A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Friday, January 24, 2020

Lourenco Marques - Bud's Big Blue

Portuguese Colonial Post Office
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Lourenco Marques -- since 1976 known as Maputo, Mozambique -- was originally named for the Portuguese sailor who landed there in 1544. Today it may be described as diverse and delightful but, in the same breath, as drab and dilapidated. No one really knows what Maputo means. The poet Abhay K recently wrote “It is just … a river that lends its name to the city of acacias, jacarandas and flames of lush tropical gardens, the proverbial pearl of the Indian Ocean … dotted with colonial palaces and Stalinist boxes” (1)

Neoclassical Railway Station

Much of Lourenco Marques’ old architecture still remains -- some of it late gothic, much of it Portuguese colonial or neoclassical, all of it tattered but charming. Maputo has built alongside its historic buildings stunning new Art Deco, Brutalist, and Modernist structures -- now similarly tattered but, except for the communist era concrete boxes, charming.

Typical 1970s structure
I spent a week in Lourenco Marques/Maputo a while back visiting some of its architectural wonders.  There are many, but none appear on the classic era stamps issued by Portugal. Only a few show up on modern Mozambique stamps. Too bad. A missed opportunity.

Igreja de Santo Antonio de PolanaI, aka the lemon squeezer church

Scott catalogs list more stamps for Lourenco Marques than for any other Mozambique province, except for the areas served by the Nyassa and Mozambique chartered Royal Companies. As the result, more stamps appear on the supplement pages below than in the scans for, say, Quelimane, Inhambane, Zambesia, Tete or tiny Kionga. A close look at the cancellations shows that Lourenco Marques stamps were sometimes used in other provinces.

(1)    Abhay K. Capitals, a Poetry Anthology. New Delhi: Bloomsbury, 2017.

Census: 46 in BB spaces, 1 tip-in, 77 on supplement pages.

Jim's Observations
Lourenco Marques (Named after the Portuguese navigator and explorer)  was part of the Portuguese East Africa Colony (Mozambique Colony), and is located in southeast Africa in the southern part of Mozambique.

The reality was that, within the Mozambique Colony, settlements were scattered, and these outposts by necessity had their own stamps. One can find issues for Lourenco Marques (1895), Inhambane (1895), Zambezia (1894), Quelimane (1913), Tete (1913), Mozambique Company (1892), Nyassa Company (1898), and Mozambique (1877) for the Portuguese East Africa lands. Eventually, the stamps of Mozambique were exclusively used: for Lourenco Marques- in 1920.

Lourenco Marques Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Bud's League of Nations Introduction: Preface, Table of Contents, and Dedication


League of Nations (SdN)
Album Preface

News sources remind us that 2020 marks many anniversaries -- 500 years since Magellan sailed from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, 500 years since Raphael’s death, 400 years since the Mayflower landed on Cape Cod, 250 years since Beethoven’s birth and 200 years since Florence Nightingale’s, 75 years since Franklin Roosevelt, Adolph Hitler, and Anne Frank died.

Although these people and events will likely be commemorated with new stamp issues in 2020, as they have many times in the past, the 100th anniversary of the League of Nations’ founding (January 10) is of far greater significance for classical era stamp collectors. The sheer number of League-related issues -- both the official stamps Switzerland provided for the League and the stamps resulting from League-sponsored plebiscites and mandates throughout the world -- warrants such a claim. Sadly, the anniversary will be observed with few new stamp issues. Despite all its efforts, the League failed to prevent a second world war and, so, it was dissolved in 1946. The United Nations has, nonetheless, issued a 10-pane 1.70-franc stamp honoring its predecessor’s centenary.

When Jim visited me last fall, he admired my League of Nations collection and invited me to serialize it on this blog spot. I’m pleased to do that in honor of the League’s 100th.

