Dominion of Canada Stamps

Large Queens

Postal History and Postage Stamps

The first postage stamp issue of the newly formed Dominion of Canada has been recognized through the years as one of the handsomest and best produced series to appear. The design of these stamps, generally known as "Large Cents" or "Large Queens" is somewhat more elaborate than we expect nowadys, but they are well balanced and finely engraved. These features, plus their size, have kept them continuously attractive to collectors of Canadian Postage Stamps, and they provide a wide ranger of interest for all, from the collector who just takes one of each value, to the advanced specialist with a representation of shades, papers, perforations, plate varieties, postmarks, etc.


Description and Catalogue Numbers

1868-90Large Queens Issue

I. Ottawa printings P12, Thin rather transparent crisp paper

5A56c.blackish brown
6A612½c.bright blue
7A715c.deep reddish purple

Medium to stout wove paper

2dpale orange-yellow
3a2c.deep green
3bpale emerald-green
3cbluish green
5a6c.blackish brown
6a12½c.bright blue
6bpale dull blue
7a15c.deep reddish purple
7bpale reddish purple
7cdull violet-grey
7edull grey-purple

Montreal printings, Medium to stout wove paper
P 11½x12 or 11¾x12

7A15c.dull grey-purple

P 12

7E15c.clear deep violet
7Fdeep slate
7Gslaty blue
7Hslate-purple (shades)

The postage rates for the periods of Large Queens

½c - periodicals of less than 1 ounce in weight, replaced in July 1882 by the small ½c.
1c   - circulars, books, etc. per ounce, replaced in January, 1869 by the 1c yellow.
2c   - transient newspapers, replaced Feb. 1872 by the small 2c.
3c  - domestic letter rate, replaced Jan. 1870 by the small 3c.
6c   - letter rate to the United States, replaced in Jan. 1872 by the small 6c.
12½c - letter rate, by Canadian packet, to Great Britain, used unitil 1875
15c  - letter rate, by British packet, to Great Britain, until 1875

The 1c yellow appeared in January 1869, to eliminate confusion between the 1c brown and the 3c under the poor artificial light in use at the time. It was replaced by the small 1c stamp in March, 1870.

The 5c was prepared for issue in 1868, but on account of limited demand for that value, it was not placed on sale until Oct. 1st 1875, when the overseas rate by any packet was reduced to five cents. It was used only until the small five cent stamp could be prepared in Feb. 1876 and is accordingly scarce.

To the 15c stamp belongs the distinction of having been in use longer than any other Canadian stamp - over 30 years from 1868 until around the turn of the century. Throughout that period, there were a great many releases in a great variety of papers and shades which will be cobered more fully under their respective headings.

The design of each value centers around the profile of Queen Victoria facing to the right, and the ornamental frame-work differs for each value. All but the ½c are large stamps, and this was, in part, responsible for their short period of use. As the demand for stamps increased, it became difficult to maintain production using large plates and big sheets of paper, and starting in 1870, the "Large Queens" were replaced by the "Small Queens".

Separating the "Large Queens"

Omitting shade variations for the time being, the first step towards expanding the simple "one of each" set of the Large Queen issue is an examination of the paper on which the stamps are printed.It would seem that a great amount of effort has been spent in the past to break this issue down by paper varieties, and the result has usually been one of two extremes - either the list was so complicated that the average collector was scared away, or else important items have been omitted. Also such classifications frequently involve measuring paper thickness with micrometer equipment and interpreting such adjectives as crisp, brittle, tough, hard, opaque, transparent, thin, medium, thick, etc.The Collector whose interest passes the "one of each" category should be concerned with getting a stamp from the first printing, another from the later printing, as well as stamps from other identifiable groups, rather than a stamp on thin paper and a stamp on thick paper, etc.Towards this end, the emphasis placed on thin and thick papers, can be especially deceiving. Paper thickness varies cosiderably, and it is quite possible to find paper of the same type from the same printing both thinner and thicker than paper of another type which represents an entirely different printing.We are proposing a much more obvious means of examining and distinguishing these papers, a method requiring no special equipment, which can be followed by anny collector just by examining the stamp from the back by transmitted light, looking at the back of the stamp with the stamp between the eye and a strong light.

See more Articles about the Large Queens:


Numeral Cancels on the Large Queens Stamps

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Dominion of Canada Stamps