Thursday, 21 June 2012

Aden watermark error discovery

Another new KGVI watermark error, this time from Aden.  Murray Payne have listed for auction on 24 July 2012 with an estimate of £400 an example of Aden 8a. on 50c. SG 34 with 'C' omitted from the watermark.

This is an exciting and rapidly evolving field of philatelic discovery.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Post Office at Mbabane, Swaziland, in 1902

Temporary Post Office, Mbabane, 1902

With the end of the Boer War in May 1902, a British Administration was set up in Swaziland, the area having been previously administered as a Z.A.R. Protectorate (1894-1899).

Mbabane was selected as the seat of the new seat of government, the previous Z.A.R. administrative centre of Bremersdorp having been largely destroyed during the war.  Besides, only four white residents remained in Bremersdorp, and Mbabane was in an elevated position and outside the malarial zone.

New postal arrangements proceeded slowly in Swaziland.  Postal responsibilities were assigned to the Transvaal Colony, and on 19 November 1902 a post office was opened at Mbabane (known as Embabaan until late 1904).

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A new "'A' of 'CA' missing from watermark" error

One of the most enjoyable "needle in a haystack" philatelic adventures is searching for watermark errors.

Ever since the reporting of the St. Edward's Crown watermark error in September 1954, Commonwealth collectors have been searching for further examples of substituted and missing Crowns, broken or missing letters C and A.

In September 1954 Charles Rang reported his discovery of the substitution for a missing Crown with the St. Edward's Crown on a block of the 2c. British Guiana Postage Due issue of 1952.  This error is today listed as SG D2ac, and is priced at £130.  Another error was quickly found on the 16c. St. Lucia Postage Due, followed by another on the 1d. Basutoland.  Discoveries of the error on postage stamps issued by the Seychelles revealed that the error was not restricted solely to postage dues.  By October 1954 the search for the error was "being feverishly pursued all over the world", and some 33 different stamps from 9 colonies with the error had been identified.  The error with the "missing Crown" was reported in the philatelic press in November 1954.

In recent times, discoveries continue to be made of examples with the "missing 'A'" and "missing 'C'" watermark varieties.  Barbados is a particularly fertile area for these elusive errors, the definitive series of 1938-47 featuring no less than 7 "'A' of 'CA' missing from watermark" errors. 

Murray Payne ( in their upcoming Philatelic Postal Auction #10 closing Thursday 22 September 2011 have listed as Lot 15 the following:
15. 1949 UPU 1/- vertical pair, unmounted mint, showing 'A' of 'CA' in the watermark completely omitted, between the two stamps.  Unlisted; the catalogue editors have been informed.  SG 117 var./CW S11a
The pair is estimated to sell for £500.

This is the first occurrence of this error on a stamp issue from Antigua.

Time to start checking all the Universal Postal Union Waterlow printings...

Sunday, 4 September 2011

India 1854 4 annas 'Head inverted' error sells for €185,000

Twenty-seven confirmed examples exist of this most famous stamp of India.  This one illustrated is ex-Dawson, and although cut-to-shape, it's large margins and otherwise fault-free appearance place it among the better of the survivors.  Stanley Gibbons list it as SG 18a, and price the stamp from £50,000 to £200,000 (or €57,000 to €228,000).  The considerable variance in price quoted by Stanley Gibbons reflects the difference between a cut-to-shape example and the finest stamp known.

At Auktionshaus Christoph Gärtner's auction held over 29 August to 2 September, this stamp was knocked down for  €185,000 (£162,000) against an estimate of €150,000 (£131,000).  With the 19% buyer's commission added, the total cost to the purchaser will be in excess of €220,000 or £192,000.

The demand for iconic rare stamps appears undiminished.  This stamp was the British Empire standout among many fine stamps in the Christoph Gärtner Rarities sale.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Gilbert and Ellice Islands Postage Dues

Periodically individual used postage dues from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands can be seen for sale on eBay and other online auctions.  Complete used sets with a decidedly "philatelic" feel to them come up for sale less often.  The set of eight values was issued in August 1940, and used examples are priced at nearly double that for mint by Stanley Gibbons.  A forged Madame Joseph cancellation inscribed "POST OFFICE OCEAN ISLAND" dated "16 DE 46" can be readily found on all values of these postage dues.

