The Admiral Stamps of Canada


American Bank Note Company - abbreviated ABNC, this New York based company, which was created by its predecessor, Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, printed Canada's first stamps for 17 years, beginning in 1851. In 1868, the printing contract was won by the British American Bank Note Company, Montreal, but was won again by ABNC in 1897, in time for the Queen Victoria Jubilee issue, by bidding lower than its competitor and by agreeing to build a plant in Ottawa. This plant was to become the Canadian Bank Note Company in the 1920s.

Bistre - a brownish yellow colour. The four-cents value and one of the two colour varieties of the seven-cents value of the Admiral issue are said to be bistre. (See Seven Cents Bistre.)

Booklet - convenient pocket or purse sized panes of stamps protected by a stiff paper or cardboard cover. For a detailed description of Admiral booklets, see Formats.

Canadian Bank Note Company - established first as the Ottawa subsidiary of the American Bank Note Company in 1897 to produce postage stamps for the Government of Canada, it was renamed the Canadian Bank Note Company (CBNC) in the 1920s and became wholly Canadian owned. The CBNC was awarded the contract to produce Canadian postage stamps from 1 January 1923 to 31 March 1930. The British American Bank Note Company (BABNC) was awarded the contract for the ensuing period.

Carmine - a deep red colour with a slight purplish tone. (See Two Cents Carmine.)

Cut Square - a piece of a cover, square or rectangular in shape, containing the affixed or imprinted postage stamp. If the cover is trimmed along the edge of the stamp, the result is referred to as "cut-to-shape." (Cut-to-shape is not recommended as it often results in the mutilation of the postage stamp.)

Coil - or roll, such stamps are printed on wide reels then cut into single stamp-width ribbons and cut to the required length, commonly in multiples of 100 stamps. The term paste-up pair refers to the joining of two coil stamps by means of piece of paper pasted on the back. This technique was used for repairs and to maintain a set number in the continuous roll. The term jump strip refers to the misalignment of the design of one stamp in relation to its neighbour (eg, one higher than the other in a horizontal pair, or one too far to the left in a vertical pair). For a detailed description of Admiral coils, see Formats.

Cover - An evelope or some other form of wrapping for postal material that has been sent through the mail.

Die - a device used to cut or shape material. In the case of postage stamps, the die refers to a block of steel on which a stamp's design has been engraved or etched, in reverse, and which is then used to impress the design into some softer material. The original block or plate bearing the the stamp's design is the master die and is used sparingly to provide duplicates that become master dies for each denomination in a series. In the case of the Admiral Issue, for example, the original die contained all aspects of the stamp's design, leaving blank spaces for the numeral and text values. Each was added to duplicate master dies that were produced from the original. The master die is then used to apply the image to a roller die (or transfer roll), which is used to transfer the image once more to the steel printing plate.

When slight changes were made to a die, it was said to be retouched, or reworked. The terms Die I, Die II, etc, identify stamps printed from plates derived from dies that have been subjected to slight alterations.

Denomination - the value of a stamp as shown on its face. It is usually expressed in numerals, but often may include words as does, for example, the Admiral issue of Canada.

Definitive Stamps - Stamps issued for an indefinite period of sale, which are available in all of the denominations making up the various postal rates. They are distinct from commemorative stamps, which are printed in limited quantities, are available for a specific period of time, measured in months, usually, and are meant to honour individuals, events or organizations.

Drop Letter - a letter intended to be delivered by the same post office where it was posted, or dropped off.

Engraved - stamps that are engraved are the result of line engraving, that is, printed from plates that have have been etched in recess. For a detailed description of the engraving process, see Method of Production.

Flaw - a blemish or mark on a printed stamp caused by damage to the plate or some other unintended circumstance that happens during the printing process. For more information, see Flaws.

George V - (1865-1936) succeeding to the throne in 1910 at the age of 44 upon the death of his father, Edward VII, George V had trained in the Royal Navy, never expecting to become king. Though he had to give up that life, he always missed it, and it is fitting that he is depicted so admirably on Canada's first series of stamps that bear his likeness. See his biography for additional information.

Guide Dots, Guide Lines - marks used to aid in aligning plates prior to printing. They may be cleaned off prior to printing or placed so as to merge with the stamp's design during printing. At times the marks remain visible on the printed product and become a source of interest to certain collectors who find them useful in plating, which refers to the exercise of reassembling sheets of stamps from singles and multiples of individual stamps. For a more detailed description, see Formats.

Imperforate - often abbreviated Imperf, refers to a stamp that has not been perforated or rouletted.

Ochre - a kind of pale yellow colour that tends to be tinted with brownish-red.

Olive - when used to describe a colour of a stamp, the dull, yellowish-green colour of the unripe olive fruit. (See Twenty Cents.)

