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 15, 2021

Armenia 1922 Pictorial Issue: A Close Look at Genuine-Forgery Differences

 

1922 Scott 306 3000r black & green
"Peasant Sowing"
Into the Deep Blue

Jim's Comment: A new talent has arrived. !! Alan (hy-brasil), a  longtime worldwide collector and a former employee of the philatelic auction business, has graciously agreed to submit occasional articles, which should be of interest to all WW collectors. Here is his take on the 1922 pictorial Issue of Armenia.. (Note: All of the scans by Alan showing a full stamp are genuine.)

Armenia once again tried to issue their own stamps, this time in larger formats in two colors each. These have been called the Erivan Pictorials. Like their predecessors, they went unissued as printed. It is remarkable that not only were there four unissued definitive sets for Armenia, but that each was forged at least once. Were there evil printers with too much time on their hands?

 At least one of the forgery types (of which there are several) are sometimes called reprints since they match up with the original designs in size and form. But this can be accomplished by camera reproduction of the originals. These are indeed forgeries. The two lowest value forgeries are most often seen and seem to far outnumber the genuine stamps. Forgeries for the other values are less common but still are plentiful. Forged covers with forged stamps and forged cancels are also known.

 We only show part of one forgery type here for comparison. Therefore, you should use the method used by hunters of wild mushrooms to keep from picking a similar-looking but poisonous species. And that is to match the characteristics of the genuine exactly. If it doesn’t, reject it as a forgery.

 While genuine stamps can be found often enough, you will probably need to complete the set on your own. That is not a difficult task. Then the question that also comes to mind is: why don’t we see forgeries in complete sets?

 There are also supposed color trials that are single color only. I don’t know what to make of these since they do have most of the original characteristics but are slightly different overall.

The 50r and 300r values have been covered earlier:

http://bigblue1840-1940.blogspot.com/2017/06/stamps-of-1919-22-armenia-what.html

so we continue here with the rest of the set.

 I suggest that, for the time being, to disregard gum appearance, paper and colors for forgery detection. Over time, gum and paper can age seriously so are not always reliable indicators. Both genuine and forgeries can come in color shades and can have clean-cut or rough perfs, though not necessarily for every value.

1922 Scott 302 400r blue & pink
"Soviet Symbols"

The 400 rubles shows a hammer and sickle and star.

Genuine / Forgery
Green arrows point to dots, and lack of shading

In the genuine stamp (left), the (pink) dotted decoration along either side fit the space they are given. In the forgeries, they do not. Registration (the proper alignment of the color plates) can be wildly variable in both genuine and forged so the dots may prove hard to use. But in the genuine, also note how the rings and leaves have heavy shading where they overlap.

1922 Scott 303 500r violet & pale lilac
"Crane"
Note shading lines in upper corners are long and fine

The 500 ruble value depicts a stork with a stone tablet at its foot.

Genuine / Forgery
Note rays of stars

The rays of the star on the genuine stamp (left) are broken/dotted. The shading lines in the upper corners are longer and finer than on the forgeries.

1922 Scott 304 1000r dull blue & pale blue
"Man poling a boat"
Note the outline of the star just intersects the second "0" of "1000"

The 1000 ruble stamp shows a man poling a boat. There are intriguing catlike heads on the columns at either side.

Genuine / Forgery
Ripples in the water

The genuine stamp (left) has ripples in the water that are often dotted or broken, and the lines do look like little waves. The forgeries have solid lines, sometimes curving but hardly wavelike. HOWEVER, you can be fooled by a forgery on a type of paper with rough spots that cause the printed lines to break up. The genuine have finer lines and many more breaks in the ripples.

 The extra dot in the inscription in the forgery was mentioned in the earlier post, but that only applies to one of the forgery types. There is also a forgery type where the background color appears to be buff or yellow, particularly when scanned (!) A second check is that on genuine stamps, the curved outline of the second zero of “1000” intersects the outline of the star. The forgeries I’ve found all have the outline of the star (partially) covering the zero.

1922 Scott 305 2000r black & gray
"Harpy"

The 2000 ruble appears to show a harpy. Or it may be just some similar creature from Armenian mythology. How many definitive sets do you know that show mythical animals?

Note the flaws along the bottom border. These may or may not be constant. A lot of minor varieties like this can be found on most if not all values. Of course, they also exist on some forgeries, too.

