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 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...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

St. Vincent and a look at runaway stamp production

1885 Scott 43 1p rose red "Victoria"
Quick History
Saint Vincent, well known for black sand beaches, is an 18 mile by 11 mile mountainous island in the Caribbean Windward Islands 100 miles west of Barbados, and dominated by the active volcano La Soufriere (1812, 1902, 1979 eruptions). It became a British possession in 1763, and a crown colony in 1887. Previously, the French occupied St. Vincent, and the island received it's name from the patron saint of Portugal, Vincent of Saragossa, since it was supposedly discovered by Christopher Columbus on the Saint's feast day, January 22.

Caribbean and St. Vincent
Stamps were introduced for St. Vincent in 1861.

The Capital is Kingstown, and the population was 47,000 in 1931.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the south
Of interest, the native Nigerian ruler Jaja of Opobo ended up exiled to St. Vincent in 1887, as he dominated the palm oil trade, and would ship directly to Liverpool without going through the British National African Company.

British administration continued until 1979, when St. Vincent and the Grenadines gained independence.

Stamps were printed just for St. Vincent, then St. Vincent Grenadines was added in 1974.

In 1988, the country became a client of one of the big printing firm corporations, and anything and everything became fair game for a stamp issue: to wit- Cricket players, Disney, Hall of Fame baseball players, Flintstones, World Cup, Star Wars, Star Trek and Pokemon.

Here's an interesting comparison....

In the 2010 Scott Catalogue, St. Vincent, St. Vincent Grenadines, Grenada, Grenada Grenadines, take up 145 pages.

All stamps ever issued for France take up 119 pages.

O.K., I'm going to digress here..... ;-)

In August, 2013,  I did a study of total stamp issues 1980-2012 normalized for one million population for the "top" 51 issuing countries. I submitted the evaluation to several stamp forums at the time. The relevancy here is Grenada Grenadines, Grenadines of St. Vincent, Grenada, and St. Vincent were #1, #2, #6, and #7 on the list.

Here is the study....

Which countries are the major stamp producers during the modern era?
Which countries, based on population, have high rates of stamp production?

There was an interesting presentation of data and a discussion on a stamp forum board (Located in the southern hemisphere :D ) about the absolute number of stamps produced for the "Top 51 countries".

A fellow named Stewie1980 (An acknowlegement, and thanks for the initial data Stewie1980!) came up with a list of the total number of stamps produced by each country in the Scott catalogue for 1980-2012, and put together a list of the Top 51.

If one wishes to look at the list, I refer you to the southern hemisphere board.  :P

But I then took the data, and factored in the population of each country as reported in the 2010 Scott catalogue. (The Scott data is estimated population for 1991-2004, with most of the population estimates from 1995-97, so most of the population estimates will be a bit low today.)

Why factor in population for stamp production for a country?

The problem with looking at absolute numbers of stamps issued by countries is it gives a country with large literate population- who may very well be able to support a larger stamp issue output- a seemingly bad name, as they appear to be in the same league as a Grenada Grenadines with 8,000 people- at most.

I took the liberty of taking Stewie1980's data- that is the absolute number of stamps issued by country for 1980-2012 (Thanks Stewie1980!), - and dividing the number by the population (in millions) as reported in the 2010 Scott Standard Catalogue.

I think many will find the results quite interesting, and presents a picture both horrifying- and for some countries- reassuring. Yes- both :o and 8-) ) 

The Top 51
(Total Stamp issues 1980-2012 normalized for one million population )

1. Grenada Grenadines – 4410/.008* = 551,250
2. Grenadines of St Vincent – 3153/.009* = 350,333
3. Nevis – 2753/.009 = 305,888
4. Palau – 3256/.019 = 171,368
5. Antigua & Barbuda – 4423/.064 = 69,109
6. Grenada – 5528/.1 = 55,280
7. St Vincent – 6586/.121 = 54,429
8. Dominica – 3467/.065 = 53,338
9. Marshall Islands – 3056/.066 = 46,303
10. St Thomas & Prince – 4363/.155 = 28,148 

