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. Interested? So into the Blues...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greece Hermes Heads

1861 Scott 3 5 Lepta yellow green/greenish "Hermes Head"
Paris Print, Fine Impression
Quick History
Ancient Greece (Hellas), cradle of western civilization, inspired the use of the Greek messenger God, Hermes (Mercury) in a series of stamps initially issued in 1861. They were printed in Paris by Ernst Meyer, having been designed by the French engraver Désiré-Albert Barre. Then, the series was continued for twenty-five years with Athens printings until 1886.

Ancient Greece hardly needs an introduction with Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, Alexander the Great, the City States Athens and Sparta, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle; to name a few of the Greats. It was the birthplace of  Western philosophy, democracy, political science, literature, historical writing, drama (comedy, tragedy),  science, mathematics, and architecture.

 Ancient Greek Colonization
Greece was then part of the Byzantine Empire for a thousand years from the Fourth Century until 1543, and the Fall of Constantinople. Subsequently, Greece fell under Ottoman rule until 1830, when, after a struggle for independence (with some help from Russia, United Kingdom and France), a new Greek State was born.

Expansion of Greece 1832-1947
As mentioned, the first stamps for Greece were the large Hermes Heads, followed by the small Hermes Heads between 1886-1895, and then a pictorial series for the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896.

As one can imagine, the classic designs combined with ancient Greece classical motifs have made Greek stamps highly popular among philatelists right from the beginning.

This blog entry will concentrate on the Hermes Heads issues (1861-1895), with the remaining Greek issues covered later.

1882 Scott 56a rose (aniline ink) on cream paper
Without figures on back: unique color
Into the Deep Blue
The Large Hermes Heads hold for the classical era collector, in my opinion, a "Terrible Beauty".

"Beauty" because they are arguably the most perfectly designed classical stamps ever produced.

"Terrible" because they may be the most difficult issue to accurately classify for the non specialist.

Consider these facts.....
A) The continuous printing for 25 years of the imperforate Large Hermes Heads was made, for each denomination, from the same plate. There was never a conscious attempt to create discrete issues; the separation was done after the fact by philatelists.

B) That means secondary characteristics, such as worn plates, the printing method, the paper, color shades, and the presence or appearance of the control numbers on the back of the stamps, define the "separate" issues.

Nevertheless, a number of the Large Hermes Heads can be confidently identified by the general classical era collector. I will highlight those stamps throughout this blog.

The rest of the issues? Yes, there are ways to tell, and one might be able to bracket the possibilities with a postmark, or any of the above secondary characteristics. But frankly, one is probably going to need help from specialists for definitive identification.

Then there is the issue of the catalogue. Scott is O.K., but the Hellas catalogue is the one used by Greek specialists, and it is clearly finer. I will add the Hellas catalogue number to the description if appropriate.

The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has 58 major number descriptions for the Large Hermes Heads (LHH), and 42 major descriptions for the Small Hermes Heads (SHH). Only five of the LHH are CV <$20. "Affordability" is 9%. Thirty-three LHH, though, are valued to $60 (57% of total). The SHH have 33 stamps @ <$20: "Affordability" = 79%.

A closer look at the stamps and issues


Let's get an overview of the Large Hermes Heads Scott issues with the issue characteristics ( Denominations in Lepta: 1,2,5,10,20,30(1876),40,60(1876), 80) .......

1) 1861 Paris Print Fine Impression (seven stamps): Without Control Numbers (CN) on back except for 10 Lepta. Lines of shading on cheek dotted at the end, clean spandrels. Excellent impression. Scott 1-7

2) 1861-62 "Athens Provisionals" Course or Clear Impression  (eight stamps): CN on back except for 1 L, 2 L, 20 L. (Note: The 1 L and 2 L never have CN for any issue.)  CN are very distinct.  Yellowish wash on paper?  CN strongly shaded in the right lines with left lines thin. The 5 L CN is unique. The 80 L CN  was vermilion color, than carmine. Scott 8-15