Genuine / Forgery

On the genuine (left), the lines behind the head are broken and dotted, where the forgery essentially has continuous/solid lines. The genuine also has several ends of the rays from the star ending in fine dots and short lines.

1922 Scott 307 4000r black & light brown
"Soviet Symbols and Mythical Creature"

Yet another mythical creature. Again, what is it? It is not an aralez, which is doglike.

Note that the flaw at lower right is not damage but is missed inking. I’m guessing that it was not constant, but caused by a tiny scrap of paper that was present during printing and then fell off.

This value only exists on thicker toned paper.

Genuine / Forgery
On the genuine (left), the beast is more thoroughly shaded, evident on the rear leg and rump. Perhaps the key is the very short ray from the bottom of the star, missing on the 2 very different type forgeries I’ve found.

1922 Scott 308 5000r black & dull red
"Forging"

The stamp shows a farmer with a scythe, and a blacksmith. Note that the good Communist artist managed to work a hammer and sickle into the design here.

 This value only exists on thicker toned paper.

Genuine / Forgery
Star Rays are the clue

Once again, in the genuine (left), the star has some broken/dotted rays where the forgery has solid lines only. The lower part of the left figure’s robe is similarly shaded, with some dots/breaks in the genuine stamp.

1922 Scott 309 10,000r black & pale rose
Plowing"

The design is of a farmer plowing with oxen.

Genuine / Forgery
Dotted lines vs Solid lines

In the genuine (left), the bottom line of shading in the sky is a short line dotted at the end. In the forgeries, the line is solid and runs nearly to the right frame. The genuine also has many dotted/broken lines in the plowed fields, and the sky has many broken lines. The forgeries have continuous/solid lines.

 The Inflation issues

We can see that the values in rubles are already quite high due to the inflation of the Russian ruble. By the time the pictorials were ready for release, inflation had surged tremendously and made most values obsolete. The pictorials were still issued (or perhaps even reprinted by their appearance), now surcharged with new values using both rubber or steel handstamps. These actually saw use. Scott only separates surcharges by color, but the two methods are clearly distinct with the rubberstamp types having a large first numeral.

 Of course there are surcharge forgeries. Any surcharge on a forged basic stamp is going to be a forgery. Though uncertified, the below examples compare well with ones shown at https://stampsofarmenia.com/?page_id=1816 , Stefan Berger’s excellent online reference for early Armenia . The standard print references by Tchilingarian, et al are now hard to find.

1922 Scott 328 200,000 on 4000r (V)
Rubberstamp

The 200,000r on 4000r with rubberstamp surcharge in purple. The partial blue diamond is a control overprint that does not appear on every surcharged stamp.

1922 Scott 312 10,000 on 50r
Steel Handstamp

1922 Scott 320 30,000 on 500r
Steel Handstamp

Surcharges (above) done with steel handstamps.

Note the interesting heavy shift in the second color on the 30,000r on 500r. The lilac color block at top is from the stamp design above. This may not be particularly uncommon, since for many countries needing to surcharge “leftovers”, the postal authorities used what was on hand without regard to centering and other niceties.

Alan (hy-brasil)

Harpy - Good (Genuine) & Bad (Forgery)
Out of the Blue

Jim's Comment: Wow, did I learn a lot! Thanks Alan for the clear demonstrations of Genuine / Forgery differences. Now, I need to go back and check my own stock. !!

Links

Comments appreciated!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Nauru - Bud's Big Blue

Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

A riddle: what is one of the smallest, most isolated countries in the world but, at the same time, is one of the largest and very near-by countries? In fact, it spreads out almost everywhere.

A Clue

Another clue: It’s small because it’s an eight square mile dot in the Pacific Ocean. It’s isolated because it’s not close to anything except the equator.

Another clue: It’s large because the phosphate rock mined there has been shipped all over the world as fertilizers, animal feed supplements, food preservatives, baking flour, pharmaceuticals, anticorrosion agents, cosmetics, fungicides, insecticides, detergents, ceramics, water treatments and metallurgy additives. There’s a chance that we walk on part of this country every day.

Another riddle: What country was one of the wealthiest per capita a few years ago, but now is among the poorest? They had, then lost, it all.

