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Dominion of Canada Stamps

Issues of 1868-1897

Definitive Dominion of Canada stamps first appeared in 1868, and all of them featured the portrait of Queen Victoria.

The two series of stamps shown on this page are called the "Large Queens" and the "Small Queens".  The Large Queens were actually disliked by the public when they were first issued in 1868, due to their larger sizes, but today, they are among the favorites of every Canada stamp collector around the World.

Collecting these stamps can be as simple (and inexpensive) or as complex (and tremendously expensive) as the collector desires. 

The easy way to go is to collect one example of each denomination.  In used condition, the common varieties are not unreasonably expensive for stamps of this era.  A nice, and not necessarily expensive, sideline would be to collect postmarks on some of the denominations.  I used to enjoy collecting shades and postmarks on the 15 Cent denomination Large Queen stamps, which are actually one of the less expensive denominations of the series.

For the dedicated and determined specialist, this series offers  proofs, trial color proofs, essays, paper varieties, perforation varieties, shade varieties, experimental watermark varieties, plate varieties, printing varieties etc.  An entire lifetime could be spent just specializing in the Large Queen and Small Queen issues.  Of course, this avenue will cost the collector hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mint stamps are used for illustration purposes here.  Most of the images of the mint condition stamps on this page come from the catalogs of major auction houses, and stamps such as these are rarely encountered, even if one could afford them all.  Most Canada collectors collect these stamps in used condition.


The ten Large Queen Canada stamps shown above were issued beginning in 1868.  These Canada stamps are engraved, perforated in various gauges, with 12 and 11 1/2 x 12 being the most common, and most of them were printed on unwatermarked paper. 

The first printings of these stamps were printed on thin paper. Later printings were printed on thicker paper.

The major Scott listed varieties and shades will be described in the catalog detail tables below.  One should know that there are MANY more varieties than those listed in the Scott Catalog.  For anyone wishing to specialize in these stamps, the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps is an absolute necessity.  Here's an eBay link, for those that don't mind having a less expensive older edition.

All of the Scott Catalog listed unwatermarked varieties are indicated below:


  • 1/2 C.  (1868 - Thin Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #21c) - Black.
  • 1/2 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #21) - Black.
  • 1/2 C.  (1873 - Normal Paper, Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #21a) - Black.
  • 1 C.  (1868 - Thin Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #22b) - Brown Red.
  • 1 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #22b) - Brown Red.
  • 1 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #23) - Yellow Orange, Deep Orange.
  • 2 C.  (1868 - Thin Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #24b) - Green.
  • 2 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #24) - Green.
  • 3 C.  (1868 - Thin Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #25b) - Red.
  • 3 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #25) - Red.
  • 5 C.  (1875 - Thin Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #26a) - Olive Green.
  • 5 C.  (1875 - Normal Paper, Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #26) - Olive Green.
  • 6 C.  (1868 - Thin Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #27f) - Black Brown.
  • 6 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #27) - Dark Brown, Yellow Brown.
  • 12 1/2 C.  (1868 - Thin Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #28b) - Blue.
  • 12 1/2 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #28) - Blue.
  • 15 C.  (1868 - Thin Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #29e) - Gray Violet, Red Lilac.
  • 15 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #29) - Gray Violet, Red Lilac.
  • 15 C.  (1874 - Normal Paper, Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #29a) - Gray Violet, Red Lilac.
  • 15 C.  (1868 - Normal Paper, Perf. 12 - Scott #30) - Gray, Blue Gray, Deep Blue.
  • 15 C.  (1873 - Normal Paper, Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #30a) - Gray.
  • 15 C.  (1876 - Thick Paper, Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #30c) - Deep Violet.

There were two types of paper watermarks used on the Large Queen Canada stamps.

The first watermark is "E. & G. BOTHWELL CLUTHA MILLS." in double-lined letters across the sheet of stamps.  Stamps showing portions of this watermark are scarce, but they are moderately priced.

The second watermark is "Alexr. Pirie & Sons." in script letters.  Stamps showing part of this watermark are rare and very expensive.


  • 1/2 C.  (1868 - D/L BOTHWELL Wmk. - Scott #21b)
  • 1 C.  (1868 - D/L BOTHWELL Wmk. - Scott #22a)
  • 2 C.  (1868 - D/L BOTHWELL Wmk. - Scott #24a)
  • 3 C.  (1868 - D/L BOTHWELL Wmk. - Scott #25a)
  • 6 C.  (1868 - D/L BOTHWELL Wmk. - Scott #27b)
  • 12 1/2 C.  (1868 - D/L BOTHWELL Wmk. - Scott #28a)
  • 15 C.  (1868 - D/L BOTHWELL Wmk. - Scott #29c)
  • 15 C.  (1876 - Script Alexr. Pirie Wmk. - Scott #30d)

The Large Queen Issues were never very popular with the public, due to their large size.  As existing supplies became exhausted, the Canadian postal service began replacing them with new stamps that were smaller in size.  These new definitive postage Canada stamps are known as the Small Queen Issues.


