The 20-cent olive-green Queen Victoria stamp of 1900 remained in issue for four years. The exhaustion of supplies of this stamp in 1904 made it necessary to add a 20-cents denomination to the King Edward VII series. On the death of Queen Victoria on 22nd January, 1901, immediate steps were taken to replace her portrait on Canadian postage stamps. A new issue bearing the likeness of His Majesty King Edward VII was called for but did not materialize for nearly two years.
When Sir William Mulock, Postmaster General of Canada, visited London to attend the coronation of Edward VII he likely spoke to the Prince of Wales, later King George V, on the subject of the new Canadian stamps. The Prince, himself a philatelist and interested in the designs of postage stamps, suggested a simple and dignified arrangement that was adopted with very little change.
The die was engraved by Perkins, Bacon, and Company of London, England. From an artistic point of view, the treatment of the engraving was not practical for printing postage stamps in large quantities. When the Postmaster General learned this he decided to have the contractors re-engrave the die following the same general design. The stamps subsequently issued bearing the portrait of King Edward VII were the sole product of the American Bank Note Company, Limited, Ottawa. For the first time the Department decided to place the crown on the regular issue of Canadian postage stamps. The crown introduced in the upper left and right hand corners of the design was not a necessary adjunct to the stamp, but served a decorative and symbolic purpose. Portrait of His Majesty King Edward VII, taken shortly before his coronation.