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...

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Ecuador: 1908 Stamp Issue for the Opening of the Guayaquil-Quito Railway

1908 Scott 174 1c red brown "Locomotive"

Into the Deep Blue

In 1908, Ecuador completed one of the most audacious engineering marvels of the early 20th century: namely, the completion of the railway from 8000 foot Quito to the lowland coastal city of Guayaquil. 

Modern Map of Train Route following the "Avenue of the Volcanoes"

An extensive quote, from the Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture (Encyclopedia.com), is here...

"During the late nineteenth century, Ecuador sought to emulate the success of other nations that had used railroads to create commercial opportunities and to spread modernity. However, railroads are a technology poorly suited to Ecuador's rugged Andean topography."

1908 Scott 175 2c blue & black "Garcia Moreno"
"Under the initiative of President Gabriel García Moreno (1861–1865, 1869–1875), in the 1860s Ecuador began construction of a rail line from the port of Guayaquil to the mountain capital in Quito. Work went forward haltingly."

Modern Tourist Train on the Route

"The line, completed in 1908, proved an astonishing engineering feat, rising some 10,000 feet in but 50 miles, crossing the Chan Chan River some twenty-six times. The 281-mile line reduced travel time between the coast and the capital from two weeks to about twelve hours."

During Construction, near Quito, 1908

"Unfortunately, the railway proved as expensive to operate as it had been to build, and the enterprise almost never showed a profit. The high hopes for it proved unrealistic: The sierra remained economically isolated. Worse, servicing the foreign debt incurred in building the railroad became a bitterly contentious issue."

Baldwin 2-8-0 of the G&Q Line 

1908 Scott 176 5c claret & black "Gen. Eloy Alfaro"

"Over the next four decades, the Southern Railway claimed many more lives,
including Eloy Alfaro, the president credited with completing it. Rightist thugs sent by the opposition captured Alfaro and a group of his supporters, transported them to Quito on the train, and turned them over to an angry mob. Aside from the deaths of two presidents, the arduous task of linking the coast with the capital killed at least two thousand indigenous and Jamaican workers."

Well, if you are Ecuador, wouldn't you commemorate this feat with a stamp issue?

1908 Scott 177 10c ocher & black "Abelardo Moncayo"

And so seven stamps were issued June 25, 1908 for this purpose.

1908 Scott 178 20c green & black "Archer Harman"

Ecuador, as did many of the other Central and South American countries, contracted with London or New York printing firms for their stamp needs.  Most of the time there is no indication on the stamp which printing firm produced the issue: But here "Waterlow & Sons Limited, Londres" is clearly announced.

1908 Scott 180 1s black "Mt. Chimborazo"

What is interesting about this issue is Ecuador has "triangles" for five of the seven stamps in the set. !! Clearly, since the Cape of Good Hope triangle issue in 1853, "triangles" are beloved by stamp collectors, and postal administrations, hoping to add to their money coffers, are happy to oblige them. ;-)

In addition, the "triangles" are bi-colored": another favorite of collectors. And engraved!!!

Ecuador's issues from 1899 to 1928 (some 55 stamps) are bi-colored and engraved and remarkably inexpensive CV wise. True, most of the stamps only show center portraits of Ecuadorian notables, but they are very well done indeed. Even after a 100 years, these stamps are CV cheap, no doubt reflecting the supply/demand curve. 

This set of seven stamps is a little bit more CV wise than other stamps of the era, and has increased  in the Scott catalogues (2011 to 2020) from $10+ unused to $14 unused, and $20 used to $28 used for the set.

1908 Scott 179 50c gray & black "James Sivewright"
Out of the Blue

If I had to pick a region of the world to collect, considering the relative expense, South America would be high on my list!

Note: pics of the era are from the quoted articles, and are used here for educational purposes.

Comments appreciated!