3) 1862-67 "Consecutive Athens " issue (seven stamps): "Fine" CN present, with distinct differences in shading between the left and right sides not infrequently seen. Can be found with ink spots. Image very fine to clear and blotchy.  Relief (raised surface of paper) of white Face portion of design in earlier printings. This underlay used in the printing press was worn away with later printings causing decreased relief.  Spandrels often "fine". Actually a series of printings. More solid color medallion in later printings. Scott 16-22

4) 1868 (1868-69, 1873 (80 L))  "Cleaned plates" issue (seven stamps): CN present. More broader, flat appearance of Head because of absence of relief. More even shading of CN. Can be found with inverted "Zero" on CN. Also 80 L has CN with "0" thicker or heavier than "8". "Bright" appearance of spandrels. The medallion might have white grains or spots.  Grid with number cancellations are found with "cleaned plates" and earlier issues- although possible out to 1872. Scott 23-28

5) 1870 ( two stamps):CN on 20 L, not on 1 L as one would expect. Under supervision of German craftsmen. Peculiar "shaved" appearance. Scott 31-32

6) 1870 (1871-72) "Inferior paper", medium to thin paper without mesh (six stamps): CN present. "Porous", more coarse paper, design does not stand out. A continuation of cleaned plate printings. Scott 32-37

7) 1872 (1871-76) thin transparent paper( from the back) with mesh or net (five stamps) :CN present. Hold stamps to bright light, observe mesh or array of speckles. Scott 38-42

8) 1875-80 Cream paper ( or yellow) (six stamps): CN present. Scott 43-48

9) 1876 Paris (Clear print) (two stamps) and Athens(1876-77) (Coarse, yellow paper) (two stamps): 30 L or 60 L needed for U.P.U. No CN. Scott 49-50, 51-52

10) 1880-86 Cream paper (or yellow) (six stamps) : CN absent. coarse impression. Absence of some shading details around neck. Incomplete frame seen occasionally around edge of stamp. Also new colors: 20 L-carmine ,rose; 30 L: ultramarine. Scott 53-58

So what do you think? A bit of a mess, isn't it. ;-)  I tried to add "clues" to determining an issue as I did my reading.

I obtained the Hellas catalogue in hopes it would provide substantial information and break down the issues in detail. I was disappointed. They only provide a stock picture of the issue stamps, and a little overall discussion about differentiating the issues. Of course, the catalogue is great for color breakdown, consistent plate flaws, and a table with cross referencing the various catalogues (Scott Michel etc) numbers for the Large Hermes Heads.

I did find an internet site devoted to the Hermes Heads which is quite
good.

http://hermesheads.home.comcast.net/~hermesheads/

Finally, discussions about Hermes Heads on some of the Stamp discussion boards ...

http://www.stampcommunity.org/

http://www.stampboards.com/

...has been quite helpful. Specifically Vasia (From Greece) has been more than generous answering my questions and identifying some of the more difficult Hermes Heads. Thanks Vasia!

So where to begin with the Hermes Heads?

I would like to present the issues in two groups...
1) The Hermes Heads stamps/issues that a general classical collector should be able to identify with reasonable certainty. Specifically any Large Hermes Head stamp issued from 1872-1886, and the first 1861 Paris Prints should be identifiable by the generalist.

2) The Hermes Heads stamps/issues that may require a specialist's opinion for final determination. This includes the issues from 1861+-1872.


The Hermes Heads stamps/issues that a general classical collector should be able to identify with reasonable certainty.


1861 Paris Print, Fine Impression (Seven stamps)

Left: Paris print-1861 Scott 3 5 L yellow green/greenish
Middle & Right: non-Paris prints
The 1861 Paris prints have several characteristics, that taken together, should identify them.
1) Most important:  Lines of shading on cheek dotted at the end. All other LHH have cheek lines that are not broken. Click on the image and compare. ( I will also give a larger view of the Paris printing with the next image.)

