Canada Post’s 2021 Black History month issues – Amber Valley

Canada Post’s 2021 Black History month issues – Amber Valley

Canada Post’s 2021 Black History month honours two black communities who carved out lives in Canada, Amber Valley, Alberta and Willow Grove, New Brunswick. I started drafting a single article but became engrossed in the histories of these communities and realised they deserved separate recognition. The first of two posts starts with Amber Valley.

2021 Black History Month – Amber Valley Alberta

Amber Valley is located 170 kilometres north of Edmonton. If you are familiar with northern Alberta, then you understand how cold and remote the Athabasca region is. The people who settled Amber Valley took a difficult and at times dangerous trek from Alabama and Oklahoma, determined to create a better life in Canada, far away, hopefully, from the Jim Crow south.

The influx was sparked by a Canadian Immigration Dept, campaign to bring new settlers to the prairie provinces with promises of free land. Over a 2 year span, approx. 1,000 Black-Americans responded to the ads and settled in Pine Creek, Alberta (later renamed Amber Valley), Junkins, Alberta (renamed Wildwood), Keystone, Alberta (renamed Breton) and Campsie and Maidstone, Saskatchewan. A group of 100, headed for Amber Valley in 1909. They were joining Reverend Harrison (Henry) Sneed, who made the first trip to the Athabasca valley to survey the area in 1905.

Frustrated by their disfranchisement and fearful of escalating white violence, black Oklahomans proved receptive to the appeals of Canadian officials and looked to Canada as their new hope for a promised land of equality and opportunity. Between 1905 and 1912, over 1,000
African Americans made the trek to Canada and most of them came from Oklahoma. Many of these Canadian immigrants had been migrants to Oklahoma, who had hoped for an all-black state but instead encountered white violence and Jim Crowism. They believed they had been abandoned by America and hoped to lead freer lives in Canada, where they were told prosperity awaited. Although part of the larger white migration, African Americans regarded their move to Canada in very different ways from white Americans.

“We Heard Canada Was a Free Country”: African American Migration in the Great Plains, 1890-1911 (

FDC for Amber Valley was founded around 1910

Amber Valley Alberta, settled by black immigrants from Oklahoma USA in 1909

Racism in Canada – “campaign of diplomatic racism”

Various records offer up different numbers of people who followed Rev Sneed.  Most indicate approx. 100 people made up the first trip. More followed, but by 1911, a group of 200 blacks, heading to Amber Valley encountered racist issues at the border. It’s easy to gloss over the success of the community and pretend they were welcome to the North, but the Black Americans succeeded because they persevered, not because a welcome mat was rolled out.

Old racist tropes were resurrected to prevent blacks from settling Canada, ranging from the hysteria claiming black communities were dangerous to white homes, to black homesteads would drive the price of land down. The Federal government was petitioned to halt all non-white immigration to the country.

Once black settlers started arriving in larger numbers, however, they did rely upon indirect methods to discourage these “undesirables” from undertaking the journey up north. While simultaneously advertised as hospitable and inviting to the American whites, the climate of the Canadian west was presented as much too cold and severe for any blacks. Strict economic and physical standards aimed at restricting newcomers, but most blacks passed the tests. Finally, agents hired by the Canadian government were sent Oklahoma to persuade these potential immigrants that Albertan soil was poor and that they would, in any case, have difficulty crossing the border. These informal policies were effective, and by 1912, black immigration to Alberta had all but ended.

Land of Opportunity – The Great Migration – Black Communities in Alberta (

Actions by the Canadian government killed off the movement north. By 1911, white communities were pressuring the government to act.  On August 12, 1911, Order-in-Council 1324 was drafted to stop all black immigration for up to a year.

“the serious menace to the future welfare of a large portion of western Canada, by reason of the alarming influx of Negro settlers.”

Minister of the Interior Frank Oliver MP Edmonton in letter to PM Laurier

Although Order 1324 failed to become official policy, other methods were instituted. 1324 failed, not because of a sense of anti-racist sentiment on behalf of the Canadian cabinet, but because the Laurier government was facing an election year and they didn’t want to stir up any controversies or start a political row with the US.

