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...

Friday, February 14, 2020

Ceylon 1861-1900 Victorian era - a closer look

1881 Scott 20 5p orange brown
Wmk 6 "Large Star"
Into the Deep Blue
Ceylon is a delight for WW collectors. But realistically, because it is an attractive British Crown Colony with stamp production from 1857-1949, CV prices are rather high, and there are some earlier stamps that are beyond the reach of many collectors.

But there are still many stamps that a modest wallet can collect.

With that in mind, I will present three Ceylon blog posts: this one (1861-1900); then 1903-1935; then 1935-1947. I hope the stamp journey will be found enjoyable.

From Gerben van Gelder's Stamp World History
Ceylon is just off the Indian mainland, separated by the Gulf of Mannar. It has been under British rule since 1796, and a crown colony since 1803. The capital was Colombo.

Original Ceylon Blog Post & BB Checklist

1861-1900 Victorian Era - A closer look
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
100 Cents = 1 Rupee (1872)
1881 Scott 20 5p orange brown "Queen Victoria"
Wmk 6 "Large Star"; White Paper; Clean-cut Perf 14 to 15 1/2
If I was to concentrate on a Victorian era stamp period, the 1857-1867 Ceylon issues with this classic portrait of the Queen would be very high on the list.

This engraved design (A1) is catalogued in Scott on 35 examples, with many more if one includes minor numbers. The issues are divided by printer (Perkins Bacon early, De La Rue later); paper (blued vs white); Imperf (1857-59) vs Perforated ( 1861-67); Types of Perfs (Clean cut Perf 14 to 15 1/2, Rough Perf 14 to 15 1/2, and Perfs 12, 12 1/2, 13); and watermark (none, Wmk 6 "Large Star", Crown Colony Wmk 1a, and Wmk 1b).

Needless to say, these issues are a bit complicated, although with examination, one should be able to sorted them out.

I count seventeen major number A1 design stamps that are over CV $100 ($120-$4000+). But there are also four stamps with CV of $10 or less.

Wmk 6 "Large Star"
All of the 1857 Imperfs (13 stamps) have Wmk 6, while the clean and rough Perf 14 to 15 1/2 issues of 1861 (21 stamps) are also Wmk 6 "Large Star".

The later issues (De La Rue printer) are either unwatermarked, or have two types of Crown Colony Wmk 1 (1a, 1b). Consult Scott and Stanley Gibbons for specifics.

1872 Scott 63 2c brown, Wmk 1
Perf 14
The 1872-80 typographic issue was on Crown Colony Wmk 1 paper, and consisted of eleven stamps, each with the same portrait of Victoria and a different frame design.

CV varies from $1+ to $70+.

1872 Scott 67 16c violet, Wmk 1
Perf 14
Here is another stamp in the 1872 issue, with a different frame design. These stamps and the rest of the Ceylon issues through 1927 were produced by De La Rue.

1872 Scott 71 48c rose; Wmk 1
Perf 14
And another 1872 issue example: Note that the currency has changed to Cents/Rupee.

1884 Scott 89 4c rose, Wmk 2
Between 1883-89, a ten stamp issue on Wmk 2 paper ("Crown and C A") was released. The five designs were based on the previously released 1872-80 issue. Some of the stamps are the same color as the 1872-80 issue, some of the stamps are in a different color. One may need to watermark (Wmk 1 vs Wmk 2) in order to place the stamp in the correct issue.

CV ranges from <$1 to $180.

1885 Scott 117 5c on 4c rose
Wmk2; Perf 14
Issues of 1883 Scott 88 4c lilac rose Surcharged 
Between 1882 and 1899 there were many stamps (56!) that were surcharged a different value.

In 1885, twenty-nine stamps were surcharged, using the issues of 1872-82. The above is an example.
CV is $6 to a high $3,000+!.

1885-87 Scott 124 5c on 8c lilac
Types of 1872-80 Surcharged
Between 1885-87, seven stamps were surcharged, using three surcharge types. The stamps, based on the 1872-80 issue, were also "types": they are a different color than the 1872-80 issue.

1886 Scott 131 5c lilac Type I
Thin Lines in background, Hair and Curl clear
Now, this is interesting. The 1886 5c lilac was a warhorse stamp - it was used a lot. Consequently, the plates became worn. Six plates were used between 1885 and 1901. Scott gives a minor number to examples from worn plates.

The fresher plates (Scott 131 major number) gave stamps with thinner lines and more detail.

1886 Scott 131a 5c lilac Type II
Thicker Lines, Heavier shading under chin
While the worn plates show heavier shading under the chin and thicker lines. Curiously, Stanley Gibbons mentions the changes the worn plates give, but does not give a special catalogue number to them. Yet, Scott gives a minor number (Scott 131a) for the changes.

1900 Scott 141 75c black & orange brown
Wmk 2
Between 1886-1900, a ten stamp issue with the above design was released.

CV is <$1 to $9.

1888-90 Scott 143 2c on 4c lilac rose
Issue of 1883-84 Surcharged
In 1888-90, two stamps (1883 4c lilac rose and the 1884 4c rose) were surcharged "2c" as shown.

1888-90 Scott 151 2c on 4c rose
Another example of the 1888-90 "2c" surcharges: Here on a 4c rose.

In total, for 1888-90, there were ten stamps with "2c" surcharges (five surcharge types).

CV ranges from <$1 to $37+.

1890 Scott 152 5c on 15c olive green
Scott 136 Surcharged
In 1890, a single stamp (15c olive green) was surcharged as shown.  Although the basic surcharged stamp CV is modest (CV $2+), Scott lists some eight errors with the surcharge, many with high CVs (up to $2,000+).

1892 Scott 155-156-157 
Issues of 1883-86 Surcharged
In 1892, Scott 88,69 and 139 were surcharged as shown. CV (unused) is $1+ to $7+.

1899 Scott 159 6c on 15c olive green
Finally, the 15c olive green was surcharged 6c in 1899. CV (unused) is $1+.

1900 Scott O9 2c orange brown
Regular Issues Overprinted in Black or Red
Between 1895-1900, the regular issues on Wmk 2 paper were overprinted in black or red for use as Official stamps. (The exception is the 1r12c claret, which is on Wmk 1 paper.)

1900 Scott O14 15c ultramarine
The 1895-1900 Official issue, overprinted "On Service", consists of eleven stamps.

1895 Scott O16 30c violet & orange brown
Clearly, the Official issue stamps are not rare, as the CV ranges from <$1 to to $4 for ten stamps.

Deep Blue
1886-1900 "Victoria" Issue; Wmk 2
Deep Blue (Steiner) has ten pages for the Victorian era (1857-1900) for Ceylon. All of the major numbers have a space, and the also the Wmk 1b minor number 1863-67 issue (10 stamps).

I should mention that the 1857-1867 issues on four pages (68 spaces) will, for the most part, be sparsely populated, as many are CV expensive.

1888-90 Scott 144 2c on 4c rose "Victoria"
Wmk 2; Issue of 1883-84 Surcharged
Out of the Blue
A study and sub-specialization of the Victorian era stamps of Ceylon would be rewarding. Inverted and reversed watermarks, overprint (surcharge) print errors, and multiple shades are just a few of the areas that are ripe for study.

Note:  I used Gerben van Gelder's map of Ceylon 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.


  1. Question: Are all of the 1b watermarks for Scott #'s 46-59 reversed?

  2. Great post, from Sri Lanka and recently discovered my dad's schoolboy collection which I wanted to continue. This is a great starting point for me.