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...

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Pitcairn Islands 1940-51 "Mutiny on the Bounty" Issue

1940 Scott 5 3p dark blue & yellow green 
"Map of Pitcairn and Pacific Ocean"
Into the Deep Blue

Many school boy stamp collectors of my era would revel in the story of  "Mutiny on the Bounty" and Pitcairn Island- and not a few adults! 

Unfortunately, "Big Blue", the Scott International 1840-1940 album, left out the October 15, 1940 initial Pitcairn Islands issue commemorating the event, and hence I have never published a post about Pitcairn Islands.  (Stamp spaces for the issue do appear in Scott Part II 1940-49 album.) 

Joe Lil, one of the longtime collectors using Big Blue, wondered about the vacancy. So, this post is for you Joe!

1940 Scott 6 6p slate green & deep brown
"H.M. Armed Vessel "Bounty""

Since the Pitcairn Islands was a British colony under the British High Commissioner of New Zealand, it is not surprising that a bi-color pictorial issue was produced. Most colonies issued their sets in 1938, but Pitcairn Islands, with a grand total of 177 people (1943), issued eight stamps on 10/15/40, and two additional stamps on 9/1/51. BTW, a more recent population count (1984) found 57 people there.

One might argue that 177 people do not need their own stamp issue, but we are talking about a very romantic high seas story indeed, and no doubt 99.9% of the stamps were sold to stamp collectors for revenue. And many other British colonies, although having a much larger population, had very few literate mail writing citizens for their issues - so, really, not that unusual. 

1940 Scott 4 2p dark brown & bright green
"William Bligh and H.M. Armed Vessel "Bounty""

The issue was engraved (my favorite!), and produced by Bradbury Wilkinson & Co Ltd. (1940 1p, 3p, 2sh6p; 1951 4p, 8p); and Waterlow ( 1940 1/2p, 1 1/2p, 2p, 6p, 1sh).

CV ranges from <$1 to $10+. The 1951 stamps (4p, 8p) are at the higher end.

Close-up: "Wm Bligh"

Pitcairn Island was not inhabited until 1790, when then it was occupied by the mutineers of H.M.S. 

For more on Captain Bligh, see here. He and his loyal men were set adrift in Bounty's launch, and they finally  reached Timor alive, some 4,160 miles away. !!

The settlement by the "Bounty" mutineers was not discovered until 1808 when an American whaler (Topaz) called there. (Can you imagine - 18 years!)
Overcrowding led to resettlement in 1831 (Tahiti), and 1856 (Norfolk Island), but a number of families went back to Pitcairn in 1859 and 1864,

1940 Scott 7 1sh slate & violet
"Fletcher Christian and View of Pitcairn Island"

For those interested in the philatelic history, there is the Pitcairn Island Study Group, and the Pitcairn-Norfolk Philatelic Society.

1940 Scott 2 1p red lilac & rose violet
"Fletcher Christian with Crew and View of Pitcairn Island"

In 1920, regular mail service was introduced. There were no stamps available, but the letters were allowed free postage along as they carried a cachet indicating their origin. The Stanley Gibbons catalogue (Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970)) carries illustrations of these cachets, which state: "Posted in Pitcairn. No Stamps available".

Close-up: "Fletcher Christian with Crew"
Note the Breadfruit Tree

For more on Fletcher Christian see this

Fletcher Christian and the mutineers seize HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789. 
Engraving by  Hablot Knight Browne, 1841

1940 Scott 8 2sh6p dark brown & bright green
"Fletcher Christian and Crew and Coast of Pitcairn"

Fletcher Christian, with eight mutineers, six Tahitian men and eleven Tahitian women, settled on Pitcairn island, and the "Bounty" was burned. Conflict ensued between and among the mutineers and the Tahitian men over the next several years, and Fletcher Christian was subsequently murdered along with others.

1940 Scott 3 1 1/2p rose carmine & black
"John Adams and His House"

John Adams  was the last surviving mutineer. 

1951 Scott 5A 4p dark blue green & black
"Bounty Bible"

The Bounty Bible  is an important artifact, now residing, after years in Connecticut, in a museum on Pitcairn. As the tale goes, there were significant disputes on Pitcairn Island over land, women and so forth by the men there - with murders back and forth - until there were only two men left. 

One of the surviving men was John Adams. He amended his brutish ways, and took up reading the Bounty Bible. A "Christian civilized" order, guided by the Bounty Bible, was then adopted.

1940 Scott 1 1/2p blue green & orange
"Cluster of Oranges"

What did people eat and sell in the smallest and most remote place in the world? 

"Adapting themselves to the needs of their seafaring visitors the islanders became skilled market gardeners, producing potatoes, yams, coconuts, bananas, oranges, limes and chickens, for which they accepted in return clothing, tools and money."

1951 Scott 6A 8p lilac rose & green
"Pitcairn School, 1949"

The 1951 issue stamp shows the development of a school, established in 1949. Today, after age 13, education is continued at a boarding school in New Zealand.

I should mention that I do have "used" copies of Pitcairn stamps (pictured below). No doubt virtually all of the "used" stamps are philatelic in origin.  But to think that the stamp was once on Pitcairn island: that is still thrilling.

1940 Scott 3 1 1/2p rose carmine & black
"John Adams and His House"
Cancelled "Pitcairn Island Post Office"
Out of the Blue

I think we all have a secret desire to move to Pitcairn Island - but this will have to do. ;-)

Note: Quote is from Wikipedia search. The Engraving print is from the public domain, and used here for educational purposes.

