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...

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Nauru - Bud's Big Blue

Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

A riddle: what is one of the smallest, most isolated countries in the world but, at the same time, is one of the largest and very near-by countries? In fact, it spreads out almost everywhere.

A Clue

Another clue: It’s small because it’s an eight square mile dot in the Pacific Ocean. It’s isolated because it’s not close to anything except the equator.

Another clue: It’s large because the phosphate rock mined there has been shipped all over the world as fertilizers, animal feed supplements, food preservatives, baking flour, pharmaceuticals, anticorrosion agents, cosmetics, fungicides, insecticides, detergents, ceramics, water treatments and metallurgy additives. There’s a chance that we walk on part of this country every day.

Another riddle: What country was one of the wealthiest per capita a few years ago, but now is among the poorest? They had, then lost, it all.

A Clue

A final riddle: What country used to be called Pleasant Island and was lush with flora and fauna, but now is largely a polluted, strip-mined wasteland? Notice the shore line palms at the left of the clue

A Final Clue

The above philatelic clues, of course, foretell the boom/bust history of Nauru. Freighters were carrying away Nauru back in 1924 when this stamp series was issued, and they continued to do so until the phosphate mines were completely plundered (about 2002). Then, Nauru collapsed. Even Air Nauru’s one jetliner was repossessed.

Judging from the feeder albums I’ve plundered to build my stamp collection, Nauru’s stamps have been spread out almost as widely as their phosphate rock. Mint examples, as most of mine are, cost me less than a comparable amount of phosphate; good used Nauru stamps would likely cost considerably more than phosphate, but I don’t have many of those.

Census: 22 in BB spaces, one tip-in, eleven on the supplement page.

Jim's Observations
What can we say about tiny isolated Nauru?

This little oval shaped phosphate rock encrusted coral atoll is only 8 square miles in area, and is located in the South Pacific Ocean on the equator south of the Marshall Islands. It is surrounded by a coral reef, so only small boats may access the island.

The original settlers were Micronesian and Polynesian. The island was annexed by Germany in 1888, and attached to the Marshall Islands.

As luck would have it- or curse-, Phosphate (From seabird guano) was discovered on Nauru in 1900, and eventually, 80% of the island was strip-mined.

For more on Nauru (If you can stand the depressing narrative), check the original post below...

Page 1




Page 1

Comments appreciated!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Crete - Genuine/ Forgery signs for the British Admin 1898-99 10 & 20 para issues

1898 Scott 3 20pa green 
 Into the Deep Blue

Back in my first year -2011- of the blog, I published the Crete blog post with a pic of the 1899 20pa rose, part of the British Administration four stamp issue of 1898-1899. A little more than a year later, in the comments section, Michael Adkins of Dead Country Stamps pointed out that I was illustrating a forged specimen.

This was my reply...

Hi Michael

Thanks for the nice words, and glad I can be helpful.

Your Dead Countries web site is absolutely excellent.

As far as the 1899 "Scott 5" 20pa rose, yes indeed it is a forgery. In fact, I have the complete forgery set (Scott 2-5). ;-)

When I put this blog post together, I did not have have the information to call the 20pa rose a forgery- although I was suspicious.  Now I do.

According to Varro Tyler's Focus on Forgeries (Edition 2000), the small circle with dot above the numerals is incomplete at the bottom, and hence a forgery. As the set is perf 11 1/2,- like the originals-, it was supposedly made by the original printers, Gundman & Stangel of Athens Greece. But the stamps then were not reprinted on the original stone, so they are not reprints- but forgeries.

Tyler also says some of the forgery stock was sold to Francois Fournier, who gave them an 11 perforation. Another forgery from the Gunman & Stangel supply was sold and perforated 11 1/4.

I've made an update note on the Crete blog post, so to not lead people astray.

That is one thing I appreciate about your Dead Countries web site and virtual albums is the meticulousness and accuracy.

Now if I can do likewise. ;-)


Even today, despite alas! no new posts for the past 3 years, Michaels' site is a treasure trove of information. Check it out!

Well, it is time for me to do a bit of an update on Crete, and I thought - why not- show the genuine/forgery differences for this lithographic issue. So, let's begin...

1898 Scott 3 20pa green 
The above specimen, is, in fact, my only genuine copy. !! But, not too surprising, as Varro Tyler did say that forgeries far outnumber genuine stamps. I have eight more stamps - all forgeries! 

