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, January 28, 2022

Egypt 1866 Issue

Egypt 1866 Scott 3 20pa blue
Surcharged in Black - Turkish Suzerainty
Into the Deep Blue

Egypt was part of a Turkish Suzerainty until 1914, when a British protectorate was declared. When Egypt was part of Turkey, a series of governors owed nominal allegiance to the Sultan of Turkey.

Note: The original blog post & BB checklist for Egypt is here. In there I say...

"In reality, since the Suez Canal was built with the French in 1869, the Egyptian government with the Head of State, the Khedive from 1867 to 1914, and the Sultans after 1914,  were required to have French and British controllers in the Egyptian cabinet. But finally, an independent Kingdom was established in 1922."

The first stamp issue under the Turkish Suzerainty was a series of seven definitives released January 1, 1866. Let's take a closer look at that first issue.

40 Paras = 1 Piaster

Egypt 1866 Scott 1 5pa greenish gray
Lithographed, Wmk 118
Surcharged in Black - Turkish Suzerainty

All of the stamps are lithographed (save one typographed: the 1pi) by Pellas Brothers of Genoa. They are surcharged in black with the lowest group of characters indicating the value.

Wmk 118 Pyramid and Star

The 1866 issue is on watermarked paper (except 1pi with no watermark) showing a Pyramid and Star (Wmk 118). This is the only issue of Egypt showing this watermark.

Egypt 1866 Scott 2 10pa brown
Surcharged in Black - Turkish Suzerainty

One will note that each denomination has a unique design.

Egypt 1866 Scott 3 20pa blue
Surcharged in Black - Turkish Suzerainty

Stamps are usually perforated 12 1/2, but many other perforations exist (13, 12 1/2 X 13, 12/12 X 15, 13 X 121/2,), which are of higher CV ($60-$550). So it behooves the collector to check perforations. My examples are all 12 1/2.

Egypt 1866 Scott 4 2pi yellow
Surcharged in Black - Turkish Suzerainty

Of interest, the 2pi yellow (above) has been found on cover as a bisected diagonal for a 1pi value. The bisected value was authorized for use between July 16-31 at Alexandria or Cairo. CV (on cover)  $3000. 

Egypt 1866 Scott 7 1pi rose lilac
Typographed, Unwatermarked
Surcharged in Black - Turkish Suzerainty

The 1pi rose lilac (claret) was issued typographed, and without watermark. The CV for the seven stamp definitive issue ranges from $5+ to $300+.

H.R, Harmer NY 2016 Worldwide Rarities Auction
Egypt (to 1922) Lot 11
1866 registered cover Cairo to Tanta
1866 Scott 4 2pi yellow & Scott 7 1pi rose lilac

This is a reminder that classic era stamps often have much more value if left on cover. The 2 pi yellow and 1pi rose lilac are CV ~$60 off cover. Here, on cover: $5000!

Out of the Blue

Most of us are familiar with the "Sphinx and Pyramid" Egypt designs from 1867-1906. But, I'll bet few of us would recognize the 1866 stamps as being Egyptian!

Note: Cover illustration from internet is from an H.R. Harmer auction, and is shown here for educational reasons.

Comments appreciated!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Nicaragua - Bud's Big Blue

Arms of Nicaragua (United Provinces of Central America), 1823-25
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Nicaragua’s stamps fill more pages in my Big Blue than those of any other country – 19 original album pages and 22 supplement pages. Why? Overprints and double overprints, anomalies (inversions, color shades, imperfs, misperfs, fold-overs), trial proofs, official stamps, unofficial officials, and split currency areas (silver in the east, paper money in the west). Add to these the irrelevant and unusable stamp values produced by Nicolas Seebeck, Nicaragua’s favored printer in the late 19th century. Nicaragua album pages fill quickly with many redundant mint images.

This excess, however, is not without attractiveness and historical interest. Take, for instance, the frequent appearance of the liberty cap, el gorro frigio, sometimes hoisted on a pike atop a mountain and sometimes floating mid-air.

El gorro frigio

The roughly conical cap with a floppy top originated in ancient Phrygia. It was adopted during 18th century American revolution as a symbol for freedom from colonial oppression, although the ancient cap had nothing to do with freedom. Nevertheless, Nicaragua follow suit.