Comments appreciated!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Sweden - Bud's Big Blue

Bud’s complete Big Blue, but maybe not so complete
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Until now Bud’s Big Blue posts have followed the Big Blue (BB) album sequence, taking countries as they come – alphabetically, approximately. This post on Sweden’s stamps breaks with that sequence.

Why? I recently bought a large Swedish collection on Scott specialized pages. So, I refurbished my BB spaces and added stamps to the supplement pages. New scans, seen below, show the results. Having done this, I’m motivated to write about Sweden now rather than some months from now.

I’m often asked what I collect after having filled all BB spaces. Short answer: I collect what BB omits. And that’s a lot of stamps.

BB provides folks like us with a representative collection and, when we’ve filled all album spaces, we do have something that’s pleasantly representative, but it’s complete only in the sense that all spaces are filled.

Scott #2 blue and #3a gray brown, not in BB
A question arises, therefore, about what defines “complete”. Does it mean merely that the spaces are filled? Or that all Scott Catalog major numbers are represented? My recent additions do move me closer to having all Scott major numbers for Sweden. I need about 30 more and they’re very expensive. Still, even if I were somehow to get these, the collection would fall short of being complete.

Scott #s 222 gray, 223 violet brown, and 225 green, not in BB

What about Scott’s minor numbers? Stanley Gibbons catalogs commonly list more major and minor numbers than Scott does. What about them? And what about local stamps, interesting cancellations, postal stationery, covers, anomalies, and the like? How can any collection ever be described as complete? All are merely representative. Completeness is an obsession fueled nightmare.

Stockholm city locals, Scott #s LX1 black and LX2 bister brown, not in BB

Collecting all or most of a country’s major stamp varieties, nevertheless, does represent a noteworthy milestone. Completeness, even when approximate, tells a better story than blank spaces can. When some form of completion happens in my collection, I put a new header on my supplement pages, as seen atop Bud’s Big Blue Danish West Indies. And I gussy up the pages with some additional information, the beginnings of which can be seen in the Sweden supplements at the end of this post.

Bud’s BB supplement page header for Danish West Indies

Nearing completion, however defined, presents some problems and opportunities beyond the obvious question of what to do with stamps that lack spaces. Take Sweden’s three numeral series (1877 thru 1889) for example. BB provides twelve spaces for these, but each series has either ten or eleven stamps. Moreover, BB’s spaces call for examples from all three series.

Scott #s 20a dark violet, 21 gray, and 22 blue,
first series (1872-77), perf 14

I like to follow BB’s specs as nearly as I can, but I also want all stamps from a particular series placed together. My solution, admittedly less than ideal, puts the 1877-79 series in the album spaces, and the other two in the supplement pages. That arrangement will change if I get Sweden #18 or #37, two of the 30 that have eluded me.

Scott #s 30 dark green, 31 lilac, and 32 blue,
second series (1877-79), perf 13

Used Swedish numerals often have clear date and place cancellations, a compelling reason for collecting them. The three series are easily distinguished: the first is perf 14, the second is perf 13, while the third has a printed post horn on the back.

Blue post horn on reverse of third numeral series, 1886-91

My new Swedish acquisition also provided occasion for rethinking postage dues. In the 19th century, these stamps were affixed not only to internal mail that had insufficient postage, but also to incoming international letters. Recipients had to pay to receive mail arriving from beyond Sweden’s borders regardless of how much was paid by senders in their home countries. Other nations followed this practice, too. If you’re inclined to specialize in postage due stamps, Sweden is a great place to start. The elaborately illustrated catalog of the Kersti and Bertil Larsson collection of Swedish postal history has a large section about 19th century due postage. It can be accessed online at: http://59b4eb31fe0806b35bcb5ee7cdf65d4eef4f9a4b-customer-media.s3.amazonaws.com/auctions/364/kataloge/Sweden.pdf.

Scott #s j13 rose, j14 brown, and j15 yellow

Sweden issued two sets of postage due stamps, 1874 and 1877. They differ in the number of perfs (first 14, then 13) and sight color shadings. (Sometime in the mid-1870s, Sweden’s 14-perf perforating machine must have broken down, and the replacement punched holes at a rate of 13 per inch.) After both series were used up, stamp-fee tickets were attached to underpaid correspondence. Below the amount of shortage, the ticket reads “NOTE.! Upon delivery, the consignment will be stamped for the redemption amount and the stamps will be canceled.”

Stamp fee ticket, 1930s?

The 1874 series is the scarcer; most dues in my collection are of the 14-perf 1877 sort. BB permits examples drawn from both series.

Adding to my batch of the 1924 Universal Postage Convention commemoratives has been the best part of having a new influx of Swedish stamps. The fiftieth anniversary of the UPU was being celebrated in Stockholm when these were issued.

Scott #218 deep blue

I particularly like the mail rider who, clutching his post horn, looks forlornly over his shoulder at a ski equipped airplane – the minatory replacement for his mighty steed.

Census: 211 in BB spaces, 16 tip-ins, 180 on supplement pages.

Jim's Observations

I have a pretty decent Sweden collection for a WW collector, as one of the stamp dealers in town was a Scandinavian specialist. Bud's new Sweden collection, is special, though, as I note he has a Sweden Scott 3 color variation 6s gray brown. Nice, indeed!

And that brings me to this point: Just because one is a WW collector doesn't mean that one can't have nice country collections also. In fact, one of the best ways to enhance a WW collection is to add a very nice country collection. 

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Comments appreciated!