11. Micronesia – 2408/.13 = 18,523.
12. Maldives – 4011/.3 = 13,370
13. Guyana – 7606/.7 = 10,865
14. Gambia – 6293/1.1 = 5,720
15. Guinea-Bissau – 5855/1.2 = 4,879
16. Comoros – 2535/.6 = 4,225
17. Liberia – 4990/2.6 = 1,919
18. Guinea – 8750/7.5 = 1,166
19. Mongolia – 2591/2.6 = 996.5
20. Sierra Leone – 5204/5.3 = 982

21. Central Afr. Rep. – 3205/3.4 =942.6
22. Togo – 3202/4.3 =744.6
23. New Zealand – 2178/3.7 = 588.6
24. Nicaragua – 2430/4.4 = 552.3
25. Libya – 2259/5.0 = 451.8
26. Mozambique – 5569/16.5 = 337
27. Cuba – 3189/11.1 = 287.3
28. Portugal – 2330/9.9 = 235.4
29. Belgium – 2283/10.4 = 219.5
30. Hungary – 2197/10.2 = 215.4

31. Ghana -3372/18.1 = 186.3
32. North Korea – 4128/22.2 = 186
33. Cambodia – 2110/11.6 = 181.9
34. Australia – 3188/17.9 = 178.1
35. Tanzania – 4806/31.3 = 154
36. Romania – 2992/22.6 = 132.4
37. Uganda – 2742/21.6 = 126.9
38. Taiwan – 2442/22.1 = 110.5
39. Venezuela – 2175/23.3 = 93.3
40. Spain – 2297/39.2 = 58.6

41. France – 3080/59.0 = 52.2
42. Bulgaria – 2213/42.9 = 51.6
43. Philippines – 3481/68.6 = 50.7
44. Great Britain – 2741/59.1 = 46.4
45. Japan – 4870/126.2 = 38.6
46. Thailand 2305/60.6 = 38.1
47. Vietnam – 2567/77.3 = 33.2
48. USSR/Russia – 3030/147.1* = 20.6
49. Brazil – 2296/157.1 = 14.6
50. United States – 3518/281.4 = 12.5

51. China – 2915/1,246.9 = 2.4

* Grenada Grenadines- Scott does not give a figure for population, but the inhabited island dependencies Carriacou and Petite Martinque have 8,000 population (Wikipedia)

* Grenadines of St. Vincent- Scott does not give a figure for population, but the inhabited island dependencies Bequia, Mustique,Canouan, Mayreau, and Union Island have 9,000 population.

*USSR/Russia- no doubt the population was larger in the USSR days

It would be nice to have a discussion about the "the good, the bad, and the ugly" of stamp production by many countries. Is it killing modern collecting? Or do collectors, many with topical interests, welcome the issues?

I will return later with a few thoughts......  ;)

1888 Scott 54 5sh carmine lake "Seal of Colony"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for St. Vincent 1861-1952, 191 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 75 are CV <$1-$1+, or 39%. Many of the less expensive stamps are from the 1937-52 period. The earlier 1861-1884 Victoria stamps (39 major numbers)  tend to be in the tens-hundreds expense category.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
20 Shillings = 1 Pound
100 Cents = 1 Dollar (1949)
1863 Scott 5 1p rose "Queen Victoria"
Two stamps were issued in 1861 with Perf 14 to 16, and three stamps were added between 1862-66 with rough Perf 14 to 16. What one notes for the earlier issues of St. Vincent, is how important the various perfs are for catalogue identification.

The 1863-69 seven stamp issue is perf 11-13. The above example is perf 11 1/2 X 11 1/2.

The Queen Victoria portrait viewed here is found for St. Vincent stamps from 1861-1897 ( 58 major descriptive numbers).

The 1861-1869 issues were unwatermarked.

1871 Scott 13 1p black, Wmk 5 "Small Star"
Rough Perf 14-16
The 1871-78 thirteen stamps issue is found with watermark 5 "Small Star", but various perforations (Rough and clean cut perfs 14-16, 11 to 13, 11 to 13 X 14 to 16). Since the CV varies wildly, depending on perforation, a careful evaluation is necessary. I admit I find the importance of various perfs a bit intimidating.