I checked the APS Stamp Store site, and they were currently listing eleven stamps from the four stamp issue - again, all forgeries! (Yes, even the APS site is caveat emptor. !!)

My Genuine is on white paper, has a very regular clean cut 11 1/2 perforation, and the printing is nicely done.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green 
Here is a forgery, with yellow green color (my genuine has a green color), on yellowish paper (my genuine is on white paper), and very poor (shallow) perfs (almost looks sewing machine perf). The Perf appears 11 1/4 X 11 1/2.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green  Close-up 1
Close-up of the genuine shows Tyler's main marker: "The small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is complete at the bottom". Also, note the two smaller circles on either side and the five "leaf" drawings above the dotted circle are clear of any color infilling.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green Close-up 1
The forgery has a dotted circle that is incomplete at the bottom (diagnostic). Also note infilling of the right smaller circle.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green Close-up 2
Not noted by Tyler, but noted by me, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, the middle (and left-middle) smaller circles are not infilled in my genuine. Since I only have one genuine stamp, I don't know if this is a constant finding for all Genuines. But it is worth a look.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green Close-up 2
The Forgery shows,  for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1898 Scott 2 10pa blue
Forgery Example 1
Note: Remember, if you want a closer up view of the stamp, click on it!

The rest of the examples I have are all forgeries. We will note the differences, compared to my genuine already illustrated a bit above.

This forgery is on yellowish paper, has poorly formed shallow 11 1/2 perfs, and the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom. The color is gray-bluish blue.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1898 Scott 2 10pa blue
Forgery Example 2
This forgery is on white paper, but has 11 1/2 poorly formed shallow perfs.

Note the blue color - the other 10pa "blue" forgery (bit above) has a gray-bluish-blue color.

The small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom. 

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 4 10pa brown
Forgery Example 1
The 1899 10pa brown is on yellowish paper, with a perf of 11 1/2 - fairly clean cut.

But the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 4 10pa brown
Forgery Example 2
The second 10pa brown forgery example is on yellowish paper with 11 1/2 perf, with perfs fairly clean cut.

But the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 4 10pa "brown"
Forgery Example 3
The third forgery example is on white paper, with the perfs @ 11, and somewhat rough and shallow. Note the Perf is 11: This is probably a Fournier forgery.

The color is different than the other forgeries also: a chocolate brown color.

Characteristic of forgeries, the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 5 20pa rose
Forgery Example 1
This 20pa rose forgery is on yellowish paper, with fairly clean cut 11 1/2 perfs.

But the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 5 20pa rose
Forgery Example 2
My second 20pa "rose" forgery is on whiter paper, with perf 11 1/2 rough shallow perfs.

But the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1898 Scott 2 20pa green
Out of the Blue
I hope this bit of "show & tell" for the British Administration 1898-99 10 & 20pa issue stamps, showing the forgery differences vs the genuine was helpful.

Note: Crete- Bud's Big Blue post shows further examples of genuines, as well as several used examples. Check it out!

Crete Heraklion Cancel
Note: hy-brasil in comments section (below) points out that these "Heraklion" markers, often mistaken for overprints, are, in fact, "favor" ctos.

Comments appreciated!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Natal - Bud's Big Blue

Natal’s Colonial Badge, Black Wildebeest

Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Natal, so named because Vasco da Gama sailed by there on Christmas Day, 1497, and because Natal is the Portuguese word for Christmas, rested pretty much undisturbed by Europeans until the 19th century, except for a series of shipwrecks along the coast and occasional hunting parties. Then, in July 1824, the British started a settlement.  They wanted trade in ivory, hippo tusks, buffalo hides, cattle and grain.

Although Natal’s stamps adhere strictly to British colonial protocol (crowned heads, usually key types or key plates) and show nothing of what 19th century life might have been like at the southern tip of Africa, matching key events the colony’s history with its postal history requires very little imagination. 

Shaka, the Zulu King who controlled the area surrounding what became Port Natal (Durban), initially welcomed the settlers and ceded them about fifty miles of coastline for their use. When the settlement ran short of medicines, the Zulus escorted the colonizers’ scout to Delgado Bay to get supplies. This era of good feeling was short lived.

