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Colorano Canada FDC's 1973 - 1994
Their History and Interesting Facts

Collecting Canadian Colorano "Silks" Covers
By Gordon Payne

Billy Bishop cover signed by Ray Novak
     While attending CAPEX ' 87 , I discovered Colorano "Silks" at one of the dealer's booths. Their appeal was immediate!! Why? The subjects on all stamps are works of art. The cachets on the Colorano "Silks" are an extension of the art subjects on the stamps and add to the overall beauty of the stamps. The gold border surrounding the cachets is an additional attraction. The material from which the cachets are made (rayon acetate - a silk-like fabric), produces vibrant and luminescent colours with an almost three dimensional effect. The net effect is a very attractive and pleasing presentation in most cases.

     The originators of these covers, Ray and Jennie Novak of East Norwich, New York, began producing covers as early as 1958.

     In 1965, the name Colorano was coined by Hans Frankel of Ayal Albums. It was a shortened version of Color Ray No(vak). The pronunciation quickly changed to sound like Colorado.

     However, it wasn't until 1971 that the first Colorano "Silk" First Day Cover was produced. The result was phenomenal and the business quickly expanded beyond its original base of United States stamp issues.

     Production of Canadian Colorano "Silks" began with the commemorative stamps issued in 1973. Unfortunately, as time went on, the original enthusiasm declined and production ceased with the last commemorative issue of 1994.

     Silks postmarked the first day of issue of Canadian Commemorative Stamps, Miniature/Souvenir Sheets and Semi-Postal Stamps were produced throughout this period. Dual silks were also produced bearing one stamp for each of 2 countries commemorating the same event and postmarked accordingly. Silks were produced for the annual Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation (Duck) Stamps during this period and are still being produced annually.

     Later on, some Silks were produced to commemorate special events (e.g. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee visit to Canada in 1977. In this case, 5 Silks were produced with the postmarks relating to the date of the visit and a variety of stamps were used including 2 definitive stamps).

     Colorano First Day Covers were not produced for the following:

  • Definitive Issues - the December 29, 1981 "A" stamp excepted
  • Postal Code Stamps #815 & 816 (April 27,1979)
  • CPC - Prestige Booklet Stamps #1272 & 1273 (May 3, 1990)
  • "Greetings" Booklet Stamps #1507 & 1508 (January 28, 1994)
     For the Canadian covers, 5 or 6 artists were used to produce the subjects of the cachets. The resulting paintings were then miniaturized to fit the cachets and subsequently, applied to the envelopes manually. (The process is a well kept secret! !)

     When Colorano was sold some years ago, the FDC's for some of the Canadian commemorative issues of 1994 were outstanding namely,

Cat.#1517 -18 XV Commonwealth Games May 20
Cat #1519 -22 XV Commonwealth Games August 5
Cat #1525       Great Canadians, William Avery (Billy)                       Bishop), August 12
Cat #1529 -32  Prehistoric Life in Canada, 4 mammals                       September 26

     The envelopes had been prepared with stamps and postmarks, but the cachets had not been done!! Part of the sale agreement required that Ray Novak complete these items before the sale agreement expired in 2003.

     I learned about this situation from Ray Novak through a number of e-mails and a telephone call in 2003. As a result I volunteered to look up various sources and supplied Ray with several pictures for him to consider for the missing cachets. Eventually, he picked one of the pictures I supplied!! Appropriately, it adorns the Billy Bishop cover postmarked August 12, 1994. The missing 1994 commemorative FDC's were finally released last year, 9 years late!

     I have been invited to show a 10 frame display at Stampex '05 next October. Two frames will feature Colorano "Silks". The first frame features the variety of FDC's issued during the Canadian production years and includes the Billy Bishop cover referred to above and bears Ray Novak's signature. It also includes the original painting by Ray Novak's brother, Arthur, for the cachet for the 1973 P.E.I. Centenary stamp. The other frame features 30 of the 50 U.S. Wildlife stamps Colorano FDC's issued at CAPEX '87 with Toronto, Canada included in the postmark.

Come and enjoy some very attractive FDC's.

Colorano Canada #1 Scott#611 - Monsignor de Laval FDOI January 31, 1973
Colorano Canada #1 Scott#611 - Monsignor de Laval FDOI January 31, 1973

I want to thank Gordon Payne for his insights relating to the history of Colorano Canada first day covers in this article
and for his help in illustrating the Colorano Canada Catalog on this site.
© Knottywood Treasures 2005