Several of the most interesting and valuable Canadian stamps are those issued by some of the provinces before joining confederation. There are five provinces in all which fall into this category: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. These stamps represent an interesting bit of Canadian history.
The Dominion of Canada was formed on July 1st, 1867; it was made up of the provinces of Ontario and Québec, New Brunwsick and Nova Scotia. Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island chose not to join the Dominion at that time and remain British colonies. The Colony of British Columbia joined in 1871. Up until their respective dates of joining the Dominion, all these provinces issued their own stamps. It’s interesting to go back and see the various choices of stamp subjects. Images of the reigning British monarch make up the majority of the stamp topics, but some provinces, such as New Brunswick and Newfoundland, depicted other subjects as well.
A famous New Brunswick stamp is the Scott #5 Charles Connell issue. Mr. Connell was postmaster general of New Brunswick beginning in 1858. Up until 1860, New Brunswick stamps were issued with a pence denomination. However, in 1859 New Brunswick adopted the decimal system of currency like their American neighbours. On the first stamp issued with the new 5¢ currency, Connell also opted to depict his own portrait instead of that of Queen Victoria. When people saw the new stamp the controversy erupted.
Described as arrogant for having himself portrayed instead of Queen Victoria, Connell eventually had to buy and burn all the stamps that were printed and resign from his position as postmaster in order to calm everyone down. However, not all the stamps were burned, since they have since turned up on the philatelic market. Some people have said that it was Connell’s future son-in-law who was in charge of the burning and who may have set a few sheets aside. Some family members who had stamps in their possession eventually destroyed them out of embarrassment, but obviously some survived.
The #5 New Brunswick stamp has a catalogue value of $15000.00 for a Very Fine specimen according the 2010 Unitrade Catalogue of Canadian stamps. These stamps are now considered very rare. At an upcoming auction, collector William Gross has donated some Connell stamps for sale with the proceeds being donated to the Smithsonian Postal Museum. One of Mr. Gross’ Connell stamps is a rare pair of the #5. Reports claim that it was found in 1933 lying on the floor of the house of one of Connell’s sons-in-law.
Tune in next week for fascinating stories about Newfoundland stamps!