2) No control numbers on back ( with one exception). This is helpful with the 5 L, 20 L, 40 L, and 80 L. The only other issue that does not have CNs is the 1880-86 issue with the 5 L and 20 L and 40 L. But the 1880-86 issue has decidedly cream or yellow paper (Seen with the Middle image above). And the 1880-86 issue has usually different colors ( 20 L ultra/cream  vs blue/bluish; 40 L lilac/cream vs violet/blue). Of course the image is much coarser for the 1880-86 issue compared to the fine Paris printings.

3) The exception is the 10 L red orange/blue has a unique 8mm high CN.  (All other CNs are 6.5mm high.)

4) Of course remember that the 1 L and 2 L never have CNs for any issue, so no help differentiating for those denominations. But the fine printing with lines of shading on cheek dotted at the end should still identify these stamps.

5) A general help is a grid with number cancellation is found on stamps from 1869 and earlier.

6)  Clean spandrels should be found on Paris printings.

Paris Print: Very clean spandrels, solid medallion
 Lines of shading on cheek dotted at the end
As said, there is enough difference to clearly determine the Paris printings. Of course the CV for this issue ranges from $50+-$500, so a general collector may not accumulate very many. ;-)

1875-80 Cream Paper CN present (Six stamps)

1875-80 Scott 45 5 L shades; Cream or Yellow paper; Has CN on back
Scott 45a dark yellow green & Hellas 49c olive green
The 1875-80 issue with CNs on the back with cream or yellowish paper is one the general collector should be able to identify. The characteristics are...
1) Cream or yellow paper. This color paper is not common prior to 1875.
2) Coarse impression.
3) For the 5 L, 10 L, 20 L, and 40 L, a CN should be on back (Next image will show CNs.)
4) The 1 L and 2 L of course do not have CNs, but if on Cream colored paper, then Scott puts the 1L and 2L here. Scott does not list a 1L and 2L for the cream colored 1880-86 issue. (Hellas does have a 1 L and 2 L listed for the 1880-86 issue (Hellas 53 & 54 respectively), and that can be determined through color evaluation, or postmark date.)
4) Postmark dates might be helpful for the 1875-80 issue.

This issue is relatively inexpensive ($10+- $40+), and the WW collector may very well encounter these stamps. If one finds, on cream colored paper, a LHH stamp with CNs on the back, this is the issue! ;-)

Control numbers for the 1875-80 issue on cream colored paper
A generalist will only note if the CN is present or not, and perhaps if the impression appears fresh or worn. A specialist can use the CNs to help identify much about the stamp and  issue. This is a tool that sadly is not available to the generalist without concerted intense study. ( But then that would make one a specialist ;-) )

The reality is one might need to ask for help to identify a LHHs that have CNs. But fortunately, here is a common exception: the 1875-80 cream colored paper issues.

1875 Scott 46a 10 L orange/yellow with CN
On yellowish paper
The 10 Lepta orange on yellowish paper is illustrated above. This has a CV of $20+, and very well might be found in general collections.

1875 Scott 47 shade with CN on cream paper
Note the '75 postmark?
The 1875 20 Lepta stamp is illustrated above with a helpful '75 postmark. It is on cream colored paper, and has a CN on the back. Certainly does not have the ultramarine major Scott number color though. Could be Hellas 51d indigo.

1880-86 Cream paper (or yellow) (six stamps) with CN absent


1880-86 Scott 53 1 L green on cream paper with CN absent
The LHH issue for the generalist that is probably the easiest to identify is this one: 1880-86 issue on cream paper without control numbers. Scott recognizes six denominations (5L,10L,20L ultra, 20L rose, 30L ultra, and 40L-more about Scott vs Hellas denominations  later). 

Recognized by...
1) On cream colored paper, and No Control number on back.
2) Coarse impression
3) New colors on 20 L (Rose-aniline ink) & 30L ultramarine.
4) Postmark date might be helpful

1880-86 10 L orange- cream paper with no CN on back
The chances of finding this issue in general collections is quite high, as this series is the least expensive of the GHH issues. CV for five of the catalogue stamps (Scott 53-58) is $8+-$15+. The 20 L ultramarine, though, is $180+.

