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, October 27, 2022

Angola 1870-77 "Crown" Issue: Spiro Forgeries

1870 Scott 4 25r red  "Portuguese Crown"
Spiro Forgery

Into the Deep Blue

For the Angola 1870-77 issue, forgeries are not uncommon. There are many kinds of forgeries, but the big two are Fournier and Spiro.

We have discussed the Fournier forgeries with the two preceding posts...

Now, let's look at the Spiro forgeries.

Actually, reviewing the Angola 1870-77 "Crown" stamps for sale on the 'net, it is not unusual to find Spiro forgeries: in fact, I found more around than the Fournier forgeries.

Fortunately, I think they are easier to identify than the Fournier forgeries for Angola.

Again, as with the Fournier forgeries, I was helped immensely by the Classic Stamp Forgeries website. There, one can find a post on Angola 1870-77 (& other Portuguese colonies), where Ron lists and describes many types of forgeries for this issue, including the Spiro Forgeries. Thanks Ron!

Now, I have some five Spiro forgeries in my collection for the Angola 1870-77 issue. We should be able to get a good handle on their identification with this amount of  material available.

1870 Scott1 5r black "Portuguese Crown"
Perf 12 1/2; Spiro Forgery

At least three of my Spiro forgeries are cancelled with this rather peculiar cancel. That might be a clue right there. ;-)

The thing that jumps out at me regarding this forgery is the fact that "Reis" starts out in the middle of the stamp, leaving the "5" with way more surrounding room than in the genuine. And the pearls on the right side of the crown going towards the orb seem small and misshapen.

Overall, though, the forgery is fairly nicely done.

1870 Scott1b 5r black "Portuguese Crown"

Here, for comparison is a genuine 5r black. Let's look at specifics.....

Upper: Genuine; Lower: Spiro Forgery

The forgery script has a a peculiarly formed "G", compared to the genuine. The "A" leans to the right. Spiro forgeries are sometimes labeled Type I & Type II. Type I will have the shadow markings around the script (as is seen here), while Type II will not. 

Upper: Genuine; Lower: Spiro Forgery

For the forgery, the Maltese cross is fairly large, but deformed, and the cross is not attached to the Orb (base). The pearls on the right side towards the Orb are not round and are small. The pearls on the far right side are separated from each other and detached from their support. Here, the central line of five pearls are detailed poorly. In other Spiro examples, they can barely be seen.

Upper: Genuine; Lower: Spiro Forgery

The Spiro forgery begins the "Reis" script in the middle of the tablet, much different than the Genuine. The Spiro "Reis" is more compact than with the Genuine. The top of the "5" is flat.

1870 Scott 7 100r violet "Portuguese Crown"
Spiro Forgery

Ok, we will compare some more examples. Here, I will compare a Spiro 100r violet with a Genuine 200r orange, as I do not have another  Spiro-Genuine same denomination in my collection.

1877 Scott 8 200r orange "Portuguese Crown"

This 200r orange is, in my opinion, a genuine. I ran this by a knowledgeable specialist on Angola forgeries, and he agreed with this assessment. Note this particular right upper quadrant scallop design shows six lobes, with a large central heart shaped lobe with an incomplete central-left line.

Upper: Genuine; Lower: Spiro Forgery

As was seen for the 5r black comparison, the forgery script has a a peculiarly formed "G", compared to the genuine. The "A" leans to the right.

Upper: Genuine; Lower: Spiro Forgery

For the forgery, the Maltese cross is too large, and the cross is not attached to the Orb (base). The pearls on the right side towards the Orb are different sizes and some are small. The pearls on the far right side, which are deformed, are detached from their support. The central line of five pearls is essentially not seen.

Upper: Genuine; Lower: Spiro Forgery

Different size "0"s, and more compact "Reis" script noted for the Spiro forgery. 

1870 Scott 3 20r bister "Portuguese Crown"
Spiro Forgery

This Spiro forgery is probably a Type II (less detail than Type I). Note the lack of shadow markings around "Angola". The right sided pearls seem crushed, deformed and small.

1870 Scott 2 10r orange "Portuguese Crown"
Spiro Crown
Out of the Blue

I hope this review of the Spiro forgeries for the Angola 1870-77 issue has helped the collector better able to spot these imposters. It certainly has helped me.

I will prepare one more Angola post which will evaluate the remaining Angola 1870-77 stamps in my collection: Genuine, Forgery, or Borderline/Unknown?

Comments appreciated!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Panama - Bud's Big Blue

Specimens, Scott #s 234-237
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Collectors in the United States have huge, perhaps excessive, interests in the stamps of Panama, owing mainly to the Canal and the history surrounding it. Because much has been written about the topic and available online (see abbreviated list at the end of this post), I’ll forgo adding my bit to the existing lore.

