Volume No.1 Issue No.1 August 1-2004

Dear Stamp Lovers ,

Welcome to the first edition of Topicstamps.Com newsletter.

This is vacation season and you're taking the road, boat or plane to go to the discovery of our vast and fascinating planet... .many of you will rush to places of interest whether it be of natural, historical or any kind of interest... but why not try another way of travelling all over the world...that's what I'm proposing to do with you... so come with me now and......

Let's travel together into the wonderful world of stamps

For whatever you're looking for, you'll find it in the magical world of stamps...

And first, why not go back to the origins of the stamp...

Great Britain , a country so rich in history, witnessed a particularly important and innovative event : the birth of the postage stamp.

In May 1840, Sir Rowland Hill , British administrator and educator, originated the penny postage system, and developped the modern postal service, which was subsequently adopted throughout the world.

You may ask....why did Sir Rowland Hill work so hard to implement this reform in the British postal service..?

Read on....

"By chance he witnessed a touching scene, a postman brought a letter from London addressed to a young village girl. She examined the letter, but because the postage on it was so great she refused to accept it. Rowland Hill intervened but the girl was clearly embarrassed by his action. Patiently he questioned her and she finally confessed that the letter was from her fiance working in London, but as she was too poor to afford letters from him they had devised a neat strategem. By various ingenious signs and marks drawn on the covering of the letter the young man was able to let her know that he was keeping well and that he still loved her. "

Rowland Hill was profoundly disturbed by this story and he pondered on the problem. He soon discovered that this stratagem was widely spread and becoming costly to the Her Majesty Service treasure chests.

He worked real hard on a Proposition of a prepaid "tax" payable by the sender which would be acknowledged by an adhesive vignette on the enveloppe.

Following the adoption of Rowland Hill's bill at Parliament, stamp printers produced the sheets of stamps to have them ready for May 6th ,1840 !

This first stamp is referred to by it's name of the '"Penny Black " .

Printers also designed the " Two-Pence Blue." That was the day the stamp collecting hobby began. Just with these two stamp issues, with all the different varieties and color could build up a topical collection !!

What is a topical collection ?

This particular aspect of stamp collecting allows a person to choose a subject, or topic, of special interest to them, and collect stamps which are pertinent to that subject.

Topicalists may create , if they wish, their own albums, manually or computerized. A topical collector first selects a subject of interest to him or herself.

This could be a sport ,
your favorite animal,
or any of hundreds of topics of your choice.

To give an idea of the many subjects that can initiate a topical collection, you are kindly invited to browse through the 350 topical categories at our website. And the listing is by no means, exhaustive......

Collecting is not limited to just stamps. Many collectors collect envelopes bearing stamps, postally used, known in the hobby as “covers”. Some collect postmarks while others may collect pictorial meters.

Others collect “event covers” that are postmarked for spatial events, aircraft first flights, stamp exhibitions and a wide variety of other events.

In subsequent newsletters, we will explore each of these different collecting areas.


Without doubt, you will come across the word “thematic” when you collect “topicals”. What is the difference ? Thematic is to Topical as same as Philatelic is to Stamp Collector. To image this definition, a stamp collector accumulates stamps . A philatelist likes to organize and study stamps.

All philatelists are stamp collectors. Not all stamp collectors are philatelists. When you first start to gather topical stamps you will be a Topicalist. When you organize and mount the stamps, by putting them together in a sequence that tells a story, you will be a thematic collector.

Don’t worry about definitons. Just have fun and enjoy your hobby !

The above introduction leads me to suggest an idea of a topical collection that relates to the British history :

"A Scottish Journey.... " .

Geographically, Scotland lies north of the United Kingdom .

Until 1603, when King James VI succeeded to the English Crown, Scotland was an independent country. In 1707 , the Acts of Union created the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 2001, Scotland's parliament was restored giving Scots considerable autonomy.

We will avoid going into political consideration ....

Many Scottish natives , emblems, and history have been commemorated on worldwide stamps.

