The 1668 Large Queens

The Large Queens, as philatelists call the 1868 issue, was the first stamp issued by the Dominion of Canada created on July 1, 1867, by the British North American Act. Immediately Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia were united. In 1869, the Dominion purchased the Hudson Bay Company’s considerable lands, and when British Columbia joined the Dominion in 1871, Canada was a cross-continent country. A new stamp issue was planned and printed, as befitted this new Canadian nation, by the British North American Company, located in Ottawa.


The first Dominion of Canada issue is called the Large Queens by philatelists because they show a large portrait of Queen Victoria, and to distinguish them from the later Dominion issue of smaller format known as the Small Queens. The 1-cent, 2-cent, and 3-cent values of the Large Queens come on laid paper, but they are great rarities that way. Collectors should check all copies of these stamps to see if they have any of these rarities. Occasionally, they may be found in ordinary collections. All of the Large Queens are known on watermarked paper, though they were not regularly ordered that way. Rather, these watermarks are paper-maker watermarks and read either in double letters or in script. Both watermarks were applied across the sheet, so that only portions may appear on each stamp. Most stamps do not show the watermark, but collectors should keep their eyes open for this variety. The half-cent and fifteen-cent ones are great rarities on watermarked paper.

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