A few years ago, through the mediation of a dealer, I acquired the bulk of Brian Wickland’s League of Nations stamps. Wickland, an avid and intelligent collector, worked for the US State Department. During the 1970s, he was loaned to the United Nations, becoming an executive officer at the UN Refugee Agency in Geneva. His interest in the League and his collection can be traced to his time in Geneva. His stamps, covers, postcards, photographs and other material comprise most of what will be shown in subsequent posts; I have added only a few items. The organization of the collection and the commentary, however, are mine.

Brian Wickland, 1938-2013
All League of Nations and International Bureau of Labor stamps that are listed with major numbers in Scott’s catalogs will be included in this series of posts, along with most of the minor numbers, an assortment of anomalies, and specimen-overprinted stamps. Related covers, League-sponsored convention cancels, and postcards will also be included, as will other artifacts with connections to the League. In all, there will be more than thirty posts, spread over the entire anniversary year and beyond. These posts are listed in the Table of Contents, below, which is based loosely on the categories used by the United Nations for their League of Nations collection in Geneva.
Curiously, Big Blue Volume I omits entirely the Swiss League of Nations official stamps. An oversight? Perhaps. Perhaps the editors thought, given the League’s nervous fragility in its later years, it would have been impolitic to include them. The omission was partly corrected in 1949 when Volume II came out with spaces for some catalog numbers.
I dedicate this League of Nations album to my father, a veteran of World War I whose enthusiasm for the League faltered as the League itself faltered and a second world war became inevitable. Hope for peace died, but not the love of it. The album is also dedicated to Woodrow Wilson, another man of peace.

The key resource for studying League of Nations stamps is a small volume by Charles Misteli, Etude sur les timbres-poste et oblitérations de la Société des Nations, du Bureau International du Travail et des Conférences Internationales. Published by Club Philatélique et Aéropostal de Genève, 1943. I will refer to it often in subsequent posts. A partial English translation exists. 

As expected, the more expensive League overprints have been faked, often crudely, sometimes dangerously. Resources for identifying forgeries and strategies for avoiding them are available. These will be discussed throughout the posts.
Best wishes to all who select League of Nations stamps as a casual or serious interest. The search for them will yield many insights about good and evil in the 20th century.


When I visited Bud this past October, and saw his League of Nations album, I asked him if he would be willing to include it in the Big Blue Blog postings. 
He agreed, and I am thrilled.
The reader is in store for a treat!

League of Nations (SdN)  
Table of Contents


Table of Contents

Dedication Page

1.    Industrielle Kriegswirtschaft (Switzerland War Board of Trade), a precursor of SdN and BIT overprints: Stamps and covers
2.     Pre-SdN Philately: Congres de la Paix -- Versailles and St. Germain-en-Laye, cancellations and covers
3.     Early pro-SdN propaganda, opposition to SdN
4.     First SdN cancels and early postcards
5.     First SdN overprinted Switzerland stamps, covers and whole sheets (1922-31)
6.     SdN sponsored conferences, cancels and covers: Lausanne, Locarno
7.     Lugano, 53rd Session, 1928, rare cancels
8.     Grilled gum issues, 1930, variations and anomalies
9.     Coat of Arms over the Matterhorn issues, variations
10. World Disarmament Conference, Geneva, 1932-34, Lausanne Reparations Conference, 1932
11. 1930s SdN conference cancels and covers
12. Landscape issues, typographed: specimens and covers (1934-35)
13. Landscape issues, engraved, 1937
14. New SdN building, commemoratives: Linear and circular overprints (1938), covers related to the site donor
15. Switzerland History issues, symbolic subjects, high denominations, stamps and covers (1939)
16. Re-engraved landscape stamps (1942-43)
17. Overprints reading “Courrier de la Society des Nations” (1944)
18. Last years of The SdN
19. Oddities and freaks: legitimate variations, overprinting slippage, die re-entries, printing errors, and fakes
20. Stamps issued by countries other than Switzerland regarding the SdN and its meetings
21. Stamps issued by nations under SdN sponsored plebiscites (Allenstein, Saar, Upper Silesia, etc.)
22. The abandoned Wilson Peace Palace of the Nations, a photographic essay
23. SdN Cinderellas
24. International Bureau of Labor (Bureau Internationale du Travail, BIT-ILO),  first issues covers
25. Shield motifs, covers
26. Disarmament conference stamps and covers
27. Landscape series topography, covers
28. Landscape series engraved, covers
29. BIT and SdN buildings, commemoratives, covers
30. Linear and circular overprints reading “Service du Bureau Internationale du Travail” and covers.
31. International Court of Justice

