Spring is in the air – eventually. Canada Post’s gardenia stamp

Spring is in the air – eventually. Canada Post’s gardenia stamp

Spring is in the air for stamp collectors, courtesy of Canada Post.

Photo of winter storm in Toronto

Maybe, but not today. To help break up the winter doldrums and usher in Valentine’s Day, Canada Post is offering a pair of gardenia stamps.Feb 14 gardenia stamps from Canada Post

Their annual flower offering doesn’t disappoint. Designed by Andrew Conlon & Lionel Gadoury, with artwork by Chantal Larocque, the stamps offer two views of Cape jasmine gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides).

You can pick them up in many formats, as expected – rolls, FDC, souvenir sheet, singles, strips of four and ten and booklets.

Feb 14 gardenia stamps from Canada Post Souvenir Sheet Feb 14 gardenia stamps from Canada Post Souvenir Sheet

Feb 14 gardenia stamps from Canada Post booklet

They go on sale Valentine’s Day across Canada. If your local post outlet doesn’t have them, you can purchsase direct from Canada Post’s online store.  

Canada’s Bee Stamp 2018

Canada’s Bee Stamp 2018

I’m not sure if Canada Post will have a new bee stamp for International Bee Day for May 20th, but they issued a couple of interesting ones last year.  Scan of 2 Canadian postage stamps with stylized bees

These two stylized permanent stamps (forever stamps) were released May 1st 2018 and they’re kind of cool. Designed by Andrew Perro and illustrated by Dave Murray, the stamps show a bumble bee (currently on the endangered species list in Canada) and a metallic green bee, which is a type of sweat bee in all it’s vivid colours. 

The stamps come in singles, a booklet of 10 stamps and a First Day Cover:

Picture of Canada Post bee stamps in booklet format

The cancel on the FDC is great! They did a good job on this set although there isn’t a lot of room for the address. 

Picture of a First Day Cover for the bee stamps

They can still be purchased via Canada Post’s online shop.  

If you want to learn a bit more about bees and International Bee Day, and look at a couple of bee photos, check out the article I wrote to accompany this post – International Bee Day is Coming 

Why yes, you can find Love  – 53°29′9.44″N 104°10′2.94″W

Why yes, you can find Love – 53°29′9.44″N 104°10′2.94″W

Nothing says romance and love like Valentine’s Day, right?. Unless you’re a stamp collector. Then Love can be found in Saskatchewan, Canada. That’s about 260 km north east of Saskatoon.  The village of Love, all 12 or so streets of it, is a former railway stop named after CPR conductor Tom Love, so one story goes. 

Love, Sask – Gateway to the Narrow Hills – population 50, boasts fishing, camping and “challenging golf”. I’m not quite sure what that means, I find the entire concept of golf challenging. You can also stop in at Cupid’s Coffee Shop, saunter down Cupid’s Way (also known as 1st St. N), enjoy camping, indulge in some shiatsu therapy, visit the Love Barn (not a clue but it sounds intriguing) and Jigger’s Tavern.  And most importantly for Valentine’s, the Love Valentine’s Festival. From the looks of things, it’s a good place to go hiking and just chill with nature. 

Now, why am I posting about Love & love & Valentine’s Day in a stamp collecting column? Well, the cancels of course!

 A second stamp cancel from the village of Love, Sask. A stamp cancel from the village of Love, Sask.

There has been a post office in Love since 1936. In 1984, it was given permission, by Canada Post, to issue a special Valentine’s day cancel.  That’s 34 years worth of love to go looking for.

If you are a cancel hound, you can send a stamped, self addressed envelope to the post office where they will cancel it and send it back.  Or, if you know a cancel collector and want to surprise them, pop their name onto an envelope and have it sent directly to them.

For anyone who hasn’t done the self addressed stamped envelope thing, here’s how you do it.   Put your name (or anyone’s name for that matter) on the envelope. Put a return address in the top left corner. This can be your address as well. Now, pick out a really nice stamp and stick it on the top right corner. Keep everything as tidy as you can so the cover becomes a nice collectable piece. 

It should look like this:

Mock up of a self addressed stamped envelope

But with a real stamp of course. If you are outside Canada, look up what the postal rate to your country would be (from Canada). The self addressed envelope must have a Canadian stamp on it.  Canada Post’s website will help you find the proper postage. DO NOT SEND A COVER WITHOUT POSTAGE. It will end up in the garbage. Put a piece of cardboard in the envelope to help it keep it shape and seal it. 