Instead, I’ll comment about postal specimens, of which four full pages are showing in the Panama supplement scans (see below). 

Specimens, Scott #s 239-242

What exactly is a postal specimen? The broadest definition is – an authentic stamp or postal stationery indicium with the word “specimen” overprinted, punched or hand-stamped across it, thereby legally voiding it for postal use. Specimens do have practical uses, though. Among them:

            --instructional aids for new postal workers learning proper stamp counting methods.

            --detection of forgeries.

            --favors for dignitaries.

            --preservation in archives.

            --informational distributions to other UPU member countries.

            --publicity in the press

--exhibition displays.

            --preventing leakage of mint stamps to the philatelic market (e.g., League of Nations).

Sometimes the word “cancelled” serves the invalidating function. “Specimen” in other languages does the same: muestra (Spanish), spécimen or annul (French), monster (Dutch), Muster (German) or Образец (Russian, ‘Obrasetz’).

Specimens Bolivia Scott # 251, green

I have not intentionally collected specimens but, when they’re reasonably priced, I’ve picked them up. They often cost dearly. For more common stamps, they usually have higher prices than those valid for postage. For rare stamps, specimens are normally cheaper than the actual stamp. Those showing in my Panama supplement pages, being of the ordinary sort, are several times more expensive than the same stamps without the overprints.

Mauritius “cancelled”, Scott # 26, rose

The Panama specimens have punched holes as well as varieties of red ink overprints. All are from the 1924 definitive series featuring the Arms of Panama, Scott #s 234 thru 243. The typewritten numbers on small pieces of white paper (see above) accompanied the stamps when I bought them and were probably provided by the American Stamp Note Company to identify varieties of overprints. These little papers sometimes appear with specimens being sold at auction.

Some collectors worry about the correct placement of specimens in Big Blue (BB). Technically, BB is a postage stamp album and, technically, specimens are no longer valid postage stamps. So, they don’t qualify. But they’re interesting to collect. Normally I put specimens and other philatelic adiaphora on blank sheets and insert them at the end of the supplement pages. There they seem happy in the company of locals, proofs, etiquettes, charity Cinderellas, and even furniture manufacturers’ stamps where their presence is neither demanded nor forbidden, as it would be if they were placed in designated album spaces.

Essays and die proofs serve some of the same functions as specimens, but they lack the identifying word “specimen”. Unlike specimens, they are not debased authentic postage stamps. Essays are proposed stamp designs that may or may not be adopted.

Essay, 1960s, rejected 

Proofs are pulled from the plates as test runs before production, thereby allowing engravers to check their work and test colors. They’re usually printed on India paper or card stock; they lack gum and perforations. A final proof is often pulled for the printing company’s archives.

Proof for Scott # 211 on card, black center, green frame, from the American Banknote Co. 
archives sale held in 1990. The final stamp is orange and black.

League of Nations specimens have an unusual purpose, as explained on the page from my League album (below). For security reasons, the League prohibited the sale of mint stamps to the public; the first issues were sold to collectors only as CTOs. Later, they used red “specimen” overprints for the same reason. After the League was disbanded (1946) remaining mint stamps were sold in the philatelic market.

League of Nations album page, Switzerland Scott #s 2o47//2o67 with two overprints:
 SdN and specimen.

Because of their many specimens, proofs and essays, Panama’s stamps provide a good opportunity to study this facet of philately. But there is, as always, the danger of fraud. Bogus overprints are easily applied to mint stamps. Essays may be artists’ renditions never submitted for consideration and produced long after the authentic stamps were issued. So-called proofs are sometimes merely photographic reproductions. These fakes, although deceitful, are not precisely forgeries or counterfeits because they do not pretend to be valid postage. So be extra careful.

Official certificate of closure, possibly 1931

Panama stamp census: 152 in BB spaces, three tip-ins, 99 on supplement pages, 94 specimens.

Websites with information about Panama’s stamps.

(1) http://bigblue1840-1940.blogspot.com/2014/12/ClassicalStampsofPanama.html

(2) http://copaphil.org/

(3) https://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibition/international-philately-americas-central-america/panama

(4) https://daily.jstor.org/how-a-postage-stamp-may-have-helped-create-the-panama-canal/

(5) http://icollectpanama.com/collection/panama_postal_history.html

Note: all illustrations in this post are from my personal collection except for the rejected essay, which came from eBay.

Jim's Observations

Interesting essay on Specimen stamps Bud!

The stamps of Panama follow the history as outlined in the blog post link below. . Stamps for the Sovereign State of  Panama under Colombian Dominion were issued in 1878. Stamp issues of Colombia for use in the Department of Panama ( the "Map of Panama" stamps) were produced between 1887-1896. Then, beginning with the independent Panama Republic, the overprinted Colombian map stamps were initially used.

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Comments appreciated!