1882 Scott 57 30 L ultramarine; cream paper, no CN
New color for the denomination
The 30 L ultramarine and 20 L rose (Illustrated elsewhere) are two new colors for the denomination, so should not be a problem with identification. 

But there is a bit of a problem with the Scott catalogue with this issue. Remember I said that the 1 L & 2 L values (Scott 43 & 44) are only listed for the 1875-80 issue? (Remember that, although the 1875-80 issue generally has control numbers, the 1 L and 2 l never do.)

The Hellas catalogue indeed lists a 1 L and 2 L stamp for the 1880-86 issue (Hellas 53 & 54).

1880-86 Hellas 53 red brown
Note the 188? postmark
As noted, the Hellas catalogue lists the 1 L and 2 L denominations for the 1880-86 issue, while Scott does not. The closest equivalent in Scott would be 1875-80 Scott 43c red brown. The shades can be different ( according to Hellas) for the 1 L 1880-86 issue versus an 1875-80 issue. So I've added this stamp to the 1880-86 section, rather than filling the 1875-80  Scott 43 space for now.

1872 (1871-76) thin transparent paper( from the back) with mesh  (five stamps) :CN present

1872 (1871-76) Scott 40  10 L red orange/greenish; has CN
Thin transparent paper (from back) with Mesh
The 1872 issue ( 1L without CN, 5L,10L,20L & 40L with CN) on various tinted paper ( but not cream) should be able to be identified by the general collector.

The characteristics of this issue are...
1) Quite thin paper that is transparent from the back.
2) Control numbers in place (except for the 1 L).
3) The MAJOR finding is a mesh (or net) pattern to the paper, which can create an array of "speckles" when the stamp is viewed through a bright light. The finding is so specific, that it identifies the issue.

Back of the 1872 Mesh 10 L red orange/greenish stamp.
Shows control number
One might be able to see the Medallion and Face through the paper, as well as the quality of the paper (mesh?).

"The MAJOR finding is a mesh (or net) pattern to the paper, which can create an array of "speckles" when the stamp is viewed through a bright light. The finding is so specific, that it identifies the issue."

I can clearly see the "speckles" here. Hopefully you can too. ;-)



1872 (1871-76) Scott 42b red violet/blue ; has CN
Transparent paper (as viewed from back) with mesh
You might be able to see the mesh "speckles" on the face. The paper is quite transparent and thin.

Back of the 1872 Mesh 40 L red violet/blue stamp.
Shows control number
The transparent mesh paper is evident from the back. The CV of the five stamp issue is $30-$50+, therefore can be found in collections.

"The MAJOR finding is a mesh (or net) pattern to the paper, which can create an array of "speckles" when the stamp is viewed through a bright light. The finding is so specific, that it identifies the issue."

Perhaps not as obvious as the prior example, but I do see "speckles" here. Agree? ;-)

Therefore, the "Thin Mesh" issue stamps should be identifiable by the general collector.


1876 30 L & 60L New Denominations

Athens print: 1876 Scott 51 30 L dark brown; no CN on back
In 1876, because of U.P.U. needs, a 30 L and a 60 L was issued. These were new denominations. The Paris print is clear (similar to the 1861 Paris prints), and the 30 L is a olive brown ($60+) color.  The same year Athens prints are coarse and on yellowish paper. The classical collector should be able to identify the Athens prints ( 60 L green ($60+), 30 L dark brown ($10+) ). Illustrated above is a 30 L Athens print.

The above issues, to summarize, should be the stamps that the general classical era collector can identify with reasonable certainty.
1) 1961 Paris prints without CN (except 10L) (Scott 1-7)
2) 1875-80 Athens on cream paper with CN on back for 5L,10L,20L,40L. (The 1L and 2L do not have CNs.) (Scott 43-48)
3) 1880-86 Athens on cream paper without CNs. (Scott 53-58)
4) 1872 (1871-76) Athens with transparent thin paper with mesh with CNs (The 1L does not have a CN)
(Scott 38-42).
5) 1876 Paris and Athens printings 30L and 60L (Scott 49-52).

