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, August 28, 2023

Queensland - Bud's Big Blue

Queensland, credit Gerben van Gelder
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

When Queensland became a colony separate from New South Wales (1859) its existing post offices had already been allocated numerical identification codes for canceling stamps. The practice continued and, as new post offices opened, each was given its own defining numeral cancel.  Queensland’s numbers range from 5 to 896, with gaps, and continued in use until 1915. The numbers have surrounds, rays or bars, that vary somewhat. These have been meticulously identified by Dr Jeremy Hodes and can be viewed online at https://queenslandstampnumerals.blogspot.com/.

Collecting these cancels, although a well-developed specialization, can be an interesting diversion for generalists. Most collections will have some of them. If the number is clear enough to read, one can easily find out a great deal about the post office and town where the stamp got branded. Two examples from my collection follow. 

1883 Queensland, Scott 68

Laidley, a rural town in the Lockyer Valley region, began in the early 1830s as a wagon stop on the way from Ipswich and Toowoomba. It opened its post office in 1861 and was assigned the number 32. Although small (Laidley’s population today is shy of 4000), a major railway passed through it giving its postal service greater importance than it would have had otherwise.

Laidley Post Office, about 1901 (credit Gordon Davenport)

Gordon Davenport has collected pictures of old Laidley, including its post office, some of which can be viewed at:

https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/1901-laidley-post-office--105201341272092445/ 

1890 Queensland, Scott 90

A costal city, Townsville was founded in 1864 and, because of its proximity to gold mining areas, it developed into the main city of North Queensland. Its cancel number is 59. In 2021, its population exceeded 179,000.

Townsville Post office, about 1910

With comparatively few stamp designs to choose from (commonly called the Chalon, Sideface and Commonwealth varieties), Queensland stamp enthusiasts have largely turned to the plethora of cancels. Their choice is a good one; it combines interesting history and geography with their philately.

Census: in BB spaces, 34, tip-ins 2, on supplement pages 44.


Jim's Observations

The Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Queensland 1860-1909, 164 major descriptive numbers (This does not include the 52 Postal Fiscal stamps in the catalogue). Of those, 31 or 19% are CV <$1-$3+. The earlier 1860-1881 issues (83 stamps) tend to be moderately expensive ($10+) to quite expensive ($100+), and the WW classical collector may only have a small representative collection for the era. 

Overall, Queensland stamps are fairly complicated with multiple watermarks, paper, perforation and printing types. Queensland stamps are a good realm for the specialist, less so for the generalist.

Nevertheless, I recently acquired a nice early Queensland collection, which I will show in a future post. ūüėé


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Saturday, August 19, 2023

Puerto Rico - Bud's Big Blue

Map of Puerto Rico, credit Gerben van Gelder
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Every country from Canada to Argentina has issued stamps honoring Christopher Columbus, if not during Big Blue’s classical era (1840-1940), then for the 500th anniversary of his voyages (1992-3). 

Scott #133, dark green Perf 11 1/2 (likely a forgery)

Even Puerto Rico has one. All other Spanish colonial stamps issued for Puerto Rico blazon images of Spanish kings. Issued in 1893, #133 depicts Columbus and crew in a rowboat ready to step the first European feet on the island that he named San Juan Bautista in honor of John the Baptist. The exact location of the landing is debated, although it occurred, as the stamp suggests, on 19 November 1493. The stamp was valid for postage on that date only, 400 years later. Scott’s catalog warns that counterfeits exist. The genuine is perf 12; the fakes, mostly perf 11½. (1)

When Columbus arrived, the island was populated by the Taíno, an Amerindian people native to the Caribbean region. Shortly after the Spanish settled in Puerto Rico (1508), the Taíno were subjected to corvée (forced labor) in gold mines by the Conquistadors. This enslavement, coupled with the introduction of European diseases (e.g., smallpox, syphilis, flu, measles, and typhus), resulted in a high death rate among the Taíno. Today, few Puerto Ricans can claim a Taíno ancestry.

About 30 years ago I had an excellent Puerto Rican research assistant. One day when I returned from the post office with a set of the new USA Columbus commemorative sheetlets (1992), she was outraged. “Do you not know.” she demanded, “about the genocide the Spanish inflicted on my people?” Sadly, I did not. Nor did I know that she identified as a Ta√≠no.

#2629, US souvenir sheetlet

I suspect she would not have approved of my owning an example of Scott #133, either; or of the large number of Columbus-related stamps in my Big Blue. As public opinion about Spanish colonialism and Columbus declines, I’m less vocal about my collection of these stamps.

Curiously, a year before #133 was issued, Argentina produced two Columbus-related stamps that have similar designs. These were likely engraved by the noted Austrian artist, Ferdinand Schirnb√∂ck, who, at the time, was working for the Compa√Ī√≠a Sud-Americana de Billetes de Banco (South American Bank Note Company, Buenos Aires). Schirnb√∂ck may have inspired Don Pedro Blanco Viala, the designer of Puerto Rico’s #133, although his work lacks the magnificent engraving one might expect from Schirnb√∂ck hand.

