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...

Monday, August 21, 2017

Austria 1867-1884 Franz Josef's Whiskers - Coarse or Fine?

1867 Scott 1 2sld orange "Franz Josef"
Coarse print; Perf 9.5
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
Into the Deep Blue
Alas, in preparing this post for my Big Blue blog about the Austria 1867-72 "Coarse print" and 1874-80 "Fine print" issues, it is clear that "coarse" and "fine" are on a sliding scale, with examples to be found straddling the coarse-fine continuum. 

No wonder collectors sometimes find it difficult to "label" the stamp in front of them. !!

This would make sense, as "coarse" and "fine" is a result of the conditions under which they were printed - much like the infamous Hermes Heads.

The stamp is categorized by the impression of the stamp, rather than a difference in design or type of printing (i.e. engraved vs lithography).

This can lead to confusion and consternation, because the criteria is subjective: One has to judge (guess?) the category from sometimes subtle signs based on the stamp's "looks".

Soft felt (Coarser) vs hard paper (Finer), wrapped around the Impression Cylinder, embedded the ink in different ways.

And to think that "earlier printed" stamps are always coarse, and "later printed" stamps are always fine - well, an oversimplification.

And the catalogue images of coarse/fine only imperfectly mirror reality!

So don't feel bad if you are having a difficult time with coarse/fine identification on some of the the Austria 1867+ issue stamps - you should.  ;-)

The issue was introduced in 1867 at an inflection point in Austrian history.

1867 Dual monarchy "Ausgleich" agreement
Administered from Vienna (Austria)- "pink"; from Budapest (Hungary)-"yellow"
Jointly administered (1878) Bosnia-Herzegovina -"green"
The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 began the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Franz Josef then became both the Emperor of Austria and the King of Hungary. 

Hungary had now a good deal of autonomy vis-a-vis Austria, and issued their own stamps eventually on May 1, 1871.

Austria 1874 Scott 34 2kr yellow "Franz Josef"
Fine print
So a new typographic issue, with Franz Josef's portrait, was introduced for the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It was first issued in Hungary on June 1, 1867, and gradually in other parts of the Monarchy, beginning on September 1, as the previous issue was being used up. This shared "coarse print" seven stamp 1867-72 (-74) issue was used by both countries postal administrations until August 1, 1871, when the issue was no longer valid in Hungary. In the Austrian realm, the stamp design was used until October 31, 1884. The "coarse' print is always perf 9.5 for all the denominations, save the larger format 50 kreuzer stamp, where the perforation are 12.

The issue was indeed widely distributed during its time, and there are tens of thousands of postmarks from 11,000 post offices available for the assiduous collector!

I should mention that there is a "BRIEF-MARKEN" watermark embedded in the paper, that is found across the middle of the sheet. The wmk is 428 mm long, 24 mm high from 1867-83, and 478 mm long, 24 mm high from 1883-84. Since most stamps will not show this watermark, I will say no more about it. Consult Scott and Michel for specifics.

1876 Scott 35 3kr green
Fine print
After Hungary was issuing their own stamps, Austria again used the design between 1874-1884, but only for the Austrian portion of the monarchy. This seven stamp issue is characterized by "fine print", and usually perf 9.5. (But, because of demand, many other perfs were issued after 1877 using line perf machines- See Scott. These have a higher CV.)

The coarse print is characterized by coarse lines for the whiskers and hair.

For the fine print, the whiskers and hair have fine lines.

How to identify the two issues?

Should be simple and obvious, right?

Well, the devil is in the details. ;-)

Let's look at them....

Austria 1875 Scott 37 10kr blue
Fine print
Coarse vs Fine Introductory "101" Lesson: 
1867-72 (-74)  Issue is coarse print; 1874-80 (-84)  Issue is fine print.

Coarse vs Fine Graduate Seminar Lesson:
* The Introductory "101" lesson is an oversimplification. "Fine" appearing stamps can be found before 1874, and "coarse" appearing stamps can show up on or after 1874.

* There are no changes in the design between the 1867-72 (-74) so called "coarse" issue, and the 1874-80 (-84) so called "fine" issue (except for minor differences in the 5 kr red). All differences seen are because of different printing techniques! (soft felt vs hard paper on the roller layer or impression cylinder).

* Experience is helpful in making judgments about "coarse" vs "fine" - and, even then, reasonable people may disagree!

* A date (year)  cancel on a stamp is sometimes helpful.

* A town/city cancel on a stamp is sometimes helpful. Recall that these stamps should not have Hungarian town cancels after August 1, 1871, which would eliminate the "fine print" 1874-80 (-84) issue.

