Arago: Exhibits

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Nova Scotia - Diamond Stamps

3p dark blue Crown of Great Britain & Heraldic Flowers of the Empire single

The 3-pence diamond-shaped first issue of Nova Scotia was first printed and distributed to the public in 1851.

6p yellow green Crown of Great Britain & Heraldic Flowers of the Empire single

The 6-pence diamond-shaped first issue of Nova Scotia was first printed and distributed to the public in 1851.

1p red brown Queen Victoria single

The 1-pence Queen Victoria Issue of Nova Scotia was first printed and distributed in 1853.

Before the British colony of Nova Scotia became a province of the Federated Dominion of Canada, in 1867, it had its own definitive postagestamps. The inaugural issue of these, in 1851, was particularly notable because it included the world's first diamond-shaped postage stamps.

The design was simple. In the center was the royal crown, with four heraldic flowers in star-shaped ornaments around it. The background was filled in with the characteristic engine-turned designs for which the printers, Perkins, Bacon & Petch, were famous. The words ‘Nova Scotia Postage’ were written on three sides of the diamond, and the face value was added on the fourth side. There were three values: a 3-penney blue, a 6-penny green and a 1-shilling purple. All three stamps were imperforate and printed on bluish paper. Small quantities of each value were shipped to Nova Scotia in August 1851, and released to the public on September 1. This original supply was quickly exhausted, so Perkins Bacon sent out a further printing in October.

In 1853, the authorities introduced a new service in the capital, Halifax, which allowed letters to be sent within its boundaries at a special rate of 1-penny. This new lower rate required a new stamp. Supplied by Perkins Bacon in April, the new stamp retained the same format but was orientated as a square instead of a diamond shape. A different central design was used for the new stamp featuring the head of Queen Victoria inspired from the portrait of the Queen by artist Alfred Chalon, surrounded by a diamond shaped frame line.