Instead, Canada began what has been described as a “campaign of diplomatic racism.” A polite way of saying Canada instituted racist rules but did it in a way that didn’t draw attention. If there’s one thing Canada excels at, it’s being polite and hiding our racism behind a cloak of respectability. Medical exams were made harder to pass for blacks, doctors were bribed to fail applicants, head taxes of up to $50 per person instituted, certificates proving suitability as farmers refused were among the tactics used. The government finally resorted to sending officials to Oklahoma to discourage blacks directly. Only then did black immigration fall off.

Photos of black citizens from Amber Valley

Searching through various archives rewarded me with many photos of the citizens of Amber Valley. Too many to post here, but a wonderful look at a flourishing black community.

Black couple from Amber Valley

Photo of children Jesse Bowen and Frank Jamerson_1920 in front of a car

Jesse Bowen and Frank Jamerson 1920. Archives society of Alberta

The photos from Archives society of Alberta provide a slice of life in rural Alberta and highlight a much-ignored part of Canadian history – the contributions blacks made in all walks of life. Black History Month offers a small correction into this unbalanced view of our history, but we still have a long way to go to appreciate who helped build Canada.

Young black farmer with his horse in Amber Valley 1920s

Young farmer with horse. Amber Valley around 1920s Archives society of Alberta

1920s photograph of a woman milking a cow

Unknown woman milking a cow in 1920.s Archives society of Alberta

Like many rural communities, people gradually drifted away to larger cities for better economic opportunities. Farming is arduous work; farming in a northern community can be harsh and unforgiving. Over the decades, Amber Valley’s population declined until it was nothing more but a memory. The school closed in 1950s and the post office in 1968.  As the remaining population began to age and die, their original homesteads were either sold, demolished, or left to disintegrate into the soil.

Some of the descendants of Amber Valley’s immigrants were Violet King Henry, Canada’s first black, female attorney, Cheryl Foggo, award winning author and playwright, and Oliver Bowen, engineer behind Calgary’s first light rail. The Oklahomans who settled in Alberta left a hell of a legacy.

Amber Valley stamp for 2021 Black History Month

Postage stamp showing settlers above the town of Amber Valley, Alberta

Amber Valley Stamp – Black History Month 2021 Canada

Lime Design’s Lara Minja created both stamps for Black History Month.  The First Day Cover bears a cancelation from Athabasca, AB (where Amber Valley is).

Postal Cancel for Black History Month 2021 showing a wagon wheel design

Athabasca 2021 postal cancel

If you find these stamps & their histories interesting, check out Lime Design’s previous Black History Month stamps. Designer Lara Minja has created 4 previous series and they are equally outstanding. Minja is talented and imaginative in her designs. If you collect Canadian, history or Black History stamps, these should be in your collection.

I’ll post about the second stamp in this series later and pop a link here when it’s done. In the Meantime, check out other upcoming issues for Canada

Awesome 2021 Canadian stamps announced


Spectacular 1918 Canadian Forces in North Russia covers

Spectacular 1918 Canadian Forces in North Russia covers

Cherry Stone Auctions has a trio of Canadian Forces covers that should generate interest from military collectors, especially those specializing in WW1 pieces. These are rare items. The 3 covers were mailed by members of the Canadian Military Expedition North Russia during Canada’s short-lived fight with the Red Army.  These types of covers don’t see the light of day often and are listed at a decent price of $500 (US). After watching so many stamp auctions since the pandemic hit, I’m betting they go for substantially less.

Screen capture of 3 postal covers sent from Siberia to Canada

1918-19 three covers to Canada, “Field Post Office 201” On Active Service endorsement

The covers appear in their December 15-16, 2020 auction and are set to sell on the first day. Cherry Stone has a full pdf catalogue you can download or, if you haven’t stripped Flash out of your computer yet, use their flip catalogue. You can find both on their home page at However, you really need to remove Flash before the new year. I posted an article about the security issues surrounding Flash in Oct. Read it here -> Uninstall Adobe Flash Now

UPDATE – price realized

Updated Dec 30, 2020

I just checked and this lot sold for $450, slightly under the catalogue value.

