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Monday, October 19, 2009

Phila-Trivia: Delusions of Grandeur in Victorian New Brunswick

In December of 1859, Charles Connell, Postmaster General of New Brunswick, contracted with the American Banknote Company to produce a set of five postage stamps. Issued in October of 1860, the set included designs featuring a locomotive, a steamship, and portraits of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII).

Accompanying these stamps honoring progress in transportation, the Queen, and her son, was a 5c stamp picturing Connell himself, who had managed to keep the stamp designs secret until the shipment was received. This was to be his most notable achievement as Postmaster General.

Before the stamps were to be issued, information on their designs was leaked to the press, igniting a series of vitriolic attacks on Connell and the stamp bearing his image. The Executive Council and Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick responded by ordering the destruction of the Connell stamps, and their replacement with a 5c Yellow Green stamp picturing Victoria, similar in design to the 10c stamp. Connell resigned his from his position, mentioning deteriorating relations with members of the Council, but offering no explanation for his portrait appearing on the stamp.

Almost all of the original shipment of 500,000 Connell stamps was destroyed. Connell reputedly gave sheets of a 100 to each of his two daughters, and a few samples to close friends. The rare stamp occasionally turns up at auction, and Scott '10 prices it at $12,000.00.

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