Overprint - an inscription printed on a stamp in addition to its original design.

Pane - a rectangular division of a sheet of stamps, separated by margins, called gutters, used to aid in cutting and accounting. Sheets are usually cut into panes before being issued to the Post Office.

Perforation - a universal method used to enable stamps to be detached easily from each other. A machine with many rows of punches is used to puncture paper sheets along the rows and columns betwen the stamps. The number of holes per 2 centimetre length is the standard way of measuring the perforation of a particular stamp issue. The number of holes per 2 cm length for the rows of a stamp sheet is often different from the number of holes per 2 cm length that are punched along the columns of the same stamp sheet. For example, a stamp identified as Perf 12 x 13 would mean that there are 12 holes per 2 cm length along the horizontal side of the stamp, and 13 cm per 2 cm length along its vertical side. Comb Perforation refers to a method whereby the perforation holes meet exactly at the corners of each stamp. Line Perforation is the earlier form of perforation and is characterized by the fact that the perforation holes at the corners of each stamp rarely come together. Another method used to render stamps detachable is rouletting, in which the paper is pricked or cut slightly.

Philately - the study of stamps (from the Greek philos, loving, and ateleia, exemption from taxation, the idea being that recipients of prepaid postage are exempt from further payment or taxation).

Plate - the printing surface that receives ink and is used to impress stamp designs onto paper. It may be a single solid metal plate with multiple copies of the stamp's design engraved on its surface, or it may be a group of clichés locked together. (A cliché is one of a number of separate units used to make up a plate for printing purposes.) Early plates were flat. With the development of faster rotary printing processes, plates are engraved flat, but are bent to form a curved surface, with two such surfaces being joined to form a cylinder.

Plate Number - a method used to account for each plate used in printing. When the registered number is engraved onto the plate, it appears on the printed sheet.

Postal Rate - a fixed price for a given class of service, such as for delivery of letters within the country in which a letter is posted, known as the domestic rate, or for letters intended to be delivered internationally, known as the foreign rate. (See Postal Rates for the rates that were in effect during the period of the Admiral issue.)

Postmark - any mark placed on postal material by post office officials for any purpose, for example, to cancel the stamp, as an indication of route, as instructions, etc.

Precancellation - often contracted as precancel, a system whereby stamps intended to be used for bulk mailings are issued with cancellation marks on them in order to save handling time in the post office. For information on Admiral stamp precancels, see Precancels.

Proof - an impression taken from the die or plate to see if the design has been properly engraved. It is often printed in black ink.

Queen's Printer - a Government-owned printing bureau.

Re-entry - when an image is transferred by a roller die to its intended position on the printing plate, it is said to have been entered. If a proof print shows that one or more entries have not been made deeply enough, then the roller die is used to rock a fresh entry over the required position. After considerable use of the printing plate and the subsequent wear of its surface, it may have some or all of its images re-entered. There is nothing unusual about the subsequent impressions made from such re-entered plates except when the second entry has not coincided exactly with the first, resulting in a duplication of lines. A stamp showing these signs is called a re-entry.

Retouch - an impression from a plate that has been re-engraved in some way to correct a defect or to strengthen lines that are printing weakly.

Serif - a small line used to finish off the main stroke of a letter, examples of which can be seen in the letters in this page. Letters without the finishing lines are said to be unserifed.

Sheet - a form of printing stamps. Stamps are usually printed in sheets that may contain as few as one or, more commonly, several hundred subjects. The sheets that are delivered by the paper company are known as mill sheets. These are cut to the size required for printing, and the printer's sheets, which are also referred to as press sheets after the impressions are made, often contain several panes for reasons of economy. The panes are cut from the press sheets to become the post office or issue sheets.

Spandrel - the triangular space between a circle or oval and the rectangular frame enclosing it. The Admiral stamps have spandrels.

Typography - a method of printing from plates or cylinders whereupon the designs have been affixed in relief (as opposed to being engraved in recess with line engraving). The resultant raised printing lines cause indentations in the printed material.

Universal Postal Union - (contracted as UPU) established in 1874 as the General Postal Union, and changing its name a year later, it is the body to which all postal administrations belong. The UPU established regulations governing the international exchange of mail and postal services. One of its basic rulings is that all of its members must adhere to a system of prepayment by the use of stamps. The UPU established, among other things, agreed standard colours to be used to indicate the the three postal rates in international service.

Wove Paper - paper that has a plain, even texture. It is frequently used in the printing of books and magazines. Another paper type used for postal material, including stationery and stamps, is laid paper, which is characterized by its grainy texture. Lines can be seen by holding the paper up to the light.

Updated: 5 Oct 97