BNAPS Pence-Cents Era Study Group

Pence-Cents Era Study Group

About the Study Group

Our Study Group caters to collectors with an interest in Pence-Cents era stamps and postal history. This era begins with the 1851 Pence Issue, Canada's first stamps, encompasses the 1859 First Cents Issue (aka First Decimal Issue), Canada's first decimal currency stamps, and ends in 1868 when the Large Queen Issue was released.

Created in 2012, our Study Group is among the youngest in BNAPS, but we currently have around 75 members and are growing. Our main form of communication is our electronic newsletter. With no printing or mailing costs, we decided early on to do away with membership dues.

1851 Pence Issue 6 pence Prince Consort

1851 Pence Issue - 6 pence Prince Consort

1859 First Cents Issue 5 cent Beaver

1859 First Cents Issue - 5¢ Beaver

The Study Group is managed by two people:

Jim is doing a great job of getting the newsletter out in a timely manner. He is eager to receive contributions. If you come across something unusual or interesting, please send him a note by email. All the Pence-Cents Era Study Group newsletters are freely available on the BNAPS website. Go to newsletters.htm.

Our Study Group meets every year at the BNAPEX convention, usually in September. BNAPEX is held in a different city each year in Canada and, on occasion, the United States. Information is on the BNAPS website. At our Study Group meeting, we feature short presentations, Show and Tell sessions, and discussions on topics of interest to those present. We are currently exploring virtual meetings via ZOOM to complement the regular publication of the newsletter.

Ron Majors,
Study Group Chair

1851 10 pence Jacques Cartier on cover from Montreal to London date-stamped NO 15 / 1858

1851 10 pence Jacques Cartier on cover from Montreal to London date-stamped NO 15 / 1858


The Pence-Cents Era is an exciting and bold collecting area consisting of the most important exhibits of Canadian philately. Recent world class Gold Award exhibitors include Daniel Cantor and Ron Brigham. There have been dozens, even hundreds of famous collectors specializing in the Pence-Cents era. Many of the large stamp shows each year feature Pence-Cents exhibits. They explore topics ranging from plating to postal history. BNAPS Books includes two of them in its Exhibit series:

Becoming a Study Group member

To join the Study Group, send your contact information by email to Jim Jung (

  • Name
  • Postal address
  • Email address
  • Telephone (optional)

We would also appreciate a description of your areas of interest in the Pence-Cents era. Study Group membership is free to members of BNAPS.


The four references below cover the stamps and postal history of all of British North America. They include sections on the 1851 Pence and 1859 Cents Issues.

  1. Fred Jarrett, Stamps of British North America, self-published, 1929. Quarterman reprint, 1975, Quarterman Publications Inc., Lawrence, MA.
  2. Winthrop S. Boggs, The Postage Stamps and Postal History of Canada, Volumes I and II, 1945, Chambers Publishing Company, Kalamazoo, MI; Quarterman reprint, 1975, Quarterman Publications Inc., Lawrence, MA.
  3. Charles G. Firby, CAPEX 96 Gems of Canadian Philately, self-published, Waterford, MI, 1996.
    Photo plates of an exhibit arranged by Firby with the help of John Jamieson showing some of the remarkable and rarest stamps and postal history ever assembled. Covers not only Canada and provinces but also a few rate covers showing early U.S. used in Canada and Canada used in U.S. Both stampless and franked covers.
  4. The Canadian Stamp Collection
    Chronology of Canadian Postal History
    The links are to the website of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC.

Here are in-depth studies of the stamps and postal history of the Pence and Cents Issues.

  1. George B. Arfken, Arthur W. Leggett, Charles G. Firby, Allan L. Steinhart, Canada’s Pence Era, The Pence Stamps and the Canadian Mail, Vincent G. Greene Philatelic Research Foundation, 1997.
  2. George B. Arfken, Arthur W. Leggett, Canada’s Decimal Era 1959-1868, Vincent G. Greene Philatelic Research Foundation, 1996.
1859 5 cents Beaver x 3 on cover from Prescott, UC, to British Columbia date-stamped MY 26 / 1862

1859 5¢ Beaver x 3 on cover from Prescott, UC, to British Columbia date-stamped MY 26 / 1862,
routed through the United States. Four-ring 35 cancel.

Plating studies of the Pence and Cents Issues have enticed many collectors. The books and articles devoted to the subject, some available in the Online Resources & Exhibits (ORE) area of the BNAPS website, testify to their passion.

