Online Resources and Exhibits

Censuses of Early Covers and Cancels

Wayne Smith


Wayne Smith has compiled the following:

This page provides a link to the latest version of each census. The Censuses will be updated periodically as new information becomes available. The author invites comments, corrections, and updates. His email address is:
Waynesmithtor@yahoo.ca.

Canada Pence Issue 1851 – 1859 Cover Census

This census encompasses over 4,500 Pence Issue covers. It is presented in two ways:

  • By stamp/paper variety – lists the number of covers known for each rate paid by the stamp.
  • By rate – lists the number of covers known for each way to pay the rate.

February 2021 update

  • Added about 50 covers to the previous census, March 2020.
  • Updated the foreign rate area.

1851 3 pence wove paper times 2 on cover from Pembina to Ottawa

Courtesy Eastern Auctions Ltd.

1859 Cents Issue Used on Cover after April 1, 1868

This is a census of covers with 1859 Cents Issue stamps used after the Large Queen stamps were issued on April 1, 1868.

May 2020 update

  • New covers added.
  • Comments added to existing covers.
  • Format changed from web page to PDF file

1859 5 cent Beaver on cover dated 10 April 1868

Courtesy Ron Majors

Census of Large Queen Covers by Rates

This is a census of 1868 Large Queen covers, almost 7,600 of them, sorted by postal rate and destination. It begins with domestic mail (4,700 plus covers), and then lists foreign mail to Newfoundland and PEI (86 covers), United States (1,450 covers), Great Britain (over 1,000 covers), and other foreign destinations broken down by country (almost 250 covers).

End-of-2019 update

  • 144 more covers than the 2018 census.
  • Covers to PEI split out into a separate table.

1868 Large Queen cover franked with 1, 2, and 3 cent stamps paying the rate to the
                         United States

Author's collection

Canada Four Ring Numeral Cancel Census

In March 1857, 50 four-ring cancellers with a numeral inside the rings were distributed to post offices in Canada East and Canada West. In May 1860, several of the post offices were issued a duplex hammer consisting of both a dater and canceller, which they favoured over the four-ring hammer because it made processing mail much faster. During the last week of March 1869, about half the four-ring hammers were replaced by new two-ring hammers.

This census catalogues the four-ring numeral cancels found both on and off cover. It lists the number of cancels by the numeral in the cancel (1 to 52, 6 and 9 not issued) and by the stamp issue it occurs on (Pence, Cents, Large Queen, Small Queen) as well as stampless covers. For each numeral, the earliest and latest recorded dates are given. Over 3,000 covers are recorded, not including Small Queen covers.

Four-ring numeral cancel 2 issued to Belleville, Canada West
Four-ring numeral cancel 39 issued to Saint Johns, Canada East

Early Use of Two-ring Numeral Cancels on the Large Queen Issue

The Large Queen definitives were issued on 1 April 1868. Two-ring numeral cancels began appearing almost a year later in late March 1869, and continued into the Small Queen period. The obliterators were issued to 60 post offices.

This list of the earliest recorded dates updates Table IV-14 in the book by H. E. and H. W. Duckworth, The Large Queen Stamps of Canada and Their Use.

3 cent Large Queen with two-ring numeral cancel 15 issued to Brantford, Ontario

British Columbia Numeral Grid Cancel Census

In 1860, the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island received a set of hammers with a grid design numbered from 1 to 36. The earliest recorded use is New Westminster’s “1” in bars in blue ink used on cover mailed about 1 Sept 1860. The cover has no dispatch date but has a SEP 10/60 receiver in San Francisco.

There is no known official documentation on the distribution of the hammers. The post offices to which some were sent are still unknown today. For four hammers, 6, 11, 17, and 25, not a single strike is known.

This is a census of the known use of these grid hammers.

Sept. 2020 initial release

  • 399 covers listed.

British Columbia numeral grid cancels 1 and 26
British Columbia numeral grid cancel 35

New Brunswick Numeral Grid Cancel Census

Wayne Smith and Charles Verge

The New Brunswick numeral grid cancels were in use from 1853 to the Edwardian period. The cancel consists of 14 thin, vertical lines enclosed in an oval. Several lines at the right end are broken to allow for a one- or two-digit number.

The grid numerals go from 1 to 39, although one of them, 36, is currently unknown, and another, 37, is known only off cover. On cover, the quantities range from close to 300 for grid 1 (Saint John) to just one known example for several post offices.

This census provides a detailed list of the 993 known covers with numeral grid cancels. It also compiles the known off-cover cancels. The authors found 2,024 examples, but admit that there are undoubtedly many more. Besides the census itself, the document provides background information about the postal rates of the time and the origin and use of the hammers. It also lists the source material (auction catalogues, price lists, and articles by previous researchers) used to compile the census.

April 2021 initial release

  • 993 cancels on cover
  • 2,024 cancels off cover

New Brunswick numeral grid cancel 13

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This page was last modified on 2021-05-31