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, August 12, 2022

Obock - Bud's Big Blue

Map salvaged from Gerben Van Gelder’s now sadly defunct 
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Obock’s life as a philatelic curiosity is short. It began in 1892, 30 years after the French purchased the property from the Sultan of Obock for coaling steamships before and after a Suez Canal transit. First, eleven “Obock” overprints on French Colonies Commerce allegory stamps were issued which, shortly, had new values added, often inverted as in the example shown below. Then Commerce was joined by Navigation in 13 standard French Colonies key plate stamps – a design particularly apt for a coaling station. 

Scott #23, blue, inverted overprint

Over the next two years 20 spectacular stamps were issued; Big Blue has spaces for only four of these. The two designs feature camels and nomadic warriors complete with spears and shields. Although imperf, these stamps have crenellated surrounds much like a medieval fortress – imitation perforations.

Scott # 56, rose and blue

 After four years, Obock’s philately ended. The French decided to move their refueling station 28 miles across the Gulf of Tadjoura to a new settlement, Djibouti, and the colonial government followed along. Obock’s eye-catching pictorials continued to be used in Djibouti, however, both with and without overprints. These will appear in the forthcoming post on Somali Coast.

Scott #60, violet and orange, Djibouti cancel

World travelers, military strategists, and politicians have largely forgotten Obock. While Djibouti thrives, only about 17,000 (former nomads, fishermen, traders) live in Obock, a population recently increased by Yemini refugees. But, because of these unusual stamp designs, collectors have good reason to remember Obock’s moment as a strategic dot north of the Horn of Africa at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

Census: twelve in BB spaces, 18 on the supplement page.

Jim's Observations

A 1894 issue of 18 stamps- thirteen with the "Somali Warriors" design, five with the triangular "Camel Scene" design - is interesting indeed. It is imperforate with "fake" perforations. 

The back of the stamps have quadrille lines. Twelve of the stamps in the issue have a CV ranging from $1+-$9

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Comments appreciated!

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Cape of Good Hope Triangulars: 1853-64 One Pence Reds Part A

COGH 1853 SG 3 1p brick red/ slightly blued paper
Scott 1 brick red/ bluish paper

Into the Deep Blue

The One Pence Reds, intended initially for newspapers, offers a nice challenge for collectors, not the least that the CV runs in the $300-$400 range, about 2-3X as much as the Four Pence Blues.

It follows much like the history of Great Britain 1841-1869 One Penny Reds/ Two Penny Blues, also manufactured by Perkins, Bacon, in the complexity of the issues.

This One Pence Part A post is the third in the COGH series. It will cover the Perkins, Bacon One Pence issued stamps of 1853 (blued paper) and 1855-58 (white paper). The Part B post, the next one, will review the 1863-64 De La Rue One Penny issues.

1858 Stanley Gibbons (SG) 5a rose/ white paper (Block)

The Perkins Bacon printed issues of 1853 and 1855-58 for the One Penny denomination come in three basic colors, according to SG: Namely "brick-red", "rose" and "deep rose-red". 

The "rose" color is the most common (CV $325), and so we will begin there.

The One Penny block (above) is in the "rose" color range. If the block didn't have a crease running through it, the CV would be $750. But, let's look at the watermark placement....

1858 Stanley Gibbons (SG) 5a rose/ white paper (Block)
Note the two "Anchor" watermarks placed sideways between the two stamps
(9 o'clock & 3 o'clock position)

Normally, the "anchor" watermark hangs down vertically from the pyramid tip towards the pyramid base. But if the paper is fed for printing "upside-down", one ends up with so called "sideways" watermarks. They are not that common and command a premium (CV $700 for one stamp).

1858 Stanley Gibbons (SG) 5a rose/ white paper 
(Scott 3 "rose")

Let's look at a couple more examples of the "rose" color. They were issued beginning in 1858, according to SG ( Scott says 1857). SG has "5a" for the catalog number. Although most of us in the USA generally follow Scott numbers, for the COGH triangles, SG numbers are more popular for serious COGH triangle collectors.

1858 Stanley Gibbons (SG) 5a rose/ white paper 
(Scott 3 "rose")

Note that I always show the back of the stamp? That is because the 1858 PB "rose" stamps are on white or cream colored paper (a distinguishing characteristic). In contrast, the 1853 PB issue was on "blued" paper, as we will see later.

1858 Stanley Gibbons (SG) 5a rose/ white paper (Block)
(This might be an example of Scott 3a "dull red")

One problem with using two catalogs (SG, Scott) is trying to reconcile the different colors/numbers. 

For SG, they divide the "rose" category stamps into "rose" (SG5a) and "deep red rose" (SG5b). This stamp block has a different "rose" hue than the other "rose" stamps shown, but probably not enough to call this block "deep red rose".