Friday, December 17, 2021

Nova Scotia - Bud's Big Blue

US #1 red brown, Nova Scotia #9 lilac
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Nova Scotia (NS) stamps might well have looked more like the image on the left (above) than the one on the right. Not only did Nova Scotia almost join the American Revolutionary War, but Franklin owned some 2000 acres there and organized their first official post office. Moreover, many New Englanders had moved to NS and were sympathetic to the revolutionary cause.

It was not to be, however. Details can be found at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-nova-scotia-almost-joined-american-revolution-180963564/

It’s worth noting that forgeries exist for all NS stamps. To me, the forgeries of the decimalized Victoria portraits appear to have a pouting lower lip or are bug eyed and, therefore, reasonably easy to detect.

 Census: five in BB spaces, three tip-ins, three on the supplement page including a cover.

Jim's Observations

The gorgeous ( to my eyes) Queen Victoria 1860-63 six stamp issue can be found in either white or yellowish paper. Sometimes one is the minor number in Scott, sometimes another. Interestingly, unused and used values are approximately the same (except for the 5c blue $400/$10+ valuation). Apparently, after Nova Scotia joined the Confederation, most of the unused Nova Scotia stamps became available on the philatelic market. This probably explains the relatively inexpensive CV for unused.

BTW, if one has a modicum of interest in the stamps of Canada, and former provinces and colonies, pick up the Unitrade specialized Canadian catalogue.

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Comments appreciated!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Danzig 1924-32 Scenes of the Free State Issue

Engraved close-up: "Oliva Castle and Cathedral"
1924 Scott 193 1g
Into the Deep Blue

The "Free City and State" of Danzig came under the protection of the League of Nations in 1920.

For more on the background history and the original post, see...

Danzig Blog Post & BB Checklist

The stamp issues are fascinating, and worth a closer look.

1924 Scott 193 1g yellow green & black
"Oliva Castle and Cathedral"

One of the issues that caught my eye is the "Scenes of the Free State" stamps released between 1924-32. They have exquisite line engraving center scenes. 

1924 Scott 194 1g orange & gray black
"Oliva Castle and Cathedral"

The 1 Gulden stamps in the issue consist of the Scott 193 "yellow green & black" (2/22/24), the Scott 194 "orange & gray black" (11/28/24), and the Scott 194a "red orange & black" (5/1932). All have watermark 125 (Lozenges).

Of interest, there is a 1938 Scott 233 1g "red orange & black". It is 32.5 X 21.25 mm, while the 1924 example is 31 X 21 mm.  The 1938 issue has watermark 237 (Swastikas).

Engraved close-up: "Oliva Castle and Cathedral"
1924 Scott 194 1g

Great scene.

1924 Scott 195 2g red violet & black
"Mottlau River & Krantor"

The 2 Gulden red violet & black was issued 9/22/24.

Engraved close-up: "Mottlau River & Krantor"
1924 Scott 195 2g

The line engraving scene is done well enough, that it wouldn't be out of place hanging in an art museum.

1924 Scott 196 2g rose & black
"Mottlau River & Krantor"

On 11/28/24, only two months since the initial 2g red violet & black stamp was issued, a same denomination 2g rose & black was released. The 2g red violet & black is $45 unused, while the 2g rose & black is CV $3+. Perhaps the difference between CVs is related to the short time the 2g red violet & black was in circulation.

1924 Scott 197 3g dark blue & black
"View of Zoppot"

Don't you agree that Danzig's stamps are particularly well designed? I think it may be due to the popularity of stamp collecting then, and Danzig (as a small entity) could fill it's coffers with money from said stamp collectors if the stamps were attractive to them.

Engraved close-up: "View of Zoppot"
1924 Scott 197 3g
A close up of the 3g center engraving.

1924 Scott 198 5g brown red & black
"St. Mary's Church"

Both the 5g and 10g stamps are considerably more CV expensive "used" as opposed to "unused" (5g: $8+ vs $4+; $110 vs $21).

Engraved close-up: "St. Mary's Church"
1924 Scott 198 5g

Incredible line engraving. No wonder I prefer "classic era" stamps. ;-)

1924 Scott 199 10g dark brown & black
"Council Chamber on the Langenmarkt"

Danzig must have made a "mint", so to speak, with selling there stamps to collectors "unused".

