all values except the 1c.
- On August 19, 1994 additional printings from the CBN were issued that were on CPP paper.
- Between April 1995 and May 1997, additional printings were made by Ashton Potter Canada, following the bankruptcy and restructuring of Ashton Potter into APC. This included all values except the 6c.
I will explain the differences between these four printing groups and then show you examples of each printing for each value and show you how they relate to the descriptions of these differences.
Ashton Potter Printings
The original Ashton Potter printings all exhibit a very fine vertical ribbing on the printed surface of the paper, that can be seen best if the stamp is viewed at an angle to a good, strong light source. With care and patience you will be able to see this even on used stamps. The shades found in the stamps, in terms of certain parts of the designs are helpful also. However what is distinct differs slightly for each value.
The colour of the leaves on the bushes varies for each value, but it is generally not as bright of a green as the APC printings. Generally the colours are very similar for AP and CBN printings. On the 1c,2c, 3c and 5c the green is less yellowish on the AP and CBN printings. However, on the 6c, 10c and 25c this trend is reversed, and the green is slightly brighter and yellower than the other values. The blue of the sky is usually both lighter and brighter for the AP and APC printings, as compared to CBN printings. However, there is very little difference on the 6c value between the blue of the sky on Each printing, I find.
There are three shades of green used on most all stamps of this series: a deep green for the foliage of the bushes, a slightly less deep green used for distant bushes, and then a light yellowish green used for grass. On the Ashton Potter and CBN printings of all stamps except the 10c and 25c, this green is less yellowish. On the 10c and 25c values it is more yellowish than the green on the other printings.
So, by far the vertical ribbing is the first thing to look for in identifying Ashton Potter printings. The shades are not usually necessary, as you can identify them from this ribbing.
CBN Printings on Harrison Paper
The CBN printings on Harrison printing are easy to identify when mint, because the gum has a very distinct appearance. The gum on CPP paper is very slightly bluish in colour, but there is very little sheen, with the surface appearing to have an "eggshell: sheen. The gum does not shrink over time, and so stamps on this paper lie flat when placed on a flat surface. In contrast, the gum of Harrison paper is shiny and has small blemishes in it. It also shrinks over time causing the stamps to curl from the tension in the paper. This is of very little help when the stamps are used. However, here we can make use of paper fluorescence to settle the difference. CPP paper is completely NF under UV light. Harrison is DF under UV, but will still appear brighter than CPP paper will.
The blue colour of the sky is also somewhat of a help here, in distinguishing the printings. The light blue colour is quite dull compared to the other printings. There will be no surface ribbing on these printings.
CBN Printings on Coated Papers Paper
Like the printings on Harrison paper, the CBN printings on CPP paper have a completely smooth printing surface. On both mint and used stamps, the main way to distinguish between the CBN printings and the APC printings is by the colour of the grass, the folliage, the berries and the grass, depending on which value you are dealing with.
On the 1c, both the CBN and AP printings have berries that are more purple violet than bluish violet. The green of the leaves is deep and less bright compared to the APC printings. On the 2c the green of the leaves is slightly duller than that of the AP and APC printings, and the sky colour is a very slightly lighter blue. On the 3c the berries of both CBN printings contain more purple than blue, though the difference is quite subtle. On the 5c the leaves of the rose hip bushes are more yellowish compared to the deep green of AP and the sky is a duller blue as compared to APC. On the 6c the green of the leaves is deeper and less yellowish compared to AP. On the 10c the green of the plant is duller and slightly more yellowish. On the 25c the grass is much more light green than greenish yellow, as the AP printing is, and the leaves are a deeper, less yellowish green.
APC Printings on Coated Papers Paper
The APC printings, like the CBN printings have a completely smooth printing surface. The biggest factor which will prove useful for distinguishing the printings are the shades, as follows:
- On the 1c, the berries are almost blue, rather than purple violet. The sky is a brighter blue and the leaves are a slightly brighter, slightly more yellowish green.
- On the 2c, the grass is slightly more yellowish, and the green of the leaves is brighter.
- On the 3c the berries are slightly more bluish.
- On the 5c, 10c and 25c the blue of the sky is much brighter. The green of the leaves is also slightly brighter.