The example illustrated with an indistinct postmark sold on eBay for US$14.83 on Wednesday, 17 August 2011.

Dr. J. L. Grumbridge. O.B.E., writing in Gibbons' Stamp Monthly in March 1948 gave a detailed account of the usage of postage due stamps in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.  Dr. Grumbridge corresponded with a number of residents of the islands in the 1940's, and their attempts to find genuine usage of the stamps proved fruitless.  Efforts with deliberately underpaid covers also failed to produce usage of the postage dues.  One correspondent wrote in 1940:
Alas, your insufficiently stamped letter was not marked so, and even if it had been, I doubt if any tax would have been collected.  I have received many under-stamped letters, but have never been called on to pay tax, and I doubt if any tax has ever been collected here.
A cover was found posted from Curacao to Fanning Island in March 1944.  Underpaid and marked with a hand-stamped 'T' and manuscript '20', the postage due was paid with a normal 5d. postage stamp.  Another correspondent wrote in 1947:
Re Postage Dues.  I have never seen any used out here.  In fact I do not think they exist.  Unstamped letters were quite frequently received in war-time and I think occasionally a local scribe would write in pen or pencil that postage was due, but I have never heard of any being collected, nor has any application ever been made to me for such postage due on unstamped letters.
Eventually a postage due stamp was, however, discovered, and an attempt made to put it to the use for which it was designed:
I have managed to unearth for you a Postage Due stamp.  Our local postmaster did  not know anything about such things and has never handled any.  But I discovered our radio operator had once had a few when he was at Ocean Island.  I managed to dig one out of him, arranged for posting an unstamped letter, and for the local postmaster to affix the said postage due, and send the letter over by a policeman, to whom I promised in all good faith to pay up the penny due.  But the said policeman disappeared without waiting to collect it.
To add insult to injury, the postage due stamp had not been cancelled with the postmark.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Why Things Are

"The Earth or Globe, on which we collect stamps, is organized by the International Postal Union, which divides it up into countries. The Postal Union turns on its axis every twenty-four hours, thus creating day and night.

The principal countries of the world are Cochin-China, the Gilbert Islands, Somali Land, the Gaboon, the Cameroons, Nankipu, Johore, and Whango-Whango. Alongside of these great stamp areas are others of less importance, whose stamps are seldom if ever worth more than four cents, such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada, France, etc.

Some of these countries, however, are of importance as exercising a control over the stamps of places of the first rank. Thus, England comes into prominence as having been recognized by the Postal Union as controlling Sarawak, Uganda, Inhambane, Irac, and other great centers. Similarly, the Philippine Islands, after centuries of misgovernment were transferred by the Postal Union to the United States and Portugal. The Portuguese, of no account in themselves, they are known, all over the world, as issuing stamps of Lorenço Marques.

The Stamp Book can teach us, among other things, the reason and origin of government and how it comes into being. Whenever a part of the earth contains a sufficient number of people to need stamps, the people all get together and join in forming a government the purpose of which is to issue stamps.

If the stamps are to have a man's head as one design, the country is placed under a king, the person selected for the king having the kind of features needed for a stamp.  The British royal family makes such excellent stamps that it is thought that they will be kept at the head of Great Britain for a long time to come.  On the other hand, the Emperor of Brazil had to be deposed in 1889, his whiskers being too large to go through the post.

In other countries, it is decided that the Goddess of Liberty has a more beautiful face than a king, and so these countries are called republics and they elect a new stamp every few years. "

From Stephen Leacock's Short Circuits (1938)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Government of South Sudan releases first stamps

The newly-independent Government of South Sudan has announced the release of the country's first postage stamps.

According to Brigadier General (retired) Elijah Biar Kuol, the Director General for Administration and Finance in the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services, some 100,000 copies of the stamps have already been distributed to all the states of South Sudan.

He said the focus will be in the rural areas where more than 80 percent of the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan live.

South Sudan has already announced its intention to join the Commonwealth.