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, December 21, 2016


859 Scott 3 2r red "Coat of Arms"
Fine Impression
Quick History
Venezuela is bordered by Colombia, Brazil, British Guiana (Guyana) on the South American northern coast mainland, with Curacao, and Trinidad & Tobago just offshore in the Caribbean.

Venezuela 19th Century origins
Venezuela declared independence from Spain in 1811 (although did not secure it until 1821 under El Libertador, Simon Bolivar ), and from Gran Columbia in 1831.

Although the 1830 Constitution declared a democracy, in practice, Venezuela was an oligarchy, with caudillos (dictatorial strongmen) competing for power throughout the 19th century. The military served to protect the president, and to maintain order.

Stamps for the Republic were introduced in 1859.

Venezuela 1932
The capital is Caracas, and the population was 3,800,000 circa 1940.

1865 Scott 21 2r yellow "Arms"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Venezuela 1859-1944, 511 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 301 are CV <$1-$1+, or 59%. Clearly, Venezuela is an inexpensive country for the WW collector.

There are also 23 locals listed in the catalogue for Carupano and Guayana. They are fairly expensive. Interestingly, BB has spaces for four stamps (CV $10+-$30) from the 1903 Guayana "steamship" issue.

Just as Chile is known for their numerous Christopher Columbus vignette stamps, so Venezuela has many Simon Bolivar portrait stamps.

Most of the earlier Venezuelan stamps were printed by lithography, also the playground of forgeries. I will attempt to point out some of the characteristics of the genuines and forgeries if I can.

And the Simon Bolivar issues can have their identification problems.

In the "closer look" section below, I will cover primarily the 19th century issues, although we will stray into the 20th century with some stamps that interest me.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centavos = 8 Reales = 1 Peso
100 Centesimos = 1 Venezolano (1879)
100 Centimos = 1 Bolivar (1880)
1859 Scott 3 2r red "Coat of Arms"
Fine Impression
The first production for the Republic was the three stamp imperforate lithographic "Coat of Arms" issue of January 1, 1859.

This is considered the "Fine Impression" issue, as the background lines of the shield are finely drawn.

"1862 Scott 5 1r blue "Coat of Arms"
Coarse Impression, Thick Paper"
Fournier Forgery
Well, the forgeries for Venezuela are already raising their ugly head.

I thought this example was from the 1859-62 "Coarse Impression" issue, part of a three stamp set. The shading lines at each end of the "Libertad" scroll are heavy, as is characteristic for the "Coarse Impression" issue. But, even considering that, this stamp appears very crude indeed.

An internet search yielded the fact that this is, without a doubt, a Fournier forgery.

"1862 Scott 6a 2r dull rose "Coat of Arms"
Coarse Impression, Thick Paper"
Fournier Forgery
My other example is also a Fournier forgery. For one thing, apparently, "dot" postmarks were never used in Venezuela.

(Thanks to Stamp Forgeries of the World website.)

1863 Scott 13 1r blue "Eagle"
The 1863-64 lithographic five stamp issue has a vignette of an eagle.

About a dozen forgeries exist for this issue, according to Varro Tyler's "Focus on Forgeries c2000".

1863 Scott 13 1r blue 
Genuine has 52 pearls around Eagle
According to Tyler, the genuine has 52 pearls around the eagle for the 1r blue. And note the vertical dash in the pearl at the 9 o'clock position? That is a sign of the genuine.

The Spiro Brothers forgery, found in the offerings of Francois Fournier, have 47 pearls around the eagle.

1865 Scott 15 1/2r orange "Eagle"
Redrawn- 52 pearls
In 1865, the 1/2r (medio real) stamp was redrawn in an orange color, compared to the pale red 1/2r of 1864. The redrawn stamp has 52 rather than 49 pearls. The "N" of "FEDERACION" is broader. And "MEDIO REAL" is taller and thinner.

1870 Scott 19 1/2r lilac rose "Arms"
The 1865-70 six stamp issue has the above "Arms" design. The example of the 1/2r lilac rose appears to be genuine.

1876 Scott 22b 1c brown orange "Simon Bolivar"
Overprinted in very small letters
Now we come to a rather bizarre issue.

The lithographic fifteen stamp output in three colors (yellow, rose, green) was released between 1871-76, and were the only stamps available for postage between March, 1871 - August, 1873.

These stamps were used for both postage and revenue. Most are cancelled with pen marks.

"Bolivar Sucre Miranda"
Each stamp has very small letters overprinted, usually in two pairs.

