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...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Belgium Part B 1865-1912 Cancelled and Socked-on-the-Nose

1893 Scott 65 10c orange brown "Leopold"
Into the Deep Blue
As a WW collector, I have both unused and used stamps in my collection. Belgium stands out  as a country where the classical era stamps often have great looking cancels and socked on the nose stamps

As I mentioned in the first blog on this topic, for Belgium 1865-1912, I thought it would be interesting to focus on the cancelled stamps for this era in my collection..

Part I was published previously. This is Part II.

1911 Britannica Map of Belgium & Luxemburg
The original blog post for Belgium and Big Blue Checklist is here.

The blog post on the 1849-1866 Epaulettes and Medallions issues is here.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1893 Scott 60 1c gray "Coat of Arms"
Between 1893-1900, a new sixteen stamp issue featuring the "Coat of Arms" for the lower denominations and "King Leopold" for the higher denominations was released.

There were five stamps with the "Coat of Arms" design.

1893 Scott 67 20c olive green
"King Leopold"
Eleven stamps showed "King Leopold II"

CV is <$1-$5 for twelve stamps.

There was a subset of the issue printed on very thin transparent paper in 1904-05. They have Scott minor numbers, and have a CV of about 10X the usual paper issue.

1893 Scott 69a 35c red brown "Leopold"
The design was actually quite similar to the 1884-85 & 1886-91 issues, except there was a label attached to the bottom of the stamp.


Well, Belgium delivered mail on Sunday.

For those of a devout nature, and who wished not to disturb the Sabbath with mail, the label was left on. The label instructed the carrier to NOT deliver the missive on Sunday.

For those not having that scruple, the label was removed, and the mail could be delivered on Sunday.

Of note, Scott values covers bearing stamps with labels attached at about twice those with no label.

1894 Scott 77 10c carmine/bluish
"Arms of Antwerp"
In 1894, for the Antwerp Exhibition, a three stamps set was published.

CV is $1-$3+.

Antwerp Universal Exhibition 1894
The exhibit was a World's Fair held in Antwerp. About 3 million attended. The United States was  a participating country.

"World's Fairs" were very popular,with the 1851-1938 era fairs focusing on technological advancements and inventions,

1896 Scott 80 10c orange brown
"St. Michael and Satan"
Another "World's Fair", the 1897 Brussels Exhibition, was publicized with an 1896-97 three stamp issue.

CV is <$1-$3+.

 1897 Brussels International Exhibition
The Brussels 1897 Expo had almost 8 million visitors, and the big draw was the colonial section showcasing King Leopold's infamous (in retrospect) personal property,The Congo Free State.

1907 Scott 84 5c green 
"Coat of Arms"
The 1905-11 issue also has the "Coat of Arms" design for the three lower denominations.  They can be distinguished from the 1893-1900 "Coat of Arms" stamps by the fact that there is only white (no design elements) between the stamp frame and the label. It is easy to confuse the two designs as evidenced that they are often misplaced in feeder albums.

1905 Scott 88 35c red brown "Leopold"
No label attached on this stamp
The seven upper denominations each have seven unique frame designs, but all the designs have the same vignette of King Leopold. The vignette with the white beard is different than the preceding issues.

Note here is a 35c red brown without the label attached.

CV is <$1-$4 for eight stamps of the 1905-11 issue.

1912 Scott 102 5fr plum "Albert I"
In 1909, King Albert I succeeded to the throne after his uncle Leopold II passed away.

The next issue with Albert I, replacing the "white beard" Leopold II issue of 1905-11, wasn't until April, 1912. The 1912 issue of eleven stamps had all new designs: "Numeral" (1c), "Lion" (2c, 5c), "Albert I" (rest of the denominations).

CV is <$1-$20+ for the eleven stamp issue.

The 5 Franc stamp shown above has at least five different forgeries. Checking Falschung's great forgery website, it appears this example is genuine.

