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, October 11, 2018

British Guiana Pt A - a closer look

1864 Scott 33B 2c deep orange 
"Seal of the Colony"
Into the Deep Blue
British Guiana is a magical name for stamp collectors because of the 1c magenta, but there are plenty of other rare (read expensive) stamps found for British Guiana during the 1850-1862 period. One can ascribe this situation to the fact that when enough stamps did not not arrive from the London Waterlow printers in time, Edward Thomas Evans Dalton, the Postmaster, would resort to "provisionals", made by the local newspaper printers with their typeset examples and primitive designs. The local printers involved include the office of the Royal Gazette (1850-51 "cottonreels"  & 1862), and the Official Gazette (1856). I count over 15 stamps that were typeset locally between 1850-1862, and have a CV ranging from $1,000+ to $325,000. !! And then there is the 1856 Scott 13 1c black/magenta @ $9,500,000. !!!

Well, have the Baron Philippe von Ferraris and Arthur Hinds of the world scooped up all the interesting British Guiana stamps?

Heck, no, there are plenty of British Guiana stamps and issues that can be the province of the WW collector! (Just don't expect to be filling the first several Steiner page spaces. ;-)

1896 British Guiana
In fact, there are so many attractive and reasonably inexpensive British Guiana stamp possibilities to collect during the classical era (up to 1952), that I've divided the blog post into Part A (this one), and Part B (the next one). Enjoy!

Original British Guiana blog post and BB Checklist

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Cents = 1 Dollar
1856 1c black/magenta - Front
Typeset, Imperforate, Unique
Even though the rest of the stamps presented here are well within a WW collector's range, it doesn't seem right unless we say something about the 1c magenta. !!

And I've seen it, as it is encased in glass (both front and back for viewing) with its own display in the William Gross section of the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. (It is supposed to go back to the owner Stuart Weitzman August, 2018, but hopefully, it will still be available for viewing somewhere.)

Plenty of information about the 1c magenta on the internet. I obtained a recently published (2017) book (The One Cent Magenta - James Barron) that I will be curling up with at our Oregon coast cabin this weekend.

1856 1c magenta - Back
It was larger in size than I expected. And because of the dim lighting to protect the stamp, not that easy to study. Nevertheless, it was exciting to see the markings of the owners on the reverse (Ferrari, Hind, Weinberg, DuPont).

1864 Scott 33B 2c deep orange , Perf 12 1/2
"Seal of the Colony"; Medium paper
Wide Space between Value and "Cents"
The first stamps for British Guiana that the WW collector might find fitting the pocketbook has this Waterlow of London design with the coat of arms, and BRITISH : GUIANA: POSTAGE along the side and upper margins. This stamp was issued between 1860-1865, and is specifically characterized by "Wide space between Value and Cents". (This determining characteristic is illustrated in SG 1840-1970 Commonwealth & British Empire catalogue.)

Scott lists some 23 major numbers with five denominations, color changes, perforation changes (Perf 12, 12 1/2 and 13, 10), and paper thickness (thick, thin, medium) determining the catalogue number.

This 2c deep orange shown above has the least CV ($30+), while 13 others have a CV up to $80+.

1866 Scott 50 1c black, Perf 10
"Seal of the Colony"
Narrow Space between Value and "Cents"
The second grouping of stamps (1860-1876) are similar in design to the first grouping (1860-1865), except for "Narrow space (~1mm) between value and "cents"", and/or changes in perforation and paper thickness.

There are 18 major Scott numbers, 16 minor numbers (color variations), and five denominations. SG offers more color variations that are given major SG numbers.

1866 Scott 51 2c orange, Perf 12 1/2
"Seal of the Colony"
Narrow Space between Value and "Cents"
Note this 1866 2c orange has a narrower space between "two" and "cents" compared to the 1864 2c deep orange shown earlier.

This grouping of 1860-1876 stamps have a CV of $5 - $20+ for nine stamps.

1882 Scott 107 1c slate "Seal of the Colony"
Type of 1876; Wmk 2, Perf 14
This new typographic De la Rue of London  design with the value on a white background  was issued in 1876 (nine stamps - Wmk 1) and 1882 (five stamps - Wmk 2). All major numbers are Perf 14.

1882 Scott 108 2c orange
Type of 1876; Wmk 2, Perf 14
Obviously, because the stamp can be found as Wmk 1 (1876), or Wmk 2 (1882), one will need to look at the watermark.

CV ranges from <$1 to $6+ for ten stamps.

1890 Scott 131 1c green, Wmk 2
A new design - but still showing the Coat of Arms - was issued with nineteen stamps on Wmk 2 paper between 1889-1903.

1889 Scott 142 24c lilac & green, Wmk 2
There is a note in Scott that revenue cancellations or pen cancellations for this issue sell for much less. This is a fiscal cancel?

CV ranges from <$1 to $10+ for 15 stamps.

1890 Scott 151 1c on $4 green & black,
Type of 1889 with Red Surcharge
In 1899, eighteen stamps ( without value in lower label) were overprinted "Inland Revenue" in black, and surcharged. I don't have any at the moment in my collection. Some are expensive (CV $400 - $2,440 - six stamps). But others are inexpensive (CV <$1-$8 -nine stamps).