Now, get a bigger envelope, slide the self addressed one into it, put appropriate postage on it and send it to: 

Post Mistress
Love, Saskatchewan
S0J 1P0

Please include a short, polite request for a special Love, Sask cancel and thank the Post Mistress for taking the time to do it. Then you wait. It might take awhile to get back to you so it’s important to be patient. 

If you’re having difficulties finding a Canadian stamp, drop me a line and maybe we can come up with a couple of ideas. Don’t forget  to ask at any local stamp stores, buy new ones direct from Canada Post or maybe swap them with someone who has spares.  

If you’d like info on Love, check out Tourism Sask

Or, you could email directly to the village for info: TRAVELLER INFO Email: villageoflove@sasktel.net

Oh what a beauty – Chalon head vignette for auction

Oh what a beauty – Chalon head vignette for auction

Collectors of early Canadian (and British colonies) will recognise the phrase “Chalon head”. There is only one – the famous Queen Victoria Chalon depicting a very young QV. Vance Auctions has an intriguing ephemera offering in next week’s sale (Jan 30, 2019) :

Queen Victoria Chalon head vignette (engraving)

7909 – Engraved b/w 19th Century vignette depicting the QUEEN VICTORIA CHALON HEAD oval portrait sunk directly on to card (60 x 78mm). VF, Scarce. Would make a perfect opening page item for an early Canada collection. Ex Highland ….Est 500.00+ from the Vance catalogue

It’s about 2.3” x 3” in size (for those who don’t speak metric) so, yea, it’d make a great faceplate for any Chalon collection.  Usually, we see the image in a squished down format (Chalons aren’t terribly large) so it’s nice to see it in a (slightly) larger format.

The oval portrait appears on a number of early stamps from Canada, New Zealand, Tasmania, Bahamas, Queensland, Natal and Grenada, comprising some of the most collectable stamps I know of. I’ve met people who go gaga over them and dedicate a hefty portion of their collections to Chalons.  They are alluring little beauties to chase.  Although I’m more a Small Queens fan, I do appreciate the odd time a Chalon passes my desk, even if it’s a Jubilee edition.

Scan of an 1887 Queen Victoria Jubilee 1/2c stamp

I’ve had a few low quality Chalons in my collection, but have to confess to swapping them years ago for some early airmail stamps. Push comes to shove, I’ll sacrifice my Queen for airmails. So about the only ones I have are the few Jubilees, which really aren’t Chalons in the strictest sense in my opinion. 

The Chalon image is from an Alfred Edward Chalon painting, c 1837, of Queen Victoria in full robes shortly after she came to the throne.  I tried to find out where the original painting hangs, but pretty much every article I read looped to Chalon stamps. It’ll take a trip to the library to find out, so next time I’m at the reference library, I’ll pop into the art section and see if I can find an answer. If you know, drop a note in the comments section.

Portrait of young Queen Victoria, painted by Chalon

Queen Victoria, portrait by Alfred Edward Chalon c 1837 | [Public domain]

An engraving of Victoria’s head from this portrait, by Samuel Cousins, was distributed to the public as souvenirs on coronation day.  It was later the basis for the famous Chalon stamps.

So, back to the topic, the engraving, if your interested, wander over to Vance and check it out.  It’s auction item #7909, listed under ephemera.  http://www.vanceauctions.com/searchsetter.asp  Don’t forget to search for Chalons stamps as well. There are a couple of bargains, including a New Zealand lot (#7381).

If you’re looking for a bit of fun, check out the mystery novel The Chalon Heads by Barry Maitland. I read it a few years ago and found it thoroughly enjoyable. I mean, how many murder mysteries are centred around stamp collecting? This one has it all – murder, forgery, Scotland Yard, stamp collecting, Chalon heads, what more do you want?  Check out Good Reads.

A short bio on Alfred Chalon: Archives Canada 

For information on engraver Samuel Cousins: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Cousins
A kickass article on New Zealand Chalons can be found at Ashford Stamps Limited: http://www.stampsale.com/Chalons.html


New revenue stamp to look for – Canada’s marijuana revenue stamp

New revenue stamp to look for – Canada’s marijuana revenue stamp

Heads up revenue collectors! There’s a new stamp to grab. The moment the Canadian government legalised marijuana, I knew there would be a stamp to collect. Keep your eyes open for the cannabis revenue stamp that is affixed to all government store sales.  Here’s what it looks like:

Photo of the new revenue stamp for marijuana


photo of the second side of the Canadian marijuana tax stamp

It’s a bit hard to grab a clean photo of the new stamp. The fraud prevention features play havoc  with the lens. My eyes went a bit wobbly after taking a series of photos.  Many weren’t aware the stamp would be issued (or didn’t care) so thousands have been trashed so it’ll be interesting to see what the catalogue price will be.  