Engraved close-up: "Council Chamber on the Langenmarkt"
1924 Scott 199 10g
Out of the Blue

I hope you enjoyed these enlarged center line engravings. What artistry!

Comments appreciated!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

North West Pacific Islands - Bud's Big Blue

Australian World War I soldier’s khaki felt slouch hat
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Australia’s first skirmish in World War I involved capturing a wireless installation in German New Guinea. They did this with dispatch and, ten days later, the German governor surrendered everything (September 21, 1914). Then, together with New Zealand forces, they went on to eliminate other German South Pacific holdings. Germany’s Pacific forces were unexpectedly weak and easily thwarted.

By the end of 1914, Australia controlled the area. Early in 1915 they set up a military occupational force that remained in place for the duration of the War. New Zealand’s part of the story will be picked up in the forthcoming Bud’s Big Blue post for Samoa.

Australia’s soldiers and occupation officials, not surprisingly, wanted to send letters home. And the military government needed stamps that hyped their presence. Old German colonial postage wouldn’t do.

New Britain #15 (not in my collection)

They came up with two stopgap solutions. In October 1914 existing German New Guinea and Marshall Island stamps were overprinted "G.R.I." (Georgius Rex Imperator, referring to the incumbent British King) and surcharged in Australian currency. Befouling the Kaiser’s imperial yacht, Hohenzollern II, must have been gratifying for the triumphant Aussies. Probably unbeknownst to them, the Germans had already decommissioned Hohenzollern II (July 1914).

New Britain #3 (not in my collection)

Scott’s catalog lists 42 varieties of these sullied Hohenzollerns under the heading of New Britain, but Big Blue (BB) provides no spaces for them. Stanley Gibbons counts 79, plus many minor variations. Supplies were limited and the stamps quicky became too expensive for representative collections.  They still are.

NWPI #s16 orange, 17 orange brown, 34 blue green (Nauru cancel)

In March 1915, the GRIs were replaced by Australian stamps with "N. W. Pacific Islands" overprinted.  BB provides room for seven of these. The NWPIs continued in use until 1924, three years after the League of Nations mandated the territory to Australia, thereby ending the military government and replacing it with a civilian administration. Scott lists 49 NWPIs while Stanley Gibbons SG has 59 plus a host of variations.

Germany lost all its colonies after the war and, for several years, ceased having influence in the South Pacific.

Most of the world, except for Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific islands, has forgotten the history behind these stamps. BB’s seven NWPIs help us remember.

They are unremarkable from a design point of view – roos and royalty with black overprints. Yet a lively group of specialists and “fly-speck” lovers emerged because the overprints are not always neat. Some NWPI devotees detect a purple color variation in the overprints, but Stanley Gibbons says it probably isn’t the case, at least not anymore even if it might have been many years ago. The overprints now all look black. The Australian stamps, moreover, had their own anomalies before being overprinted – die variations, slight design flaws, color shades and inverted watermarks.

So, specialist have a NWPI playground. If you’re interested in fly speck mania, check out “The Overprints of NW Pacific Islands - New Guinea 1914-25” at https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=60313.

 If, on the other hand, you’re more interested in the role of philately in the complexity of New Guinea’s history, I recommend as a starting point:


 By scattering New Guinea and Pacific island stamps throughout the album, BB does a poor job of presenting a coherent picture of the region’s philately. One needs to traipse through separated sections for German New Guinea, Marshall Islands, NWPI, New Guinea, Nauru, Samoa and….

 My NWPI collection has two cancelled stamps, both from Nauru. One is marked Pleasant Island, that being the name given to Nauru by early European voyagers. Although the Pleasant Island label persists as an unofficial name, today Nauru is not so pleasant. See why in Bud’s Big Blue post for Nauru (click here).