  1. Michael D. Smith, Canada’s ½d Plate Varieties, BNAPS website, ORE area.
    Re-entries and plate flaws with illustrations taken from the plate proof.
  2. Michael D. Smith, Three Pence Beaver Selected Re-entries and Plate Varieties, BNAPS website, ORE area.
    Selected re-entries and plate flaws with detailed illustrations to aid identification.
  3. Geoffrey Whitworth, The First Decimal Issue of Canada 1859-68, The Royal Philatelic Society, London, UK, 1966. Reprinted with additions from The London Philatelist, Vol.74, No. 875, 876, Vol. 75, No. 878, 880.
  4. 1859 5 Cents Beaver Plate Flaws (html) - Pence-Cents Era Study Group
    This article is the result of an ongoing project by the Pence-Cents Era Study Group, led by Jim Jung, to compile an online, searchable database of all the plate flaws on the 1859 5 Cents Beaver stamp and illustrate them with actual stamps. As examples of flaws become available, they will be added to the database. The August 2021 release contains 200 stamp images.
  5. Michael D. Smith, Whitworth’s Plate Flaws on the One Cent Decimal Issue, BNAPS website, ORE area.
    Illustrations from an early plate proof and issued stamps with detailed annotation of plate flaws reported by Geoffrey Whitworth in the 1960s.
  6. Geoffrey Whitworth, The Five Cent Beaver Stamp of Canada, The Royal Philatelic Society, London, UK, 1985.
  7. Michael D. Smith, Canada's Five Cents Beaver Plate Proofs with Various Plate Flaws, BNAPS website, ORE area.
    Plate flaws on the 1859 Five Cents Beaver stamp. The flaws are on plate proofs from states 1, 4, and 10/11 of the plate.
  8. Kenneth A. Kershaw, The Five Cent Beaver I. The Plate Proofs of States 10-11, BNAPS, 2007.
  9. Kenneth A. Kershaw, The Five Cent Beaver II. Plating the More Notable Varieties and Re-entries, BNAPS, 2007.
  10. Kenneth A. Kershaw, Plating the Twelve and a Half Cents Yellow Green Scott #18, BNAPS, 2009.
  11. Kenneth A. Kershaw, Plating the Seventeen Cents Blue, Scott #19, BNAPS, 2009.

Various aspects of the postal history of the Pence and Cents era are examined in these references, some of which are available on the BNAPS website.

  1. Charles G. Firby, The Postal Rates of Canada: 1851-1868. The Provincial Period — A Recording, self-published, 1976. Latest edition: 1 Sept. 1984.
    Part 1 includes the Pence Issue (1 Apr. 1851 - 30 June 1859) and Part 2 includes the Cents Issue (1 July 1859 - 31 March 1868). This listing covers most of the known postal history at the time and includes domestic, interprovincial, cross-border and overseas destinations. It includes Pence and Cents stamps used in the Large Queen period, which is now supplanted by the Wayne Smith census referenced below.
  2. Charles.G. Firby and Victor. L. Willson, The Canadian Posted Letter Guide, The Classic Period, 1851 - 1902, Vol. 1, Charles G. Firby - Publications, Waterford, MI., 1996.
    An illustrated catalog and evaluation guide with prices of the covers listed in Canadian dollars. Stampless covers are not listed. Broken down by letter rates, money letter and/or registered letter rates and special non-letter rates. Covers domestic, rates to BNA provinces, rates to U.S., rates to UK (letter, registered, non-letter rates) and rates to other countries. Prices for decimal stamps and Large Queen stamps in the post-decimal era are covered.
  3. Frank W. Campbell, Canada Post Offices 1755/1895, Quarterman Publications Inc., Lawrence, MA, 1972.
  4. J. C. Arnell, Atlantic Mails A History of the Mail Service Between Great Britain and Canada to 1889, National Postal Museum, Ottawa, ON, 1980.
  5. W. Hubbard and R. F. Winter, North Atlantic Mail Sailings, 1840-1875, U.S. Philatelic Classics Society, 1988.
    If you collect transatlantic countries, especially England, Ireland and Scotland, this book is indispensable. It lists every voyage from the U.S. to the U.K. and vice-versa during the specified time period. By matching dates of sailing, one can check on the validity of his/her letter sent via the major mail shipping lines such as Allan and Cunard as well as countless others during the Pence and Cents era of Canadian/BNA philately.
  6. Wayne Smith, Canada Pence Issue 1851 – 1859 Cover Census, BNAPS website, ORE area.
    This census of over 4,450 covers lists each Pence stamp and the ways it was used, giving the number of covers for each use. It also lists each rate and the number of known covers for each way the rate could be paid.
  7. Wayne Smith, 1859 Cents Issue Used on Cover after April 1, 1868, BNAPS website, ORE area.
    The 1859 Cents Issue was replaced by the Large Queen Issue on 1 April 1868. The Cents Issue was withdrawn from post offices, but stamps in people’s possession were still valid for use. This census lists the known covers using the Cents Issue after 1 April 1868.

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This page was last modified on 2023-09-30