1910 Scott B8 10c carmine
"St. Martin of Tours dividing His Cloak with a Beggar"
The first semi-postal issue for Belgium was the eight stamp two design release of June 1, 1910.

The stamps were sold at twice face value, except the 10c carmine, which sold for 15 Centimes.

The surtax funds were for fighting tuberculosis.

CV is <$1-$6+.

1911 Scott B15 5c peacock blue
Overprinted "1911" in Black
The issue was overprinted April 1, 1911 as shown.

CV is $5+ for four stamps and $10+-$40+ for four stamps.

1911 Scott B19 5c peacock blue
Overprinted "Charleroi 1911"
In June, 1911, another overprint issue as shown was released.

CV is $2+-$10.

To show the importance of the label attached, stamps without labels for these semi-postal stamps are worth 10% or less of CV.

1879 Scott Q1 10c violet brown
"Coat of Arms"
One of the unique features of Belgium collecting are the Parcel Post and Railway stamp issues.

They generally are found with railway cancellations. Postal cancellations sell for 2X CV.

From May 1, 1879 to 1882, a six stamp typographic issue was released.

CV is $5+-$50+ for the stamps in the issue.

1882 Scott Q11 50c carmine
Between 1882-94, a nine stamp issue with white numerals in the center surrounded by cherubs and a locomotive.was published. What an issue!

CV is <$1-$7+.

Counterfeits exist, printed in 1925. See Tyler's "Focus on Forgeries", or Falschung's site.

1895 Scott Q23 1fr lilac brown
Name of engraver below frame
In 1895-97, a nine stamp issue (mostly with black center numerals) was released, and in 1901-02, four more stamps with black center numerals was added.

The name of the engraver is below the inner frame.

CV is <$1-$10+.

Counterfeits also exist for this issue.

1906 Scott Q43 1.10fr rose & black
"Winged Wheel";  Without engraver's name
Between 1902-14, a twenty stamp issue was released with the iconic "Winged Wheel" design for the eight higher denominations.

The lower denominations have colored central denominations and no engraver name below the inner frame.

CV is <$1 for every stamp in the issue.

1907 Scott 84 5c green
"Coat of Arms"
Out of the Blue
If every country cancelled their classical era as beautifully as Belgium, what a wonderful world it would be for used stamps!

Note: Map and Exhibition poster scans appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!

Monday, April 23, 2018

French Congo - Bud's Big Blue

French Congo "local color" Issues
Into the Deep Blue
Bud's Observations
French Congo further illustrates the point about the progression in colonial stamps from mother country stamps to those of an independent nation (see comment on French Colonies). French Congo early “local color” issues sport a tarzanic aesthetic, although I don’t know if Viscount Greystoke’s legend crossed the English Chanel, much less if they inspired the crouching leopard, coconut grove, or topless Pygmy woman. Maybe so, probably not -- although the stamps are sufficiently garish to suggest so.

Oops. I just read that the first Tarzan book came out in 1912, so maybe the stamps inspired the author

French Congo subsumes Gabon, Chad, Ubangi Shari, and Middle Congo in 1904. Stamp issuing authorities changed rapidly in French African territories. For a road-map, see: 

Census: 18 in BB spaces, eight on supplement page.

Jim's Observations
The "Leopard" pictorial is a refreshing contrast to the "Monarch" British Colonies stamps of the same era. And the lithe Leopard appears capable of leaping out of the stamp! 

French Congo Post and BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Belgium Part A 1865-1912: Cancelled and Socked-on-the-Nose

1870 Scott 33 20c ultramarine 
"King Leopold II"
Anvers Town/Date Cancel
Into the Deep Blue
Belgium seems to have more than their share of great looking cancels and socked on the nose stamps for the classical era. Rather than a straightforward survey of Belgium's stamps for 1865-1912, I thought it would be an intriguing twist to focus on the more interesting cancelled stamps in my collection, and let them tell the story.

