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Canadian Revenue Stamps

( Originally Published 1893 )

WITHOUT a doubt the most handsome sets of fiscal stamps in the world will be found in those which have been and are now issued in the Dominion of Canada. This factor probably has a great deal to do with the large and ever-growing number of Philatelists who have taken up this branch of collecting. At one period, namely, a dozen years ago, hardly anyone thought it worth while to go into the collecting of revenue stamps. Now, things have changed, and about nine out of every ten Canadian collectors either make a specialty in one or the whole of the many exceedingly beautiful sets emitted by our own country. It is just beginning to dawn upon many that there are certain fiscals belonging to the Dominion which are exceedingly rare, and have a decided monetary value. I have never seen a complete collection of Canada revenues comprising law, bill, tobacco, spirit license and other stamps. At the same time I believe I have seen the best collection known to exist at the present day, and containing close on one thousand varieties each.

These revenues may be divided into two classes, i.e., those which hat e an expressed value on their face, and those which have no value designated. In the former class the three issues of bill stamps, the law stamps issued by the various provinces, those issued by the Federal Government for the Supreme Court, the weights and measures, and the gas inspection stamps. With the second class. we place the tobacco stamps, ribbon, square, diamond and cigarette, also the petroleum, spirit, bonded permits and lock seal stamps. Collectors are apt to draw the line on those stamps which have a monetary value expressed. Thus they will collect the " gas inspection ten cents," and leave out the "cut plug quarter pound," although, in one sense they are both the same. inasmuch as they represent duty paid to the Crown. Owing to the frequent changing of the tariff and customs duties, it would be impossible to put the actual value in money on the engraving of each of the tobacco or customs excise stamps.

With such stamps, however, as the bonded revenue permits, and lock seal labels. we have what might he classed by some as a third-class, as they do not necessarily denote a tax on revenue paid or to be paid. Yet they form a part of our great revenue system of the present day. Of the law stamps proper, the Supreme Court is issued by the Federal or Dominion Government, and the others by the various Local or Provincial Governments. These present a very artistic series, and the varied colors are on a line with the beautiful engravings. The symbolical figure of " Justice " is depicted on most of the latter. To my personal taste I admire the higher values of the second and third issue bill stamps, with the Supreme Court and Quebec Law next in order.

Which is the rarest Canada revenue ? This is a question most difficult to answer. Before the Quebec Government gave some cancelled specimens of the tiro. $20 and $30 law stamps to collectors, these stamps were certainly a great rarity. Being placed on documents of great importance, combined with a very infrequent use, they rink as real rarities. 1 have never seen a genuinely used specimen, but have seen several " cancelled to order." But the Local Government, having become pestered with applications, promptly shut down decisively on giving any of these stamps away, so there is a possibility of these high values again taking rank where they properly belong. The 53 third issue bill stamp, surcharged " N.S." is looked upon by many as being the rarest fiscal in Canada. I believe I have seen as many, if not more, of the $3 value than the $2 value, yet both are rare. Recently, we are told, these surcharges have been counterfeited. If done with the exact typeŚnot a thing impossibleŚthey will prove to be very dangerous to collectors. At the sale of my own revenue collection in New York, the $30 Quebec Law, cancelled to order, only brought $10.25, and the $3 " N.S." sold for $10.50. These prices are certainly much too low, but not indicative of the rarity of the stamps, but simply that there was no demand for them in that market.

The red lock seal labels are very scarce, while the blue are common enough. Of the first issue Canada Bill stamps, the $2 and $3 appear to be plentiful unused, due to remainders, but the $1 unused is very scarce, and I know positively there are no quantity of them in the source from which the other values emanated. Of the second issue, the $2 red and purple is much scarcer than the $3 red and indigo, of which there is a stock unused held by a party. The third issue is a cheap set and easily obtainable, either used or unused, large quantities being held by dealers and collectors, or rather speculators. I have never seen a specimen of the $3 value, blue with black centre, that I would guarantee. I have, however, seen a number of the green with black veil tre changed chemically to blue. I do not doubt the existence of this error, hut, unless positive proof is forthcoming of its genuineness, what are we to do, particularly when they are quoted at $10 to $15 each ?

The Supreme Court stamps have been had unused at face value by certain collectors, and none of them are rare. The $10 gas and the " no value" red weights and measures stamps are hard to obtain, but neither are rare. Manitoba presents probably the rarest of the law stamps in her provisional issues of 1877 and 1881-2. When we get a proper catalogue of all the issues, with different varieties of surcharges, it will then he seen the large number there is for this Province. Instead of five of the provisional issue, there will be nearer twenty-five varieties, some almost unique, and most of them unobtainable, except for large sums. Altogether Manitoba will give nearly one hundred varieties of law stamps, Nova Scotia but one value and three varieties. New Brunswick and British Columbia each seven varieties.

The Quebec assurance stamps are most difficult to obtain and the collector with the full set from one cent to $5, has a value of at least $35 to $40. The $4 and 5 are each worth over $10. In the weights and measures stamps we will find not only the registered numbers across the top and in the centre, but of different sized type. In the third issue bill stamps there will be found different papers, the thick wove being the commonest; the dollar values are on thick and thin wove, and most of the " cents on so-called ribbed paper-in reality a wove paper slightly ribbed.

Altogether the collection of revenue stamps is very interesting, and in due time they will become a much more prominent feature in Philately than at present. I have no hesitation in saying that I believe the best collection of Canada revenues is in the possession of Mr. H. E. Deats, a prominent United States collector.

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