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News Bites
Canadian War Museum
acquires Victoria Cross (Page 6)

Philatelic Bookshelf
Jack Milner's philatelic legacy
explored through wildlife covers (Page 9)

Looking Back
Artist signed many margins,
covers of lone Canadian stamp (Page 14)

The World of Stamps
Toronto philatelist, publisher
was caught in 19th-century
flame war (Page 17)

New Issues
From around the world (Page 18)


ROM centenary an ideal stamp subject (Page 22)


CSN Marketplace
Are you buying
or selling? (Page 19)

Show and Bourse
Check out the shows
in your area (Page 23)


Making 85 the hard way

By Bret Evans

I still remember the first time I purchased a stamp.

It was the mid-1960s and my friend and I were upset that the decals that came with our slot car sets didn't stick very well. We decided the best thing to do was write a letter to the manufacturer Eldon Industries, expressing our displeasure. We wrote our letters and trotted down to the local drugstore to purchase stamps. The post office was way downtown and we weren't paying bus fare. In my memory the stamp I bought was a Wilding but I'm not so sure judging by the date.

In any case, it was a simple matter. I went into the store, bought a stamp, stuck it on a letter, and dropped it in a mailbox.

For most Canadians that sort of sums up the mail experience even to this day. Very few of us stock up on stamps, and just buy what we need when we need.

Even though I had a stamp album at home back then, I never thought about the stamps I saw in use, as they were boring because they were both new, and not from an exciting far-away place. If anyone had told me back then that one day I would edit a stamp publication, and take an interest in the appearance of the covers that crossed my desk, I would have thought them crazy.

Yet today, I often find that the outside of my mail is as interesting as the inside.

As a matter of fact, I even have an album full of interesting mail. Looking through I see a whole whack of personalized postage, many with carefully applied pictorial cancels, a few visually interesting stamps, some that are just plain pretty, and then some unusual rate combinations.

There is, for instance, a letter mailed from the United States to my office with the postage made up entirely of one-cent stamps. The mailer needed to use both sides to fit all the stamps on the number nine envelope. I often wonder if anyone at the post office bothered to stop and add up the postage to make sure the right amount was paid.

I recently received a catalogue from Europe with a whole pane of low value stamps taking up the back. In this case, the post office didn't even cancel them, I'm sure they just figured close enough, and sent it along.

Today such a thing seems normal and natural to me. I know that old stamps can be purchased in bulk, often at less than face value, and get used in postage.

So I can understand that Canada Post was a bit confused when I asked what would happen if someone made up an 85-cent rate using odd stamps.

I proposed three 25-cent and one 10-cent issues, but could just as easily suggested a letter mailed with 85 examples of the lowly one-cent stamp.

I've never seen such a monstrosity, but in the interests of expanding my collection I hereby offer a six-month subscription to the first person to mail me a letter posted April 1 or later with the domestic rate made up entirely of one-cent stamps. In the event that two letters arrive on the same day, I will pick the one with the earliest post mark.

CP says 85 cents is enough (Continued)

By Bret Evans

The exact amount had been a matter of discussion since late 2013, when Canada Post announced a new rate schedule. That schedule called for two fees for domestic postage: $1 for single stamp purchases, but 85-cent stamps if they were purchased in booklets. The double rate had collectors wondering which the correct rate was. While the vast majority of Canadians mail letters using stamps purchased at the time of mailing, collectors often use various combinations of older stamps to make up the necessary rate. Many collectors wondered if they would have to put enough stamps to make a full dollar on their mail, or if they would be able to stop at 85 cents.

Canadian domestic-postage rates must be approved by the government. The procedure used is the same as for various government regulations. The proposed changes are published in the Canada Gazette, and implemented several months later, unless sufficient objections are raised to change the government's mind.

The new postal rate was published in the Gazette on Dec. 21, 2013. The wording implied the new domestic rate was $1, and that stamps were discounted if sold in booklets.

A scheduled attachment listed two rates: "1. (1) (a) letter mail item $1.00," and "1. (1) (b) lettermail items by booklet or coin $0.85."

The changes were scheduled for March 31, 2014. However, the announcement of a make-up definitive stamp with a 22-cent value to bring stamps sold in the first part of the year up to rate, implied that the lower rate would be sufficient.

Collector Keith Thompson, of Canmore, Alta., said he figured the new rate was "neutral" with the rate being either 85 cents or $1. He said he intended to test the rate by applying an 85-cent stamp from years past or 85 cents in smaller denomination stamps.

"If accepted it would be proof of the 85-cent rate, not one dollar," he said. "We will wait until April 1, and I'll report on my tests."

When originally contacted, Canada Post officials were unsure themselves, the possibility of Canadians making up the rate using older stamps appears not to have been considered.

April 8, 2014 to April 21, 2014 issue of Canadian Stamp News

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