VIDEO: The Black Empress stamp

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Everything you need to know about the Black Empress: Canada's most celebrated stamp.

Since the early days of stamp collecting, the Black Empress has always been regarded as the most valuable, rarest and sought after basic stamp of Canada.

The distinctive 12d face value paid the basic letter rate to Newfoundland or the British West Indies via Halifax or Liverpool, and double-weight letters to the US, requirements which ensured very limited usage.

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As a result, from a total of 51,000 originally printed, a mere 1,450 were sold in the 3½ years during which it was available at post offices, the balance being destroyed in 1857. Fewer than 10% of that total survive today in ANY condition, the majority being cut into, heavily cancelled or variously defective because of the delicate nature of the laid paper.