Here we see "Bolivar Sucre Miranda" script repeated with upright letters.

1871 Scott 27a 1r pale red "Bolivar"
Overprinted in very small letters
An example of the rose middle denomination stamps is shown here.

"Decreto de 27 de Junio de 1870"
Besides the script shown above in slanting letters (note the inverted second line), there also exists "Decreto de 27 de Abril de 1870" script.

Different settings exist..
1871- Upright letters
1872-73- Slanting letters in one double line
1874- Slanting letters in two double lines
1877-78- Much coarser impressions

I note that a number of my stamps exhibit the very coarse impressions, and therefore impossible to determine the letters.

1873 Scott 41 2c green "Arms"
Overprinted "Contrasena - Estampillas de Correo"
The five stamp 1873 issue uses stamps and types of the 1865-70 issue, but overprinted in two lines of small letters, repeated.

1876 Scott 47 1/2r rose "Arms"
Overprinted "Estampillas de correo  - Contrasena"
The 1876-77 two stamp overprinted issue has a small "c", rather than a capital.

1879 Scott 50a 5c orange "Bolivar"
Overprinted two lines- One line inverted
The script here is "Decreto de 27 Junio 1879" twice, one line inverted for this ten stamp 1879 issue.

Note the "Escuelas" (school) intent? In 1879 through early 1880, there were no regular postage stamps available, and the "Escuelas" stamps served for both postage and revenue purposes.

1880 Scott 62 1b pale blue "Bolivar"
The "Escuelas" designs of the ten stamp 1880 issue are the same as the 1879 issue. But these stamps are in mostly different colors, have mostly different denominations, and are the first perforated stamps (Perf 11) authorized for regular postage. Pen cancellations or bank/business cancellations are usually found, Postal cancellations are quite rare.

1880 Scott 69 10c rose "Bolivar"
Lithographed; Genuine
The Bolivar 1880 perf 11 six stamp issue is lithographed, and is found on thick or thin paper.

These stamps were intended to be used for overseas postage, while the "Escuelas" stamps could be used for internal postage.

The genuine stamps often show thin guidelines extending the complete length (or close to) of the stamp design. (Note the thin guideline here along the left vertical side of the stamp.)

Also, note the more complete facial markings (lips, nose, eyes, mandible area) for the genuine.

"1880 Scott 69 10c rose"
An unknown forger made numerous copies, often found in WW collections, including mine. ;-)

They are cruder, exist in odd shades, lack many facial markings, and any visible guidelines are short.

Perforations can be 11, 11 1/2, 12, and compound.

1882 Scott 78 1b violet "Bolivar"
In 1882, a five stamp "Bolivar" engraved set was released, each in a different frame. (Note these are "regular" postage stamps.)

 On April 14, 1882, these stamps were decreed to be used on foreign postage.

What about for internal use?

1888 Scott 84 3b dull violet "Bolivar"
Engraved; Perf 12
The same decree of April 14, 1882 stipulated that the forthcoming engraved stamp issue of 1882 "Escuelas" be used for regular postage within the country, or for fiscal use. The 5c - 50c denominations (five stamps) were in fact issued August 1, 1882, while the 1b - 20b denominations (four stamps) were released in 1888.

1887 Scott 88 25c yellow brown "Bolivar"
Lithographed; Perf 11
Lithographic versions on four stamps, using the designs of the 1882 issues, was produced in 1887-88.

1887 Scott 94 50c green "Bolivar"
Rouletted 8
A four stamp rouletted 8 lithographic set, using the 1882 "foreign postage" design, was issued in 1887-88.

1887 Scott 96 5c green "Bolivar"
Rouletted 8
Likewise, a four stamp rouletted 8 lithographic set, using the 1882 "Escuelas" design, was released in 1887-88.

I have an "imperforate" variety of the 5c green, which is now believed to be from printer's waste.

1893 Scott 108 5c blue
Red "Arms" Overprint
In 1893, the five stamp 1882 "foreign postage" issue was overprinted with an "Arms" design in either black or red.

1893 Scott 118 50c blue "Bolivar"
"Escuelas"; Red "Arms" Overprint
Likewise in 1893, the 1882-88 "Escuelas" issue was overprinted on nine stamps with an "Arms" design in red or black.

1893 Scott 126 50c brown violet "Bolivar"
"Correos"; Shades
A five stamp engraved issue "Correos" was released in 1893, intended for use on foreign postage.

Many shades exist for this issue.

1893 Scott 128 5c gray "Bolivar"
The 1893 eight stamp "Instruccion" issue was decreed (November 28, 1892) to be used for internal postage, and for revenue use.