By my calculation, of the 58 Scott LHHs, 28 LHHs should be identifiable. And since the identifiable list includes the inexpensive 1875-80 and 1880-86 issues, the Large Hermes Heads that the general classical era collector will probably possess, is included. So don't despair! ;-)

What about the other issues? Here are the remaining groups with an illustration if I have one.

The Hermes Heads stamps/issues that may require a specialist's opinion for final determination
 1861-62 "Athens Provisionals" Course or Clear Impression  (eight stamps): CN on back except for 1 L, 2 L, 20 L. (Note: The 1 L and 2 L never have CN for any issue.) CN are very distinct.  Yellowish wash on paper?  CN strongly shaded in the right lines with left lines thin. The 5 L CN is unique. The 80 L CN  was vermilion color, than carmine. Scott 8-15
The "Athens Provisionals" were the first issue produced in Athens, and of course were initially not very good, but then got better. The characteristics are listed above. They tend to be rather expensive (The three least expensive stamps are $50+-$90), so may not be encountered in general collections very much: I don't have any. ;-)  A postmark date might help. If you believe you may have an "Athens Provisionals", you probably will need some help for positive identification.
1862-67 "Consecutive Athens " issue (seven stamps): "Fine" CN present, with distinct differences in shading between the left and right sides not infrequently seen. Can be found with ink spots. Very fine to clear and blotchy.  Relief (raised surface of paper) of white portion of Face design in earlier printings. This underlay used in the printing press was worn away with later printings causing decreased relief.  Spandrels often "fine". Actually a series of printings. More solid color medallion in later printings. Scott 16-22
1862-67 "Consecutive Athens" issue: Scott 20 20L 
CN "fine" in appearance with more shading on left than right, as seen with "0"



1862-67 "Consecutive Athens" issue: Scott 20 20L (Hellas 19a "sky blue")
The 1862-67 "Consecutive Athens" issue was actually a series of printings which the specialist can date. The appearance can vary widely. If there are a number of ink spots on the stamp, that might be a clue that it is a later "Consecutive Athens" issue. The center medallion has a more solid color (compared to the next "cleaned plates"issue) in the later printings. The earlier issues had more relief on the white portion of the head because of the printing method used. The "Consecutive Athens" issue is one that is likely to be encountered because the CV is from $20+-$60 for the issue. A postmark date might help. Also, the grid and number cancellations were used during this time. The CN appearance could help- but that is generally in the realm of the specialist. In fact, one will probably need consultation to verify that one has a "Consecutive Athens" issue. ( I needed help-thanks Vasia!)
1868 (1868-69, 1873 (80 L)) "Cleaned plates" issue (seven stamps): CN present. More broader, flat appearance of Head because of absence of relief. More even shading of CN. Can be found with inverted "Zero" on CN. Also 80 L has CN with "0" thicker or heavier than "8". "Bright" appearance of spandrels. The medallion might have white grains or spots.  Usually grid with number cancellations are found with "cleaned plates" and earlier issues- although possible out to 1872. Scott 23-29
1868 "cleaned Plate" issue: Scott 26 pale orange/bluish
Back of stamp has a CN with inverted "0" which can be found with this issue



1868 "Cleaned Plate" issue: Scott 26 10L pale orange/bluish
Has "flat" appearance of head due to absence of relief; had '70 postmark
The 1868 "Cleaned Plates" issue is likely one that could be encountered as the CV is $20+-$60+  for five of the stamps. There are a number of findings as detailed above. A postmark date would be quite helpful. But for the generalist, there would be enough uncertainty, that assistance will probably be needed. ( Thanks again Vasia!)
 1870 ( two stamps):CN on 20 L, not on 1 L as expected. Under supervision of German craftsmen. Peculiar "shaved" appearance. Scott 31-32

