Canada - The Bluenose

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The 50-cent Bluenose stamp was issued in 1928.

In 1928, Canada replaced the conservative 'Admirals' definitive series, which had been in use since 1911, with a new pictorial series intended to reflect the country’s diversity.

This series, known as the 'Scroll' issue, included designs depicting Quebec Bridge, Ottawa's Parliament Building, Mount Hurd and the food harvest, but perhaps the most striking image is that on the 50-cent denomination.

It showed the Bluenose, a 258-ton vessel built at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in 1921 as a dual-purpose cod-fishing and ocean-racing schooner. Although this might sound an improbable combination, she both fished the Grand Banks for record catches of cod and also competed for the $4,000 first prize in the International Fisherman’s Cup Race. In fact she won it, reigning undefeated for eighteen years, often against stiff opposition from the United States.

Clearly the Bluenose was the ideal candidate to reflect the heroic spirit of Canada's maritime provinces, and the stamp designer, Herman Schwartz, wanted to depict her racing across the line and snatching victory from the New York Yacht Club contender Columbia. Although two magnificent photographs of Bluenose by the distinguished marine photographer Wallace R MacAskill were available, Schwartz could not find a suitable image of the Columbia.

Thus, dominating the stamp's ornate scrolled frame is the Bluenose, shown from the starboard side, whilst bringing up the rear is none other than the Bluenose, seen from a different angle!