Argentina #91, dark blue

One further observation. When Spain ceded Puerto Rico the United States after losing the Spanish American War (1898), the US military administration issued US stamps overprinted “Porto Rico,” an English spelling of the island’s name. The civil administration, beginning in 1900, changed the overprints to the Spanish spelling. Subsequently, US stamps without overprints were used.

#s 212 thru 216

Census: 121 in BB spaces, 3 tip-ins, 40 on supplement pages.

My replacement #133, less likely a forgery, 19 Nov 1893 cancel

Jim's Observations

Big Blue '69, on three pages, has 121 stamp spaces. Coverage is a robust 62%.

The inexpensive 1890-97 baby "Alfonso" stamps have 45 spaces, but 5 stamps @ CV <$1-$1+ are missing.

There are only two "expensive stamps", but the J3 U.S. overprinted postage due of 1899 is $55. !


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Thursday, August 10, 2023

Is the stamp hobby for WW Collectors changing?

 

Queensland 1860
Not yet completely worked up and put in Deep Blue

Into the Deep Blue

Is the way one collects ( and later sell) changing?

Is there a fundamental shift in our hobby?

For this blog post, I will rely on the measured opinions of  Ron Leith of Vancouver, B.C

He has a quite successful Auction House, with postal history as a specialty.

He submitted an opinion piece in the August 2023 Oregon Stamp Society "The Album Page" newsletter which was featured in the "President's Corner" section.

I contacted Ron and he graciously has allowed this blog post to include his comment. In addition, he sent me an email that elaborated on his comment. Thanks Ron!

Shall we see what he has to say?

Ron Leith Comment for the Oregon Stamp Society Newsletter
Click to enlarge script

"The stamp market is changing rapidly with the majority of pre-2020 Public Auctions closing down as a result of escalating operating costs and internet competition.  It's the few remaining PUBLIC AUCTIONS that are realizing record prices for rarities, however, they now have no time or staff to sort general country collections.  These are sold by the box, usually with no catalog value, no total stamp count, and no lot scans.  Only dealers that attend the auction get the chance to inspect them.  As there is little competition from collectors for box lots at a live auction, they typically sell for under 5% of the catalog value and often under 1% of catalog.  This partially explains the current glut of country collections offered at incredibly low prices by dealers in both Europe and North America"
Elaborative Comment via email

Queensland 1860-61
Noy yet completely worked up and put in Deep Blue

Ron Leith Comment for the Oregon Stamp Society Newsletter
Click to enlarge script

"Fortunately, there are many good internet auctions that effectively handle collections.  Of course, world class rarities should be sent to a successful public auction, then it is recommended to carefully choose an internet auction that knows how to get the most out of a country collection.  Internet auctioneers are also very busy and short staffed, so there are "must-do" things to consider when selling a stamp collection.  It is essential that the collector identifies the catalog number and price for all the $400+ catalog value no fault complete sets and single stamps in the collection.  Then a list for the total number of stamps and a catalog value for the remaining collection is necessary.  By following this simple procedure, realizing 20%-40% for good sets & singles is achievable with higher prices for choice items.  Internet estimated prices for remainder collections normally start at 10% of the catalog value with potential sales in the15%-25% catalog range that is directly proportional to the quality of lot scans.  Thus, one can easily realize double or more in sales revenue compared to sending the entire collection to a Public Auction."
Elaborative Comment via email  

Queensland 1861-62
Noy yet completely worked up and put in Deep Blue

"Internet auctions don't offer their services for free, consequently, the more description input the collector makes, the lower the auction fees.  These fees can range from 15% of sales up to 50% depending on how many man-hours it takes to prepare the collection.  If one does not want to describe their collection in detail, most internet auctions will also buy collections outright.  As a result of the modest internet sales prices mentioned above, it is no surprise that the current fair market price offered to collections is in the 10% of catalog range.  Even bourse and store dealer offers at 5% of catalog are now reasonable since they have to do the description work and often have to carry inventory for years before selling the stamps at 20%-30% of current catalog prices."
Further elaborative comment via email

Queensland 1863-65
Not yet completely worked up and put in Deep Blue 
Out of the Blue

There is much to digest here for the WW classical era collector.

Some of the points he makes are: 

( My own opinion/ take follows in parenthesis.)

1) Major Auction houses list primarily high value individual lots. The auction house costs are too high to do more.

(Generalized country collections - whether part of a WW collection or an individual country collection - even if very nice but not spectacular  - is no longer much of an interest to major auctions, as that market goes to fairly expensive individual stamps or interesting postal history.)

2) There are too many large collections hitting the market - and little time to process them. Consequently, they are sold in large lots, mainly to dealers. 

There is a glut of country collections available to dealers, and the collector can expect a low CV offer, if any. Country collections are often sold as bulk lots, and can be had for not much ( good news if buying, bad news if selling)..

3) If one is internet savvy, one can list the the lots for resale, and one can make a decent return.

If the individual collector does not make the time/effort to market on the internet, the collector will need to be satisfied with wholesale prices for one's collection.  But a decent alternative is to have an internet dealer sell "On Consignment" for you, where he takes a % of the proceeds. )

Comments appreciated!