A Clue

A final riddle: What country used to be called Pleasant Island and was lush with flora and fauna, but now is largely a polluted, strip-mined wasteland? Notice the shore line palms at the left of the clue

A Final Clue

The above philatelic clues, of course, foretell the boom/bust history of Nauru. Freighters were carrying away Nauru back in 1924 when this stamp series was issued, and they continued to do so until the phosphate mines were completely plundered (about 2002). Then, Nauru collapsed. Even Air Nauru’s one jetliner was repossessed.

Judging from the feeder albums I’ve plundered to build my stamp collection, Nauru’s stamps have been spread out almost as widely as their phosphate rock. Mint examples, as most of mine are, cost me less than a comparable amount of phosphate; good used Nauru stamps would likely cost considerably more than phosphate, but I don’t have many of those.

Census: 22 in BB spaces, one tip-in, eleven on the supplement page.

Jim's Observations
What can we say about tiny isolated Nauru?

This little oval shaped phosphate rock encrusted coral atoll is only 8 square miles in area, and is located in the South Pacific Ocean on the equator south of the Marshall Islands. It is surrounded by a coral reef, so only small boats may access the island.

The original settlers were Micronesian and Polynesian. The island was annexed by Germany in 1888, and attached to the Marshall Islands.

As luck would have it- or curse-, Phosphate (From seabird guano) was discovered on Nauru in 1900, and eventually, 80% of the island was strip-mined.

For more on Nauru (If you can stand the depressing narrative), check the original post below...


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Monday, March 29, 2021

Crete - Genuine/ Forgery signs for the British Admin 1898-99 10 & 20 para issues

1898 Scott 3 20pa green 
Genuine
 Into the Deep Blue

Back in my first year -2011- of the blog, I published the Crete blog post with a pic of the 1899 20pa rose, part of the British Administration four stamp issue of 1898-1899. A little more than a year later, in the comments section, Michael Adkins of Dead Country Stamps pointed out that I was illustrating a forged specimen.

This was my reply...

Hi Michael

Thanks for the nice words, and glad I can be helpful.

Your Dead Countries web site is absolutely excellent.

As far as the 1899 "Scott 5" 20pa rose, yes indeed it is a forgery. In fact, I have the complete forgery set (Scott 2-5). ;-)

When I put this blog post together, I did not have have the information to call the 20pa rose a forgery- although I was suspicious.  Now I do.

According to Varro Tyler's Focus on Forgeries (Edition 2000), the small circle with dot above the numerals is incomplete at the bottom, and hence a forgery. As the set is perf 11 1/2,- like the originals-, it was supposedly made by the original printers, Gundman & Stangel of Athens Greece. But the stamps then were not reprinted on the original stone, so they are not reprints- but forgeries.

Tyler also says some of the forgery stock was sold to Francois Fournier, who gave them an 11 perforation. Another forgery from the Gunman & Stangel supply was sold and perforated 11 1/4.

I've made an update note on the Crete blog post, so to not lead people astray.

That is one thing I appreciate about your Dead Countries web site and virtual albums is the meticulousness and accuracy.

Now if I can do likewise. ;-)

Jim

Even today, despite alas! no new posts for the past 3 years, Michaels' site is a treasure trove of information. Check it out!

Well, it is time for me to do a bit of an update on Crete, and I thought - why not- show the genuine/forgery differences for this lithographic issue. So, let's begin...

1898 Scott 3 20pa green 
Genuine
The above specimen, is, in fact, my only genuine copy. !! But, not too surprising, as Varro Tyler did say that forgeries far outnumber genuine stamps. I have eight more stamps - all forgeries! 

I checked the APS Stamp Store site, and they were currently listing eleven stamps from the four stamp issue - again, all forgeries! (Yes, even the APS site is caveat emptor. !!)

My Genuine is on white paper, has a very regular clean cut 11 1/2 perforation, and the printing is nicely done.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green 
Forgery
Here is a forgery, with yellow green color (my genuine has a green color), on yellowish paper (my genuine is on white paper), and very poor (shallow) perfs (almost looks sewing machine perf). The Perf appears 11 1/4 X 11 1/2.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green  Close-up 1
Genuine
Close-up of the genuine shows Tyler's main marker: "The small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is complete at the bottom". Also, note the two smaller circles on either side and the five "leaf" drawings above the dotted circle are clear of any color infilling.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green Close-up 1
Forgery
The forgery has a dotted circle that is incomplete at the bottom (diagnostic). Also note infilling of the right smaller circle.