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Latvia - Bud's Big Blue

Ally tells her Story
Note 20 -1 -20 : Ceasefire between  Latvia and Russia
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Bud’s Big Blue posts have reached the midpoint; approximately half of the album’s spaces fall before Latvia, half after.

To honor this occasion, Bud asked me to write a few words. I’m the woman pictured above (on Scott #59). Bud will make his own remarks about passing the midpoint separately. So, I get to tell some of my story here in this guest post.

I’ll begin with a few words about myself. You can call me Ally, that’s short for Allegory, because I personify Latvia’s struggles and her dreams of becoming an independent state following World War I. A guy by the name of Rihards Zarins first drew me in 1916 (see my earlier pic below). Back then, I was ready to fight any and every one single handedly -- Russians, Germans, whomever -- so Latvia could win her freedom.

We proudly proclaimed our independence on 18 November 1918, the date emblazed in the wreath I’m holding. A year later, in 1919, when I was looking somewhat more sedate, I was selected for the first anniversary stamp. Actually, I was tired then. Does it show?  It had been a rough year and hard times had continued. My sword, now resting by my side, seemed heavier than it used to. And independence was still not a sure thing. Sad. If you want a summary of what happened (it’s all very complicated), a reader of Wikipedia has sorted out the details pretty well (see https://thereaderwiki.com/en/History_of_Latvia). It makes me sick to read it, though. I think about the thousands who died. I had inspired them.

You probably noticed the striking cancellation necklace I’m wearing, dated 20-1-20. I’m proud of it. Jim is publishing this post exactly 100 years - four days later. Neat!

The postmaster in Leepaj made several of them to celebrate the cease fire between Latvia and Russia that happened on that day. Even more important, the Russians said they would to leave us alone. But, even so, full freedom didn’t come until ten months later. I’m told necklaces like mine pop up on eBay now and then. Watch for them.

Bud asked me to say something about the other stamps in his album. Well, Big Blue’s actual dead center falls between the fourth and fifth stamps, row 5, on page 2 of the Latvia scans. It’s between stamps with star-studded sunrises, our coat of arms back then. My hat has three stars, too, which makes my face the rising sun, kind of.
You might also find interesting the stamps printed on the back of old maps and bank notes found on Bud’s supplement pages. Paper, like almost everything else, was scarce back then. Don’t tell Bud, but I think some of the airmail stamps on his supplement pages are fakes.

After getting my cancel a hundred years ago, I was passed around from collector to collector and spent 30 years in an album that wasn’t much looked at. Then came seven years in a damp, moldy basement. I had to take a mild Clorox bath before Bud let me in his album. You can still detect a slight rust tinge along my top perforations.

Census: 150 in BB spaces, counting me; one tip-in is hiding behind me, a mint sister #59 who envies my necklace; another 100 can be seen on supplement pages.

Ally in 1916

Jim's Observations
Congratulations to Bud! He is at the midway point in presenting his completely full Big Blue! You will also note that this blog post by Bud is published exactly one hundred years minus four days after the socked-on-the-nose cancellation (20-1-20)  of his "Ally" header stamp and the date of the ceasefire between Latvia and Russia.

Bud - your clever musings for each country found in BB are a real treat. I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say I am looking forward to the second half!

Latvia Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Recent Additions to the Collection for 2019

The Iconic Two Penny Blue
1840 Great Britain Scott 2 2p blue "Queen Victoria"
Into The Deep Blue
For eight years I've been looking for a Two Penny Blue.