Wmk 5 "Small Star"
Here is a pic of the "Small Star" watermark. 

1878 Scott 15 6p pale yellow green
This 6p pale yellow green definitely has the "Small Star" watermark. It was sold to me as a Scott 15 with clean cut perf 14-16. But the perfs don't look very clean cut to me. ;-) I measured the perfs as being in the 15 ballpark. This probably eliminates the other possibilities, Scott 21 with perf 11 to 13 X 14 to 16, or 1880 Scott 28 perf 11 to 13. What a mess with I.D.- I don't like it.

1881 Scott 24 1/2p orange
Perf 11 to 13
The 1880-81 seven stamp issue with perf 11 to 13 has this new design for the 1/2p denomination.

1891 Scott 53 1sh orange vermilion
 Perf 14, Wmk 2
The 1883-97 fourteen stamp issue are found perf 14, and colonial watermark 2. (If you need a refresher on colonial watermarks, see Gibraltar.) CV for these stamps ranges from <$1-$3+ for eight stamps. (The 1sh above appears to have a revenue cancellation.)

1897 Scott 60 3p on 1p lilac
Surcharged in Black
Between 1880-1897, some eleven stamps are found surcharged (including two bisected stamps). Some are in the CV hundreds range, but this 1897 3p on 1p specimen is only CV $6.

1898 Scott 62 1/2p lilac & green "Victoria"
A Victoria keyplate nine stamp set was issued in 1898. CV is $1+-$5+ for five stamps.

1902 Scott 74 2 1/2p violet & ultramarine 
"Edward VII", Wmk 2
The "Edward VII" nine stamp issue with wmk 2 was released in 1902. The wmk 3 eight stamp set was issued between 1904-11.

1907 Scott 94 3p dark violet
"Peace and Justice"
Using the "Seal of the Colony" image, a five stamp set was issued in 1907. Note the "Pax et Justica" tablets around the lower vignette, while the "Postage & Revenue" script is in the lower tablet.

1909 Scott 95 1p carmine
Without Dot under "d"
A three stamp issue was released in 1909 with the "Pax et Justica" and "Postage & Revenue" scripts in opposite tablets (compared to the 1907 issue), and there is no dot under the "d".

1909 Scott 103 6p red violet
With Dot under "d"
The 1909-11 six stamp issue does have a dot under the "d".

1913 Scott 111 6p claret
"George V", Wmk 3
King George V appeared with a thirteen stamp 1913-14 issue with wmk 3. CV is <$1-$3+ for nine stamps.

1927 Scott 128 1sh ochre, Wmk 4
Between 1921-32, another "George V" fourteen stamp issue, this time with wmk 4, was released. CV ranges from <$1-$2+ for ten stamps.

1947 Scott 145A 2 1/2p chocolate & green
"Victoria Park, Kingstown"
A twelve stamp bi-colored "George VI" pictorial set was issued in 1938, with an additional three stamps released in 1947.  The denomination is Pence/Shilling/Pound. CV is <$1-$4 for fourteen stamps.

1949 Scott 159 4c gray black & green
 "Seal of the Colony", Types of 1938
The denomination was changed to Cents/Dollars for a fourteen stamp issue in 1949. An additional five stamps with new color combinations or denomination was issued in 1952.

1916 Scott MR1 1p carmine, Type III
There were two overprint "war stamps" issued in 1916. The first overprint, illustrated here, is found in three types. Measuring how far the words are apart, one can find type I (2 to 2 1/2mm apart), type II ( 1 1/2mm apart), and type III ( 3 1/2mm apart). Be aware type II is CV $250!

Deep Blue
1913-14 & 1921-32 Issues in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 14 pages for the stamps of St. Vincent 1861-1952. All of the major Scott numbers have a space.

