The Canal Zone Postal Service issued the 11-cent Canal Channel-Before commemorative (Scott 128) of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Series on August 15, 1939. The series includes eight 'before' and eight 'after' scenes of important Panama Canal areas and facilities.
During the 1904-1914 construction era, two Bucyrus steam shovels met at the bottom of Gaillard Cut. That day - May 20, 1913 — was significant at the site. From that date onward, all work was 'down hill.' Four months later, water from the Chagres River flowed into the Cut, and the Panama Canal was that much closer to reality.
The 11-cent stamp depicts that historic meeting of shovels #222 and #230. The steam from many others rises at the base of Gold Hill (left) and Contractors Hill (right), in the very center of the Continental Divide.
The 11-cent stamp had no apparent single usage, although for a triple-weight foreign letter, it would suffice at the rate of five cents for the first ounce and three cents for each additional ounce. In reality, though, patrons most often used it together with other stamps in a make-up rate role.
Fewer 11-cent Canal Channel-Before stamps sold than any other, with only 34,010 sold of 160,990 printed. This left over 80 percent unsold when withdrawn from sale on February 28, 1941, and destroyed on April 12. A significant percentage of those ever sold were used on first day covers or preserved in collections in unused condition.