First issued May 7, 1840, one day after the equally iconic One Penny Black, this engraved GB design has rarely been surpassed for simplicity and beauty. Only two plates were needed, compared to the eleven plates for the Penny Black, and then the Two Penny Blue design had white lines added in 1841.

So really only a year for the original Two Penny Blue. Naturally the CV cost is high ($900+). But a nice opportunity arose, and I took it.

And that is indicative of this past year - a year of changes and opportunities. As I stated in the last annual review for 2018, this year would be more about a targeted "want list" approach, and less about purchasing feeder albums. Recall that I collect WW 1840-1940 (-1952 British Commonwealth).

So how did I do?

Well, I still purchased country feeder albums, but ones in which I felt would yield enough new stamps to justify the overall cost. Then I bought select stamps and sets from dealers and the internet (mainly the APS store). And sometimes an opportunity would present itself (as above, and more stories to follow).

I also lowered my new stamp goal total for the year: 500+ (rather than 1000+).

I began the year with 49,560 stamps in Deep Blue (classical era Steiner pages) and 30,496 stamps in my virtual Big Blue (Scott 1840-1940 International Part I). As many of you know, I keep my stamps in Steiner pages (Deep Blue), but keep virtual count of stamps that have a space in Big Blue.

I added 620 stamps to Deep Blue, with 185 stamps also having a space in Big Blue. Total, beginning January 1, 2020, is then 50,190 stamps in Deep Blue (60% filled) and 30,681 stamps in Big Blue (89.5% filled). I have crossed the 50,000 classical era count, and 60% filled level! Yes!!!! For more on the specific country counts, see the Status of My Deep Blue & Big Blue Collection post, which is undated monthly.

Which countries did I add the most stamps for the year?

1) Russia 53
2) Brazil 46
3) Cilicia 44
4) Liechtenstein 35
5) Orange River Colony 28
6) Albania 26
7) Ireland 24
8) Monaco 21
9) Salvador 19
10) Germany 18
      Andorra 18
11) France/China Offices 16
      Oltre Giuba 16
      Northern Nigeria 16
12) St, Pierre & Miquelon 15

In prior years for this annual review, I  would illustrate a few of the stamp additions for each country on the list. But some of these countries (Russia, Brazil, Germany, France/China Offices, St Pierre & Miquelon) I've already shown with timely posts this past year. And others (Cilicia, Orange River Colony) I plan to do future in-depth posts. That leaves me with the delicious choice to do what I like for this year's review. ;-)

So here is an eclectic group of countries that have had additions recently...

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia 1853 Scott 1 1p red brown 
"Queen Victoria"
A good friend of mine in town was thinking of downsizing parts of his collection, especially British North America, which he had built up over the years. Well, I love British North America issues, and it wasn't too long that we came to an agreement. The long and short of it is that I found myself with two nice early Nova Scotia stamps, and an early New Brunswick stamp. CV ranges from $500+ to $2,200+. All three stamps were still housed in their Steve Ivy Philatelic Auction envelopes.

Nova Scotia 5 1857 6p dark green
"Crown of Great Britain and Heraldic Flowers of the Empire"
I think one of the reasons I like early Nova Scotia and early New Brunswick (the New Brunswick 1851 Scott 2 6p olive yellow is shown at the end of the post) is because some of my earlier ancestors, finding themselves on the wrong end of the Revolutionary War because of their Tory leanings, fled from Lancaster, Pennsylvania  to Nova Scotia in 1781. (Others fought on the Patriot side.)

Cyprus Scott  1938-44 Scott 143-155 Pictorials
One of the longtime dealers in Oregon, one which I've had dealings with ever since I bought a large stuffed Big Blue feeder album from him eight years ago, specializes in British Commonwealth issues.

Cyprus 1938 Scott 153 45pi black & emerald
"Forest Scene"
He had a full unused set of the 1938-44 pictorial issue for Cyprus. I was missing the last three stamps in the set, which is where most of the CV resides. Look at this gorgeous engraved stamp! Who could resist?