About the North Russia Expedition

These Canadian Forces covers would be an extraordinary addition to any collection. Covers like these are rarely offered. The three have historical and military significance that goes beyond the Canadian Forces aspect. The North Russia Expedition is a little-known chapter in Canadian history, often neglected because of the larger battles being fought across Europe.  Ostensibly, the joint international expedition was to ensure no German troops landed in the Murmansk region, but it quickly turned into a fight between the Red and White armies, with international troops supporting the Czarist White Army.

Here’s a brief geography lesson. Murmansk (where Arkangel is located) is above the arctic circle, bordering Finland, hence the concern Germany might cut up through the area. Murmansk was of strategic importance to both the Germans and the allies because of the open port and abundance of minerals. When German troops arrived in Finland, alarms went off throughout the allied forces about the possibility of Germany seizing the Port of Murmansk and the rails used to move vital supplies. Canada sent 4,192 troops from the Canadian Field Artillery (67th and 68th Batteries of the 16th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery). They arrived in the fall of 1918 and withdrew June 1919. If you have information you’d like to add (or correct what I’ve written) feel free to leave it in the comments field below. Always happy to have more information on these posts.

Three Canadian Forces Covers

Each cover has a military cancel and marked “On Active Service” (OAS). The top left was sent Dec 8,1919 and backstamped Jan 10, 1920. This came from one of 53 soldiers transferred to British command when Canadian troops left Russia for home in June 1919. No mention of the soldier’s name, but a little research into which of the 53 were from New Brunswick might bear fruit.

The second, top right, was sent Nov 1918 to Markham Ontario. Markham, at the time, was a small agricultural township, and a search of Canadian records for soldiers from the Siberian Expedition might lead to a possible identify.

The bottom right cover was sent March 1919. It has a cancel from a Royal Army Medical Corps Hospital Ship anchored off Archangel. The address is here in the heart of Toronto, at near Wellesley Streets and Sherbourne. I did a quick record check for the recipient and came up empty. A deep dive into Toronto churches would be required to find more information.

Despite their obvious faults, these 3 covers are still highly collectable.

A few resources to check out

If you’d like to learn more about the North Russian Expedition aka the Siberian Expedition, hop over to the University of Victoria, BC website on this chapter of Canadian history. It’s titled Canada’s Siberian Expedition.

This brief trailer is also worth a look. It packs a lot of info into a short clip.

If you’re interested in Canadian military related stamps and covers, check out this article I published last month.

Amazing German FDC – Tag der Briefmarke 2020

As always, you can follow me with any of the social media links listed below. Cheers.

Alcock and Brown – 1st terrifying Atlantic flight

Alcock and Brown – 1st terrifying Atlantic flight

The original Alcock and Brown article was published in 2008, when I purchased the Daily Mirror newspaper on display here. After 12 years, and the 100th anniversary of the flight, it was time to overhaul the post with more scans from the paper & links to interesting pages on the historic flight. I’ve also included a new section on stamps celebrating flight.

Alcock and Brown fly into history

In 2008, I acquired a piece of pioneer aviation ephemera that is the centre piece of my modest collection – a June 16, 1919 Daily Mirror newspaper, documenting Alcock and Brown’s flight:

Front page from Alcock and Brown's Atlantic crossing

The Daily Mirror’s account of Alcock & Brown’s flight, full of daring and breathless coverage

101 years ago, pilot Capt. John Alcock and navigator Lt Arthur Brown flew into history with the world’s first non-stop Atlantic flight. In this age of jets, it’s difficult to imagine how awe inspiring this flight was. It was one of those great turning points in history.