Lets now take a look at some examples:
Here are the three printings of the 1c. The APC printing is on the right, and if you look at the sky, you can see that the blue is brighter, and the berries are much bluer than on the other two printings. The CBN and AP printings are much more similar, but as I said above, the AP printing will have vertical ribbing on the face, but the leaves of the plant will be a little more yellowish compared to the leaves of the CBN printing.
Here are the 4 printings of the 2 cent, with the two middle stamps being CBN printings and the APC printing on the left. The AP printing is on the right. Again, if you compare the colour of the sky, you will see that the APC printing is a brighter blue. Also, you should be able to see that the leaves are a brighter, deeper green. The grass is also slightly more yellowish. Distinguishing between CBN and AP requires you to look for the ribbing in the paper that will be present on AP, but not CBN.
Here are the four printings of the 3c, with the AP on the left, two CBN's in the middle and the APC on the right. If you compare the AP and APC to two CBN printings, you can see the sky is brighter blue and the berries are a slightly bluer violet. Then, distinguishing between APC and AP is a matter of looking for the ribbing on the AP that will not be present on the APC.
Here are the 4 printings of the 5c, with APC on the left, the two CBN's in the middle, and the AP on the right. Again, the AP and APC are both very similar in shade, with the blue of the sky being brighter on both these printings compared to CBN. The APC also has slightly yellower green on the grass.
Here are the three printings of the 6c, with AP on the left and the two CBN's on the middle and right. The main difference between the AP and CBN printings apart from the ribbing is the colour of the leaves on the plant. The green of the AP printings is slightly more yellowish.
Here are the four printings of the 10c, with AP on the left, the two CBN printings in the middle and the APC on the right. Here, APC has a much deeper and brighter blue for the sky colour. The green of the foliage is brighter and more yellowish green on the AP and APC printings, and then the APC printings will not have any vertical ribbing on the printing surface.
Finally we have three of the four printings of the 25c, with the AP on the left, APC on the right and a lightly used CBN printing in the middle. In contrast to the other values, the very yellow grass occurs on the AP printing, rather than the APC. The green of the leaves is brighter and more yellowish and the paper of course has vertical ribbing. The main difference between CBN and APC is the blue of the sky, which is much brighter on the APC printing.
How to Best Sort the Stamps
The question that arises then, when you have a mass of stamps to sort, is how best to proceed to make the sort as efficient as possible. Here are the stps I recommend:
- Start by looking for copies with shiny gum that look curled. These are automatically Harrison paper CBN printings. On your used stamps, check them with an ultraviolet lamp. They should all appear to be either DF or NF. Take the DF ones out. These should also be CBN on Harrison paper.
- Next, sort the remaining stamps into those having light vertical ribbing on the face and those that do not. Don't rush this step. Take your time and get it right. Those with ribbing are automatically AP.
- Now you are left with non-ribbed stamps that are either CBN or APC. Compare the colour of the sky, leaves or berries. Those with brighter blue sky, bluer berries or brighter green are APC. That leaves you with CBN stamps on CPP paper.
The Trades Definitives
These definitives are much harder to distinguish as compared to the berries stamps because there are no differences whatsoever in the gum to help you, and the paper in all cases is TRC paper, which is essentially the same as CPP paper. These are more difficult because there are no easily identifiable, separate colours that we can isolate and compare, except possibly the black background. So, with these it is easier to simply show you the printings and explain the differences, rather than describing them and then presenting examples.
So here are the three printings of the 1c bookbinding. AP is on the left and has a jet black background. The February 2001 CBN printing is shown on the right, while the November 2001 CBN printing is shown in the middle. The November 2001 printing is easy to spot because the black is a brownish black, rather than a jet black, and the pages at the top appear coloured. On the AP printing those pages appear greyish and on the earlier CBN printing they appear more white, and the hands appear to have warmer more orangy skin tones.
Here are the three printings of the 2c, with AP on the right, November 2001 CBN in the middle and February 2001 CBN on the right. Again, the black background is more of a brownish black on the November 2001 CBN printing, but I find the easiest thing to look is the colour of the iron at the top. It is blue grey on the AP printing, brownish grey on the November 2001 CBN printing, and violet grey on the February 2001 CBN printing.
Here we have the two printings of the 4c, with AP on the left and October 2005 CBN on the right. Here, the distinction is easy, and again it lies in the tone of black in the background colour, with CBN being a distinct brownish black.
