Twelve Penny Black
The Black Empress of Canada
Stamp Canada 1851 12d black empress.jpg
1851 12d stamp of Queen Victoria
Country of productionCanada
Location of productionNew York
Date of production14 June 1851
Nature of rarityfew exist
No. in existenceabout 120
Face value12 pence
Estimated valueup to $425,500 (2011)[1]

Canada 12d black or The Black Empress of Canada[1] is the rarest Canadian postage stamp[citation needed], issued in 1851. The 12-pence stamp shows the portrait of Queen Victoria and is the third stamp issued by the province.


In 1851, the Province of Canada[a] issued the stamps of Queen Victoria. For the stamp image, the Queen's portrait by Alfred Edward Chalon (1780–1860) was used. This design is called the Chalon head. The stamps were printed in New York.[2]

In fine and unused condition, these stamps are very expensive. In February 2006, a Twelve Penny Black was sold £116,000.[3]

The first issue of stamps for the colony of Canada was made in 1851 and comprised three pence, six pence, and 12 pence values. One shilling was not used as the face value because in local currency it had more than one meaning of value. In New England one shilling meant 16 and two-thirds cents, which was equal to 10 pence. In New York shilling meant 12 and a half cents equalling seven pence halfpenny. Therefore 12 pence offered no misunderstanding. Out of 51,000 of the 12 pence black that were printed, about 130 copies of this philatelic item are believed to exist today. There are only five unused pairs.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Today this is approximately Ontario and Quebec.


  1. ^ a b "The Black Empress of Canada". Spink Shreves Galleries Sale – 130. Durham, NC: StampAuctionCentral and StampAuctionNetwork; Droege Computing Services, Inc. 2011-01-27. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  2. ^ Michel Catalog (2000). Übersee-Katalog. Nord- und Mittelamerika. Michel. 339 p.
  3. ^ Ashton, R. (April 2007). "Sale of the century". Stamp Magazine. 73 (4): 44–51. Corrected in: Stamp Magazine 73 (5): 9.
  4. ^ "Canada - 1851 12 pence black". The British Library. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
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