Printed after 1895
No longer available for postage
But after July 1, 1895, all "Escuelas" and "Instruccion" labeled stamps were no longer available for postage. Therefore stamps printed after 1895 in various new shades and denominations are not "postage" stamps. (Many feeder albums seen to have a few of these "non postage" orphans.)

1893 Scott 136 25c magenta
Landing of Columbus"
Look familiar? ;-)

This stamp celebrates the 400 years (Well, 395 years ;-) when Columbus landed on the mainland of South America. The stamp was also released, as Venezuela was participating in the 1893 World's Columbia Exposition in Chicago.

1896 Scott 137 5c yellow green
Lithographed; "Map of Venezuela"
"Apoteosis De Miranda" Issue
Now we come to one of the more interesting and vexing issues of Venezuela. The lithographic five stamp "Map of Venezuela" issue of 1896 is quite lovely. They were in use from July 4, 1896 to November 4, 1896. CV ranges from $2+-$20+.

You might want to enlarge the image and note the delicate lines for the map and the delicate parallel lines of the Essequibo river - an encouraging sign of a genuine.

BTW, the stamp map of 1896 was to support the land claims of Venezuela (Guyana Venezolana) up to the east bank of the Essequibo river - then claimed by British Guiana. This led to the Venezuelan crisis of 1895 between Great Britain and Venezuela, arbitrated by the United States.

But Francois Fournier polluted the waters with outright forgeries, and a reprint-forgery from new lithographic stones from the original dies was also produced around 1900 in Barcelona, Spain.
A number of the reprint-forgery dies were inverted, so any tete-beche pair is a reprint-forgery.

I can almost guarantee that collectors have forgeries in their collection for this issue. I have some 30 examples of these stamps, and only 5-6 are genuine.

Right lower "5"
Short diagonal line outer frameline below "5"
For the 5c yellow green, at least, one can look for the short diagonal line below the right lower "5" - another good sign for a genuine (Focus on Forgeries c2000).

Thin Middle lobed Curly-Cue on Genuine
(Provided rest of stamp is well printed)
And see the three left-lobed curly-cue hanging down on the left upper portion of the stamp? The middle lobe (which is "thin" compared to what we will see next), is a good sign of a genuine for all denominations - provided the rest of the stamp is well printed.

(Thanks to Keijo, of Stamp Collecting Blog fame for showing this sign on his post about this issue.)

"1896 Scott 141 1b violet"
Forgery (Fournier?)
The forgeries usually appear cruder, and the river shows a thick heavy line, rather than delicate lines.

Because there are actual differences with the genuine (Note the RR in CORREOS), I believe this is a Fournier forgery.

Two false postmarks are associated with forgeries..
13 ENE 97 CARACAS (This stamp shows this postmark.)

Fat Middle lobed Curly-Cue on Forgery
Example 1 Forgery (Fournier?)
If one looks at the three lobed curly-cue on the left upper portion of the stamp, one will note the middle lobe is fat (compared to the genuine) for this forgery example. A good sign for all denominations of a fournier? forgery.

But there is another variation...

"1896 Scott 140 50c rose red"
Forgery (Reprint?)
Here is another example of a poorly printed forgery. Note the thick solid line for the river, the absence of printing detail around the river, and the general crude detail.

Middle lobed Curly-Cue is "thin"
But poorly printed stamp
Example 2 Forgery (Reprint?)
The curly-cue middle lobe is "thin", but everything lacks detail, and is poorly printed. I believe this is a probable reprint forgery.

1899 Scott 145 50c gray black "Bolivar"
The Bolivar issues just keep coming!

For 1899-1901, a seven stamp engraved issue was released. CV is <$1-$1 for four stamps.

Later, this issue was used for "Resellada" black overprints in 1900 (six stamps-illustrated for the"Out of the Blue" header), and "1900" overprint in 1900 (five stamps).

We are done with the nineteenth century issues, but let's look at a few more interesting stamps...

1911 Scott 252 15c gray "Rafael Urdaneta"
In 1911, a six stamp three portrait set was produced with lithography. Of interest, the center vignettes were separately printed, and often vary in shade from the frame.

1913 Scott 255A 15c gray "Urdaneta"
Lithographed; Redrawn
In 1913, the 15c, 25c, and 50c denominations were redrawn and issued.

How do they differ?

Well, the three portrait faces look different, but let's look at the changes in the frame.