1898 Scott 3 20pa green Close-up 2
Genuine
Not noted by Tyler, but noted by me, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, the middle (and left-middle) smaller circles are not infilled in my genuine. Since I only have one genuine stamp, I don't know if this is a constant finding for all Genuines. But it is worth a look.


1898 Scott 3 20pa green Close-up 2
Forgery
The Forgery shows,  for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1898 Scott 2 10pa blue
Forgery Example 1
Note: Remember, if you want a closer up view of the stamp, click on it!

The rest of the examples I have are all forgeries. We will note the differences, compared to my genuine already illustrated a bit above.

This forgery is on yellowish paper, has poorly formed shallow 11 1/2 perfs, and the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom. The color is gray-bluish blue.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1898 Scott 2 10pa blue
Forgery Example 2
This forgery is on white paper, but has 11 1/2 poorly formed shallow perfs.

Note the blue color - the other 10pa "blue" forgery (bit above) has a gray-bluish-blue color.

The small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom. 

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 4 10pa brown
Forgery Example 1
The 1899 10pa brown is on yellowish paper, with a perf of 11 1/2 - fairly clean cut.

But the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 4 10pa brown
Forgery Example 2
The second 10pa brown forgery example is on yellowish paper with 11 1/2 perf, with perfs fairly clean cut.

But the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 4 10pa "brown"
Forgery Example 3
The third forgery example is on white paper, with the perfs @ 11, and somewhat rough and shallow. Note the Perf is 11: This is probably a Fournier forgery.

The color is different than the other forgeries also: a chocolate brown color.

Characteristic of forgeries, the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 5 20pa rose
Forgery Example 1
This 20pa rose forgery is on yellowish paper, with fairly clean cut 11 1/2 perfs.

But the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1899 Scott 5 20pa rose
Forgery Example 2
My second 20pa "rose" forgery is on whiter paper, with perf 11 1/2 rough shallow perfs.

But the small circle with the dot centered above the numerals of value is incomplete at the bottom.

Also, for the arabesque design below the numerals of value, all the smaller circles are infilled.

1898 Scott 2 20pa green
Genuine
Out of the Blue
I hope this bit of "show & tell" for the British Administration 1898-99 10 & 20pa issue stamps, showing the forgery differences vs the genuine was helpful.

Note: Crete- Bud's Big Blue post shows further examples of genuines, as well as several used examples. Check it out!

Crete Heraklion Cancel
Note: hy-brasil in comments section (below) points out that these "Heraklion" markers, often mistaken for overprints, are, in fact, "favor" ctos.

Comments appreciated!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Natal - Bud's Big Blue

Natal’s Colonial Badge, Black Wildebeest

Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Natal, so named because Vasco da Gama sailed by there on Christmas Day, 1497, and because Natal is the Portuguese word for Christmas, rested pretty much undisturbed by Europeans until the 19th century, except for a series of shipwrecks along the coast and occasional hunting parties. Then, in July 1824, the British started a settlement.  They wanted trade in ivory, hippo tusks, buffalo hides, cattle and grain.

Although Natal’s stamps adhere strictly to British colonial protocol (crowned heads, usually key types or key plates) and show nothing of what 19th century life might have been like at the southern tip of Africa, matching key events the colony’s history with its postal history requires very little imagination. 

Shaka, the Zulu King who controlled the area surrounding what became Port Natal (Durban), initially welcomed the settlers and ceded them about fifty miles of coastline for their use. When the settlement ran short of medicines, the Zulus escorted the colonizers’ scout to Delgado Bay to get supplies. This era of good feeling was short lived.

Tribute to Shaka first appeared on a South African stamp Scott C57  in 2003

By 1850, when the first Durban post office opened, the fledgling colony was prospering. Trade was good. Dutch families started farming the surrounding area. Meanwhile, relations with the Zulus had been souring. Shaka had died (1828), assassinated by his half-brothers, and, as early as 1835, Zulu resistance to the growing British hegemony had resulted in fierce attacks on settlements. At one point, Durban had to be evacuated.

Having been proclaimed a separate British colony in 1856, Natal produced its first stamps in late Spring 1857. These have embossed British crowns on colored paper and can be found online and at stamp shows, but the price normally exceeds $100 for perfectly stuck examples. So, I’ve settled for a cheap Cinderella that resembles Scott #1 (no embossing). 

