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 G√§rtner'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 G√§rtner Rarities sale.