Copy of Atlantic crossing competition rules

Daily Mail announcement

In 1913, Daily Mail £10,000 reward for the first successful Atlantic flight

The rules were basic:

  • the competition was open to all nationalities
  • the flight had to be nonstop, any stops between continents could be made on the water only
  • take place between any point in Great Britain or Ireland and Canada, Newfoundland, or the US
  • the trip had to be under 72 hours
  • Entrance fee of £100 must be paid
  • Each entrant could only use one aircraft and it was to be marked prior to take off

WW1 halted attempts, but when the war ended, the race was on. Teams were quickly organized to compete for the prize and honour of being the first. The main contenders were:

  • Australian legend Harry Hawker and Mackenzie-Grieve flying a Sopwith Atlantic
  • Frederick Raynham and C. F. W. Morgan in a Martinsyde Raymor single engine aircraft
  • Maj. Herbert Brackley, Adm. M. Kerr, Maj. T. Gran, F. Wyatt, H. A. Arnold & C C Clements flying a 4-engine converted Handley Page bomber
  • Alcock and Brown in a Vimy Vickers

Hawker and Mackenzie-Grieve who came close to succeeding, crashed into the ocean around the midway point on May 19. Raynham and Morgan set off May 18 and crashed on take-off. Raynham was unhurt, but Morgan lost an eye. Their chance was over as well.

The Brackley/Kerr team flew test flights around June 10th. During the test, an engine cooling issue arose, and the team was grounded while they waited on a radiator replacement to be installed.

Photo of Alcock and Brown in front of Vickers airplane 1919

Alcock and Brown in front of Vickers airplane 1919 credit: Library and Archives Canada

Alcock and Brown prepare for take off

Alcock and Brown - preparing the Vickers for flight

Alcock and Brown’s Vickers Vimy being prepared for flight, much to the joy of Newfoundland locals

Alcock and Brown took off from Lester’s Field, St. Johns, Newfoundland June 14. They flew for 16 hours and 12 minutes. Their successful flight ended, with a crash into a bog in Clifden, Ireland June 15.

Clip from the newspaper reading "We’ve had a terrible voyage … the wonder is we are here at all”

“We’ve had a terrible voyage … the wonder is we are here at all”

Put this into perspective, this was long before radar, satellites and in this case, no ship support to pluck them out of the water. If they crashed into the ocean, chances were, they would die. Although equipped with a wireless radio, they were unable to use it when it was damaged in the takeoff. They were alone, in all senses of the word.

A modified Vickers F.B. 27 Vimy was used to fly the 3,041km (1,890 miles) route. The Vimy was originally designed as heavy bomber but repurposed for long distance and civilian flights.

“[the Vimy] was specially built for the Atlantic flight. Its engines were two 3360-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagles VIII; additional tanks increased its fuel capacity to 865 gallons and gave the aircraft a range of 2,440 miles.” pg. 10 The Vickers F.B.27 Vimy, Profile Publications No. 5.

Photo of Alcock and Brown taking off from Newfoundland

Vickers “Vimy” aircraft of Captain John Alcock and Lieut. A.W. Brown taking off on trans-Atlantic flight, Lester’s Field – photo courtesy Canadian Archives

“We have had a terrible time”

The flight skirted disaster from the start. Shortly after their 1:42pm take-off, the electric generator propeller broke off, depriving them of heating, the cockpit intercom system, and the wireless radio for outside communications. Brown didn’t alert Alcock to the electric failure. Had he, the pilot would have aborted the flight:

 Both Captain Alcock and Lieutenant Brown described their journey as a very trying one – fog clouds rain and wind all the way. Their altitude varied up to 13,000 ft., and they were unable at times to know whether they were flying upside down or not.
They did not sight a ship but ascended hurriedly when on one occasion they saw the green Atlantic some thirty feet below them.

The breaking away of the generator propeller soon after the start prevented them from using their wireless.
When this happened Lieutenant Brown noticed that the propeller carried away with it one of the stay wires, but he did not tell Captain Alcock until after they landed at Clifden. Captain Alcock said, ‘I would have turned back had I know.’ –  June 16, 1919 Daily Mirror

The weather cooperated around midnight, allowing Brown to plot their position with the sextant, enabling them to stay on course. At 3am, the Vimy flew into a snowstorm that caused some instruments and the engine to ice up. Brown, at one point, is said to have climbed out of the cockpit to clear the ice away.

