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 28, 2020

Central Lithuania - a closer look

1921 Scott 40 6m slate & buff
"Poczobut Astronomical Observatory"
Into the Deep Blue
Clearly, one of the more obscure stamp issuing entities for WW collectors is Central Lithuania, which existed on the stamp scene between 1920 and 1922

One can learn more about the history by visiting.......

Original Blog Post & BB Checklist

Central Lithuania - Bud's Big Blue


 Central Lithuania
From Gerben van Gelder's Stamp World History
As one can see from Gerben's map, Central Lithuania was absorbed into Poland in 1922, but was split between Lithuania and the Soviet Union (Poland) in 1939.

And one can learn more by taking a look at the stamps...

A closer look
100 Fennigi = 1 Markka
1921 Scott 4 1m dark brown "Coat of Arms"
Perf 11 1/2
The first Central Lithuania issue of 1920-21 consisted of six typographic stamps (both Perf 11 1/2 and Imperf). The design clearly show where their sentiments lay: to Poland. Note the "Poczta" inscription?

CV is <$1, with used slightly higher in value.

I should mention that this issue (and many issues of Central Lithuania) can be found with color and paper shades.

I should also mention that most of the Central Lithuania stamp issues exist both perf and imperf.

During the Russo-Polish war, the territory was seized by Lithuania. But, under the leadership of Polish General Zeligowski, the territory was recaptured and occupied. During this time, the Central Lithuania stamps were issued. The territory then became part of Poland.

The next issue for Central Lithuania (November 23, 1920; Scott 13-22) consisted of Lithuanian stamps of 1919 that were surcharged in blue or black. I don't have any, and the higher values have been forged. CV is high ($40+-$1,000+).

1920 Scott 24 1m orange "Warrior"
Perf 11 1/2
The next issue of 1920 was lithographed, and had six pictorial and portrait stamps.

The designs are rather eye catching. The "Warrior" stamp (above) and the "Lithuanian Girl" ( see original blog post) are some of my favorites.

CV is <$1 to $3+, with used slightly higher.

1920 Scott 26 4m gray green & buff
"Tower and Cathedral, Vilnius
Perf 11 1/2 & Imperf - Shades
The stamps for this issue can be found in various shades. And remember, most issues are both perforated and imperforated. Scott does not separate out the imperfs and they have same Scott numbers as the perforated examples.

A word to the wise: since Central Lithuania's stamps are mostly lithographed, they provide fertile grounds for forgeries.

Pay attention to perfs, as the forgeries often have different perfs than the genuines.

1920 Scott 27 6m rose & gray
"Rector's Insignia"
This is not a very attractive cancelled stamp, but I would rather have a real genuine cancelled stamp than a "philatelic used souvenir" (CTO and the like). But I suppose this too could be a "souvenir".

1921 Scott 36 2m rose & green, Perf 14 
"St. Stanislas  Cathedral, Vilnius
Perhaps the high point of Central Lithuania's stamp output design wise was the 1921 eight stamp eight design issue (Scott 35-42). 

1921 Scott 41 10m red violet & buff, Perf 14
"Union of Lithuania and Poland"
The postmark date here is December 27, 1921, just before the election to determine Central Lithuania's fate (January, 8, 1922). Actually, with the 27,000 strong Polish occupation army in place, the Lithuanians in the territory refused to vote (considering it a sham), and naturally the election went for Poland. Lithuania refused to acknowledge (accept) the results of the election, and there was considerable tension between the two countries between WW I and WW II.

1921 Scott 42 20m black brown & buff
"Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Adam Mickiewicz"
I should mention that this issue can be found forged. The forgeries have Perf 11 1/2, while the genuines are Perf 14 or Imperf.

CV is <$1 to $1, with used a bit higher.

There is another 1921-22 six stamp six design issue (Scott 53-58) celebrating the opening of the National Parliament and the entry of General Zeligowski into Vilnius. CV is $3+ to $6 with used higher. Alas, I don't have any of these stamps.

1921 Scott B1 25f + 2m red (Black Surcharge)
On Scott Nos 1-6
The 1921 six stamp semi-postal issue consists of regular issue Scott 1-6 surcharged in black or red. The surcharge reads "For Silesia, 2 marks". The stamps were intended to provide funds (in favor of Poland) for the Polish-German plebiscite of Upper Silesia. This time the Germans won.

CV is $1+ with used somewhat higher.