The other (see above) is a radio station cancel, hence it’s non-postal. For a discussion of radio station cancels, see https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?t=3370.

NWPI #11 carmine (Nauru cancel)

Census: seven in BB spaces, three on supplement page.

Jim's Observations

Per Bud's discussion on cancels, these are my comments for my collection shown in link below..

"Note the "Rabaul" and "New Britain" postmark? The "N.W, Pacific Islands" overprinted stamps were mostly used on New Britain and Nauru during the 1915-22 period of use. 

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Comments appreciated!

Monday, November 22, 2021

United States 19th Century: Most attractive stamps

U.S. 1898 Scott 292 $1 black
"Western Cattle in Storm"
Into the Deep Blue

Is this the most beautiful stamp ever issued by the United States during the classical stamp era? How about ever in the world? In 1934, the "Western Cattle in Storm" stamp was voted a close second by readers of Stamps magazine, just edged out by the Canadian "Bluenose". 

My example (above) thankfully does not show a heavy killer cancel.

And the design with the cattle caught in a storm? Iconic!

1897 "The Vanguard" by James McWhirter 
Western Highlands of Scotland

It turns out the original painting by James McWhirter depicts not the American West at all, but the Western Highlands of Scotland! 

Nevertheless, I agree it is an extremely attractive stamp. Should we look for other contenders in my 19th century U.S. collection? One has to remember, though, that I have a general WW 1840-1940 collection, and do not specialize in the U.S., although it is my home country. 

1847 Scott 2 10c black 
"George Washington"

This Scott 2 stamp, with a blue "PAID" cancel and ample margins, is very attractive indeed. 

1857 Scott 24 1c blue, Type V

The "large head" blue Franklins of 1851-57 are lovely, and offer the collector five types of cut or recut lines in the frame ($--$$$$). U.S. stamps during the 19th century (and also the first half of the 20th century) are all essentially engraved, and offer exquisite detail within the design. 

1861 Scott 69 12c black

Although the design and presentation is very important, certainly an unused or lightly cancelled specimen that is well centered enhances the appeal. This specimen does cut into the perfs at the bottom: not unusual for the era.

1862 Scott 70a 24c brown lilac

Let's admit it: a rarer or more valuable stamp is going to appear more attractive. That is why I am showing this 24c stamp, rather than the 3c rose in the set that has a 100x less CV. ;-)

1863 Scott 73 2c black
"Andrew Jackson"

The large head "Black Jack" stamp is iconic within the U.S. 19th century issues, and here is mine.

1869 Scott 113 2c brown
"Post Horse and Rider"

It is hard to get a well centered and lightly cancelled specimen within the 1869 set. Nevertheless, fairly attractive. Note the legs of the horse while galloping: a physical impossibility.

1869 Scott 119 15c brown & blue TII 
"Landing of Columbus"

Bi-colors are not common for U.S. 19th century stamps. 

1870 Scott 153 24c purple
"Gen. Winfield Scott"

Fancy Cancels by the NYC Foreign Mail Office (NYFM) : attractive or no?

1870 Scott 155 90c carmine
"Commodore O. H. Perry"

An example of an off center moderately cancelled specimen made attractive by the high denomination.

1873 Scott O61 7c dark green
State Department Official
"Edwin M. Stanton"

Official stamps used by the various departments of government- here the State Department. 

1890 Scott 219D 2c lake

I chose this 2c because I love the "lake" color, compared to the more typical "carmine" color.

1893 Scott 233 4c ultramarine
"Fleet of Columbus"

I must admit - I really like designs illustrating sailing ships.

1895 Scott 274a 50c red orange

An unusual or bold color stands out.

1898 Scott 292 $1 black
"Western Cattle in Storm"
Out of the Blue

For me, the "Western Cattle in Storm" stamp edges out the Scott 2 10c black "Washington" stamp as my current favorite. What is your favorite U.S. stamp? Favorite World stamp?

Note: "The Vanguard" 1897 painting illustration by James McWhirter is shown here for educational purposes.

Comments appreciated!