The exhibition, which showcases work created by members of the Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador, started on June 8 and runs until July 31.
The guild’s work on this project began in the fall of 2012, when members were asked to hook stamps commemorating Newfoundland’s postage stamps.
Newfoundland issued its first stamp in 1857. The last stamp, issued in 1947, two years before Newfoundland confederated with Canada, marked the 450th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland in 1497. However, postage due stamps continued to be printed until 1949.
About 20 rug hookers accepted the challenge, choosing almost 30 stamps that were issued through the years. Seven of the stamps chosen were from the “Trail of the Caribou” issue of 12 stamps marking the efforts of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the First World War.
To date, 18 hooked stamps have been collected. The earliest ones are the two pence heraldic flowers and the three pence rose/thistle/shamrock triangular stamp, both of 1857. Two commemorate the iconic codfish. Another features the Duchess of York from 1901, the year she visited St. John’s. There is a map-of-Newfoundland stamp, showing the route of the now-defunct Newfoundland railway. There are several airmail stamps. Among the commemorative stamps that have been hooked is a 1910 depiction of Cupids, marking the 300th anniversary of the town. Other hooked stamps are available for viewing and admiring.
A study of these hooked stamps illustrates much of the history of and the important resources and events that brought Newfoundland into the twentieth century.
In their definitive work, "Postage Stamps of Newfoundland," Bertram W.H. Poole and Harry E. Huber explain that Newfoundland was the last but one of the colonies in British North American to issue postage stamps.
Another expert on Newfoundland postage stamps writes: "there is no doubt that there are few countries in the world who have so consistently and graphically shown their history and resources on their postage emissions. Newfoundland stamps have been favourites the world over for many years …
"One of the main reasons for the popularity of Newfoundland stamps is the variety and attractiveness of the designs used on the various issues."
Collecting postage stamps in general and Newfoundland stamps in particular is big business. Few people own the earliest Newfoundland stamps because of the substantial prices being asked for used ones, not to mention those in mint condition. Newfoundland issued almost 300 postage stamps, about 30 pieces of postal stationery, and many revenue stamps.
"Because of that, it provides collecting opportunities for general collectors as well as material for specialists or topical collectors. It attracts those who collect definitive or commemorative stamps, air mail stamps, postal stationery, postage dues, revenues, varieties, postal history/rates as well as those just fond of stamps from the earlier years of philately (up to 1949) before modern emanations from many countries started to inundate and discourage collectors."
Roy Dawe, chair of the Cupids Legacy Centre board, says, "We are particularly pleased that our special guest list for this (Hooked Rug Display of Newfoundland Stamps 1857-1949) event is headed by our honorary patron, Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan and Mrs. Fagan."
The mandate of Cupids Legacy Inc. is to preserve, prominently display and effectively promote the history and heritage of Cupids and the Northern Avalon region from the early seventeenth century to the present.
Dawe adds, "This is our first-ever open house, and we are so proud that we can showcase the fine work of the Rug Hooking Guild along with our exhibits about the history and heritage of our community, region and province. We hope people will come and help us celebrate the start of our fifth season of operation."
The Hooked Rug Display of Newfoundland Stamps 1857-1949 will also be exhibited in Carbonear (Aug. 3-13, 2014) and Heart’s Content (July 1-Aug. 16, 2015), as well as in other provincial locales, including St. John’s, Twillingate, Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor.
Some of the rugs on display will be for sale following the end of the display, in August 2015.
— Burton K. Janes of Bay Roberts has been collecting stamps for over 40 years. His column appears in The Compass every week. He can be reached at email@example.com