“The wonder we are here at all. We scarcely saw the sun or the moon or the stars. For hours we saw none of them. The fog was very dense, and at times we had to descend to within 300ft of the sea.

“For four hours the machine was covered in a sheet of ice carried by frozen sleet; at another time the fog was so dense that my speed indicator did not work, and for a few seconds it was very alarming.” June 16, 1919 Daily Mirror

At times, they were unsure if they were even flying upright. Alcock was sure they had looped the loop at one point. Despite the conditions, the pair kept flying eastward until they sighted the coast of Ireland

We looped the loop, I do believe, and did a very steep spiral. We did some very comic ‘stunts’, for I have had no sense of horizon.

We drank coffee and ale and ate sandwiches and chocolate – June 16, 1919 Daily Mirror

At 9:40 am (British Summer Time), Alcock and Brown landed in Derrygilmlagh Bog, near Clifden in County Galway in Ireland, tipping the nose into the bog.

When making the landing the pylons of the centre section, as well as the main spar of the lower plane, were broken, but the steel construction of the fuselage saved the machine from further damage.
The machine will, however, have to be dismantled in consequence of this damage – June 16, 1919 Daily Mirror

Photo of the Vimy aircraft after it crashed into the blog

Vickers Vimy, Pilots Alcock and Brown, Clifden 1919-06-15

The landing touched down on what they thought was solid ground. It wasn’t. Alcock landed in a bog, and the plane rolled forward and pitched into the soft soil.

“The machine circled over the town of Clifden, untroubled by the gusty wind prevailing, with the object apparently of seeking a safe landing place, and the roar of the engines created considerable surprise and excitement amongst the inhabitants.

Eventually, the machine turned towards the Marconi wireless station and landed on the soft ground. After running along the ground, the machine stopped and buried both propellers in the soft earth.” – June 16, 1919 Daily Mirror

Alcock and Brown were international heroes. Both were knighted within the month. Unfortunately, Alcock didn’t live long enough to enjoy his knighthood, he was killed in an air accident in Paris, Dec. 18, 1919. Brown died Oct 4, 1948.

Stamps commemorating the flight

Many stamps have been issued over the decades celebrating the Atlantic journey, including Canada’s sad little issue from June 13, 1969, the 50th anniversary of the flight.

image of stamp: CanadaTransatlanticflight

Canadian stamp: Alcock and Brown’s transatlantic flight

I wrote about my disappointment with the design of the stamp in 2016, and my sentiments have not changed. The colours are typical of a 1960s design, but it lacks excitement and movement. I’m just not fond of most of the 60s stamp designs overall. Worse, Canada didn’t even issue a stamp for the 100th anniversary.

Newfoundland didn’t disappoint, however.

Newfoundland Covers carried on the Atlantic flights

The postmaster general for Newfoundland approved 2 stamps to be used during the Atlantic crossing attempts. If you’re looking for the stamps in a catalogue, you won’t find them listed under Canada. Newfoundland was still a separate colony and didn’t join Canada until 1949. The first two airmails C1 and C2 were regular issues overprinted with “Trans-Atlantic / AIR POST / 1919 / ONE DOLLAR.” C1 was an overprinted .03c brown caribou stamp and C2 on a .15c red seals stamp.

Newfoundland airmail C1 – the Hawker flight

Scan of first Newfoundland Airmail C1

Newfoundland airmail C1 First Trans- Atlantic Air Post April 1919 overprint

C1 was issued on April 12, 1919, for use by Harry Hawker. Hawker took off in May, carrying 95 covers, each with the C1 stamp. Four hours into the flight, they ran into dangerous weather and engine trouble, forcing the pilot to turn back. They didn’t make it to land and ditched into the Atlantic on May 19th. Hawker had managed to pilot the single-engine Sopwith Atlantic to the shipping lanes and was picked up by the SS Mary, a Danish ship.

For days the public thought Hawker and Mackenzie-Grieve were lost at sea. The SS Mary didn’t have a wireless radio, so no one knew until they reached port that they survived.

