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...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Belgium Part A 1865-1912: Cancelled and Socked-on-the-Nose

1870 Scott 33 20c ultramarine 
"King Leopold II"
Anvers Town/Date Cancel
Into the Deep Blue
Belgium seems to have more than their share of great looking cancels and socked on the nose stamps for the classical era. Rather than a straightforward survey of Belgium's stamps for 1865-1912, I thought it would be an intriguing twist to focus on the more interesting cancelled stamps in my collection, and let them tell the story.

There are enough examples, that I will publish this blog topic in two parts. This is Part I.

Yes, in a number of cases, I have stamps that are in better grading condition: but if the cancel is interesting, I will show the stamp, warts and all - bear with me, and hope it is still enjoyable. ;-)

1875 Railway Map of Belgium 
The original blog post for Belgium and Big Blue Checklist is here.

The blog post on the 1849-1866 Epaulettes and Medallions issues is here.

A closer look at the 1865-1912 stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1867 Scott 18 10c slate "Leopold I"
Thicker Paper (Perf 15)
Numeral in Lozenge of Dots Cancel: "387" = Walcourt
The first issue in Belgium after the "Medallions 1849-1865", was a five stamp typographed issue (printed in Brussels) with a side portrait of King Leopold I. The stamps of 1865-66 were on thin paper, and were Perf 14 1/2 X 14 (minor numbers). The stamps of 1867 (major numbers) were on thicker paper, and had Perf 15, as this example.

CV is $2+-$20 for four stamps (2017 catalogue).

Of interest, this stamp has a Lozenge-Dot cancel from Walcourt (still a small town today). The Dot cancels were in extensive use in Belgium between 1864-1866, but after 1866, not so much.

1867 Scott 21 40c rose "Leopold I"
Numeral in Lozenge of Dots Cancel: "12" = Anvers
Here is another example from the Perf 15 1867 issue with the Lozenge-Dots cancel.

Funeral of Leopold I of the Belgians in Brussels
The 1865-67 "Leopold I" stamps would prove to be the last. as  he died at age 74 on December 1, 1865 (Reign 1831-1865). 

His son (age 30), Leopold II, became king and ruled until 1909.

1866 Scott 26 5c brown "Coat of Arms"
Perf 14 1/2 x 14 (major number)
The "Coat of arms" stamps (three denominations) were issued between June 1, 1866 - 1867, and were intended for use on newspapers and printed matters.

There is an imperforate (1c gray), and 1c gray, 2c blue, & 5c brown Perf 14 1/2 X 14 (major numbers) and perf 15 (minor numbers) stamps.

CV is $10+-$90, with the 1c gray imperforate @ $150. Forgeries do exist.

Note this stamp has both a "Lozenge-Dot" cancel ("82" = Chimay), and another type of "82" cancel.

1869 Scott 32 10c green "Leopold II"
Lozenge-Dot cancel: "374" = Verviers
A typographic issue (Perf 15) for the new monarch was released between 1869-70, and had a side face visage of Leopold II on the five higher denomination stamps. The lower values have a numeral design.

At this time (1869), Town-Date circular cancellations were more common, but the Lozenge-Dot cancel, can still be found: here on a 10c green.

1869 Scott 32 10c green "Leopold II"
Perf 15; Town-Date Circular cancel
Here is a color variation of the 10c green with a town-date cancel. The postmark is for a Brussels substation.

Note the information that is generally provided: date (7); month (January); time frame cancelled ( 6-S?), and year (18?? -incomplete).

Scott does not list any minor numbers for the 10c green shade, but my Belgium 1998 "Catalogues Officiel de Timbres-Poste" has four: green (1869), green-blue (1870), dull green (1873), and green-yellow (1874). My stamp looks like a green-yellow.

Be aware that there was a similar (in design) 10c gray-green issued in 1881, but in Perf 14, and with aniline ink. More about that later.

1870 Scott 33 20c ultramarine "Leopold II"
Anvers Town/Date Cancel
The 1869-70 nine stamp issue have CVs ranging  from <$1 to $10.

Does this stamp look familiar? It is among the SON stamps adorning the top horizontal bar for the Big Blue blog home page. ;-)

1873 Scott 34a 30c reddish ochre
Lozenge-Dot cancel: "12" = Anvers
This stamp shows the thin ice we WW collectors often find ourselves in when making catalogue decisions. I have another 30c stamp of this issue that is clearly more "buff", the 1870 major number color in Scott. This stamp looks more reddish to me, hence the 1873 minor number "reddish ochre" I have chosen for this stamp.

But the cancellation is of the "Lozenge-Dot" type, and an 1873 use would make it the latest use for this cancel in my WW collection. So is this in fact a "reddish ochre" variation? Perhaps, but I do not have the tens of examples that a Belgian specialist could review to make that determination. So, yes, very thin ice. ;-)

1875 Scott 37 25c olive bister
Three more denominations (Perf 15) on "Leopold II" designs from the 1869-70 issue were released in 1875-78.

What a lovely postmark. Too bad I can't find the town. ;-) I read this as "Rhisne", and, in fact, the Lozenge-Dots cancels also list a "311" = Rhisne. Google search fails, other than redirecting me to the "Rhine". Did the town disappear? There are plenty of ghost towns in the U.S. out west. What am I missing?

