The first issue of stamps for the colony of Canada was made in 1851 and comprised three pence, six pence, and 12 pence values.

One shilling was not used as the face value because in local currency it had more than one meaning of value. In New England one shilling meant 16 and two-thirds cents, which was equal to 10 pence. In New York shilling meant 12 and a half cents equalling seven pence halfpenny. Therefore 12 pence offered no misunderstanding.

Out of 51,000 of the 12 pence black that were printed, about 130 copies of this philatelic item are believed to exist today. There are only five unused pairs.