1915 Scott 117 1p on 1sh black/green
Surcharged in Carmine
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on 1 1/3 page, has 44 spaces for the 1883-1938 stamps of St. Vincent. Subtracting the 35 stamps in the Scott Classic catalogue which were issued after 1940 leaves 156 major numbers. Coverage, then, for BB is 28%.

The first page in the '69 BB shares space with Schleswig, and Senegambia and Niger.

The 40s editions BBs have St. Thomas and Prince Islands sharing the first page. Coverage for the 40s editions is identical to the '69 edition.

Big Blue has no stamp spaces for St. Vincent that requires a CV $10+ or higher stamp.


35 or 41, 42 or 43 or 44, 49,52,


71 or 82, 72 or 83, (73),(74),


Next Page


104 or 118, 105a* or 105,120,

121,107 or 122,108 or 124,109 or 125,110 or 126,111 or 127,113 or 128a or 128,




War Tax


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):None
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1913-32- Wmk 3 vs Wmk 4 choices
D) *105a is 1p rose red, a minor number, and specified by BB. However, the major number 1p Scott 105 1p carmine may also be put in.
E) *1938- be aware that there were three additional stamps issued in the "1938" series in 1947. Then there is the 1949 fourteen stamp issue which is denominated in cents/dollars. Finally, there is a 1952 "Type of 1938-47" five stamp issue.

1938 Scott 150 5sh dark green & carmine
"Seal of Colony"
Out of the Blue
St. Vincent does have lovely British Colonial stamps, but I am nonplussed by the emphasis on all the early issues perforations variations.

Now, what about the modern day stamp output by St. Vincent (and Grenada)?

I don't collect modern stamps, so I don't have a dog in the fight.

Bur, perhaps readers have opinions about this. ;-)

Note: Maps and Kingstown pic appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?

Kingstown, St. Vincent, 1890s


  1. Jim,
    Can you clarify for me what the difference is between being a "British possession" and a "crown colony"?


  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_colony


    Practically, I usually think in terms of Colonies, Protectorates, and mandated (League of Nations, UN) territories.

  3. Interesting statistics... An even more interesting question is how difficult it is to obtain (used/CTO) stamps of some countries are unless you walk into a dealer and give away $$$. Nevis, Palau, Marshall Island, Micronesia are on top of my list in that sense.


  4. I can imagine. ;-)

    Unless there is "packet material" that has been CTOed, finding canceled stamps from many of these countries has to be difficult indeed.

  5. Fascinating exercise. To complicate the discussion: keep in mind that the starting point was the top 50 stamp issuing countries. The stamps issued/population top 50 of all countries might be somewhat different. The numbers for Ascension are for example 936/0.000 8= 1,170,000. Tristan da Cunha would even more extreme with 863/0.000 3= 2,876,667. Talk about horrifying.

    Now, people always talk about St Vincent as being a rogue state and hardly ever about Ascension or Trisan da Cunha. And what does that tell us?


  6. Yes, and the Vatican probably has a very high ratio also. ;-)

    I assume folks don't talk about Ascension because the absolute production count is not so high. Many stamp collectors only have a vague notion about population numbers for a country.

  7. My thoughts got lengthy so I blogged :D http://djcmhphilately.blogspot.com/2015/08/are-philatelic-rogue-states-helpful-or.html

  8. DJCMH- nice analysis, and a reasonable opinion. I left a comment on your excellent blog.

  9. I don't have a catalog in front of me to see how many stamps they've issued, but the ratio for the Pitcairn Islands would have to be up there, with a population of just 56. Or South Georgia, with a population of 30. Issuing stamps for places like those or other various Antarctic territories (some of which have no permanent residents) is almost as questionable and of course serves the same purpose - separating stamp collectors from their money.

    1. And because of the "exotic" location, a collector often doesn't mind.

      For "exotic" locations, I really don't mind myself. provided the stamps are relevant to the history,geography, native flora, fauna, or such.

    2. And because of the "exotic" location, a collector often doesn't mind.

      For "exotic" locations, I really don't mind myself. provided the stamps are relevant to the history,geography, native flora, fauna, or such.