Here are the three printings of the 5c weaving, with AP on the right, November 2001 in the middle, and February 2001 CBN on the right. This is one of the more difficult values because the black does not really show much variation. Here, what you have to focus on is the red of the yarn at the top and the brown background behind the shuttle. On both the AP and November 2001 CBN printings, the brown is fairly deep, but is ever so slightly lighter on the CBN printing. However, the November 2001 CBN printing has a brighter red colour to the yarn than the AP printing does. The February 2001 printing has a much redder brown background behind the shuttle, and should be fairly easy to identify, once you know what to look for.
Here we have again, the three printings of the 10c, with AP on the left, November 2001 CBN in the middle and February 2001 CBN on the right. The black background, as well as the tone of the wood carving at the top are the two colours to focus on here. The November 2001 printing has a distinctly brownish black background. The wood is a warm honey colour on this and the AP printing. In contrast, on the February 2001 printing the wood is a colder, more yellowish colour.
Last, but not least, we have the three printings of the 25c leatherworking, with AP on the left, February 2001 CBN in the middle and November 2001 CBN on the right. Again, the November 2001 CBN printing has a brownish black background, rather than a more jet black background. In truth all three printings on this value have a brown black background, but it is most obvious on the November 2001 printing. To distinguish AP from February 2001 CBN look at the colour of the leather at the top. On the AP printings there is a slightly more orangy tone to the leather as compared to the CBN printing, where it is more yellowish.
The Medium Value Fruit Tree Definitives
These are a lot of fun to collect, as they were printed by three different printers, AP, CBN and APC, and can be found both in sheet form and booklet form, as well as perf. 13.1 and 14.4 x 13.8. In most instances, the booklet and sheet stamps can be found with both perfs on some values. GT-4 tagging is the default on all values except the 88c, where it can be found both GT-4 and GT-3, and the 90c, where all printings are GT-3. Three different basic paper types are found: Harrison, Coated Papers Paper and Peterborough paper.
There were four values issued for each of the main postage rates above first class domestic over the four year period from 1991 to 1995, and the default printer, paper type and perf, differ for each year as follows:
- 1991 - 48c, 65c, and 84c values - Ashton Potter (AP) on CPP, perf. 13.1 for sheets and 14.4 x 13.8 for booklets.
- 1992 - 49c, 67c and 86c values - AP on CPP, perf. 13.1 for sheets and 14.4 x 13.8 for booklets.
- 1993 & Early 1994 - 49c, 69c and 86c values - CBN on Harrison paper, perf. 13.1 for both sheet and booklet stamps.
- February 1994 - 50c and 88c values - CBN on Harrison paper for sheet stamps of the 50c and Peterborough Paper for the 88c stamps and booklet stamps of the 50c. Perf. 13.1 for all printings.
- March/April 1995 - 50c, 69c and 88c values - Ashton Potter Canada (APC) on Coated Papers Paper (CPP), perf. 13.1 for sheets and 14.4 x 13.8 for booklets.
- July 1995 - 52c, 71c and 90c values - CBN on Peterborough paper, Perf. 13.1 for sheet and booklet stamps.
- October 1995 - 52c, 71c and 90c values - APC on CPP, perf. 14.4 x 13.8 for booklet and sheet printings of the 52c, and 13.1 for the other values.
- October/December 1995 - 71c and 90c values - APC on CPP, perf. 14.4 x 13.8 for sheet printings of the 71c and booklet printings only of the 90c.
- March/April 1996 - 90c value - APC on CPP, perf. 14.4 x 13.8 sheet stamps.
- October 1996 - 52c value - APC on CPP, perf. 13.1 for sheet and booklet stamps
In addition to the Unitrade listings for the above, you will notice, if you compare multiple copies of a listed printing, several variations of shade. Usually these will affect the colour of the skin of the fruit or the colour of the leaves. I have found these differences to be most noticeable on the 49c, 65c, 67c, 69c, 88c and 90c values.
The fluorescence of the Peterborough paper also varies, even though Unitrade does not list any varieties. I have so far found DF, LF and F varieties. I have not yet found MF and HF papers, though I'm fairly confident that MF and HF should exist, as these fluorescence levels are found on other commemorative stamps of the period that are printed on Peterborough paper.
And that should do it for our coverage of these issues.
- July 1995 -