* Check the CV. If one has a difficult stamp to determine, and the CV for the Office in the Turkish Empire 25sld gray lilac fine print is <$1, and for the corresponding coarse print is $110, one probably has the "fine print". !!

* For the smaller format stamps, Perf 9.5 is always found for the "coarse" 1867-72 (-74) issue, and Perf 9.5 is the usual and common perforation for the "fine" 1874-80 (-84) issue.  But there are also multiple other perfs (9 -13  & Compound) identified for the 1874-80 (-84) issue. (See Scott or Michel for specifics, I don't have any.)  For the smaller format stamps, if one has a Perf other than 9.5, it is a "fine" 1874-80 issue.

However, the larger format 50 kruezer is perf 12 for the regular issues. For the Offices in the Turkish Empire 50 kruezer, various perfs  exist.

* The 5 kroner red has multiple types (small changes in design), and rather than divide them by "coarse" vs "fine", it is better and more accurate to first determine type. As this is a large topic by itself, the next blog post will look at specifically the 5 kroner red.

Well, what is known about the issue timeline of "coarse" vs "fine"?

1867-1874 "Coarse" Impression- layer of soft Felt on Impression Cylinder- paper soft, fairly smooth
1874-1875 "Intermediate" Impression - Felt layer hardening - paper thinner, brittle
1874-1883 "Fine" Impression - Paper layer on Impression Cylinder - paper thinner, brittle
1883-1884 "Very Fine" Impression - Paper layer hardening- paper thin,hard, smooth, brittle
Information from http://www.austrianphilately.com/gurahon/index.htm

Paper transparency with 1874-1884 Fine print Issue
Takeaway: The "coarse" issues were produced between 1867-1874, while the "fine' issues were produced between 1874-1884. The paper tends to be a bit thinner, crisper, and more transparent for the "fine" issues. And the reason for the intermediate examples (half way between "fine" and "coarse") one comes across? During the 1874-75 period, the felt layer was hardening, leading to "finer" examples of "coarse" stamps.

In the next section, we will look at "coarse" vs "fine" with a critical eye. The coverage will include, besides the regular 1867-72 & 1874-80 issues, the Austria Offices In Turkey issues of 1867 and 1876-83.

A closer look at coarse vs fine
Austria: 100 Neu-Kreuzer = 1 Gulden
Austria Offices Turkish Empire: 100 Sodi = 1 Florin
1876 Scott 35 3kr green "Franz Josef"
Fine Print; Perf 9.5
O.K., let's start off with a 1876 Scott 35 3kr green. This is a typical "fine print". Note the lightly shaded eyebrows. The beard is also lightly applied. This example would not be confused with the "coarse" type.

Michel Catalogue Illustration
Take them with a grain of salt
Here are the examples of "coarse" vs "light" that Michel presents in their catalogue. Notice how the ink is applied more thickly in the "coarse" print, and tends to outline (almost in relief) the beard.

But be careful not to take the drawings as always accurate depictions of real stamps! The apparent differences seen here, with the drawn lines around the eyes, base of neck, and nape of neck, only imperfectly mirror reality, and cannot be relied on for determination.

Austria 1867 Scott 28 3kr green
Coarse Print
For comparison, here is a 3kr green coarse print. Note the eyebrow detail tends to be filled with ink. The "eyebrow" sign is not diagnostic, however, and needs to be evaluated along with the rest of the stamp. The beard here is thick, with ink accumulating along the edges. It almost appears as if the beard was "pasted" on the face.

The "pasted on the skin" look of the beard reminds me of a barnacle on a hull, or, recalling my training in the medical profession, how a seborrheic keratosis would present itself. One feels like one could peel it off the skin!

Austria 1867 Scott 28 3kr green
Coarse - Intermediate- Print; 1874 postmark
Now let's look at a tougher example to evaluate. Note the eyebrow is more open, and the beard and hair, although still fairly thick, is not really crude. We are helped here by the postmark - 1874. This may very well be an example of the "intermediate" stage of the "coarse" issue - when the felt layer was hardening, and producing less course- and more fine- impressions.

Still, even without the help of the date postmark, I would still lump this stamp into the "coarse" category.

1878 Scott 7D 3sld green
Fine Print
Offices in the Turkish Empire
Approximately the same time as the Austria regular coarse/fine issues, Austria produced stamps with Sodi denominations for their Offices in Turkish Empire. The 1867 seven stamp issue is labeled "coarse", while the 1876-83 six stamp issue is labeled "fine".

This stamp appears to me to be a 'fine" issue. Note the fairly delicate rendering of the eyebrow, beard, and hair.