1921 Scott B13 2m + 1 (m) claret
Scott 25 Surcharged, Imperf
In 1921, two stamps (Scott 25-26) were surcharged as shown for use as semi-postals.

CV is $1.

1921 Scott B19 10m + 2m brown & yellow
"General Lucien Zeligowski"
Also, Scott 25-26,28 were surcharged as shown. CV is <$1.

For more on General Zeligowski, see this

1920-21 Scott J1 50f red violet, Perf 11 1/2
"University, Vilnius
Varro Tyler (Focus on Forgeries) has a page on this stamp: the 1920-21 50 fennigi postage due stamp. He states that the forgery, created by a photolithographic process, is impossible to distinguish from the crude original lithographc stamp except for some loss of detail.

However, the genuine is printed on white wove paper, Perf 11 1/2 or Imperf, and has multiple shades: here red violet or lilac red.

1920-21 Scott J1 50f  "purple" (shade) Perf 11 1/2
"University, Vilnius
This is a probable genuine on white wove paper with Perf 11 1/2 and a "purple" or lilac black shade.

1920-21 Scott J1 50f  Imperf  "University, Vilnius"
On Brown paper, Forgery
The forgery is found on "browned" paper, and either Perf 10 1/2 or Imperf. 

1920-21 Scott J5 5m red violet, Perf 11 1/2 
"Castle Ruins, Troki"
The 1920-21 postage due issue consists of six stamps and six designs.

1920-21 Scott J6 20m scarlet, Imperf
"St. Anne's Church, Vilnius"
CV for the issue  is <$1 to $2, with used somewhat higher.

I guess one could say the stamp is so crude, it is almost modern in design. ;-)

Deep Blue
1921 Issue in part  (Scott 35-37)
In Deep Blue (Steiner), there are six pages for the 1920-22 stamps of Central Lithuania. All of the Scott major numbers have a space. I have a quadrilled page for the additional shades found for Scott 1-6.

1921 Scott B14 4m + 1m gray green & buff
Scott 26 Surcharged, Imperf
Out of the Blue
Long forgotten by most except for Polish-Lithuanian history buffs and WW stamp collectors, I would think an interesting collection could be formed if one wishes to sub-specialize. The CVs are modest indeed.

Note: I used Gerben van Gelder's map of Central Lithuania for this blog post. I had general permission from him to use his maps, and as his StampWorldHistory web site is not presently active, I have included it here.


Comments appreciated!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Lourenco Marques - Bud's Big Blue

Portuguese Colonial Post Office
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Lourenco Marques -- since 1976 known as Maputo, Mozambique -- was originally named for the Portuguese sailor who landed there in 1544. Today it may be described as diverse and delightful but, in the same breath, as drab and dilapidated. No one really knows what Maputo means. The poet Abhay K recently wrote “It is just … a river that lends its name to the city of acacias, jacarandas and flames of lush tropical gardens, the proverbial pearl of the Indian Ocean … dotted with colonial palaces and Stalinist boxes” (1)

Neoclassical Railway Station

Much of Lourenco Marques’ old architecture still remains -- some of it late gothic, much of it Portuguese colonial or neoclassical, all of it tattered but charming. Maputo has built alongside its historic buildings stunning new Art Deco, Brutalist, and Modernist structures -- now similarly tattered but, except for the communist era concrete boxes, charming.

Typical 1970s structure
I spent a week in Lourenco Marques/Maputo a while back visiting some of its architectural wonders.  There are many, but none appear on the classic era stamps issued by Portugal. Only a few show up on modern Mozambique stamps. Too bad. A missed opportunity.

Igreja de Santo Antonio de PolanaI, aka the lemon squeezer church

Scott catalogs list more stamps for Lourenco Marques than for any other Mozambique province, except for the areas served by the Nyassa and Mozambique chartered Royal Companies. As the result, more stamps appear on the supplement pages below than in the scans for, say, Quelimane, Inhambane, Zambesia, Tete or tiny Kionga. A close look at the cancellations shows that Lourenco Marques stamps were sometimes used in other provinces.

(1)    Abhay K. Capitals, a Poetry Anthology. New Delhi: Bloomsbury, 2017.

Census: 46 in BB spaces, 1 tip-in, 77 on supplement pages.

Jim's Observations
Lourenco Marques (Named after the Portuguese navigator and explorer)  was part of the Portuguese East Africa Colony (Mozambique Colony), and is located in southeast Africa in the southern part of Mozambique.

