Early Stamp Design

There were two main stamp issuing models in the mid nineteenth century- one based on the model espoused by Great Britain and the other on the model in place in the United States. Postage stamps were a form of money and were seen as a prepaid government obligation- sort of a bearer bond coupon. So they needed to be printed in an uncounterfeitable manor and distributed securely. The two models for stamp design helped in this goal. Great Britain used a series of simple portraits of their monarch. Indeed no nineteenth century Great Britain postage stamp portrayed anything but Queen Victoria. The United States model was far more democratic but still held to the stamps as money design meme that was in place at the time. American stamps portrayed a variety of different important historical figures not always Presidents. Canada showed its position between American and British influence. Originally, Canadian stamps were designed on the British model and nearly all showed the Queen. But in 1898, Canada began its metamorphosis with the Canadian Jubilee set. Still portraying Queen Victoria both as a young Queen and as the austere dowager, the set has a strong feel of the 1893 US Colombian issue and began the transformation of Canadian stamps from the coin design influence of Great Britain to the patriotic nationalism of US stamp design.

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