For the redrawn stamps, there are two berries rather than one at the top of the left spray; a berry has been added over the "C" and "S" of "Centimos"; and the lowest leaf on the right is cut by a corner square.

1915 Scott 263 25c ultramarine "Bolivar"
Perf 12; American Bank Note Company
The American Bank Note Company produced an engraved ten stamp set of Bolivar for Venezuela between 1915-23. Perforations are 12.

Note the eyes looking to Bolivar's right, the shape of the mouth, and the small right shoulder epaulet

1924 Scott 276 25c ultramarine "Bolivar"
Perf 12 1/2, 14; Waterlow & Sons, Ltd.
Then, between 1924-39, Waterlow & Sons, Ltd. re-engraved an issue of seventeen stamps. These stamps are perforation 12 1/2, with perforation 14, in addition, for the 5c,10c,15c,25c,50c, and 1b.

The colors are generally different, and the perforations are different.

But there are some doppelgangers, including the 25c shown here.

Look for the sclera (the "whites") surrounding the eye on Bolivar's right, the different shape of the mouth, and the wider flashier epaulet on the right shoulder. The reader should be able to find other differences as well.

1932 Scott 302 1b light blue
Bluish Winchester Security Paper
Finally, how would you like to identify this stamp? ;-)

Between 1932-38, a twelve stamp Bolivar issue was printed on bluish Winchester Security paper. Most of the time, one can tell the denomination, but at times it is a challenge!

Guayana Local Stamps
1903 Scott 5 1b black/straw, Typography
"Revolutionary Steamship "Banrigh""
Big Blue has this five stamp issue in their spaces. CV varies from $10 to $47.

The "Steamship" issue is a local issue of the State of Guayana.

Is this a counterfeit or genuine? At times, I just throw up my hands. ;-)

Edit: It is indeed a forgery. See falschung's comment.

Deep Blue
1905 Issue in Deep Blue
"President Cipriano Castro"
Deep Blue (Steiner) has thirty-six pages for the stamps of Venezuela, as well as four pages for the locals. All of the major Scott numbers have a space. I have a quadrilled page added for all the 1896 "Map of Venezuela" issue forgeries I've accumulated.

1896 Scott 141 1b violet "Map of Venezuela"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on nine pages has 251 spaces for the regular, air post, official, and registration categories. Coverage is 49%.

Big Blue begins coverage with the 1879 "Escuelas" Bolivar issue. Hence, BB avoids the more expensive 1859-1876 lithographic issues (Scott 1-48). Fifteen of those stamps are CV <$1-$4+, and could have been included.

There are eleven stamp spaces that require a CV $10+-$30 stamp. (See Comments section after checklist for specifics.)





79 or 87 or 91 or 96, 80, 81 or 88 or 89 or 97, 82,83 or 90,
84 or 99,85,86,

Next Page

114,115,116 or 117,118,119,120,




Next Page




1903 (Local- Guayana)





250,251,252 or 255A,253 or 255B,254 or 255C,255,

Next Page



262, 263a or 263,264,265,267,268,


286 or 286A,





Next Page

307,308 or 309,310,



325 or 326,327 or 328,329 or 330,331,333,335,


Next Page


Next Page

Air Post



Next Page

(Air Post)
C79 or C80,C81 or C82,C84 or C85,C86,



Next Page

Official Stamps





A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1880 Scott 69 10c rose ($10+)
1896 Scott 140 50c rose red ($20+)
1896 Scott 141 1b violet ($20+)
1899 Scott 147 1b yellow green ($10+)
Local- Guayana
1903 Scott 1 5c black/gray ($10+)
1903 Scott 3 25c black/pink ($10+)
1903 Scott 4 50c black/blue ($30)
1903 Scott 5 1b black/straw ($20+)
(End of Local-Guayana)
1915 Scott 264 40c dull green ($10+)
1915 Scott 267 75c light blue ($20+)
1937 Scott 317 5b light brown ($10+)
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1882-88- choices for spaces include various engraved, lithographed, perfs, and rouletted.
D) *1911- original vs redrawn choices.

1900 Scott 151 10c red
Stamps of 1899 Overprinted in Black
Out of the Blue
Every time I review a Latin American country, with the turbulent history, overprints, forgeries, and unexplored philatelic byways, combined with the often reasonable catalogue value, I get an urge to begin sub-specialization .....!!!!

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. Great post again Jim! Given your last statement, let me ask you a hypothetical question. Now that you have almost finished surveying the stamps from all the countries, if you had to choose one country or area to specialize in, what would it be??