Tribute to Shaka first appeared on a South African stamp Scott C57  in 2003

By 1850, when the first Durban post office opened, the fledgling colony was prospering. Trade was good. Dutch families started farming the surrounding area. Meanwhile, relations with the Zulus had been souring. Shaka had died (1828), assassinated by his half-brothers, and, as early as 1835, Zulu resistance to the growing British hegemony had resulted in fierce attacks on settlements. At one point, Durban had to be evacuated.

Having been proclaimed a separate British colony in 1856, Natal produced its first stamps in late Spring 1857. These have embossed British crowns on colored paper and can be found online and at stamp shows, but the price normally exceeds $100 for perfectly stuck examples. So, I’ve settled for a cheap Cinderella that resembles Scott #1 (no embossing). 

Centennial Cinderella

Engraved stamps issued during the 1860s, a time of increasing economic hardship in Natal, have the image of Queen Victoria commonly used in British colonies. In 1859, Natal’s Parliament had passed a “Coolie Law” making it possible to bring in much needed Indian workers for five-year indenture contracts. But, by 1866, all immigration stopped because of the poor economy and, sadly, indentured workers were being poorly treated by White farmers. Durban installed street lights in 1864 although, by 1867, the city could no longer afford oil for them.

Scott #s 10 and 16, stamps for economic hard times

During the early 1870s, the original engraved stamps were frequently overprinted, a practice that often connotes political and economic turmoil. The overprinting may have been undertaken merely to distinguish postal from fiscal usage. The turmoil, however, stemmed from ever deteriorating relations with the Zulus. As Natal’s first typographed stamps were being introduced (1874-1880), matters worsened to the point that the Anglo-Zulu War broke out, and the British were soundly defeated at the battle of Isandlwana (January 1879). Over 2500 of the Queen’s soldiers died. 

Scott #s 51, 52, and 53, stamps for war times

The British quickly retaliated. The Anglo-Zulu War continued until the Zulu’s were decisively defeated at the second Battle of Ulundi, 21 July 1883. This warfare ended, in effect, the traditional Zulu Kingdom. The British cemented control by establishing the separate colony of Zululand, marking the occasion by issuing the Zululand stamps placed at the very end of our BB albums. After a few years, Zululand was incorporated into Natal (1897).

Through the 1880s and 1890s, new Natal stamps consisted of additional values of Queen Victoria key plates and more overprints of earlier issues.

Scott #s 74, 78, 79, and 80, stamps for divisive times

At the same time, Indian citizens grew increasingly concerned about their diminishing rights in Natal. They brought in a London-trained lawyer to help them. The Registration of Servants Act No. 2 of 1888 classified Indians as members of an “uncivilized race.” Free Indians were forced to carry passes or be arrested. The lawyer, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, planned to stay only a few months after his arrival in 1893, but ended up living there for over 20 years. He came to think of himself as being South African as well as Indian. At the time of Gandhi’s arrival, Whites were outnumbered by Indians in the colony. 

Gandhi was living in Durban when the stamps with Edward VII’s image were issued (1902-08), Natal’s final series. Natal joined with the Cape Colony, Orange Free State, and Transvaal in 1910 to form the Union of South Africa. 

Scott #s 84 and 85, stamps for end times

A few years ago I had a brief audience with the current Zulu King, His Majesty Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, at his palace in Nongoma. A descendant from one of Shaka’s fratricidal brothers, His Majesty delights in recounting how his people handed the British army its only defeat in all African history (Isandlwana). 

I had to interrupt the King’s recitation, however, because I was sick -- two flat tires getting to Nongoma on unbelievably washboardy dirt roads and a nearly empty gas tank had frazzled me. His Majesty was displeased. 

And he reported, regrettably, no gasoline was to be found in Nongoma. And he had no interest in stamp collecting.

His Majesty Goodwill Zwelithini in ceremonial garb.

He wore a business suit when I was there.

Roads departing from Nongoma were even more dreadful. We had hoped to spot black wildebeest along the way but, instead, we ran out of gas in an extremely remote area. Friendly Zulus, pitying our plight, brought us gasoline in milk bottles and delicious pineapples that they sliced up with their machetes.

Ton Dietz, former director of the African Studies Centre at Leiden University, has written extensively about the stamps of Africa, including Natal, as an adjunct to his broader interest in African development.  Dietz observes that “Postage stamps, postcards, and other forms of postal heritage are miniature communication tools and tell stories about places, routes, and times.” See his 95-page paper on colonial Natal stamps with extensive illustrations copied from on-line auction catalogs and other sources: https://scholarlypublications.universiteitleiden.nl/access/item%3A2939025/view.