Cyprus 1938 Scott 155 One Pound indigo & dull red
"George VI"
A common scenario for us WW collectors is obtaining/accumulating perhaps 80% of a set through picking up one or two stamps at a time. Yet the rest of the set is where the CV lies. So, although counter-intuitive, as we have most of the stamps, the smart thing is then to buy the whole set. At least one will have duplicates for trading. ;-)

France 1884 Scott J22 60c black
This came out of a dealer's box. Not much to look at, but being France, the CV is $50+.

Gibraltar 1938-49 Scott 107-118 Pictorials
This was a pick-up from my friendly British Commonwealth dealer in Oregon. (See earlier Cyprus.)

Gibraltar 1944 Scott 116 5sh dark carmine & black
"Government House"
As I said, the high values of a set is also where the CV for the set is mostly derived.

Gibraltar 1943 Scott 117 10sh blue & black
"Catalan Bay"
I am a sucker for the engraved pictorials issued for many British Commonwealth countries beginning in 1938. Just click on the stamp, enlarge it, and enjoy the fine line detail. !!!

Gibraltar 1938 Scott 118 One Pound Orange
"Edward VI"
This modest little stamp has a high value denomination (One Pound), and a similarly high CV ($30).

Ireland 1925 Scott 77 2sh6p gray brown
"1922" is 5 1/2 mm long
A local dealer in town had several thousand higher value individual WW classical era stamps housed in separate glassine envelopes that he had picked up from a deceased meticulous collector. Each stamp, as it turned out, was correctly identified. Do you know how uncommon that is? Whenever I obtain a stamp, I make sure to do my own watermarking, perforation measuring etc, because not infrequently, the stamp is not quite what it was labeled to be.

The dealer had no time to evaluate and market these stamps, and gave the whole box to me to ferret out what I needed. I found several hundred WW stamps I could use, and paid a minimal % CV for them.

Ireland 1937 Scott 98 10sh dark blue
"St. Patrick and Paschal Fire"
Here are a couple of examples from Ireland. CV is an amazing $175 and $90 respectively.

Monaco 1885 Scott 4 10c brown/straw
"Prince Charles III"
At our local stamp show, there is a "Floor to Ceiling" dealer, who is based in Oregon, but goes to all the major US stamp shows. By "Floor to Ceiling", I mean his stock is WW, each stamp is housed individually by country, and he needs a Mercedes Sprinter Van to bring everything. Naturally, his stock is a fertile hunting ground for WW collectors, especially if one has a "want list", as he is likely to have some to most of it.

Monaco 1891 Scott 20 25c green
"Prince Albert I"
The reality of a "Floor to Ceiling" dealer is, since he has done most of the parsing work to make his enormous stock accessible down to the individual Scott number, his % CV prices will be in the higher range (50%). 

Monaco 1928 Scott 99 1.50fr on 2fr violet 7 olive brown
"View of Monaco"
But, if one has a want list with individual spaces to fill, yes, it can be worth it, ;-)

Monaco 1938 Scott 143 2.25fr on 2fr dull red
Postage Due Stamps of 1925-32 Surcharged or Overprinted in Black
These are some of the stamps I picked up for Monaco from him. The CV ranges from $7 to $40.

Paraguay 1934 Scott C90 13.50p blue green
""Graf Zeppelin" over Brazilian Terrain"
Overprinted in Black
A local dealer tends to have varying stock for Central and South America, and he also has an interest in carrying Zeppelin stamps.

And that is how I acquired some Zeppelins from Paraguay.

Of interest, note how the scene depicts the Zeppelin over Brazil! I guess Paraguay wanted to get in on the stamp action. ;-)

Paraguay 1935 Scott C97 45p blue
Types of the 1933 Issue Overprinted in Black
CV for the two examples here is $10 and $20+ respectively.

New Brunswick 1851 Scott 2 6p olive yellow
""Crown of Great Britain and Heraldic Flowers of the United Kingdom"
Out of the Blue
I hope the examples of stamps acquired by me this past year warms your heart, and gives you a greater appreciation of the stamp art and design during the "golden age" (classical era).

Comments appreciated!