 1870 (1871-72) "Inferior paper", medium to thin paper without mesh (six stamps): CN present. "Porous", more coarse paper, design does not stand out. A continuation of cleaned plate printings. Scott 32-37

1870 Scott 37 40L salmon/greenish CN on back



1870 Scott 37 40L salmon/greenish
Note the dull appearance
The above issues have their peculiarities: even to the point that it is tempting to state the generalist might be able to identify them. They clearly can be encountered, as three stamps have a CV around the $20 mark. The design seems kind of dull in the "Inferior paper" issue: due to porous paper? Note the above stamp seems to fit the criteria and was found in the feeder album for this issue. The "inferior paper" issue can also be on thin paper (as this stamp), and needs to differentiated from the following 1872 thin transparent "mesh" issues. Again, a postmark date is helpful.

To summarize, the 1861+-1872 issues are the tricky ones (Scott 8-37) that, in my opinion, require some "specialist" help for definitive identification.

Well, that was fun. ;-)

Now let's look at the Small Hermes Heads issues of 1886-1895.

"Small Hermes Heads"
1886-88 Belgian Print, Clear Impression
Imperforate: Nine stamp issue
After 25 years of the Large Hermes Heads, a new issue was produced in 1886, called appropriately, the "Small Hermes Heads". This imperforate nine stamp issue was produced in Belgium, and the stamps are known for their "clear" impressions.

The CV for this issue ranges from $2+-$4 for seven stamps. The outliers are the 2 L bister ($9+ mint, $200+ used!), and the 40 L violet ($30).

 "Clear" vs "rough" impressions is a judgement call for philatelists for this issue and the next. The  stamps pictured above were found in the "clear" impression spaces in a feeder album. Some of them appear to be "rough", and should be put in the "rough" issue spaces. ;-)

1886-88 Scott 71 50 L gray green
Belgium Print, Clear impression
Illustrated above is a clear Belgium impression. This is certain as the denomination and color only exists for this issue. ;-)

1889-95 Athens Print "Poor" impression
Imperforate; Ten stamp issue
The Small Hermes Heads issue continued, but the stamp production with the same plates was transferred to Athens in 1889. Because of the general "rougher" quality, they are known as the "Poor" impression issue.

There is of course much more to the story.

The Hellas catalogue actually divides the "Poor" Athens prints into three issues, all with their own major numbers.

Athens printing-1st period (1889-1891)
Paper "A" and Paper "B". For paper "B", a double line Capital watermark with Greek words ("Civil Service paper") exists on some of the printing sheet. (10 stamps)

Note double lined watermark for the 1889-91  or 1891-96 Athens printing
Found on Paper "B" or "C", but doesn't exist on all stamps.
Illustrated above is part of a double lined watermark found only on some of the Paper "B" and Paper "C" stamps.

Athens printing 2nd period (1891-1896)
Paper "C", also sometimes watermarked, and paper "D", produced in Austria, and without watermark.
(10 stamps)

Athens printing 3rd period (1897-1901)
Produced after the 1896 Olympic Games issue, paper "E" was used of good quality, and without watermark. Appearance is excellent to coarse. (12 stamps)

Perhaps one should be glad that Scott lumps all these "rough" issues together. ;-)

Let's take a closer look....

1889-95 Scott 90 1L black brown; Imperforate
Athens printing: Appears "rough"
The above stamp perhaps illustrates the "rough" nature of many of these printings, especially compared to the original Belgian prints. Keep in mind that a good portion of the "rough" nature has to do with the continued wear on the plates.

Let's compare...

1886-88 Scott 72 1d gray "Clear"
1895 Scott 99 1d gray "rough"
The image above should show the "clear" vs "rough" printings.

Let's look at a few more stamps...

1893 Scott 96 25L lilac
I was intending to show this stamp to illustrate that not all the Athens printings are horribly "rough". The printing is perhaps not on quite the same level as the Belgium printings, but certainly decent.

