Faeroese Postal History
Dutch Silver Stamp
A Jewel on a Stamp
Canadian Nat. Symbols
Private - Personalized
Philatelic Art Mews
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The philatelic art of stamp engraving
being one of my main collecting areas, the beauty of the engraved
stamp depicting "Bluenose" has always fascinated me
profoundly. I am happy
to present here the story and some facts about this famous schooner built 1921
in Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, and which has become a national symbol of Canada to
appear on both postage stamps and coins.
Canada 1929. The schooner "Bluenose".
Canada 1998. 10c coin, depicting "Bluenose" on the reverse
|In 1928-1929, the Dominion of Canada issued an impressive set of
postage stamps. The 50-cent value is commonly known as the
"Bluenose" (Scott # 158), and has been referred to as the
most beautiful stamp in the world.
There is an old adage that an ill wind blows no good -- but this is
not always true. For it was just such an ill wind off Sandy Hook
one summer's day in 1920 that is credited with motivating a group of
Nova Scotia deep sea fishermen to plan and build a schooner that would
achieve world fame.
It all began during the series of races held in that year to
determine the winner of the America's Cup. On one of the race days a very
stiff breeze was whipping up the whitecaps, and the judges decided to postpone
the contest until better weather prevailed. The disappointed crowd of
spectators who had come to watch the race turned, instead, to discussions of the
wisdom of the judges. The attitude of the deep sea fishermen who were
following the races with keen interest, was somewhat scornful. "Call
that a breeze? They ought to see what we can do."
|An opportunity was soon to come. Plans were made to hold an
annual international race for deep sea fishing schooners, and the
first of these was held off the Nova Scotia coast later that same
It proved a decisive victory for the American schooner "Esperance",
of Gloucester, which took two successive races from the Delawana, of
Lunenburg, representing the Nova Scotian fleet.
|This was a bitter pill for the Canadian fishermen to swallow.
Immediately plans were laid to build a ship that would bring the
coveted trophy back to Nova Scotia. Angus Walters of Lunenburg
was the driving force behind the fund-raising efforts, and no doubt he
also offered much good advice to the designers, and to the builders as
- Canada 1988. Captain Angus Walters (1882-1962) was the
owner and captain of "Bluenose", and the driving force
behind the fund-raising.
|The young Halifax designer, William J. Roue (1880-1970) was hired to
design the ship, and so in March 1921 "Bluenose" was
launched with Angus Walters as captain and owner of the ship.
He, in fact, owned the ship. Roue was a self-taught naval
architect who designed over 100 ships in his lifetime, and who became
the greatest designer of wooden vessels in Canadian history.
Seventy years after the first stamp bearing the
"Bluenose" was issued, Canada Post honoured her designer
with a stamp of his own.
In October 1921, after a season fishing on the Grand Banks,
"Bluenose" brought the trophy home, and in an 18-year racing career
"Bluenose" did not give up the trophy. In 1946 she was lost off
the shores of Tahiti.
It has often been disputed whether Bluenose exists on cover --
or perhaps rather on piece, or whether used Bluenoses might be favour cancelled.
An assumed favour cancel is shown below left, and a Bluenose "on
piece" on the right. Roy Lingen (Canada), has given the following
There are two common sources for used Bluenoses: bank
money parcels and bulk mail receipts. Please read below for more
Canada 1929. Bluenose used, with a light corner CDS-cancel.
(Stamp-owner: Bob Ingraham (Canada)).
Canada 1929. Bulk mail receipt. Scan from Charles G. Firby
auction catalogue, June 29, 2003. The text on the card reads:
"50 circulars for distribution to every Boxholder and Householder at: -
Alderson, Alta." (from a mens store in Medicine Hat, Alta). (Scan
submitted from the said auction catalogue by Roy Lingen).
1) Bank money parcels -- the banks at the time moved currency
from bank to bank, using registered mail, fully insured. The insurance fees
added up! Most of the Bluenoses I have seen "on cover" are on tags
that were attached to bags of money.
2) Much attention has been drawn to the "CTO" look of corner cancels
on many Bluenoses. No question, many of these stamps were "favour
cancelled" long after they went out of use. The stamp was only current for
a little under two years (Jan 8, 1929 until the Grand Pre was issued Dec
4, 1930). It was readily available at face value in collector circles
until well into the 1940s. Many nicely cancelled copies will have the year
conveniently just off the stamp, or will show a date in the late 30's or early
40's. Collectors would have done this to get a nice used copy because most
of the legitimately used ones would have had the ugly, heavy roller cancels.
Purists will look long for a CDS-cancelled copy with the date in the period of
use. That finally leads me to the other place they got used -- as receipts for
bulk mailings. A newspaper might deliver hundreds of newspapers to the
post office for bulk mailing. They would often receive a receipt with many
copies of high value stamps attached and cancelled as a receipt for the bulk
postage. These are the source of many legitimately cancelled CDS-copies
Roy Lingen has further added: There may well exist fully
legitimate covers carrying a single Bluenose. Imagine this (fictitious)
9oz (255gm) registered to a non-British Empire UPU country
(i.e. almost any country in Europe, South America, Asia etc). This could
easily be a larger envelope carrying legal papers.
1st oz -- 8c
each additional oz 4c/ oz -- +32c
registration -- 10c
Total postage 50c
Such a cover might reasonably have carried a Bluenose single,
and would be an extremely valuable cover today (since single usages of high
value stamps, paying exactly the correct rate are very rare and desired by
--- ooo 0 ooo ---
The shipyard in Lunenburg later built the ship that was used for
staging the movie "The Mutiny on Bounty", which became decisive for
building "Bluenose II", a true copy of the first vessel, and open to
visitors when in harbour.
In 1982 Canada held the International Philatelic Youth
Exhibition in Toronto. A set of five stamps was issued, among
those a stamp featuring the original stamp of "Bluenose".
Scott # 913.
The cover to the left shows two of these stamps,
"Bluenose", and a stamp featuring the original very first
Canadian stamp, "The Beaver". Scott # 909. Also the beaver is featured as a national symbol of
The harbour of Luenenburg has also appeared on a Canadian 100
dollars banknote (1975).