Of interest, the 1875 Scott 39 5fr deep red brown/1878 Scott 39a 5fr pale brown in the issue is scarce: $1,450 used/$1,700 unused, although "only" $1,000 with no gum. 

Scott has a note that dangerous counterfeits exist. Only 30,000 Scott 39 and 18,000 Scott 39a were printed. The forgery site I linked earlier has a lot of information about these forgeries. 

(Note: This is absolutely a fabulous source site for those interested in WW classical era forgeries. My link will take you to the main page- then go to Belgium, and scroll down. I do not give a direct link, as the website author (who I know) requests that direct links to his forgery discussions not be done without prior approval. I respect his wishes.)

1881 Scott 44 15c olive bister, Perf 14
Printed in Aniline Colors
In 1881, five more stamps using the 1869-70 designs were printed, four of them in colors somewhat similar to previous issues. The good news is these stamps are Perf 14 - the previous issues were Perf 15. CV is <$1-$3.

They were printed in Aniline colors. Some of the previous issues also had stamps printed with both normal ink and at times, aniline ink. The stamps affected include 1869-70 Scott 28-30, Scott 32-33, Scott 35-36; 1875-78 Scott 37-38. These aniline ink type stamps are not detailed by Scott, or broken out separately value wise. They are separately catalogued and valued by my Belgian catalogue.

But we do need to talk about the special handling required for aniline dye colored stamps.

Why? Because the ink, from coal-tar, can "bleed", 

Why was it done by postal authorities?

To prevent that bugaboo - reuse of stamps.

Rule #1: Don't wash aniline stamps, they may bleed through to the back. (Some are more susceptible than others.)
Rule #2:  Become aware of which country's stamps and issues are aniline.
Rule #3: Go through collection, and take out already "bled out" aniline stamps, or use them for educating other collectors.
Rule #4: Find good examples (strong colors) of aniline stamps with no bleed-through for one's collection.

The most infamous aniline dye issue was Great Britain's 1883-84 Scott 98-107. The ten stamps are quite possibly the ugliest stamps ever produced by the British. Because of (excessive) counterfeiting concerns, the stamps were produced in "Double fugitive" ink. Caution! These stamps will lose their color with soaking. The "double fugitive" ink could only be produced in two colors: lilac and green.

Aniline red color is particularly susceptible to bleeding through to the back of the stamp (some Australia Penny Reds).

Some aniline inks will fluoresce.

The Dutch Indies have some water soluble issues during the 1930s.

1883 Scott 45 10c carmine "Leopold II"
Louvain (Station) Town/Date cancel
Four more "Leopold II" stamps, each in a different frame, were released in 1883.

His beard is mid-length - not the "methuselah" like look beginning with the next Belgian issue. ;-)

CV is $2+-$30+.

1884 Scott 50 1c gray"Numeral"
Perf 14, Bruges cancel
Between 1884-85, six stamps were issued: Three stamps, the lower denominations, with the 1869-70 "Numeral" design, and three with a new "Leopold II" visage, each visage in its own frame.

Bruges 2016 - pics from my travels
I happened to be in Bruges in March, 2016. If you like medieval fairy tale cities, then Bruges is for you!

Bruges 2016 Canals
Canals, koffiekoeken and Belgian beer, what more is necessary? ;-)

1886 Scott 56 20c olive/greenish "Leopold II"
Malines (station) cancel
Between 1886-1891, five more stamps were released. The 1888 2c purple brown was a numeral (1969-70 issue design), but the remaining four stamps showed the long bearded Leopold II, with each stamp having a unique frame.

Leopold II
We need to say something about Leopold II. What ever good he did as king was far outweighed in the judgement of history by his callous reputation as the personal ruler (yes, private owner!) of the Congo Free State.

The colonial genocide that he was responsible for, sadly, wasn't the only nadir during the Colonial Imperialism era.

End of Part I. Part II to follow.

Deep Blue
1866-67 "Coat of Arms" issue in Deep Blue
Issue intended for newspapers and printed matter
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 75 pages for the stamps of Belgium for the classical era 1849-1940. All categories and spaces are represented if they are in the Scott catalogue. Very impressive indeed!

1884 Scott 51 5c green "Numeral"
Out of the Blue
What I love about doing these blog posts is the journey (the unfolding of the stamp and historical tales) is unpredictable, and surprising. 

Part II to follow...

Note: Map and historical pic scans appear to be in the public domain. Pics of Bruges are my own.

Comments appreciated!


  1. You're spoiling us (at least me) with those articles on belgian stamps.

    Rhisnes does exist indeed and is a small village in the Namur province.


    I didn't find anything for the Brussels cancel.

    Funny what you write about "Leopold II. What ever good he did as king..."

    As far as my memory goes when I was in school, we learnednothing about him except for his Congo dream. But in the 80's that was a different time we didn't talk about atrocities... so not much talk about Leo I and II, but more so on Albert I, the knight king (which was a fable of course as well but we swallowed it without a problem). Name one king who did anyhting good for Belgium? Hm maybe the Regent Charles but he has no stamps depicting him. Or are there? I must verify that.

    Well so much for belgian kings. Let's keep to belgian stamps, far more pacific and a lust for the eye...

    1. Lexman - appreciate your personal experiences with Belgian "king" history in the schools. You are right of course - even today. It is difficult for a country's educational system to admit past historical transgressions.

      And I'm glad that Rhisnes still exists as a village.