Now Scott divides the catalog into "rose" (Sc3) and "dull red" (Sc 3a). To me, this color hue shown above might be what Scott had in mind for "dull red". Scott lists the "dull red" @ $425, and a block @$950.

1858 Stanley Gibbons (SG) 5a rose/ white paper 
(Perhaps SG 5b deep rose red/ white paper)

We are getting closer to a "deep red-rose" color.  They command a 20-30% increase CV compared to the "rose" color. Some would label this as such; others would not.

 SG 5b deep rose red/ white paper

I think we can all agree that this stamp does qualify as a "deep rose red" color. 

With the "deep rose red" stamps, this Perkins Bacon issue can sometimes be confused with the De La Rue (DLR) 1863-64 "deep carmine red" issue. Actually, I think the "deep red rose'" stamps still has a "rose" hue, while the DLR carmine stamp does not. (We will see DLR "deep carmine red" examples in the next blog post.)

1853 SG 3 brick red
Paper slightly blued

OK, we are done with the "rose" colored one penny, what about the "brick-red" stamps? The "brick-red" color often has a "orange-brown" hue to it - not a "rose" hue.

Note the color here has an "orange" tint to it.

All of the 1853 one penny "brick red" stamps should be on paper "more or less blued". Recall that I mentioned in the COGH Four Pence blog posts, that the degree of bluing of the paper had to do with how wet the paper was - really a random, incidental, and a not significant printing event. Yet, SG divides the catalog into "deeply blued" specimens (CV $400 + up to 50% premium) vs "paper slightly blued" (CV $400). I suppose this was done as collectors were willing to pay a premium for a deeply blued paper specimen. 

Here is the back of the One Penny - definitely a blue-green look to the paper. I will reluctantly give this a SG3 "paper slightly blued" designation, even though the eye test shows an obvious blue color.

1853 SG 3a brown red
Paper slightly blued

This example "brick-red" shows some brown-red color, and probably qualifies as SG 3a brown red. 

The back has the characteristic green-blue look, but in the "paper slightly blued" category.

Here is a good comparison look between the upper row "brick-reds" ( brown-red hue, orange-red hue), and the lower row "rose category" (rose, deep red rose).

I should mention that there is in the SG and Scott catalogs a PB 1857 SG 5 brick red on cream toned paper (paper NOT blued!). They are uncommon (I don't have one), and the CV is $1,050. 

But before you go looking for one, be aware that some quite prominent COGH triangle philatelic experts don't believe DG5 actually exists. If so, all one penny brick reds SHOULD have paper more or less blued.

1858 SG 5a (Sc 3) 1p rose/ white paper
Out of the Blue

I hope you enjoyed this brief review of the "rose" and "brick-red" 1853-1858 PB issues. Next, we will tackle the very interesting DLR One Penny stamps!

Comments appreciated!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Nyassa - Bud's Big Blue

Scott #25 (Mozambique #68 with overprint), King Carlos I, dark blue on rose
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Colonization was an expensive experiment. When European governments lacked the capital necessary to finance their exploitive ambitions for Africa, they turned to private investors, often merchants, to undertake the job. Then, when private financing proved insufficient, handsome stamps were printed to pinch the pockets of young philatelists worldwide. The stamps of Portugal’s northern Mozambique (aka, Nyassa) illustrate the pattern.

Scott #31, black and orange

Kids prefer pictures of exotic animals over royal portraiture – hence the menagerie found on stamps issued by the Nyassa Company (1891-1929) and the Mozambique Company (1891-1942).

Eagerly sought and enthusiastically traded during my childhood, the Nyassa collection shown below now suffers from neglect. No new stamps have been added to it for over 50 years. And I’m not shopping for more. Beloved in my childhood, they’re spurned in my dotage.

Scott # 38, black and yellow green

Why my indifference, if not disdain, toward these stamps? It can be traced only in part to the fact they were printed solely to extract profits from the buoyant philatelic market, and not for any apparent postal need. There were fewer than 200 Europeans in Nyassa in 1915 (1) and perhaps two million non-stamp using native Africans. How much postage could the Europeans use? Further, I don’t resent the revenue generated by sales to collectors. While considerable, it took only a small bite out of the Nyassa Company’s red ink problems.

Scott # j3, red

What repels me can be summed up in one word – chibalo, the system of forced labor that the Nyassa Company adopted when earlier plans failed to produce big profits. Imposed against indigenous Africans by whipping and rape (2), chibalo was tantamount to slavery, although slavery had been formally outlawed. Chibalo compelled black people to build roads with their bare hands and to sweat blood on settler’s plantations in order to pay their never-ending tax debts. The Company provided no clothing, no tools, and no food; pay was meagre.