The reality was that, within the Mozambique Colony, settlements were scattered, and these outposts by necessity had their own stamps. One can find issues for Lourenco Marques (1895), Inhambane (1895), Zambezia (1894), Quelimane (1913), Tete (1913), Mozambique Company (1892), Nyassa Company (1898), and Mozambique (1877) for the Portuguese East Africa lands. Eventually, the stamps of Mozambique were exclusively used: for Lourenco Marques- in 1920.

Lourenco Marques Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Bud's League of Nations Introduction: Preface, Table of Contents, and Dedication


League of Nations (SdN)
Album Preface

News sources remind us that 2020 marks many anniversaries -- 500 years since Magellan sailed from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, 500 years since Raphael’s death, 400 years since the Mayflower landed on Cape Cod, 250 years since Beethoven’s birth and 200 years since Florence Nightingale’s, 75 years since Franklin Roosevelt and Anne Frank died.

Although these people and events will likely be commemorated with new stamp issues in 2020, as they have many times in the past, the 100th anniversary of the League of Nations’ founding (January 10) is of far greater significance for classical era stamp collectors. The sheer number of League-related issues -- both the official stamps Switzerland provided for the League and the stamps resulting from League-sponsored plebiscites and mandates throughout the world -- warrants such a claim. Sadly, the anniversary will be observed with few new stamp issues. Despite all its efforts, the League failed to prevent a second world war and, so, it was dissolved in 1946. The United Nations has, nonetheless, issued a 10-pane 1.70-franc stamp honoring its predecessor’s centenary.

When Jim visited me last fall, he admired my League of Nations collection and invited me to serialize it on this blog spot. I’m pleased to do that in honor of the League’s 100th.

A few years ago, through the mediation of a dealer, I acquired the bulk of Brian Wickland’s League of Nations stamps. Wickland, an avid and intelligent collector, worked for the US State Department. During the 1970s, he was loaned to the United Nations, becoming an executive officer at the UN Refugee Agency in Geneva. His interest in the League and his collection can be traced to his time in Geneva. His stamps, covers, postcards, photographs and other material comprise most of what will be shown in subsequent posts; I have added only a few items. The organization of the collection and the commentary, however, are mine.

Brian Wickland, 1938-2013
All League of Nations and International Bureau of Labor stamps that are listed with major numbers in Scott’s catalogs will be included in this series of posts, along with most of the minor numbers, an assortment of anomalies, and specimen-overprinted stamps. Related covers, League-sponsored convention cancels, and postcards will also be included, as will other artifacts with connections to the League. In all, there will be more than thirty posts, spread over the entire anniversary year and beyond. These posts are listed in the Table of Contents, below, which is based loosely on the categories used by the United Nations for their League of Nations collection in Geneva.
Curiously, Big Blue Volume I omits entirely the Swiss League of Nations official stamps. An oversight? Perhaps. Perhaps the editors thought, given the League’s nervous fragility in its later years, it would have been impolitic to include them. The omission was partly corrected in 1949 when Volume II came out with spaces for some catalog numbers.
I dedicate this League of Nations album to my father, a veteran of World War I whose enthusiasm for the League faltered as the League itself faltered and a second world war became inevitable. Hope for peace died, but not the love of it. The album is also dedicated to Woodrow Wilson, another man of peace.

The key resource for studying League of Nations stamps is a small volume by Charles Misteli, Etude sur les timbres-poste et oblitérations de la Société des Nations, du Bureau International du Travail et des Conférences Internationales. Published by Club Philatélique et Aéropostal de Genève, 1943. I will refer to it often in subsequent posts. A partial English translation exists. 

As expected, the more expensive League overprints have been faked, often crudely, sometimes dangerously. Resources for identifying forgeries and strategies for avoiding them are available. These will be discussed throughout the posts.
Best wishes to all who select League of Nations stamps as a casual or serious interest. The search for them will yield many insights about good and evil in the 20th century.


When I visited Bud this past October, and saw his League of Nations album, I asked him if he would be willing to include it in the Big Blue Blog postings. 
He agreed, and I am thrilled.
The reader is in store for a treat!