First, the purple thistle was adopted as the Emblem of Scotland, during Alexander III reign. The story tell us that norwegian army soldiers, decided to walk barefoot in the darkness of the night , to move more stealthily, with the intention of capturing by surprise the sleeping Scottish Clansmen. One of the men unfortunately stood on one of these spiny little defenders, shrieking out in pain, alerting the Clansmen of the Norsemen attack. They were easily expelled from the territory....

Regional issues for Scotland were issued in 1958 bearing the Queen's portrait , the St Andrew's Cross and Thistle.

( Listed in Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue (note 1) as Scotland first stamp : Scott #1 )

In 1999, the advent of Scottish parliament brought the adoption of distinctive pictorials showing colorful design of the Scottish thistle and Lion rampant as well as a piece of tartan.

Edinburgh, Scotland capital , with it's distinctive and most visited landmarks, Edinburgh Castle is perched way up in the center of the city , on the remains of an extinct volcano. It was also the site of an Iron Age fort. Visitors stroll along the Great Hall, a great siege gun, Mons Meg, and the small room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI of Scotland and I of England.

Many Scots have been commemorated on woldwide stamps but few were portrayed on British stamps. The first to be was Robert Burns,( 1759-1796 ) Scotland's national bard. On January 25- 1966, Royal Mail issued two stamps which designed Alexander Nasmyth portrait of Burns, his signature and symbols of his life, Saltier cross of St. Andrew. . The portrait of Burns on 4p stamp is adaptation of Archibald Skirving's chalk drawing , 1798.

In 1971, Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was depicted on a 7.5p commemorating it''s bicentenary of birth.

Walter Scott created and popularized historical novels . He arranged the plots and characters so the reader enters into the lives of both great and ordinary people caught up in violent, dramatic changes in history.

Scott believed every human was basically decent regardless of religion, class, ancestry, or politics. He believed in Tolerance. He was the first novelist to portray peasant characters sympathetically and realistically, and was equally just to merchants, soldiers, and even kings.

Other scottish natives on British stamps: David Livingstone ( explorer) , Sir Henry Raeburn (Painter) , Sir Arthur Whitten-Brown and Sir John Alcock (aviators) , RAF Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding and Lord Tedder.

Scottish King : Robert the Bruce

Robert I, the Bruce (1274-1329) is surely the greatest of all the great Scottish heroes, yet the Hollywood movie Braveheart gave all the heroics to his compatriot William Wallace,making Bruce out to be nothing more than a self-serving opportunist. However, it was the patience and cunning of Bruce that Scotland needed, not the impetuousness of Wallace, especially facing such formidable enemies as the English, first under Edward I and then under his son and heir Edward II. Bruce bided his time; he first had to establish his authority as King of Scotland. By the time of Bannockburn, he was ready.

There is so much you can include in a topical and/or thematic stamp collection, that I could go on and on with the subject. For example, several people born in England from Scottish parents. Edinburgh-born , Alexander Graham-Bell and Arthur Conan Doyle. Arts & Culture, Science & Discoveries, Scottish landmarks and scenery: Glenfinnan and St-Kilda. Communication and Transport : trains and ships. etc etc etc...

Being a passionate of lighthouses, let me conclude this topical article with a stamp depicting Bell Rock's lighthouse.

Who built the Bell Rock Lighthouse? Robert Stevenson or Rennie? Ever since the Bellrock Lighthouse was built there has been ongoing controversy as to exactly who built the lighthouse - did John Rennie in fact have more to do with its design and construction than he has been given credit for?

...see how we can follow paths... unendingly ?

My wish to all : may topical philately enlighten your leisure days with fun learning and shared pleasure.

Until next, take care and all the very best !