Moreover, the Company levied parasitical “hut taxes” to ensure laborer’s long-term compliance and, they hoped, docility. As the result, labor became abundant and lucrative, allowing much of it to be sold to mining companies in South Africa and later in Katanga and Belgian Congo. Chibalo continued long after the Company’s demise (1929) and was a major grievance in the Mozambican wars for independence (1964-1974).

Scott # 122, black and green, zebra and huntsman

I visited Mozambique some years after the independence wars ended. The scars of chibalo were still apparent and painful. Mozambique has not recovered from the colonial experiment, nor will I forget what I saw and heard there. Nyassa’s stamps remind me. So, I buy them no more, no matter how pretty.

Map salvaged from Gerben Van Gelder’s now sadly defunct "stamp world history" web site

Census: 85 in BB spaces, 17 on the supplement page.

1) https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/africa/pt-nyasaland.htm

2)  Urdang, Stephanie (1989). And Still They Dance: Women, War, and the Struggle for Change in Mozambique. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press. Cited by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chibalo

Jim's Observations

O.K., we will have the same old, same old, run of Portuguese colony stamps? 


By 1901, the Nyassa  Company (or Niassa Company)  arranged (with permission) for printing it's own designs by Waterlow and Sons in London. And the subsequent stamp issues are....magnificent!

But we have to be realistic- these stamps were intended for the philatelic market (Waterlow and Sons must have made a killing! ;-). Most of the printings of an issue were never sent to Nyassa.

Although tons of stamps were sold, ultimately, the Portuguese government was not impressed, and the concession was terminated in 1929. Mozambique stamps were then used.

And as Bud has so eloquently underlined with his essay above, the Company instituted a forced labor policy (chibalo system), which required the natives to work the plantations under horrendous conditions. The stamps have a stain on them.

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Comments appreciated!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Cape of Good Hope Triangulars: 1853-1864 Four Pence Blues Part B

1864 Stanley Gibbons 19 4d deep blue "Hope" Seated
Scott 13 4p dark blue; De La Rue "Wooly" Print

Into the Deep Blue

We are identifying the COGH triangulars, based on the Stanley Gibbons (preferred) and Scott catalogs, by looking at examples from the accumulation collection I recently acquired.

The link for the initial post for the Four Pence Blues is below.

Cape of Good Hope Triangulars: 1853-1864 Four Pence Blues Part A

This post will continue with the evaluation of these fascinating Four Pence Blues stamps.

Admittedly, this is a complicated area to correctly identify, and I was tutored and helped immensely by Chris Dorn ( Handle @Beryllium Guy) from The Stamp Forum group in their Cape of Good Hope thread. Thanks Chris!

The COGH triangulars are lumped together into three main groups...

1) The 1853 Group (Perkins, Bacon) - One pence, Four Pence. They are characterized by "more or less" blued paper.

2) The 1855-58 Group (Perkins, Bacon) - One, Four, Six Pence, One Shilling. They are characterized by "White paper" (actually non blued paper).

3) The 1863-64 Group (De La Rue) - One, Four, Six Pence, One Shilling. They can have a change in color hue to the stamp. The can have sharp impressions or fuzzy (wooly) impressions. 

All of the groups used the same plates, so identification relies on the factors above.

OK, lets continue with the Four Pence examples....

Example Ten

This example certainly has a cream-tan back (not blued), so places it in the 1855-58 (PB)  or 1863-64 (DLR) group. But the blue background details (Engine Turned Background) are there around "Hope", as is the lace pattern around the letters - probably a PB printing. It has an intense "blue" rather than a "deep blue" color. 

This looks like a SG 6a (Sc 4) blue, part of the 1855-58 "white paper" group. 

Example Eleven

I have this down as a SG 6a (Sc 4) blue, with "white paper". The blue color is not quite as bright as example ten.

Example Twelve

Now this is interesting. Note the "rouletted" marks around the edges? This stamp appears to be  SG 6a (Sc4) blue with "white paper". The color is a different blue hue (more pure blue) than example ten and eleven.

Yes, consensus is that this is a "rouletted" stamp (SG10) - as one can find them unofficially rouletted. CV =  $2,500! Sadly no, because they are really only collected on cover because of possible fraudulent attempts to make rouletted copies. :-(

Example Thirteen

This is probably a COGH SG6a (Sc 4) blue 1855-58 "white paper" variety. But it has a more unusual blue (milky blue?) than the preceding examples. Of interest, Scott ( but not SG) lists a 4e "bright blue" as a color option for the 1855-58 group. However, no one that I talked with seems to know what that is or has seen an example of that color. The CV for all the three colors listed by Scott (blue, deep blue, bright blue) are all basically the same, so one would think they would be equally as common.

In talking with Chris Dorn, he believes this stamp is "over inked", which gives it almost a DLR issue look. There is less detail in the Engine Turned Background, and this might be an example of a "wooly" PB print (which is not that common, compared to the DLR wooly prints). Also, Chris believes the blue color hue argues for a PB print.

