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...

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!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

New Zealand - Bud's Big Blue

New Zealand coat of arms, authorized 1911
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

If you’re looking for philatelic treasures, suggests Jared Nicoll, a value sleuth at a news website (stuff.co.nz), drag out your old forgotten New Zealand stamp collection that’s hidden in the closet.

Great idea!

With the high hopes of a kid exploring trunks in grandma’s attic, I rushed to reassess my New Zealands (all scanned, see below). Can you spot the treasure? No?

Well, neither could I.

Interesting stamps, yes. A pile of gold, no.

So, I’ll write about the ordinaries, and nothing in classic New Zealand philately is more ordinary than the lowly Penny Universal postage stamp. Every ragtag album has them, often many of them, some bright carmine, some faded from too much wear. Dealers can’t sell them even for pennies.

Scott #s 100 (perf 14), 100 (perf 11), 103 (hard paper), 129 (redrawn) and 131 (redrawn)

The Penny Universal comes in three similar designs and a host of different shades, papers, watermarks and perforations (including tractor feed holes for vending machines). Scott’s catalog lists 15 of these variations while Stanley Gibbons, an ever more meticulous British catalog, counts 105. In addition, Penny Universals were overprinted to make NZ official stamps and commemoratives. Outlying islands – Niue, Samoa, Cook (Rarotonga) – used overprints of Penny Universals. Does anyone have all, or even most, of these? This is serious specialist territory.

Scott #s NZ o34, Samoa 115, Niue 7, 19, Cook Islands 49

Aitutaki has three different overprints on Penny Universals, all afforded spaces in Big Blue.

Aitutaki #s 2, 10, and19

There’s even a book about this one stamp’s variations:

I’ve not yet bought it

Some variations list for over £1500, a small pile of gold. A few are unique, or nearly so, and command even higher prices if/when they’re available. Upon learning this, I got out my magnifying loop and continued to look. I might find variations for which wacky specialists would pay fortunes.

The first Penny Universal was released on New Year’s Day, 1901. It features Zealandia, the female personification of New Zealand. Scott’s catalog lists her as name as Commerce, although many Kiwis beg to differ. She does have a rather different appearance on the 1911 Coat of Arms (top, left) – hair done up, slimmer. Moreover, in the stamp she wields a caduceus, the classic symbol for protectors of thieves, merchants and messengers. So maybe Scott is right.

The second design (1908) differs from the first in that the globe has slanted shading and the waves are not as high on the steamer’s bow. The third design (1909) has “Universal Postage” on a scroll and “Dominion of” inscribed at the top. Inattentive dealers regularly mislabel the three designs

Comparison of Scott #s 100, 129 and 131
Scan source: https://stampsnz.com/1901_penny_universal.html

A universal postage rate was a bold idea – one penny to send a message anywhere in the world. The Postmaster General Joseph Ward (later Prime Minister) had hoped the idea would encourage other nations to follow New Zealand’s lead, thereby facilitating better international communication. Few did. They feared loss of revenue if they complied. Some even refused to accept mail with Universal stamps, notably the USA, France, Germany and neighboring Australia. The latter’s refusal must have been a great disappointment to Ward.

New Zealand persisted, however, and in a relatively short time increased sales of stamps more than made up for losses from the rate reduction. The postcard (below), recently added to my collection, provides an interesting example. Franked with Scott #129, it was mailed nine years after the first universal stamp was issued. It travelled for a month and ten days from Blenheim, NZ, to Northampton, England, then on to North Malvern. All for one penny. At the time, the rate for sending a letter from Northampton to Malvern, a distance of 60 miles by train, was one penny. 

Postcard with a Penny Universal, Scott #129, carmine

Zealandia also makes an appearance on postal-fiscal stamps beginning in 1931. For some reason, Big Blue Part One omits these stamps, but Part Two has a page for them. Postal-fiscals are revenue stamps that can also be used for postage. The 1911 rendition of the coat of arms served as the model for these stamps, the word “onward” being a clue. It’s missing in later revisions. On these stamps, Zealandia is accompanied by a Māori chief. The Māori, an indigenous Polynesian people, arrived in and settled NZ centuries before the Europeans came.

Scott #s AR48 brown, AR49 red

Of course, many valuable NZ stamps precede the Zealandias and I am sorting through them for the promised pile of gold – especially those issued in the 1850s (see supplement page, top line).

In the early years Māori runners carried some of the mail despite frequent conflicts between the Māori and the European settlers. Maybe some of the earlier stamps in our NZ collections came from letters delivered by Māori mailmen. A 1955 centennial commemorative of NZ stamps, Scott #302, features such a runner. I’ve always liked this stamp even though the background seems to seep through the runner’s legs in many examples. Critics have complained that #302 is overly romanticized and that Māori runners often fared rather poorly. A more realistic image can be found online at https://teara.govt.nz/mi/1966/24331/an-early-maori-mail-runner.

Census: 147in BB spaces, 15 tip-ins, 94 on supplement pages.

Jim's Observations

Wow! I really enjoyed Bud's comments on the penny universals - a very nice introduction indeed. 

Another area of interest for New Zealand would be the Chalon Heads. The "Chalon Head" image of Queen Victoria, based on the portrait of the Queen on her coronation in 1837 by Alfred Chalon, was used from 1855-1873 on the first 50 Scott numbers. Generally expensive, with many variations in perforation, the WW classical collector may need to be content with a few representative stamps. The stamp is either found unwatermarked, or with watermark 6 "Large Star".

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Comments appreciated!