Canadian stamp collectors will have a unique opportunity to view early stamps from Britain and Canada at the Her Majesty's Stamps exhibition, now on view at the Canadian Museum of Civilisation in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.

The collection of 400 stamps - normally housed in St. James's Palace, London - is considered to be the finest compilation of British and Commonwealth stamps in the world, according to the museum.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II both contributed to what is known as The Royal Philatelic Collection.

It is not on general public display due to the fragility of its contents - making this a rare opportunity for Canadian stamp collectors and enthusiasts.

"Her Majesty the Queen has entrusted the Canadian Museum of Civilization with these treasures from her personal collection," said Victor Rabinovitch, president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation.

Queen Victoria's second son, Prince Albert, was the first known member of the royal family to collect stamps. King George V then built up the collection.

In 1904, George V paid a record sum of $2,600 for a Two Pence 'Post Office' Mauritius of 1847. He was one of the most renowned stamp collectors of his day.

Between 1840 and 1900, Queen Victoria's portrait was the only subject on British stamps.

The Twopenny Blue along with the Penny Black, the world's first stamp which came into use in 1840, also featured the image of a young Queen Victoria.

Rare stamps from Britain and Canada, said Bianca Gendreau, Curator of the Canadian Postal Museum will also appear.

Famous rarely seen pieces include an album of Canadian stamps commemorating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, the first Canadian postage stamp and the Three Penny Beaver designed by Sir Sandford Fleming in 1851.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is to be the Kirkudbright Penny Black First Day Cover featuring a block of 10 penny blacks, the world's first postage stamp. This unique cover was sold to the Royal Philatelic Collection by Paul Fraser in 2001 and is now estimated to be worth $2m.

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