Census: 25 in BB spaces including three of the six official stamps (Edward VII profile), three tip-ins, 24 on the supplement page.

Jim's Observations
Wow! I'm afraid I cannot top Bud's story (above), where he met the current Zulu King. I have met, however, a queen ( Queen Noor, while visiting Petra in Jordan). ;-)

Page 1





Page 1

Comments appreciated!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Costa Rica - a closer look

1863 Scott 3 4r green "Coat of Arms"
Into the Deep Blue
I published a blog post back in 2011 about Costa Rica that was long on information, but short on stamp illustration.

Well, this post will rectify that. ;-)

Costa Rica is somewhat more straightforward for WW collectors than some other Central/South American countries. For one, the majority of stamps issued between 1863-1910 were engraved (not by Costa Rica - obviously it was contracted out). That cuts down on the "shenanigans" (Forgeries) that can occur with local printing methods such as lithography. However, any surcharges/overprints on issues (1881-82, 1911, 1903 Officials) are ripe for counterfeits.

The other occurrence is, in 1914, the government sold a large portion of formerly issued stamps (1901-1911 regular issues, 1903 postage due, 1901-03 Officials) as discount Remainders, marked by a thin parallel bar cancellations. These sell for much less than normal CV. 

OK, let's take a look at issues of Costa Rica between 1863-1921.....

A Closer Look
8 Reales = 100 Centavos = 1 Peso
100 Centimos = 1 Colon (1900)

1863 Scott 1a 1/2r light blue "Coat of Arms"
The first release, in 1863,  for Costa Rica, was a four denomination engraved issue. 

The 1/2r denomination was printed with two plates. The second plate was printed in light blue, and shows little or no sky over the mountains (above- Scott 1a). The first plate (not shown) for the 1/2r denomination was printed in blue. The sky markings (horizontal lines) can be seen with the 4r green stamp illustrated above for the blog post header. 

CV ranges from <$1 to $40+.

Although I don't have any examples, I should mention that, in 1881-82, three denominations (1/2r, 2r, 4r) from the above "Coat of Arms" issue were surcharged in red or black, creating seven major Scott numbers (Scott 7-15). These are valued in Scott only as "unused" - CV $3-$300). Counterfeits exist.

1883 Scott 18 5c blue violet
"Gen. Prospero Fernandez"
In 1883, a five stamp issue picturing General Fernandez, the President of Costa Rica between 1882-85, was released. Note that this issue was engraved. Rather handsome stamp. Scott has a note that the 1863-1887 era have stamps that are classified as VF, even if they have perforations just clear of the design on one or more sides. Since most of the stamps of Costa Rica were engraved from 1863-1910, I'm not going to mention the printing method again (assume engraved), unless it is different.

1883 Scott 19 10c orange
Gen. Prospero Fernandez"
This is a 10c orange from the same 1883 issue that is socked on the nose (SON). Nice! CV for the issue is $1+-$10+ (used). I note that a 10c orange (unused) is CV $150! I also note that, so far, there is no change in CV for Costa Rica between my 2011 and my 2020 catalogue. Hardly a vigorous market. ;-)

1887 Scott 21 5c blue violet
"President Bernardo Soto Alfaro"
In 1887, a two stamp issue with Soto Alfaro pictured was released. He was president from 1885-1889, and assumed the presidency in 1885 when his father-in-law, President Fernandez, died. CV for the issue is <$1-$3.

Official 1887 Scott O23 10c orange
"President Bernardo Soto Alfaro"
The 1887 10c orange was also used as part of a six stamp 1887 Official issue. I should mention, as is common for many Central/South American countries, Official stamps were issued frequently. Costa Rica has, in Scott, 94 stamps released between 1883-1937.

1889 Scott 23 1c rose
On 1884 Scott AR1 - Black Overprint
In 1889, two postal-fiscal stamps of 1884 were overprinted "Correos" for postal use. Actually, the revenue stamps issued between 1884-1889 were authorized for postal use (postal-fiscal stamps) if a post office ran out of postal stamps. CV is $3.

