½d Queen Victoria
Date of Issue
June 10, 1978
Series Time Span
Perforation or Dimension
British American Bank Note Company.
Designed by Carl Brett Engraved by Robert Couture
Thousands will flock to Toronto in June 1978 to savour the mysterious delights of stamp collecting. The philatelic pilgrims propose to assemble at CAPEX 78, Canada's second international stamp exhibition. This event marks the centennial of Canada's joining the Universal Postal Union. Like the telephone, the telegraph and the radio, the Universal Postal Union and the postage stamp swept in with the communications revolution of the nineteenth century. True postal systems existed even in ancient times. So impressive were Persian postmen of the fifth century B.C., that Herodotus wrote, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Not until Rowland Hill reformed the British Post Office, however, did the mails become an efficient instrument of mass communication. Originally dismissed as one of the wildest and most visionary schemes of all time, Hill's plan called for, among other things, "a bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp, and covered at the back with a glutinous wash, which might, by applying a little moisture, attach to the back of the letter, so as to avoid the necessity for redirecting it." No sooner had the first stamps appeared on 1 May 1840, then people began to collect them. One woman covered her dressing room with cancelled stamps. "Punch" reported in 1842 that "A new mania has bitten the industriously idle ladies of England. To enable a wager to be gained, they have been indefatigable in their endeavours to collect penny stamps; in fact they betray more anxiety to treasure queens' heads than Henry the Eighth did to get rid of them!" In 1865 a Monsieur Herpin christened the pastime "philately". The new term replaced "timbromania", a word that sounded more like a disease than a hobby. Herpin thus saved stamp collectors from being branded as "timbromaniacs". By 1874 national postal reform was so advanced and international traffic so heavy that 22 nations formed a General Postal Union. This vastly simplified international transfers. For example, where there had been 1200 different rates for mail between the participating countries, there was now one. On 1 July 1878, Canada entered the organization, gaining what Postmaster General L. S. Huntington (best known for his Pacific Railway Scandal revelations) described as "a voice in the future settlement of the conditions of postal intercourse between the nations of the civilized world." So many other countries joined, that the group soon changed its name to the Universal Postal Union. The UPU became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1947. For the design of the CAPEX 78 commemorative issue of three stamps, Canada Post has gone to a stamp-on-stamp format which uses imperforate pairs of each of three of Canada's classics, a pair for each denomination. These stamps were designed by Carl Brett of Toronto. The engravings were executed by Robert Couture from original, which may be seen in the National Postal Museum, Ottawa. A pair of the 1/2-penny rose Queen Victoria issue of July 1857 appears on the 30-cent letter-rate stamp for overseas. The elegant cameo profile of the Queen is taken from a contemporary engraved design in use in Great Britain. For the first time in its history, Canada Post will issue a Souvenir Sheet to commemorate CAPEX 78 and to mark the hundredth year of Canada's entry into the Universal Postal Union. The Souvenir Sheet is being produced in limited quantities and will feature the three CAPEX 78 commemoratives announced above, in perforated, se-tenant format. The Souvenir Sheet was designed by the firm of Newton Frank Arthur & Company of Toronto.
Canada. Post Office Department. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1978.
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