But there is even a more interesting part of the story with this stamp. During 1892, there was a devaluation of the drachma, and this required increasing the rate to foreign countries from 25 to 30 Lepta. But apparently this would violate the U.P.U. international tariff. So the "25 Lepta" lilac stamp was sold to the public for 30 Lepta! ;-)

1893 Scott 98 40L blue
During the time the "25L" lilac was being sold for 30 Lepta, the 40L red violet was discontinued (to avoid confusion), and this new 40L stamp was produced in blue. (Similarly, the 25L "blue" was discontinued.)

Let's move on to the perforated specimens....

1891 Scott 88 50L gray green "Clear" Perf 11 1/2
1889-95 Scott 109 5L pale green "rough" Perf  11 1/2
Both the Belgium and Athens issues are also found perforated, mainly by request of philatelists, and they were used for postage. Scott recognizes a nine stamp issue in 1891 (Belgium print) with perforation 11 1/2, a  1889-95 (Athens print) with ten stamps and perf 11 1/2, and an 1889-95 (Athens print) with four stamps and perf 13 1/2.

Illustrated above is a Belgium print and an Athens print.

The previous discussion concerning the imperforate issues applies to the perforated as well.


1900 Scott 133 50 l on 40 l salmon/cream (surcharged)
On LHH Scott 48
Finally, some of the LHH and SHH previous issues were surcharged as above in 1900. This surcharge can be found on both imperforate and perforated stamps. CV for eight stamps is $1-$10.


Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has four pages for the LHHs, and two pages for the SHHs. Deep Blue follows the Scott catalogue exactly ( Good or Bad, depending on the point of view), and no minor Scott number spaces are included. 


1882 Scott 56 20 L rose (aniline ink) ; cream paper, no CN
New color issue: easy to identify
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two-thirds of a page, 8 spaces for the Large Hermes Heads, and 21 spaces for the Small Hermes Heads, for a total of 29 spaces. Coverage is 14% for the LHH, and 50% for the SHH.

There is also space for six previous issues (Both LHH and SHH)-now surcharged- and issued in 1900.

Clearly, Big Blue wants no part in the subtleties of the LHH issues, and, apart from color criteria, many of the LHH issues can be mounted.

Of interest, none of the most economical choices for the LHH in BB reach the $35 threshold. The spaces can be filled for CV $8+-$30.

The surcharged issue of 1900 yields from the Scott 54 LHH,  the Scott 137 3d on 10 l orange/cream  ($52.50).

The 40L and 60L denominations are not given a space (Least expensive 1880-82 Scott 58 40L lilac ($10+), 1876 Scott 52 60L green ($60+) ).

The SHH issues are divided in BB into 1886-91, and 1889-95 groupings. The 1886-91 spaces (10 spaces) clearly would cover the Imperforate 1886-88 clear impression Belgian prints. I'm not sure if BB intended the 1891 perforated printings to go here, as even BB usually doesn't mix imperforate and perforate Scott major varieties.

The 1889-95 spaces (11 spaces) have the instructions "Type of 1886-91 Perforated". This would exclude the 1889-95 Athens rough print imperforate stamps.

So this is what I will do, ;-)

I will put all the imperforate SHH stamps in the first section, and all the perforated stamps (that fit color criteria) in the second section.

In the "imperforate" 1886-91 section, BB has four minor number colors listed as criteria, and other colors ("buff" in BB, "bister" now in Scott) don't match. I choose to ignore colors altogether, and include all the imperforate major choices for the spaces. Of note, the 40L "violet" ($30) or "red violet" ($20+) is not given a space.

The "perforate" 1889-85 section excludes, because of color criteria, four of the somewhat more expensive 1891 perforated issue stamps, and ignores  the expensive Scott 114 40L "red violet" ($35+).