There are enough examples, that I will publish this blog topic in two parts. This is Part I.

Yes, in a number of cases, I have stamps that are in better grading condition: but if the cancel is interesting, I will show the stamp, warts and all - bear with me, and hope it is still enjoyable. ;-)

1875 Railway Map of Belgium 
The original blog post for Belgium and Big Blue Checklist is here.

The blog post on the 1849-1866 Epaulettes and Medallions issues is here.

A closer look at the 1865-1912 stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1867 Scott 18 10c slate "Leopold I"
Thicker Paper (Perf 15)
Numeral in Lozenge of Dots Cancel: "387" = Walcourt
The first issue in Belgium after the "Medallions 1849-1865", was a five stamp typographed issue (printed in Brussels) with a side portrait of King Leopold I. The stamps of 1865-66 were on thin paper, and were Perf 14 1/2 X 14 (minor numbers). The stamps of 1867 (major numbers) were on thicker paper, and had Perf 15, as this example.

CV is $2+-$20 for four stamps (2017 catalogue).

Of interest, this stamp has a Lozenge-Dot cancel from Walcourt (still a small town today). The Dot cancels were in extensive use in Belgium between 1864-1866, but after 1866, not so much.

1867 Scott 21 40c rose "Leopold I"
Numeral in Lozenge of Dots Cancel: "12" = Anvers
Here is another example from the Perf 15 1867 issue with the Lozenge-Dots cancel.

Funeral of Leopold I of the Belgians in Brussels
The 1865-67 "Leopold I" stamps would prove to be the last. as  he died at age 74 on December 1, 1865 (Reign 1831-1865). 

His son (age 30), Leopold II, became king and ruled until 1909.

1866 Scott 26 5c brown "Coat of Arms"
Perf 14 1/2 x 14 (major number)
The "Coat of arms" stamps (three denominations) were issued between June 1, 1866 - 1867, and were intended for use on newspapers and printed matters.

There is an imperforate (1c gray), and 1c gray, 2c blue, & 5c brown Perf 14 1/2 X 14 (major numbers) and perf 15 (minor numbers) stamps.

CV is $10+-$90, with the 1c gray imperforate @ $150. Forgeries do exist.

Note this stamp has both a "Lozenge-Dot" cancel ("82" = Chimay), and another type of "82" cancel.

1869 Scott 32 10c green "Leopold II"
Lozenge-Dot cancel: "374" = Verviers
A typographic issue (Perf 15) for the new monarch was released between 1869-70, and had a side face visage of Leopold II on the five higher denomination stamps. The lower values have a numeral design.

At this time (1869), Town-Date circular cancellations were more common, but the Lozenge-Dot cancel, can still be found: here on a 10c green.

1869 Scott 32 10c green "Leopold II"
Perf 15; Town-Date Circular cancel
Here is a color variation of the 10c green with a town-date cancel. The postmark is for a Brussels substation.

Note the information that is generally provided: date (7); month (January); time frame cancelled ( 6-S?), and year (18?? -incomplete).

Scott does not list any minor numbers for the 10c green shade, but my Belgium 1998 "Catalogues Officiel de Timbres-Poste" has four: green (1869), green-blue (1870), dull green (1873), and green-yellow (1874). My stamp looks like a green-yellow.

Be aware that there was a similar (in design) 10c gray-green issued in 1881, but in Perf 14, and with aniline ink. More about that later.

1870 Scott 33 20c ultramarine "Leopold II"
Anvers Town/Date Cancel
The 1869-70 nine stamp issue have CVs ranging  from <$1 to $10.

Does this stamp look familiar? It is among the SON stamps adorning the top horizontal bar for the Big Blue blog home page. ;-)

1873 Scott 34a 30c reddish ochre
Lozenge-Dot cancel: "12" = Anvers
This stamp shows the thin ice we WW collectors often find ourselves in when making catalogue decisions. I have another 30c stamp of this issue that is clearly more "buff", the 1870 major number color in Scott. This stamp looks more reddish to me, hence the 1873 minor number "reddish ochre" I have chosen for this stamp.