Also, statistically speaking, I should have a greater chance of a "fine" print (CV $20+), then a "coarse" print (CV $60+).

By the way, the cancel on this stamp may have been fraudulently applied later. Consider that an unused "fine" 3 sld green is only CV $1+. !!

1876 Scott 34 2kr yellow
Fine Print
I believe this is a fine print, although this example is on the "less fine" end of the spectrum. Certainly, the ink is applied lightly.

1876 Scott 34 2kr yellow- Cyan Tint
Fine Print
For yellow stamps. applying a cyan tint is helpful. Note the stamp does appear fairly delicate.

Also, the paper itself is thin and somewhat transparent, as I can see the portrait image from the stamp back.

Statistically, the fine print is more likely (CV $10+), compared to a coarse print (CV $120+). I obtained these stamps from feeder collections of Austria, and not from want lists, so I do think probability applies.

1867 Scott 1 2sld orange "Franz Josef"
Coarse print; Perf 9.5
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
This stamp was also featured in the header for the post, and for good reason: It is about a "coarse" of an example as one will find. ;-)

Note the filled-in eyebrow and the color lines for the beard and hair that overrun each other. CV is $2+.

1883 Scott 7C 2sld yellow
Fine print
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
On the other hand, this Offices in the Turkish Empire 2 sld yellow stamp is definitely "fine". CV is <$1.

1883 Scott 7C 2sld yellow Cyan Tint
Fine print
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
The cyan tint brings out the delicate lines for this "fine" specimen.

1878 Scott 7E 5sld red
Fine Print
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
I am not showing many 5 sld reds, as they will be featured for the next post with the various types found for the regular issues. However, the Offices in the Turkish Empire 5 sld reds only exhibit coarse/fine characteristics, and not "types" as the regular issues have.

So is this 5 soldi red a coarse or fine print? I believe this is a fine print, despite the outline of ink that surrounds the beard. The eyebrow and hair are reasonably delicate. Also, the appearance is in line with some other Turkish Empire "fine" examples I have. Could this be a "finer" intermediate example of a coarse stamp? Possible. Perhaps one could make a case.

In terms of probabilities, the CV for the 5 sld red Turkish Empire stamp is $20+ for "fine" used, <$1 for "fine" unused, and $10 for "coarse" used. I can't rule out that this stamp was  a "fine" unused that was fraudulently canceled.

 1867 Scott 30 10kr blue
Coarse print
The 10kr blue is clearly a coarse print, no doubt about it. The heavily in-filled eyebrows, the plaque like beard, and the thick lines of the hair are evident. CV is $2+.

1875 Scott 37 10kr blue
Fine print
And this 10 kreuzer blue has all the features of a "fine' print. Note the delicate unassuming beard, the clear eyebrow outline, and the discrete hair lines. CV is <$1.

1875 Scott 37f 10kr pale blue
Fine print; Shade
Pale blue is a minor number variation in color seen with the fine print Scott 37. I picked this out from a sea of 100 10kr blues that a friend had given me to paw through. CV is <$1.

1875 Scott 37 10kr blue
Fine print; 1883 postmark
If the postmark is to be believed (1883), this should be an example of a fine print. The eye line is rather heavily but cleanly inked, and the rest of the stamp is certainly compatible with a fine print.

1876 Scott 10sld blue
Fine print, 188? postmark
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
This Turkish Empire 10 soldi blue is well within the camp of a fine print. CV is $1+. Note the perforations were trimmed off with this example.

1867 Scott 31b 15kr yellowish brown
Coarse print
Well, if this 1867 15kr yellowish brown isn't coarse, I don't know what is. ;-) CV is $7+ for this color variation.

1867 Scott 31 15kr brown
Coarse print - Intermediate
This is a dilemma stamp. If one goes back and compares this 15kr brown with the 3kr green that is thought to represent the "intermediate" 1874-75 coarse issue, then this might likewise be an intermediate (finer rendering) coarse issue. The CV for the coarse issue is $6+, while $7+ for the fine issue.

Also, it should be noted that this stamp has soft paper, and is not transparent.

On the other hand, could this be a deeply impressed "fine print" stamp? I don't think so, and it is partially due to the following examples I have of "no doubt" 15kr fine print stamps.

So I an tentatively putting this stamp into the "Coarse print-Intermediate" (?1874-75) category.

1877 Scott 38 15kr brown
Fine print
Here is a "no doubt" fine print 15kr brown. Lightly and delicately rendered. Compare now to the questionable stamp just viewed, and that stamp appears much more coarse. ;-)

1877 Scott 38f 15kr deep chestnut brown
Fine print
Chestnut brown is a color variation for the fine print 15 kreuzer stamp. CV  is $10+.
This is about a "fine" of an example of a "fine print" that I have seen.