Centennial Cinderella

Engraved stamps issued during the 1860s, a time of increasing economic hardship in Natal, have the image of Queen Victoria commonly used in British colonies. In 1859, Natal’s Parliament had passed a “Coolie Law” making it possible to bring in much needed Indian workers for five-year indenture contracts. But, by 1866, all immigration stopped because of the poor economy and, sadly, indentured workers were being poorly treated by White farmers. Durban installed street lights in 1864 although, by 1867, the city could no longer afford oil for them.

Scott #s 10 and 16, stamps for economic hard times

During the early 1870s, the original engraved stamps were frequently overprinted, a practice that often connotes political and economic turmoil. The overprinting may have been undertaken merely to distinguish postal from fiscal usage. The turmoil, however, stemmed from ever deteriorating relations with the Zulus. As Natal’s first typographed stamps were being introduced (1874-1880), matters worsened to the point that the Anglo-Zulu War broke out, and the British were soundly defeated at the battle of Isandlwana (January 1879). Over 2500 of the Queen’s soldiers died. 

Scott #s 51, 52, and 53, stamps for war times

The British quickly retaliated. The Anglo-Zulu War continued until the Zulu’s were decisively defeated at the second Battle of Ulundi, 21 July 1883. This warfare ended, in effect, the traditional Zulu Kingdom. The British cemented control by establishing the separate colony of Zululand, marking the occasion by issuing the Zululand stamps placed at the very end of our BB albums. After a few years, Zululand was incorporated into Natal (1897).

Through the 1880s and 1890s, new Natal stamps consisted of additional values of Queen Victoria key plates and more overprints of earlier issues.

Scott #s 74, 78, 79, and 80, stamps for divisive times

At the same time, Indian citizens grew increasingly concerned about their diminishing rights in Natal. They brought in a London-trained lawyer to help them. The Registration of Servants Act No. 2 of 1888 classified Indians as members of an “uncivilized race.” Free Indians were forced to carry passes or be arrested. The lawyer, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, planned to stay only a few months after his arrival in 1893, but ended up living there for over 20 years. He came to think of himself as being South African as well as Indian. At the time of Gandhi’s arrival, Whites were outnumbered by Indians in the colony. 

Gandhi was living in Durban when the stamps with Edward VII’s image were issued (1902-08), Natal’s final series. Natal joined with the Cape Colony, Orange Free State, and Transvaal in 1910 to form the Union of South Africa. 

Scott #s 84 and 85, stamps for end times

A few years ago I had a brief audience with the current Zulu King, His Majesty Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, at his palace in Nongoma. A descendant from one of Shaka’s fratricidal brothers, His Majesty delights in recounting how his people handed the British army its only defeat in all African history (Isandlwana). 

I had to interrupt the King’s recitation, however, because I was sick -- two flat tires getting to Nongoma on unbelievably washboardy dirt roads and a nearly empty gas tank had frazzled me. His Majesty was displeased. 

And he reported, regrettably, no gasoline was to be found in Nongoma. And he had no interest in stamp collecting.

His Majesty Goodwill Zwelithini in ceremonial garb.

He wore a business suit when I was there.

Roads departing from Nongoma were even more dreadful. We had hoped to spot black wildebeest along the way but, instead, we ran out of gas in an extremely remote area. Friendly Zulus, pitying our plight, brought us gasoline in milk bottles and delicious pineapples that they sliced up with their machetes.

Ton Dietz, former director of the African Studies Centre at Leiden University, has written extensively about the stamps of Africa, including Natal, as an adjunct to his broader interest in African development.  Dietz observes that “Postage stamps, postcards, and other forms of postal heritage are miniature communication tools and tell stories about places, routes, and times.” See his 95-page paper on colonial Natal stamps with extensive illustrations copied from on-line auction catalogs and other sources: https://scholarlypublications.universiteitleiden.nl/access/item%3A2939025/view.

Census: 25 in BB spaces including three of the six official stamps (Edward VII profile), three tip-ins, 24 on the supplement page.

Jim's Observations
Wow! I'm afraid I cannot top Bud's story (above), where he met the current Zulu King. I have met, however, a queen ( Queen Noor, while visiting Petra in Jordan). ;-)


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