But the cancellation is of the "Lozenge-Dot" type, and an 1873 use would make it the latest use for this cancel in my WW collection. So is this in fact a "reddish ochre" variation? Perhaps, but I do not have the tens of examples that a Belgian specialist could review to make that determination. So, yes, very thin ice. ;-)

1875 Scott 37 25c olive bister
Three more denominations (Perf 15) on "Leopold II" designs from the 1869-70 issue were released in 1875-78.

What a lovely postmark. Too bad I can't find the town. ;-) I read this as "Rhisne", and, in fact, the Lozenge-Dots cancels also list a "311" = Rhisne. Google search fails, other than redirecting me to the "Rhine". Did the town disappear? There are plenty of ghost towns in the U.S. out west. What am I missing?

Of interest, the 1875 Scott 39 5fr deep red brown/1878 Scott 39a 5fr pale brown in the issue is scarce: $1,450 used/$1,700 unused, although "only" $1,000 with no gum. 

Scott has a note that dangerous counterfeits exist. Only 30,000 Scott 39 and 18,000 Scott 39a were printed. The forgery site I linked earlier has a lot of information about these forgeries. 

(Note: This is absolutely a fabulous source site for those interested in WW classical era forgeries. My link will take you to the main page- then go to Belgium, and scroll down. I do not give a direct link, as the website author (who I know) requests that direct links to his forgery discussions not be done without prior approval. I respect his wishes.)

1881 Scott 44 15c olive bister, Perf 14
Printed in Aniline Colors
In 1881, five more stamps using the 1869-70 designs were printed, four of them in colors somewhat similar to previous issues. The good news is these stamps are Perf 14 - the previous issues were Perf 15. CV is <$1-$3.

They were printed in Aniline colors. Some of the previous issues also had stamps printed with both normal ink and at times, aniline ink. The stamps affected include 1869-70 Scott 28-30, Scott 32-33, Scott 35-36; 1875-78 Scott 37-38. These aniline ink type stamps are not detailed by Scott, or broken out separately value wise. They are separately catalogued and valued by my Belgian catalogue.

But we do need to talk about the special handling required for aniline dye colored stamps.

Why? Because the ink, from coal-tar, can "bleed", 

Why was it done by postal authorities?

To prevent that bugaboo - reuse of stamps.

Rule #1: Don't wash aniline stamps, they may bleed through to the back. (Some are more susceptible than others.)
Rule #2:  Become aware of which country's stamps and issues are aniline.
Rule #3: Go through collection, and take out already "bled out" aniline stamps, or use them for educating other collectors.
Rule #4: Find good examples (strong colors) of aniline stamps with no bleed-through for one's collection.

The most infamous aniline dye issue was Great Britain's 1883-84 Scott 98-107. The ten stamps are quite possibly the ugliest stamps ever produced by the British. Because of (excessive) counterfeiting concerns, the stamps were produced in "Double fugitive" ink. Caution! These stamps will lose their color with soaking. The "double fugitive" ink could only be produced in two colors: lilac and green.

Aniline red color is particularly susceptible to bleeding through to the back of the stamp (some Australia Penny Reds).

Some aniline inks will fluoresce.

The Dutch Indies have some water soluble issues during the 1930s.

1883 Scott 45 10c carmine "Leopold II"
Louvain (Station) Town/Date cancel
Four more "Leopold II" stamps, each in a different frame, were released in 1883.

His beard is mid-length - not the "methuselah" like look beginning with the next Belgian issue. ;-)

CV is $2+-$30+.

1884 Scott 50 1c gray"Numeral"
Perf 14, Bruges cancel
Between 1884-85, six stamps were issued: Three stamps, the lower denominations, with the 1869-70 "Numeral" design, and three with a new "Leopold II" visage, each visage in its own frame.