 Checklist

1861-82
1 L (illustrated): 1 or 8 or 16 or 23 or 30 or 32 or 38 or 43*
2L "bistre": 17 or 44*
5L "green": 11 or 18 or 25 or 34 or 39 or 45 or 53*
10L "orange": 12 or 19 or 46 or 54*
20L "rose": 56a or 56
20L "ultramarine": 47* or 55
30L "dark brown": 51
80L "carmine": 15 or 22*

1886-91 (Imperforate)
64 or 90, 65 or 91, 66 or or 92 or 92b, 67 or 93 or 93a, 68 or 94,
69 or 95 or 95c, 96 or 96a, 98*, 71, 72 or 99

1889-95 (Perforate)
81 or 100 or 107, 108, 109, 84 or 110, 104 or111, 112, 113a or 113,
115, 89 or 116, ( 101), (88)

1900 -Surcharged
129 or 140, 130 or 141, 132 or 142,133 or 143,134 or 144, 137

Comments
A) an * asterisk indicates the least expensive choice

B) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold)
1875 Scott 43 1L grey brown ($10+)
1875 Scott 44 2L bister ($30)
1875 Scott 47 20L ultramarine ($20+)
1876 Scott 51 30L dark brown ($10+)
1862-67 Scott 22 carmine/pale rose ($20+)
1900 Scott 137 3d on 10 l orange/cream (Scott 54) ($52.50)

C)*98 is actually a '93 issue

D) (  ) around a number is for a blank space choice.


Back of Scott 22 80L carmine with CN
1862-67 "Consecutive Athens" issue



1862-67 Scott 22 80L carmine/pale rose
"Consecutive Athens" Issue
Out of the Blue
The Large Hermes Heads are no doubt the most complex stamps this blog has encountered. As stated, I feel comfortable evaluating about half of them.  The other half require educated informed guesses, or better, some help from specialists.

Quite the challenge!

Note: I read this blog today, the day of the post, after preparing it a while back, and it is confusing even to me. ;-)  Some of it cannot be helped, because of the nature of these stamps. However, much of the identification should become clearer with careful reading, and having a Scott catalogue open.


Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Note: Thanks to Vasia for identifying Scott 3, 20,21,22, 26,45 & Hellas 53, and helping the author with descriptive terminology for the Large Hermes Heads issues.

Comment? Please do!

8 comments:

  1. The British series and now the Greek Hermes heads are both excellent detailed introductions. I'm perusing both very carefully and very much appreciate all the effort you've gone to -- as well as the excellent stamp pictures. Thanks.

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  2. You know, Drew (and thanks very much for the kind words!), it an interesting question: What is the ideal way to present a country in the blog?

    Clearly, the blog is getting quite detailed with many many images. A blog snack is turning into a seven course meal. ;-)

    But Germany, Great Britain, and Greece are three high profile classical stamp countries that deserve an extended review. Definitely meat and potatoes.

    I might vary the approach in upcoming blogs though, perhaps mix in some lighter, more specifically focused presentations.

    Granola bars are nice to have too. ;-)

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  3. My compliments, Jim. Very impressive effort for the presentation of a difficult series of issues!

    Regarding your Scott #37 (40 lepta 1871-72 issue on "inferior paper") you are correct in your identification. It appears to be the rose-bistre variety (Hellas 36b),as opposed to the yellow-bistre one (Hellas 36c). The rose-lilac (alternatively, purple or magenta) color of the control number is characteristic for this issue.

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  4. Vasilis- you have been an immense help with the Hermes Heads, perhaps when I get to Russia, I will ask again? ;-)

    Thanks for the further information on the "Inferior paper" Scott #37!

    Jim

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  5. Great classical stamps. One day I will be addicted to these...

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  6. Brian

    They are highly addicting- and a most complicated group to separate. ;-)

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  7. The 1997 Big Blue has six more spaces than the '69: they added six overprinted stamps from 1900.
    Joe

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  8. Actually, not true Joe-I had an omission.
    Glad you are double-checking!
    The six 1900 surcharged stamps have now been added to the checklist.
    Of interest, one of the spaces yields a "Most Expensive stamp" listing- the Scott 137 ($52.50)

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