Thursday, 11 August 2011

British Columbian Stamps

I am a British Columbian. Ever since I was a kid and collected stamps I have been in love with British Columbia. It had it's own stamp once. And I made up my mind to come here, and here I am. Ghostkeeper

There are several references to stamp collecting in Lowry's works and letters which I will be exploring in several posts. Lowry appears to have been an avid stamp collector in his youth which was quite common in middle class families in the 1910s and 1920s and beyond.

In 1860, the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia issued a postage stamp inscribed with the names of both British Columbia and Vancouver Island. The two colonies had been united until the Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858 caused an influx of settlers via Vancouver Island and, after this, British Columbia was made a separate colony. In 1866, the two were reunited as British Columbia and, in 1871, this became a province of the Dominion of Canada.

The unified stamp was issued for reasons of economy, both colonies having sufficient customers to justify the printing of stamps, but not enough to justify separate issues for each colony. The one stamp was denominated 2½ pence, depicting Queen Victoria in profile, and was surface-printed in a brownish-rose color by De La Rue. 235,440 were printed.

In 1862, Vancouver Island switched to decimal currency, and sold the unified stamp for 5 cents. It first issued its own 5- and 10-cent stamps in September 1865. In June 1864, British Columbia increased its postal rate to 3 pence, selling the unified stamp for 3d until its own stamps became available in November 1865. Pairs of stamps, used to pay a special rate to Vancouver Island, were also sold at 15 cents per pair. Although after 1865, the 2½d stamp was officially invalid, in 1867 some were made available at a 6¼ cent rate to express mail operators. The upshot of all this was the single type of stamp was sold for 2½d, 3d, 5c, 6¼c, and 7½c without ever receiving a surcharge indicating a changed value.

Here are some of the British Columbian stamps that Tommy Goodheart (Malcolm Lowry) may have collected:

Seal of B-C - 3 pence, blue 1865

Surcharge - 2¢, brown, perf 14 1867-71

Surcharge - 5¢, bright red, perf 14 1867-71

Seal of British Columbia 50¢ surcharge on 3d violet 1867-71

Seal of British Columbia 1$ surcharge on 3d green.

A British Columbia and Vancouver Island 2½-penny Queen Victoria stamp.

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