Scott #s 1 dark blue, 54 slate, 103 violet, 305 green and chestnut, o128 carmine
(Remember to click on an image to enlarge it)

On stamps, the cap hovers over the five volcanic mountains that represent the five Central American countries -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Usually the cap is very small, as on Scott #o128, and easily mistaken for a crucifix or overlooked altogether.

Scott# 54, cap magnified

Beyond the USA and Nicaragua, many countries in Central and South America have adorned stamps and coins with Phrygian caps, including Mexico and Argentina.

Liberty with a Phrygian cap on a pike, USA one cent, 1795

 Scott #305 has a close resemblance to the Nicaragua coat of arms – a triangle showing a free floating, glorified cap, as well as the water of two oceans, perhaps a hope-inspired rainbow, and the five mountains. A second cap can be seen below the triangle in an image similar to Scott #54.

A particularly interesting and treacherous area of Nicaraguan philately is the local stamps of Cabo Gracias a Dios and Bluefields. These are mostly regular Nicaragua stamps overprinted for use in the eastern part of the country where currency was denominated in silver; they’re treacherous because the double and sometimes triple overprints are expensive and easily faked (Scott’s catalog says so).

Scott #s 2L50 violet, 2L1 plum, 2L16 plum, unlisted yellow, 2L31 slate

Cabo Gracias a Dios is thought to have been named by Christopher Columbus in 1502 in thanksgiving for deliverance from rough seas, perhaps a hurricane. The above scan shows four hand-stamped Cabo overprints, the most impressive being the yellow one peso with a clear Cabo cancellation. Sadly, Scott doesn’t list it as a legitimate stamp. So, I tend to regard it as a fancy flimflam. But then, there are hundreds of unlisted and unauthorized hand-stamped surcharges.

Bluefields, located south of Cabo on the Atlantic coast, derives its name from Abraham Blauvelt, a Dutch pirate in the early 17th century. The stamps commonly have two overprints, a capital “B” for Bluefields and “Dpto Zelaya” for the Province of Zelaya, the latter overprint being the smaller. Inking and clarity vary greatly.

Scott #s 1L22 carmine rose, 1L2 vermilion, 1L3 green, 1L13 violet, 1L67 blue and black

 Largely isolated from the rest of the country, Bluefields was only recently connected by a highway to the western part of Nicaragua. Railways in eastern Nicaragua were a political dream (although a philatelic reality). Ferrocarril de Nicaragua never delivered mail (or anything else) to Bluefields or Cabo.

Hence the double irony of Scott #s 1L109-1L123: locomotives are featured on the one series of stamps issued specifically for purchase with the silver coins of eastern Nicaragua, a place without trains. Moreover, in 1912, the year after this series was issued, Ferrocarril de Nicaragua changed its name to Ferrocarril del Pacifico de Nicaragua. A gesture of honesty, I suppose. The last effort to extend rail service to the Atlantic succumbed in 1909, never to be revived.

Scott #s 1L111 orange brown, 1L119 brown and black, and 1L120 olive green

The philatelic locomotive is generic, not a likeness of Nicaraguan rolling stock. Produced by Waterlow and Sons of London, this series must have been printed in excessive numbers for, within a matter of months, they were overprinted for use in the silver-bereft western part of Nicaragua. Regardless, the series has become popular with collectors.

Recently, appreciation of Nicaragua’s stamps has grown, in large part, because of the pioneering work of the Nicaragua Study Group, NICARAO, and their website http://www.bio-nica.info/NICARAO/00-NICARAO.htm. Beginning specialists and even worldwide collectors will find their work helpful. For a discussion of Seebeck’s impact on Nicaraguan philately, see https://www.linns.com/news/postal-updates-page/seebeck-made-many-cheap-stamps-for-collectors.html.

Census: 568 in BB spaces, 28 tip-ins, 603 on supplement pages.

Jim's Observations

Nicaragua was one of the Central American countries that agreed to let Nicholas Frederick Seebeck and the Hamilton Bank Note Company print their stamps in exchange for unlimited reprinting rights.

From 1890-99, regular, postage due and official stamp sets were printed yearly. Even today, most of these stamps can be had  "mint" for pennies.

The good news for classical WW collectors is most stamps of Nicaragua are inexpensive even today- if you can find them. !

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Comments appreciated!