World Stamps

By Fred Baumann

Flowers of the Empire: flowers on British North American stamps have a long history

February 19, 2015 07:35 AM

  • Flowers symbolize Great Britain on some of the first stamps of British North America. This 1851 3-penny diamond-shaped Nova Scotia issue shows the rose of England at top, Scotch thistle at right, Irish shamrock at left, and Welsh daffodil at bottom. Image courtesy Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries.

Although popular today, floral decoration on Canadian stamps dates back only to the 1960s. However, flowers as symbols of the lands that make up what we now call the United Kingdom are prominent on a number of the first postage stamps of British North America.

An outstanding example is this 1851 3-penny diamond-shaped stamp from Nova Scotia, one of that British Atlantic coastal colony’s earliest imperforate issues.

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Surrounding the British crown at the center are the four blooms of the nations that make up Great Britain: the rose of England (or Tudor rose) at top, the Scotch thistle at right, the Irish shamrock at left, and the Welsh daffodil at bottom.

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