1867 Scott 5 15sld brown
Coarse print
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
....or Forgery?
A glance, a double-take, and then a more prolonged examination told me there was something significantly wrong with this stamp. The "s" in "sld" was too small, and the pearls surrounding the portrait are small and irregular. An inquiry into The Stamp Forum (a good source for forgery questions) gave the answer, and it was what I suspected. A member had a similar 10sld blue that was clearly forged by the same person(s). This is considered a "primitive" forgery by unknown(s). It has not been clearly linked to Fournier or other known forgers.

1867 Scott 32a 25kr gray lilac (looks "slate" to me)
Coarse print?
It seems like the longer I spend on determining coarse vs fine, the harder it gets. ;-)

I have gone back and forth on this stamp, but I am putting it into the coarse issue - possibly the "intermediate -1874-75" ("finer appearing") category. It has a little too much roughness for a fine print.

And it is on softer paper.

But, frankly, some of my "fine print" category stamps that will be presented next, look remarkably like this one, so I may just be getting confused. And the CV ($1+) for a 25kr fine print is much less than a coarse print ($40+).

1878 Scott 39 25kr gray lilac
Fine print
I think this is a fine print 25 kr, and this is an example of why "filled-in eyebrows" do not necessarily mean a coarse stamp. The beard (although it does have an outline!) and the hair are lightly and more delicately presented. And a unused 25 kr fine print is only CV $1+, while an unused coarse print is $40+!

1883 Scott Scott 7J 25sld gray lilac
Fine print
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
I must say I am influenced heavily by the fact that fine print Offices of the Turkish Empire 25 sld stamps are CV <$1 unused, while the corresponding coarse print is CV $20+ unused.

And this stamp above is on thin transparent paper.

Therefore, I am including this stamp in the fine print category.

1883 Scott Scott 7J 25sld  gray lilac (Looks "slate" to me)
Fine print
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
Likewise, I am putting this stamp in the fine print category. Although I am confused by the color. Scott only offers "gray lilac", while I would call this color "slate". If this is a fine print edition, though, the cancel is most certainly fraudulent, as it changes the CV from <$1 to $400. !!

1867 Scott 33 50kr light brown, Perf 12
Coarse print; 1880? postmark
If this is genuine, this is most certainly a coarse print of the larger format 50kr brown.

And, possibly, the "1880" cancellation was applied afterwards to attempt to raise the CV from $40 to $130.

In fact, the stamp looked so poor, I, had to entertain the notion that this stamp was a forgery. Fortunately, Stamp Forum inquires came back as consistent with genuine.

1874 Scott 40 50kr red brown
Fine print
The fine print 50kr red brown is CV $10+. This is a lovely example!

1867 Scott 7 50sld brown, Perf 10.5
Coarse print
Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire
Finally, the Turkish Empire 50 Soldi brown was only issued as a coarse print, and has a remarkably low CV of $1+ unused.  The major number perf is 10,5, but it can be found with perf 9,12, 13, & 10.5 X 9 @ a much higher CV.

Austria-Hungary Ethnic Groups
Out of the Blue
Subjective evaluations of the coarse-fine continuum for these issues is exhausting, and I must admit, I feel like I have been put through the wringer. I also think I was not entirely consistent in my evaluations.

C'est la vie.

Note: The Austro-Hungarian Maps appear to be in the public domain. The image drawing of the coarse/fine Franz Josef is from the Michel catalogue, and is used here for educational purposes.

Austria & BB Checklist
Austria: Lombardy-Ventia
Austria & LV: 1850 "Coat of Arms"
Austria & LV: 1858-59 Issue
Austria & LV: 1860-64 Issues
Austria 1867-84 5k rose: a study
Austria - Bud's Big Blue

Comments appreciated!


  1. What an excellent article..I thank you for your knowledge..I sent a copy to the president of the International Society of World wide stamp collectors for our newsletter. Excellent information..

    1. Appreciate the nice words! Thanks!

      I need to think about joining the society.

  2. Great post Jim. I specialize in 3 of those 11,000 post offices these stamps were used at during their time (Jaffa, Jerusalem , and Haifa) all part of the holy land and now part of the State of Israel. Hunting for the postmarks is quite a challenge. Often I find postmarks for the offices I need in otherwise nondescript lots of various Austrian Levant stamps. There is definately a premium for the harder to find offices.

    1. Aaron - you are indeed searching for needles in haystacks. Congratulations - what fun!