The post office clerk said people had been telephoning, wanting to know when the new Canadian stamp bearing the image of Queen Elizabeth II would be available. And it is now.
It is a particularly attractive picture of Her Majesty, taken on her 2010 Canadian tour by Chris Jackson. The camera has always been fond of the Queen, but this photograph--light purple ensemble, maple leaf brooch, rather sly smile--may be the best in years.
The portraits of British monarchs have appeared on postage stamps since 1840, when the world's first stamp was issued. It bore the crowned profile of Queen Victoria, and is known to collectors as the Penny Black.
Stamps that followed have carried the images of both Edwards, VII and VIII, and both Georges, V and VI. There was even one stamp, during the rein of George VI, showing the family--King and Queen and young princesses--on a palace balcony.
The value of these stamps among philatelists varies widely, and is surprising. The famous Penny Black, depending on its condition, can bring anything from $20 to $7,000. The Edward stamps, seldom seen, are not as valuable as one might think. The exception is a set of three intended to mark the coronation of Edward VIII. As the coronation never took place, the stamps were never issued. If you can turn them up, they're worth $332.99.
The most valuable of the British Royal stamps is the 1841 Penny Red. Estimated current price: $9.5 million.
But you can own one of the new Canadian stamps featuring Queen Elizabeth II for $1.05.