1889 Issue Scott 25-31
"President Soto Alfaro"
In 1889, a ten stamp issue depicting President Alfaro was released. The higher denominations (Scott30-34) were usually used on telegrams. In fact, Scott 30-34 (50c-10p) are only valued by Scott "used" with a telegraph cancel. CV for the issue ranges from <$1 to $40+.

1892 Scott 37 & 37a 5c red lilac & 5c violet
"Arms of Costa Rica"
An "Arms of Costa Rica" issue of ten designs/ten stamps was issued in 1892. CV is <$1-$5.

Of note, notice (above) the wide color difference between major number Scott 37 & the minor 37a. 

1892 Scott 44a 10p brown/yellow
"Arms of Costa Rica"
The 10 peso stamp can be found on colored paper pale buff and yellow (minor number). The 10c brown/yellow is only listed as "unused" @ CV $8.

1901 Scott 51 1col olive bister & black
"Birris Bridge"
In 1901, a ten stamp pictorial & portrait bi-color set was issued.

Birris Bridge - Engraved Close-up
Wow! - I love the detail on engraved stamps.

Birris River Railroad Bridge
The Railroad Bridge was built in 1890, and is now no longer in use.

1901 Scott 52 2col carmine rose & dark green 
"Juan Rafael Mora"
Many of the 1902 show portraits - here Juan Rafael Mora Porras, President of Costa Rica from 1849 to 1949. CV for the 1901 issue ranges from <$1 to $3+.

1903 Scott 56 6c olive green & black
"Julian Volio Llorente"
In 1903 three additional stamps/portraits in new denominations were added. The 6c (above) has the highest CV @ $4.

1905 Scott 58b 1c on 20c lake & black "National Theater"
1901 Scott 49 Surcharged in Black
Diagonal Surcharge
In 1905, the 20c 1901 stamp was surcharged. One can find the surcharge horizontal (CV <$1), diagonal (this example (CV <$1)), or inverted (CV $10). 

1907 Scott 63a 10c blue & black
Perf 11X14
The 1907 portrait bi-colored ten stamp issue of 1907 consists of two perf groups: The Perf 11 X 14 (2c, 4c, 20c, 50c, 1col, 2col) or Perf 14 (1c, 5c, 10c, 25c) group: These are major numbers. CV is <$1 to $100.

1907 Scott 68a 2col claret & green
Perf 14 - Remainder Cancel of 1914
The second Perf group consists of 11 X 14 (1c, 5c, 10c, 25c) or 14 (2c, 4c, 20c, 50c, 1col, 2col).  These are minor numbers. CV is <$1 to $150.

However, if you recall from the introduction...

"The other occurrence is, in 1914, the government sold a large portion of formerly issued stamps (1901-1911 regular issues, 1903 postage due, 1901-03 Officials) as discount Remainders, marked by a thin parallel bar cancellations. These sell for much less than normal CV."

Therefore this 2col claret & green (Perf 14) CV is not $150, but $3 (Remainder cancel).

1910 Scott 75 25c deep violet
In 1910, a smaller format eight stamp portrait set was issued.  The 25c deep violet (above) has the highest CV ($1.50 used), while the others are @ CV <$1.

1911 Scott 79 1c red brown & indigo
Stamp of 1907 Overprinted in Black
In 1911, seven stamps of 1901-07 were overprinted in red, black, blue or rose with "1911" or "Habilitado...1911". CV ranges from <$1 to $10+. Scott has a note that counterfeits exist.

Of interest, Juan Santamaria was a drummer boy (age 15) and a national hero. Click above to read the story.

1911 Scott 100 5c on 5c orange, Blue Surcharge
Telegraph Stamps Surcharged
Remainder Cancel of 1914
Also in 1911, Telegraph stamps were surcharged for postal use in rose, blue, or black. CV for the 15 stamps is <$1 to $80+. Of course, remainder cancels (as above) would generally reduce value. But in this case, the stamp already has a low CV of <$1. !!

Scott does have a complicated note about this issue, as there are counterfeits and special concerns. 

1921 Scott 103 5c blue & black
"Coffee Plantation'
Out of the Blue
The only stamp that is not engraved with this post is the one above: a lithographed large format 1921 "Coffee Plantation" stamp. Note the relatively crude look. Actually, it looks like, for regular issues, there were none after 1912 until this June 17, 1921 stamp, which celebrates a century of coffee raising in Costa Rica.

Comments appreciated!