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, April 24, 2021

Nepal - Bud's Big Blue

"Sripech and Crossed Khukris"
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

The learning curve for Nepali stamps is as steep as Mt. Everest, and I am no philatelic Sir Edmund Percival Hillary. So, I’ve asked Jim to do the arduous climbing for this post.

The first four stamps on BB’s Nepal page are perhaps the most puzzling stamps in the whole album. The cliché varieties, the fuzzy printings of worn plates, the non-philatelic usages and even some tricky forgeries -- all thrown together in feeder albums and stamp dealers’ stocks -- make a generalist’s head ache. The two scans (below) show my rookie attempts and unstudied acquisitions (at least one stamp on the supplement page is upside down).

Jim's Observations
I agree with Bud that the early stamps of Nepal (A1, A2, A4 designs) are complicated indeed, with the pin-perf. imperf, European wove paper, Native wove paper, and later, telegraph cancels.

Then there are the plates, cliché varieties, various usages, and forgeries, to name a few of the challenges.

First, check out my revised post on Nepal...

I was helped immensely by the fortuitous fact that Dr. Frank Vignola is a member of my local stamp club, and is a recognized expert on Nepal's early issues. (Actually, his father - also named Frank Vignola - was the original expert philatelist/collector of Nepal, and the son - Dr. Frank - continues in the tradition.)

Together, Dr. Frank Vignola and Richard Frajola ( a very well known expert on classical philately) have published an internet version of the Catalog of Classic 1888-1930 Stamps of Nepal

There, is also a link to Dr. Frank Vignola's 128 page (pdf) original research exhibit on Kukris issues (1881-1930).

Well, there is enough information above to keep a collector immersed in the myriad aspects of Nepal philately- for years!

But what if the WW collector wishes to just have an overview?

I asked Dr. Frank Vignola to write an introduction for my Nepal Blog post, and I am also presenting it here... Thanks Dr. Frank!

Going by Scott catalogue numbers is difficult because one number covers several varieties. 

In general there are three types.  The first 1881 issue is on European wove paper.  The second series that runs from 1886 to 1907, and is on native paper.  The third series, that was used for telegraph forms, can be found from 1917 to approximately 1930.  The second and third issue have the black half Anna stamps.

In actuality there are about 30 printings of the 1 Anna and 2 Anna stamps from 1881 to 1930 and about a dozen of the 4 Anna stamps.  These stamps were all printed from the original 1881 plates.

The telegraph canceled stamps are fairly common, as they sometimes would use whole sheets of stamps on a telegraph form.  The rate was something like 2 pice per word. 

1 Anna = 4 pice and the first issue had 1, 2, and 4 Anna stamps.

The first Sri Pashupati issue had 2, 4, 8, and 16 pice that replaced the ½, 1, 2, and 4 Anna stamps.  They kept the postal rates fairly constant for a long time.

Jim's Comment: Thirty printings! No wonder early Nepal stamps are definitely specialty territory, requiring intensive study, and a very good reference collection of books! And the stamps were all printed from the original- or retouched- 1881 plates! And as fact, the known settings total 85 for the 1a (28), 2a (31), 4a (12), and 1/2a (14).

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Comments appreciated!

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:


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
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

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

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

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)

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. !!


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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Comments appreciated!