The seven Small Queen Canada stamps shown above were issued between 1870 and 1889.  These stamps are all engraved and they were printed on unwatermarked, wove paper.

These Canada stamps were printed both at Montreal and at Ottawa, and over time, three different perforation gauges were used.  They are indicated in the catalog detail table below.


  • 1/2 C.  (1882 - Perf. 12 - Scott #34) - Black.
  • 1 C.  (1870 - Perf. 12 - Scott #35) - Yellow, Orange.
  • 2 C.  (1872 - Perf. 12 - Scott #36) - Green.
  • 2 C.  (1889 - Perf. 12 - Scott #36d) - Blue Green.
  • 3 C.  (1870 - Perf. 12 - Scott #37b) - Copper Red.
  • 3 C.  (1871 - Perf. 12 - Scott #37a) - Rose.
  • 3 C.  (1872 - Perf. 12 - Scott #37c) - Dull Red.
  • 3 C.  (1873 - Perf. 12 - Scott #37) - Orange Red.
  • 5 C.  (1876 - Perf. 12 - Scott #38) - Slate Green.
  • 6 C.  (1872 - Perf. 12 - Scott #39) - Yellow Brown.
  • 6 C.  (1875 - Perf. 12 - Scott #39d) - Brown.
  • 10 C.  (1877 - Perf. 12 - Scott #40) - Dull to Deep Lilac Rose.
  • 10 C.  (1880 - Perf. 12 - Scott #40a) - Magenta.

  • 3 C.  (1870 - Perf. 12 1/2 - Scott #37d) - Copper Red.

  • 1 C.  (1873 - Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #35d) - Orange.
  • 2 C.  (1873 - Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #36e) - Green.
  • 3 C.  (1873 - Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #37e) - Red.
  • 5 C.  (1873 - Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #38a) - Slate Green.
  • 6 C.  (1873 - Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #39b) - Yellow Brown.
  • 10 C.  (1873 - Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #40c) - Dull Rose Lilac.
  • 10 C.  (1873 - Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #40d) - Magenta.
  • 10 C.  (1874 - Perf. 11 1/2 x 12 - Scott #40e) - Milky Rose Lilac.


The seven Canada stamps shown above were issued between 1888 and 1897.  These stamps were all printed at Ottawa, and they are all perforated 12.

This group of definitive stamps features three new denominations.  The catalog attributes are as follows:


  • 3 C.  (1888 - Perf. 12 - Scott #41) - Bright Vermilion, Rose Carmine.
  • 5 C.  (1888 - Perf. 12 - Scott #42) - Gray.
  • 6 C.  (1888 - Perf. 12 - Scott #43) - Red Brown.
  • 6 C.  (1890 - Perf. 12 - Scott #43a) - Chocolate.
  • 8 C.  (1893 - Perf. 12 - Scott #44) - Violet Black, Blue Gray, Slate, Gray.
  • 10 C.  (1897 - Perf. 12 - Scott #45) - Brown Red, Dull Rose, Pink.
  • 20 C.  (1893 - Perf. 12 - Scott #46) - Vermilion.
  • 50 C.  (1893 - Perf. 12 - Scott #47) - Blue.

Separating the earlier Montreal and Ottawa printings and the later Ottawa printings from each other can be very difficult.  The different shades can be helpful, but that method is error-prone as well.  The easy way is by the different types of gum used on these Canada stamps.  Of course, this method requires collecting mint condition examples of all the stamps!  Please refer to the specialized catalogs for details.




eBay Auction and Store Links

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Return to Dominion of Canada Stamps
From Issues of 1868-1897





SBI!



Large Queens


Laid Paper
Varieties

In 1868, a very small number of the 1 C., 2 C., and 3 C. denomination Large Queen stamps were produced on horizontally laid paper.

The Scott Catalog lists these as major issues, with separate catalog numbers (Scott #31-33), thus every specialized Canada album will have spaces for these three stamps.  Unfortunately, most collectors will never own any of them.

These three denominations on laid paper were never a regular issue.  In fact, the first known example of the 2 C. denomination, Canada's rarest stamp, was not discovered until 1925.


Used condition examples of the 1 C. and 3 C. denominations on horizontally laid paper are shown above. Mint condition examples exist, but they are very rarely encountered.


These stamps are available in the philatelic marketplace, usually in major philatelic auctions, and their realizations are generally in the thousands of dollars.


The 2 C. denomination stamp on horizontally laid paper is Canada's rarest stamp, with only three of them being known.  The second and third discovery examples are shown above.

The second discovery example, shown at the top of the images above, sold at auction in February 2014 for $475,000. 

The third discovery example, shown at the bottom of the images above, will also be sold during 2014.  This third discovery example is expected to realize much more than the second discovery example, auctioned earlier in 2014.