Janice Dugas, Webmaster

Marie-Agnès Leducq, Editing Assistant

(note 1) : 2004 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue is published by Scott Publishing Co. in Ohio, USA. Volumes 1 to 6. Reference volume listing all stamps issued by all countries member of the Universal Postal Union. Available at our Stamp Shop. Delivery in Canada only due to weight.
Contact us for more details at :

Another idea of Topical Collection: Joint Issues

French settlement in Acadia - St. Croix Island, 1604-2004 Issue Date: 6/26/2004

This historically significant joint stamp issue between Canada and France commemorates the 400th anniversary of the first French settlement in Acadia at St Croix Island.

Pane of 16 stamps : Cdn$ 10.99 , Us$ 8.25
Official First Day Cover : Cdn$ 2.30 , Us$ 1.75
Official First Day Cover - Joint : Cdn$ $3.95 , Us$ 2.95

Stamp Story

Canada Post issued this historically significant stamp to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first French settlement in Acadia at St. Croix Island. Located on the border between Canada and the United States in the state of Maine, the former settlement is now an International Historic Site.

A joint issue with France, the stamp was designed by Réjean Myette of Montreal-based Fugazi and illustrated by Suzanne Duranceau. It features a portrait of nobleman Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, who led the expedition of five ships carrying 120 men.

"My first objective was to design a historical stamp with a contemporary look – a stamp that would, at once, speak of both the past and the present," says Myette. "The choice of character was obvious as Pierre Dugua initiated the colonization. His boat, Le Don de Dieu, was the theatre of this incredible adventure. And the typographical and design decisions are explicitly contemporary, creating a link between yesterday and today."

The stamp is the first in a series planned to celebrate French settlements established between 1604 and 1608, and related explorations. The portrait on the stamp is printed through intaglio, a gravure process. The remainder of the Canada Post-issued stamp is printed in lithography. Stamps issued by La Poste in France will bear the same design, created through the intaglio and lithography processes.

Building a New World
Pierre Dugua's group set sail from Havre-de-Grâce (now Le Havre), France in March 1604, and included explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain, as well as craftsmen, soldiers, a surgeon, a Roman Catholic priest and a Huguenot minister.

After reaching Canada the group split up, and Dugua and 78 of his men sailed into Passamaquoddy Bay and up the St. Croix River. There they found an island near what appeared to be the confluence of three rivers that resembled the arms of a cross, which led Dugua to name it St. Croix Island. The summer was spent clearing the island to build a kitchen, storehouse, smithy, chapel and a fortified stockade.

Unfortunately, once the long harsh winter set in, the settlers were cut off from the mainland and unable to hunt on the small island. Scurvy overtook the men and by winter's end, nearly half had died. The next summer, the settlement on St. Croix Island was dismantled and the group left the island to settle at Port Royal, as named by Champlain, an area near the Annapolis Basin in Nova Scotia.

Stamp Supplies

We are distributor of all Lighthouse, Lindner and Uni-safe products. Accessories for stamps, binders, stockbooks, Albums, Mounts, Magnifiers, Stamp Tongs, Ultra-Violet lamps, Stamp Catalogues. Delivery in Canada only.
Contact us for more details at :

This week in philately

1842: The Port Phillip District, in what was to become the Australian colony of Victoria, was made a separate postal entity and the postmaster of Melbourne was placed in charge of its three post offices.
1870: Paraguay issued its first stamps. They depict a lion holding a cap of liberty and were lithographed by R. Lange of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
1919: The Northwestern Army in Russia under General Yudenitch, who was fighting the Bolshevicks, issued stamps.
1934: The autonomous Republic of Syria issued stamps.
1979: The British Indian Ocean Territory withdrew its stamps.

Websites worth visiting

A wide variety of popular websites on the internet offer useful information for collectors about stamp collecting software, including inventory programs, and electronic catalogs. Here are a few:

The American Topical Association (ATA)
The American Philatelic Society (APS)
Krause Publications. Publisher of many collectible magazines and reference books.
Reviews of popular stamp software from The Compulatelist newsletter .
Domfil . Editor of Topical Catalogues. ( Available at our Stamp Shop. Contact us. )

  • Scott Stamp Monthly . July 2004. James Mackay . The Scottish connection on British stamps.