The Sopwith didn’t sink

Newspaper illustration of Hawker and navigator clinging to downed airplane

Newspaper illustration of Hawker’s ocean crash

Their aircraft bobbed around the ocean until it was plucked out of the water by the SS Lake Charlottesville. The aircraft made its way to England, this time as a passenger and put on display at Selfridges Department store in London. Surprisingly, the mailbag survived and was safely delivered to the postmaster in the UK.

The C1 stamp, known as the Hawker stamp, is quite a bit of money. According to the Unitrade catalogue, a single mint stamp is worth $35,000 (unhinged). However, there are likely more forged C1s floating around, than genuine issues. has an excellent page on how to spot fakes.

Newfoundland airmail stamp C2 – Alcock & Brown flight

Scan of Newfoundland airmail stamp C2

Scan of Newfoundland airmail stamp C2

197 covers, with the C2 overprint, were carried by the Alcock and Brown flight. This stamp was also carried by future trans-Atlantic flights. According to my venerable Sanabria Airmail Catalogue, there are variations to look for:

Scan from a page from the Sanabria World Airmail catalogue showing variations in the C2 stamp

C2 variations from the Sanabria World Airmail Catalogue – “In each sheet of 25 stamps there will be found 17 normal surcharges, without comma after “POST”, 1 without period after “1919”.

According to the catalogue, there are 3 variations.

  • C2 – has both a comma after the word “POST” and a period after “1919”
  • C2a – no comma after the word “POST”
  • C2b – missing the period after the date “1919”

The 2019 Scotts catalogue values them in order:

  • C2 – $210 for mint and used
  • C2a – $230 mint and $270 used
  • C2b – $450 for both mint and used.

I’d be very wary of purchasing a used C2a. There will be many forged cancels bouncing around.

There are a number of videos online of Alcock and Brown shortly after their successful landing. I’ve included one for you to enjoy. It covers a bit of the history, I may have glossed over and is good fun to watch.


If you’d like to read more about the flight and the stamps, check out these resources

Meet Margaret Carter, the Newfoundlander who hobnobbed with transatlantic pilots – a great CBC article on a woman who hosted many of the pilots

Airmen recovered in Atlantic ocean 750 miles from Irish coast – RTE Ireland article on Harry Hawker’s rescue

First transatlantic flight ended with a crash-landing in a Galway bog 101 years ago today – Irish Central 100th anniversary of the Alcock & Brown flight

‘A golden memory unique in history’: Unpublished manuscript on N.L. aviation history preserved at MUN – an excellent article, by CBC, about an unpublished book that was a treasure trove of information

‘They were pioneers’: Celebrations mark 100th anniversary of 1st non-stop transatlantic flight – CBC story on the 100th anniversary of the flight

Into the Unknown – The daredevils who flew across an ocean by Dan Box – an extensive BBC article on pioneer aviation and the Alcock and Brown flight

Canada’s last airmail stamp – Canada Geese in Flight

Canada’s last airmail stamp – Canada Geese in Flight

I have a classic airmail for you. Canada’s last airmail stamp issued 73 years ago on Sept 16, 1946.

Canada's last airmail stamp showing a Canada goose flying over a lack

Sept 16, 1946 Scotts C9, Sanabria (for those lucky enough to have one) 18, SG 407

It was part of the post WW2 issues highlighting various peacetime scenes from around Canada. The set (all released Sept 16) included:

  • 8c Farm Scene of Eastern Canada
  • 10c Great Bear Lake in NWT
  • 14c Quebec Hydro-Electric Station
  • 20c Tractor Drawn Thresher
  • 50c Loggin in BC
  • $1 PEI Train Ferry
  • 7c Canada Geese near Sudbury, On (airmail)

Herman Herbert Schwartz (1885-1962)

The set was designed by artist Herman Herbert Schwartz (1885-1962), the same man who designed one of Canada’s great classic stamps, the 1929 Bluenose. He was one of the first Canadian artists hired by Canada to design stamps. Prior to 1920, American artists were generally used. Schwartz was also responsible for the design of all Canada’s airmail stamps. I tried to find information on him but came up embarrassingly short on details. One sparse entry popped up in Archives Canada:

Herman Herbert Schwartz (1885-1962)
Herman Schwartz, who was of Dutch origin, showed little interest in the family spice business founded by his grandfather in Halifax in 1841, W.H. Schwartz & Sons. He was more interested in art and, in August 1909, he was hired as an apprentice by the American Bank Note Company of Ottawa.