Bruges 2016 - pics from my travels
I happened to be in Bruges in March, 2016. If you like medieval fairy tale cities, then Bruges is for you!

Bruges 2016 Canals
Canals, koffiekoeken and Belgian beer, what more is necessary? ;-)

1886 Scott 56 20c olive/greenish "Leopold II"
Malines (station) cancel
Between 1886-1891, five more stamps were released. The 1888 2c purple brown was a numeral (1969-70 issue design), but the remaining four stamps showed the long bearded Leopold II, with each stamp having a unique frame.

Leopold II
We need to say something about Leopold II. What ever good he did as king was far outweighed in the judgement of history by his callous reputation as the personal ruler (yes, private owner!) of the Congo Free State.

The colonial genocide that he was responsible for, sadly, wasn't the only nadir during the Colonial Imperialism era.

End of Part I. Part II to follow.

Deep Blue
1866-67 "Coat of Arms" issue in Deep Blue
Issue intended for newspapers and printed matter
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 75 pages for the stamps of Belgium for the classical era 1849-1940. All categories and spaces are represented if they are in the Scott catalogue. Very impressive indeed!

1884 Scott 51 5c green "Numeral"
Out of the Blue
What I love about doing these blog posts is the journey (the unfolding of the stamp and historical tales) is unpredictable, and surprising. 

Part II to follow...

Note: Map and historical pic scans appear to be in the public domain. Pics of Bruges are my own.

Comments appreciated!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

French Colonies - Bud's Big Blue

French Colonies: Cochin China, Tahiti
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
French Colonies stamps take BB collectors from the “Offices” to the colonies proper, albeit in a generic way since these issues served several colonies -- Martinique, Guadeloupe, Cochin China, Mayotte, Nossi-Be, New Caledonia, Diego Suarez, Gabon, Malagasy (Madagascar), Reunion, Senegal, and Tahiti. 

I tried to collect one cancel from each, but that’s still a work in progress. The header shows two of them, though, one with a large nick. It raises the question of whether or not damaged stamps should be displayed. I kept it solely because of the Tahiti cancel.

Most colonial stamps follow a progression, and the French colonies as a whole provide interesting tracking of these changes. First are stamps of (or very similar to) the colonizing country’s, followed by overprints on these denoting specific colonies; then come insets inscribed with the colonies’ names on generic stamps. 

About 1900, colonies begin getting distinctive stamps of their own, often with local scenes and people. but designed according to the aesthetic of the colonizing country and having insignia representing colonial dominance -- the “RF” on French colonies’ stamps, for example. King George V was fond of this practice for British colonial stamps. 

By the 1940s some native colonial leaders begin to appear and, in the 1950s and 60s when independence movements were in full swing, former colonies issued stamps according to their own political and esthetic tastes -- hot colors, local leaders, scenery of local importance.

For a display of rarer French colonial stamps, see:

French Colonies census: 20 in BB spaces, 26 on supplement page

Jim's Observations
"French Colonies" here strictly refers to the parts of the French Empire, the colonies, that did not have stamps of their own. For the stamp era we are concerned about, the use was between 1859-1906.

The distinguishing feature of the Colony stamps were, prior to 1880, they were issued imperforate, while the French motherland version was (usually) perforated. The Postage dues (1884-1906) were also issued imperforate, while the French version was perforated.

Nevertheless, identifying Colony stamps is very difficult for certain issues, being virtually identical to a French version. The collector will look at imperforate vs perforate, or color (usually a poor determining factor, but read on), or finding a postmark on a used stamp. 

One experienced collector reminded me that the French mainland imperforate issues date from 1849-1952, while the French Colonies imperforate issues were printed in 1871-1876. So, although the same plates were used, the color tints are quite different for the periods. Compare the colors of the possible French Colonies stamps with the mainland circa 1870+ perforated variety, and the color tints should be similar. A very good tip.

French Colonies Blog Post and BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!