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Nickel, Discovery at Sudbury, 1883


Nickel, Discovery at Sudbury, 1883



Date of Issue

August 12, 1983




Postal Administration


Perforation or Dimension

13 x 13.5


Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.


Designed by John Capon

About Stamp

In August 1883, construction crews were cutting trees on the CPR right-of-way a little northwest of the newly founded railway town of Sudbury. Thomas Flanagan, a CPR blacksmith, noted a rusty-looking patch of rock that appeared to contain copper. Subsequent investigation proved that not only had Flanagan discovered copper but he had also stumbled onto the world's biggest nickel deposit. Scientists devised several theories explaining how the nickel got there. One of these states that 1.7 billion years ago a meteorite fell on the area, one of the two largest to hit the earth in the past two billion years. The meteorite measured eight kilometres in diameter, weighed two trillion tons of TNT. The explosion gouged a crater more than 125 kilometres across. Into it bubbled molten rock from the earth's interior, bringing with it nickel, copper, platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, osmium, gold, silver, cobalt, sulfur, and the other minerals today found at Sudbury. Subsequently, the same geological forces that create mountains compressed the crater into the 27 km x 59 km oval known today as the Sudbury Basin. After the 1883 discovery, several years passed before a careful assay revealed that the Sudbury ores contained a significant portion of nickel. But event then there was not so much market for it until two inventions altered the situation. The first invention took place in 1889, when a French firm discovered that nickel increases the strength of armour plate. The second came about when the Orford Company of New Jersey perfected a method of refining the Sudbury nickel. Since then, the mines of Sudbury have contributed greatly to the prosperity of Ontario and of Canada as a whole. The nickel discovery stamp was designed by Toronto graphic designer John Capon. The design features the word "nickel" foil-stamped in silver on a background of horizontal bars of colour symbolic of rock strata. An urban skyline adds to the effect of a city built on the surface of extensive underground ore deposits.
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Canada Post Corporation. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1983.

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