You can see how complicated the evaluation can be? !!

Example Fourteen

This example shows fuzzy, flaky, or wooly characteristics in the blue background around "Hope", and the lace background around the letters are worn. And someone wrote Scott "13" (DLR print) on the back. ;-)  This is probably a DLR print SG 19 deep blue (Sc 13 dark blue).

A couple of comments...

1) The DLR prints can have a more Navy Blue (Indigo) color. Is this more a Navy Blue (possibly)? Now the SG catalog lists four colors for the DLR prints: 19 deep blue, 19a blue, 19b slate blue, and 19c steel blue. The slate and steel blue colors are more rare, and, frankly, one needs a Cert for these colors (and even then, there seems to be a lot of disagreement). 

2) The Four Pence DLR stamps can be a sharp print or a wooly print. It is much easier (in my view) to be able to identify a Four Pence  DLR stamp if it has wooly characteristics. If the color is more characteristic for a DLR print (such as Navy Blue (Indigo)), then that is also helpful.

Example Fifteen

This is a deeper blue than Example Fourteen, and perhaps this is a good example of "Navy Blue" (Indigo) ? The stamps appears wooly, flaky, and fuzzy, with less lace detail around the letters: a wooly SG 19 (Sc 13) deep blue type stamp. But look at the next pic...

It turns out this stamp is a "Watermark Sideways" example: Therefore SG 19d (13d). CV = $400 (unfortunately, not my flawed example). If the paper sheet is printed on the reverse side (put in to be printed, not on the side of the sheet that was prepared to be printed on, but flipped over to the reverse side), the "anchor" watermarks, rather than be upright, will be printed sideways, usually two half-anchor watermarks visible along the lower horizontal edge of the stamp. My example above actually shows the whole sideways watermark on the stamp, which is unusual.

What is wooliness?

Chris says "Look at the background. The more fine detail one can see, such as distinct dots or even boomerang shapes, the sharper the print. The more the background appears solid (absence of detail), the more wooly it is. And the netting around the letters is either blurred or gone."

And Richard Debney, an expert on COGH triangle issues, points to the white patchiness - (I call them round snowball fuzzies) - one can often spot for DLR issues. He refers to this as the classic De La Rue look: "Patchiness in the background behind "Hope"". 

What causes "wooliness"?

Apparently, not plate wear as such. The "wooly" or "flaky" appearance is due to poor absorption of the ink onto the paper in the DLR printing process. (DLR may have polished the paper prior to using it.)
There may be lumps of ink on the surface.

Example Sixteen

I include Example Sixteen here, because someone, on the back, labeled this Scott 13, thinking this was a De La Rue print.  But, in fact, it has nice background detail around "Hope" and the lattice work around the letters looks good. Probably a SG6a (Sc 4) blue.

But notice it has brownish area spots around "Hope" and her feet? This looks like sulfuretting.

Therefore, I tried the Stamp Smarter Oxidation Reduction technique again. (Yes, Stamp Smarter does label the topic "Removal of Oxidation", but admits that is not correct - Sulfuretting in this case is actually a "reduction".)

Wow, what a difference between "before" (original top) and "after" (H2O2 technique bottom)! It restored the original blue color throughout the stamp (notice one can only see this original blue color in only a small part of the original stamp before).

And notice the brown sulfuretted spots throughout the stamp are now gone!

Overall, this was quite a success!

(Note: See the "Part A" post for more discussion, and some cautions.)

This is a comparison of the "before" and "after" reverse side of the stamp. The gum and debris are gone, so that is good. And the "anchor" is more obvious. 

But H2O2 can also have bleaching qualities on paper, and it appears the paper is a bit whiter now. 

Example Seventeen

Because of the color of the stamp, Chris Dorn places this as a DLR printing: SG 19a blue.

But Chris points out the lattice around the letters is intact, and there is detail to be seen around "Hope", so overall this is not a significant "wooly" specimen. 

I thought  this was a DLR printing, but for a different reason than color. The stamp shows white fuzzy patches (see above)  in the background around "Hope". ( Richard Debney, a COGH triangle expert,  calls this "patchiness" a classic clue for DLR stamps.) 

But, for DLR issues, the color ("Navy Blue" (Indigo)) is an important factor.

We will continue with the COGH blog posts, featuring the One Penny Reds next.

Out of the Blue

Quite an adventure! I have learned more.

But there are two problem areas with COGH triangles - specifically with the Four Pence Blue stamps. 

1) Determining Scott 2 Four Pence lightly blued paper stamps from Scott 4 with white paper. 

2) Determining Scott 4 Four Pence Perkins Bacon printings from Scott 13 Four Pence De La Rue printings. (The other De La Rue stamps for 1p, 6p, and 1sh have just enough color change to differentiate.)

Comments appreciated!