He is credited with the design of many Canadian stamps issued between 1927 and 1954. The most famous work of this Nova Scotian artist continues to be the Bluenose issued in 1929. As well, he designed all the cachets used for the first postal flights made between 1929 and 1941. He also designed foreign postage stamps and Canadian bank notes.1

I found one photo of Schwartz in the Canadian archives.

Photo of artist and designer Herman Herbert Schwartz examining proofs

Herman Herbert Schwartz using magnifying glass to inspect stamp material 1942

National Postal Museum (Canada) philatelic collections

And that’s about all I was able to source. For someone who played such an important part in Canadian postal history, it’s shocking to find so little about him.

Canada airmail C9 goose in flight

The Canada goose airmail was the last airmail stamp issued by Canada. Cancel collectors will be richly rewarded in their search with hundreds of different ones used over the years. I have about 40 so far but am always on the look out for new city or slogan cancels. I find the used stamps far more interesting than the mint.

2 Canada goose airmail stamps with cancels

Two used C9 stamps from my collection

Covers with interesting cachets are also another fun area to collect. I was a bit surprised to realise I have many C1s and 2s but only 1 decent C9 in my collection. No idea how I slipped up so badly. This is a nice cover, but i dislike the boring wavy line cancel across the stamp. Give me a good slogan cancel anytime.

A cover from 1950 with a Canada goose airmail and a cachet stamp "First official airmail JETLINER Toronto to NY"

First Official Airmail – Jetliner Toronto to New York 1950

The stamp remained in use for many years, so the chance for finding interesting cancels and markings is huge.

Collectors have 2 plate (1& 2) to acquire, as well as OHMS and G varieties. The first airmail official stamp (Scott #CO1), overprinted “O.H.M.S.” (On His Majesty’s Service), was issued in 1949.  And last, but not least – booklet panes.

Canada's last airmail stamps - A booklet pane of the Canada goose airmail

Full booklet pane of C9 Canada goose airmail stamps

I get a kick out of sellers who label them “rare” and “rarely seen”.  I have about 50 I picked up for a song at an auction years ago. Not particularly rare but delightful to own. Alas, not one has an error despite looking over and over for any. Error collectors should be happy with C9. A couple of major re-entries in plate 2 UR blocks can be looked for.  If you have a few interesting airmails you want to swap for a pane, drop me a line in the comments below.

I’m going to keep looking for more info on Herman Schwartz. If I dig up anything, it’ll make a great addition to this page. Happy collecting everyone – one small stamp and tons of collectible material.


1 – Postal Archives @ Collections Canada and

2. Image courtesy Archives Canada, National Postal Museum (Canada) philatelic collections

NASA patent & technical drawing bonanza

NASA patent & technical drawing bonanza

I’ve been rooting around looking for something interesting to explore and came across NASA Patents of Apollo Drawings and Technical Drawings page. I was looking for a couple of space-related patents and started with NASA’s website to see if I could narrow down specific items to research.  If you dig deep, you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of documents, including some impressive technical drawing.

Looking at a few Nasa patents

Command Module Main Control Panel from Apollo Operations Handbook Block II Spacecraft (October 15, 1969) - NASA patent

Command Module Main Control Panel from Apollo Operations Handbook Block II Spacecraft 
(October 15, 1969)

Diagram of lunar module

The drawings are high quality, allowing the viewer to zoom in close and see lots of detail. If you are a history or space buff, the NASA site is a must stop place.

Tech ddrawing Large scale drawing from NASA's site of lunar module

Lunar module schematic

All Dressed Up & Ready for a Space Walk

Image from NASA tech drawings of a space suit

The Shuttle space suit, to accommodate the large number of astronauts with widely varying body sizes, was designed to be made up of many interchangeable parts. These parts (upper and lower torso’s, arms, etc.) are fabricated at ILC in different sizes, inspected/tested, then shipped to Johnson Space Center (JSC) where they are inventoried for the astronaut corps.