    1. Chris - that's a tough one, because my "favorite" tends to be the country I've worked on last. ;-)

      I like Europe, Latin America, North America, the lands "down under", and Asia. Overall I seem to prefer autonomous countries, and less so colony countries. I do like dead countries. I like Turkey, and would like Persia (Iran), except too many forgeries. I like Scandinavia, the Baltic states, and European postage stamp countries. I belong to the China Stamp Society, and China and the United States are the two I would choose if I was forced to make a very limited choice. But I like too many countries to even consider that. I am truly a WW collector at heart.


    2. Hello, Jim! I hope you'll stay on positions long time from now on! I have a suggestion for you: if the great presentation of all countries is close to the big end, and if you'll have enough time to do this, of course, could you post from time to time some statistics/comparisons between different countries/regions of the world. I think such things would be interesting and very useful for those who collect ww stamps, from a specialist like you. Best wishes! Catalin

    3. Interesting suggestion Catalin. My inclination, though, is just continue with exploring the world of classical stamps with stamp scans and country revisits. But, perhaps I could look at the larger picture too.

  2. Great post Jim. Like Chris, I was drawn to your last statement (I didn't skim, honest!) but drew a different conclusion.

    Whenever I work on a Latin American country, with all the overprints and forgeries, I want to move on to another country! :)

    The last time I worked on Venezuela I ended up posting on stamp boards to figure out the "postage+revenue" stamps that shifted to "revenue" and left the catalogue, plus got comfirmation that all my locals were forgeries.

    I really appreciate the comparisons you give between the forgeries and genuine stamps. The way you freely share what you've learned is a real gift. Thank you.


    1. Hi Mark

      Ha ha - interesting reaction! ;-) The country that broke me down, and wanted to leave as quickly as possible was Greece. The Greek Hermes Heads I never did get a total grasp on. ;-)


  3. Must be just something in the DNA of us WW collectors! I have thought about and “tried” to specialize or focus my collecting efforts over the years, but just never could. I was a WW collector when I started as a young boy and guess I never got away from that mentality.

    I do see the value (and intellectual stimulation) of diving deeper into an area, but never could do it at the expense of all the other interesting stamps of all the other countries.

    I agree that China would be a very interesting and challenging specialization area, but would be an expensive area too as most stamps seem to be selling at or near 100% of CV.

    1. My version of 'digging deep' is more around configurations than deep types. Like with Sweden where I'll collect se-tenant booklet pairs, or different straight edges. It's rare that I pull out the 20x magnifier to tell things apart.

      Although having said that, I did spend an hour distinguishing between all kinds of specks for the Danish wavy lines. So maybe it's forgeries that scare me. Forgeries and scattered back of the book catalogue listings. :)

  4. The Guayana "Barquitos" is a forgery
    The easiest characteristic is the word "ESTADO" should line up vertically with the "C" above it.
    This misalignment should be a common forgery clue.
    There are letter and size differences also.

    1. I suspected it was, but didn't have the "key" to determine.

      I appreciate you providing the "key" Falshung!

  5. Ok, let me put a slight twist to my first question (in the first comment). Looking at the classic era stamps, are there certain countries that have a lot more forgeries than other countries? Or is this more about the time period? Is there a certain "heyday" for stamp forgery across most country's stamps?

    Just curious if anyone has done that kind of analysis?

    1. Chris - great question!

      There were definitely different eras for forgeries. Certainly, the "packet trade" of the 1920s or so contributed to many of the forgeries for common stamps.

      If anybody can answer the question in general, it might be Falschung, who is active on The Stamp Forum.

  6. Hello, I landed on this page mainly because just today my father brought for me his stamp collection from Venezuela. He used to be really into them when we lived in Venezuela before Chavez but still kept them. The collection he bequeathed to me includes almost the entire Venezuelan stamp issues, including 4 pieces (are they even called that?) of the first stamp ever to be issued. I checked out all subsequent ones you posted here to find almost every single one, and ran the checks you mentioned for spotting forgeries but these have the signs of the genuines.

    I would like to find out more as this interests me deeply, especially growing up and my dad showing me his collection as a kid, and in fact that is how we began the conversations that moved him to work as hard as he did to get these stamp books out of Venezuela in the political climate that they find themselves in.

    I would much appreciate any guidance, in terms of books or resources where I can delve deeper into these jewels.

    Thank you for your help and your time, Moises

    1. Moises - you are having a great time with the stamps of your country!

      I am not a specialist, just a world wide collector, so you may need to do your own research

      Here is a good book, however about Venezuelan stamps..