League of Nations (SdN)  
Table of Contents


Table of Contents

Dedication Page

1.    Industrielle Kriegswirtschaft(Switzerland War Board of Trade), a precursor of SdN and BIT overprints: Stamps and covers
10. World Disarmament Conference, Geneva, 1932-34, Lausanne Reparations Conference, 1932
11. 1930s SdN conference cancels and covers
12. Landscape issues, typographed: specimens and covers (1934-35)
13. Landscape issues, engraved, 1937
14. New SdN building, commemoratives: Linear and circular overprints (1938), covers related to the site donor
15. Switzerland History issues, symbolic subjects, high denominations, stamps and covers (1939)
16. Re-engraved landscape stamps (1942-43)
17. Overprints reading “Courrier de la Society des Nations” (1944)
18. Last years of The SdN
19. Oddities and freaks: legitimate variations, overprinting slippage, die re-entries, printing errors, and fakes
20. Stamps issued by countries other than Switzerland regarding the SdN and its meetings
21. Stamps issued by nations under SdN sponsored plebiscites (Allenstein, Saar, Upper Silesia, etc.)
22. The abandoned Wilson Peace Palace of the Nations, a photographic essay
23. SdN Cinderellas
24. International Bureau of Labor (Bureau Internationale du Travail, BIT-ILO),  first issues covers
25. Shield motifs, covers
26. Disarmament conference stamps and covers
27. Landscape series topography, covers
28. Landscape series engraved, covers
29. BIT and SdN buildings, commemoratives, covers
30. Linear and circular overprints reading “Service du Bureau Internationale du Travail” and covers.
31. International Court of Justice

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Latvia - Bud's Big Blue

Ally tells her Story
Note 20 -1 -20 : Ceasefire between  Latvia and Russia
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Bud’s Big Blue posts have reached the midpoint; approximately half of the album’s spaces fall before Latvia, half after.

To honor this occasion, Bud asked me to write a few words. I’m the woman pictured above (on Scott #59). Bud will make his own remarks about passing the midpoint separately. So, I get to tell some of my story here in this guest post.

I’ll begin with a few words about myself. You can call me Ally, that’s short for Allegory, because I personify Latvia’s struggles and her dreams of becoming an independent state following World War I. A guy by the name of Rihards Zarins first drew me in 1916 (see my earlier pic below). Back then, I was ready to fight any and every one single handedly -- Russians, Germans, whomever -- so Latvia could win her freedom.

We proudly proclaimed our independence on 18 November 1918, the date emblazed in the wreath I’m holding. A year later, in 1919, when I was looking somewhat more sedate, I was selected for the first anniversary stamp. Actually, I was tired then. Does it show?  It had been a rough year and hard times had continued. My sword, now resting by my side, seemed heavier than it used to. And independence was still not a sure thing. Sad. If you want a summary of what happened (it’s all very complicated), a reader of Wikipedia has sorted out the details pretty well (see https://thereaderwiki.com/en/History_of_Latvia). It makes me sick to read it, though. I think about the thousands who died. I had inspired them.

You probably noticed the striking cancellation necklace I’m wearing, dated 20-1-20. I’m proud of it. Jim is publishing this post exactly 100 years - four days later. Neat!

The postmaster in Leepaj made several of them to celebrate the cease fire between Latvia and Russia that happened on that day. Even more important, the Russians said they would to leave us alone. But, even so, full freedom didn’t come until ten months later. I’m told necklaces like mine pop up on eBay now and then. Watch for them.

Bud asked me to say something about the other stamps in his album. Well, Big Blue’s actual dead center falls between the fourth and fifth stamps, row 5, on page 2 of the Latvia scans. It’s between stamps with star-studded sunrises, our coat of arms back then. My hat has three stars, too, which makes my face the rising sun, kind of.
You might also find interesting the stamps printed on the back of old maps and bank notes found on Bud’s supplement pages. Paper, like almost everything else, was scarce back then. Don’t tell Bud, but I think some of the airmail stamps on his supplement pages are fakes.

After getting my cancel a hundred years ago, I was passed around from collector to collector and spent 30 years in an album that wasn’t much looked at. Then came seven years in a damp, moldy basement. I had to take a mild Clorox bath before Bud let me in his album. You can still detect a slight rust tinge along my top perforations.

Census: 150 in BB spaces, counting me; one tip-in is hiding behind me, a mint sister #59 who envies my necklace; another 100 can be seen on supplement pages.

Ally in 1916

Jim's Observations
Congratulations to Bud! He is at the midway point in presenting his completely full Big Blue! You will also note that this blog post by Bud is published exactly one hundred years minus four days after the socked-on-the-nose cancellation (20-1-20)  of his "Ally" header stamp and the date of the ceasefire between Latvia and Russia.

Bud - your clever musings for each country found in BB are a real treat. I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say I am looking forward to the second half!

Latvia Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!