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World’s first postage stamps displayed at Canadian Museum of Civilization

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The world's first postage stamps - known as the Penny Black and the Twopenny Blue, both of which feature the image of a young Queen Victoria - form the centrepiece of an exhibition presented by Canada Post at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

"Her Majesty's Stamps" consists of more than 400 items from the Royal Philatelic Collection, which was formed by King George V and added to by subsequent monarchs, including the present Queen.

Housed in St. James's Palace in London, it's considered the finest collection of British and Commonwealth stamps in the world, the museum says.

The exhibition features "unique philatelic pieces that reveal key moments in Canadian history," said Michael Sefi, who oversees the collection.

Highlights include such "famous but rarely seen pieces" as an album of Canadian stamps commemorating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and the first Canadian postage stamp, the Three Penny Beaver designed by Sir Sandford Fleming in 1851, said Bianca Gendreau, curator of the Canadian Postal Museum, who has been planning the exhibition for many years.

Also displayed are "creative entries" in the 1839 British design competition that led to the invention of postage stamps, and a rare collection of mail carried on the first transatlantic flights.

The exhibition opened June 19 and continues until January 2010.

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