What really grabbed my attention was a pdf document titled Space Suit Evolution From Custom Tailored To Off-The-Rack – a 28 page bonanza on the evolution of space suits.  I love the name Extravehicular Mobility Unit. That’s NASA talk for space suits for spacewalks.

Astronaut underwear

The immature child in me couldn’t stop giggling when I hit the Maximum Absorbency Garment (MAG). “The Maximum Absorbency Garment is worn under the LCVG and provides for hygienic collection, storage, and eventual transfer of astronaut urine and feces discharged during extravehicular activities”.

Image from NASA tech drawing of astronaut underwear

Space underwear for the active astronaut

Astronaut underwear for those of us earthbound. The document hammered home the complexities of space travel. Scientists had to consider every aspect of safety, many that we take for granted. I never stopped to think about how astronauts go in space before this.

After I stopped being juvenile, I popped back to Google Patents and did a search for Extravehicular Mobility Unit. Silly me – all I needed to do is look up space suits. I was surprised at how many patents were listed. Patent  #3,751,727 Apollo Space Suit was the one that captured me.

 ABSTRACT Disclosed is a pressure suit for high altitude flights and particularly space missions. The suit is designed for astronauts in the Apollo Space Program and may be worn both inside and outside a space vehicle, as well as on the lunar surface. It comprises an integrated assembly of inner comfort liner, intermediate pressure garment, and outer thermal protective garment with removable helmet and gloves. The pressure garment comprises an inner convoluted sealing bladder and outer fabric restraint to which are attached a plurality of cable restraint assemblies. It provides versatility in combination with improved sealing and increased mobility for internal pressures suitable for life support in the near vacuum of outer space

This patent was filed in 1968, a year before the July 1969 moon landing. It’s hard to tell if this is the actual patent for the suits used on the moon. It’s incredibly detailed, which shouldn’t be surprising given the source. I spend a lot of time trawling through patents, many of which are poorly written and badly illustrated, so, this one was pure pleasure.

Moon boots and ring adapter

Image from patent Apollo space boots

Apollo moon boots

Apollo patent image of boot rings

Boot rings for Apollo boots

The opening paragraph includes a synopsis of the development of space suits, including details on how the suit will improve an astronauts ability to move and perform duties while working independently from the space capsule:

This invention is directed to a pressure suit to be worn by human beings in a hostile environment, and more particularly is directed to a life support suit to be worn by U.S. astronauts in the Apollo Space Program. The suit is designed to provide life support not only within a space vehicle but also during extravehicular activities including exploration of the lunar surface. It may also be used by aircraft pilots during high altitude flights …A primary feature of the space suit of this invention involves the retention of a pressurized atmosphere about the astronaut in the vacuum of free space, while at the same time providing significantly increased mobility, both in the torso and the limbs, so that the astronaut may freely move about and perform useful tasks.

The total weight of the suit was 60lbs, including the helmet and protective shielding. Even in an environment with gravity, this would still be functional. It was designed to be useable ‘in the wild’ as well as inside a space vehicle:

Drawing showing Apollo space suit helment

For example, both the gloves and helmet are completely removable and may be taken off by the astronaut within the pressurized cabin of a space vehicle when it is not necessary to rely on the suit for life support.

Fascinating, isn’t it? The patent is available to download and the drawings are wallpaper worthy as well. I’ll leave you with one last image from the patent to enjoy.

Drawing of Apollo space suit from patent papers

This invention is directed to a pressure suit to be worn by human beings in a hostile environment, and more particularly is directed to a life support suit to be worn by US. astronauts in the Apollo Space Program.


  1. Nasa History website has a wealth of information –
  2. NASA’s Apollo Drawings and Technical Drawings – .
  3. Space Suit Evolution From Custom Tailored To Off-The-Rack  –
  4. Patent for A space suit for high altitude and space environments –