I haven’t decided whether to keep it on the original box or carefully remove it. The box is a bit of a pain to store but I suspect I’ll leave it on. I’ve already started pestering friends to save any revenue stamps they get.  Might be awhile given the pot shortage here in Canada.

Diving into my pioneer aviation collection – Antoinette Flyer

Diving into my pioneer aviation collection – Antoinette Flyer

Here’s a little something special today. I was looking through my pioneer aviation collection searching for … well, I can’t remember because I became sidetracked. About 7 years ago, I spotted a set of 1910 Wills Aviation cards at auction. It’s one of those silly items I coveted for years so I threw in a modest bid and it turned out to be one of those days aviation and tobacco card collectors were asleep  and I got the entire set of 50. I’m not sure if these are reprints or original, I’ve never checked into how to tell the difference. Regardless, they are still a joy.  

Scan of a Wills' tobacco card - Antoinette Flyer

1910 Wills’ Cigarette card The Antoinette Monoplane – from author’s collection

The cards are pretty cool and considering they are over 100 years old, in extremely good shape. They cover flight from early balloons to the most modern (as of 1910) aeroplanes, including my favourite –  the Antoinette Flyer, designed by Léon Levavasseur.

The Silver Dart comes close to the number 1 spot, but it’s always edged out by the Antoinette. I think primarily because the design seemed so improbable.  It looked like a canoe with wings with a pilot precariously plopped in the middle.  I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, designer Levavasseur started out designing boats and boat engines.  The Flyer may look fragile, but it was an outstanding aeroplane that helped Hubert (sometimes listed as Herbert) Latham set a number of height and speed records. 

It was powered by Levavasseur’s magnificent V8 (and later) V16 Antoinette engine. 

Photo of Antoinette airplane engine

55/60 HP Antoinette Engine –  Le Salon de l’Aéronautique : moteur Antoinette 55/60 HP : [photographie de presse] / Agence Meurisse – image courtesy BNF/Gallacia

Latham attempted an English Channel (1909) crossing  but had to ditch the Antoinette in the water. Bleriot beat him across the Channel the next day.  

Hubert Latham (left) and Leon Levavasseur (right) Calais 1909 for the English Channel

Hubert Latham (left) and Leon Levavasseur (right) Calais 1909 for the English Channel crossing attempt – image courtesy BNF/Gallica

Page from a 1909 French aeronatic magazine showing 4 airplanes  ready for the English Channel crossing

3rd aeroplane – Antoinette Flyer ready to try the Channel crossing – Image courtesty BNF/Galacia – Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Philosophie, histoire, sciences de l’homme, FOL-LC6-87

Photo of Hubert Latham in cockpit of Antoinette Flyer 1908 just before his 1st English Channel crossing

Latham in cockpit of Antoinette ready to try Channel crossing 1909 – image courtesy BNF/Gallica

Despite this disappointment, Latham went on to set many records including air speed and distance including: 

August, Riems Airshow (Grande Semaine d’Aviation de la Champagne) world altitude record of 155 metres (509ft)
January, Mourmelon-le-Grand, France, world altitude record of 1,100 metres  (3,600 ft)
April Nice Airshow world airspeed record of 48.186 miles per hour (77.548 km/h) 
July  second Riems Airshow (Grande Semaine de l’Aviation de la Champagne),  world altitude record of 1,384 m (4,541 ft)

All while flying an Antoinette VI or VII

Page from  1909 La Revue aérienne newspaper with photo of Latham flying an Antoinette

Hubert Latham 1909 Airshow –
La Revue aérienne / directeur Emile Mousset Author : Ligue nationale aérienne, Paris. Auteur du texte Publisher : [s.n.] (Paris) Publication date : 1909-09-10 Contributor : Mousset, Émile. Éditeur scientifique – image courtesy BNF/Galacia

I’ve looked around for postage stamps showing Latham, Levavasseur or the Antoinette and have been terribly disappointed. To date, I haven’t been able to find any postage or cinderellas commemorating them, although I’m pretty sure I’ll eventually stumble across at least a Cinderella.   


Read more:
Antoinette (Levavasseur) Aircraft Engines by By William Pearce 
This day in aviation 
The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF) is a marvelous resource for early French aviation information. The archives hold many contemporary aviation magazines and newspaper articles that are impossible to find anywhere else. Search: Leon Levavasseur, Latham Hubert, Antoinette moteur and  l’aéroplane Antointette for the best results.  
Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace has a short page on the Antoinette. They have a reproduction of the flyer on display.