What I do have is the 1890 issue (five stamps), which applied a "one cent" red surcharge on the $1-$5 denomination 1899 surcharged issue. CV is <$1-$10+.

1905 Scott 160 1c gray green, Wmk 3
The 1899-1903 design was used again between 1905-1910  on eleven stamps, but on Wmk 3 paper.

(If you need a refresher on British Colonial watermarks (Wmk 1-Wmk 4), see Gibraltar, or other British colonies.)

The issue is further divided by Scott into chalky paper (major numbers), and ordinary paper (minor numbers).

1910 Scott 171A 1c blue green  Wmk 3
Ordinary paper
I include this stamp to show that the Scott catalogue is a living thing: it can change or alter in large or small ways with each new edition.

The 1c shown here is a blue-green color variation. It was Scott 160a (minor number) in the 2011 catalogue. But my 2017 catalogue has it as Scott 171A (major number).

Additionally, the 2011 catalogue has the 1905-10 "chalky paper" issue without a catalogue listing of the ordinary paper varieties, but only a note placed: "2c-60c exist on ordinary paper".  With the 2017 catalogue, the 1905-10 ordinary paper varieties have their own (minor) numbers listed.

1905 Scott 162 4c lilac & ultramarine
Wmk 3, Chalky paper
The 1905-10 Wmk 3 "Chalky Paper" (major numbers)  have a CV of <$1 to $10+ for eight stamps.

1907 Scott 172 2c red, type I
Ship Type of 1889-1903; Ordinary Paper
There were five additional stamps of the 1889-1903 (Wmk 2) & 1905-10 (Wmk 3) design issued between 1907-10, but in different colors for the denomination (1c, 2c, 4c, 6c, 12c).

They are on Wmk 3 ordinary paper. CV is <$1-$8.

Interesting for the WW collector is the 2c red exists as two types.

2c red Type I Close-up
Only the upper right corner of the flag touches the mast
Type I (Scott 172) has only the upper right corner of the flag touching the mast (CV $1+).

1907 Scott 172b 2c red, type II
Here is the 2c red, Type II.

2c red Type II Close-up
The entire right side of the flag touches the mast
The flag on the right side completely touches the mast (CV <$1).

1913 Scott 183 12c orange & violet "George V"
Wmk 3
1913 marks the end of the "Coat of Arms" motif for British Guiana stamps.

Between 1913-16, a twelve stamp "George V" set (Wmk 3) was released. Note that an Edward VII (The "Baldies") stamps was never issued for British Guiana.

CV for the "George V" (Wmk 3) stamps range from <$1 to $4+ for eight stamps.

1918 Scott MR1 2c scarlet
War Tax Stamp
On Scott 179 Overprinted
Only one war tax overprint stamp was released for British Guiana, on January 4, 1918. This was overprinted by The Daily Chronicle, Georgetown, on the 1916 released 2c scarlet. 

1921 Scott 195 6c ultramarine "George V"
Wmk 4
Between 1921-27, an eleven stamp "George V" issue was produced on Wmk 4 paper. Some of the stamps are identical in color to the 1913-16 (Wmk 3) issue, while others have different colors.

Clearly, one will need a watermarking tray for this issue.

1921 Scott 197 24c dull violet & green "George V"
Wmk 4, Chalky paper
CV ranges from <$1 to $4+ for eight stamps.

This particular 24c dull violet & green example (CV $5+) is no doubt less: obviously the crease, but also because of the pen cancellation.

Deep Blue
1921-27 "George V" Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) provides, for British Guiana 1850-1952, 17 pages. All of the major Scott numbers have a space, including the 1c magenta. ;-) I only count three stamps in  my collection inhabiting the first six pages of British Guiana, and I suspect, for the WW collector generalist, that is somewhat typical.

1882 Scott 111 8c rose "Seal of the Colony"
Type of 1876; Wmk 2, Perf 14
Out of the Blue
For Part B British Guiana (next post), we will focus on the interesting pictorials!

Note: The 1c magenta pic scans appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. The 1c magenta was purchased by John E. Dupont in 1980 for over $900,000, then the highest price ever paid for a stamp. Dupont was convicted of murder of an Olympic wrestler whom he was sponsoring, and sentenced to life in prison. The 1c magenta remained his property the whole time and off the market. Truth is, it's a rather ugly stamp. But it's unique. I believe there was some talk that another 1c magenta had been found, but this turned out to be a different value from the same issue that had been doctored. Great post, very informative as always.

    1. Yes, the 1c Magenta has stories to tell. ;-)

      It was great fun seeing the stamp at the National Postal Museum - quite unique - literally. ;-)

  2. Yes, it's certainly not an attractive stamp, just a little red piece of paper printed cheaply (printed to mail party invitations, if I remember correctly) and then cancelled. Nothing much to look at. But it's the romance of the thing that gets me. The "rarest" stamp (if it still is) when I was growing up and pictured on many things philatelic so that it became a truly romantic thing. If the first printer or those who sent it through the mails had only known what they had, they might have stuck a few extras in a drawer for their old age.

    1. I agree, Drew. The stamp "in the flesh" was charismatic. I'm sure all the stories I've read about it contributed to that impression.