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·         I Inherited a Stamp Collection...

·         How is a postage stamp made?

·         Where to Learn More

·         Types of stamps

·         Earliest Postmark Associated with Franking

·         Early Stamps of Mexico

·         Errors Caused in Printing

·         Mistakes on Stamps

·         Postage Stamps and the Cold War

·         'Specimen' and 'Cancelled' Stamps

·         Stamp Clubs

·         Stamps of French West Africa

·         Stamps of Southern Arabia

·         The Colour of a Stamp

·         Thematic Collections

·         The Wide World of Stamps

·         Who are the Stamp Experts?

·         Postage stamps and postal history of Argentina

·         Ceres Series (France)

·         Ceres Series (Portugal)

·         Stamp catalog

·         Michel catalog

·         Stanley Gibbons

·         Scott catalogue

·         Philatelic literature

·         Postage stamp

·         Sheet of stamps

·         Tête-bêche

·         Coil stamp

·         Postage stamp booklet

·         Postage stamp separation

·         Revenue stamp

·         Philatelic fakes and forgeries

·        Mauritius "Post Office"

·        Cinderella stamp

·         Azad Hind stamps

·         Hotel post

·         Poster stamp

·         Artistamp

·         Imprinted stamp

·         Precancel

·         Cancellation (mail)

·         Basel Dove

·         British Guiana 1c magenta

·         Christmas stamp

·         Commemorative stamp

·         Definitive stamp

·        Holiday stamp

·        Invert error

·         Inverted Jenny

·         Treskilling Yellow

·         Z Grill

·         Gronchi Rosa

·         Inverted Head 4 Annas

·         Local post

·         Perfin

·         Postage stamps and postal history of Malaysia

·         Uganda Cowries

·         Scinde Dawk

·         Postage stamps and postal history of Great Britain

·         Hawaiian Missionaries

·         Aerophilately

·         Franking

·         Postal stationery

·         Pen cancel

·         Stamp hinge

·         Postage stamp gum

·         Postage stamps and postal history of Germany

·         Postage stamps and postal history of Russia

·         Postage stamps and postal history of China

·         Postage stamps and postal history of Korea

·         Postage stamps and postal history of the United States

·         Postage stamps and postal history of Italy

·         Postage stamps and postal history of India

·         First Stamp auction in London

·         First stamp dealer

·         Brief History of Stamp Auctions in America

·         Auction

·         Robert A. Siegel – Philatelic Auctions

·         Robert P. Alexander

·        Stanley Bryan Ashbrook

·        Leo August

·         Food Stamps On-Line




I Inherited a Stamp Collection...

This article could have just as easily been titled, "I just found some stamps in an old desk..." or "I found my old stamp collection up in the attic from when I was a kid..." or some similar theme.  This is intended for someone who knows next to nothing about stamp collecting, has come into possession of some stamps and wishes to know what they are worth.  As with all collectible items, stamps are worth what someone is willing to pay for them.  Learning what that might be will require doing your homework. It is highly unlikely that you will instantly find someone who will give you enough for your retirement, but by searching through the philatelic world for the best place to sell your stamps, you could do very well.

 The first step in educating yourself should be to check your local public library for a Scott or Minkus (or other) stamp catalog.  Check the catalog out from the library, take it home, and compare your stamps to the listings.  Read the introductory paragraphs in the catalog to see how stamps' values are determined and how you should judge the stamps.  Remember that stamp catalog values are for excellent examples of each given stamp and that stamps with heavy cancels or tears or pieces missing will bring much less, if anything at all.  And remember that most unused stamps released since 1940 aren't worth much more than face value if you're trying to sell them; a lot of those you can use for postage.  Also be aware that a dealer will likely pay less than half catalog value, since he has to make his profit margin and cover his expenses to stay in business selling stamps.

 After you've consulted a catalog, if you don't know any stamp collectors to ask, check your local yellow pages for stamp dealers.  Find three or four if you can and ask them to take a look at your stamps.  This process will take time, and you will have to go to their locations to get them to look at your stamps.  Or if a stamp show is held in your area, go to the show and ask dealers there.  In the stamp business, as in any collectibles area, you need to find the right dealer for the material you have.  The "right" dealer will know to whom he can resell your material.  As you "do your homework" by asking several dealers about value, you will begin to get an idea of the true worth of your stamps.  You will have to use your own judgement to evaluate the honesty of those you ask, but you will find that most are honest, even if they're not knowledgeable.

 If your stamps turn out to be fairly valuable (hundreds or thousands of dollars), it might be worth your while to offer the material at auction.  As with finding a dealer, you'd need to do your homework on auction houses to find the best place to offer your stamps.  The point of all this is that the more time you spend "doing your homework," the better price realization you are likely to get for your stamps.  You may find that after only a short search for information you will learn that what you have isn't worth much.  That is the most likely outcome.  However, if the collection was put together by a knowledgeable collector, it may well have "goodies" that have appreciated tremendously over the decades.  There's only one way for you to find out if that's true: Do your homework!! After doing your homework, you may find yourself fascinated to the point you will not only be the owner of an old collection but a builder of a new and better collection!


How is a postage stamp made?


The postage stamp is a relatively modern invention, first proposed in 1837 when Sir Rowland Hill, an English teacher and tax reformer, published a seminal pamphlet entitled Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability. Among other reforms, Hill's treatise advocated that the English cease basing postal rates on the distance a letter traveled and collecting fees upon delivery. Instead, he argued, they should assess fees based on weight and require prepayment in the form of stamps. Hill's ideas were accepted almost immediately, and the first English adhesive stamp, which featured a portrait of Queen Victoria, was printed in 1840. This stamp, called the "penny black," provided sufficient postage for letters weighing up to .5 ounce (14 grams), regardless of distance. To encourage widespread use of stamps, letters mailed without them were now charged double at the point of delivery. After Britain, Brazil became the next nation to produce postage stamps, issuing stamps made by its currency engraver in 1843. Various cantons in what later became Switzerland also produced stamps in 1843. United States postage stamps (in five and ten cent denominations) were first authorized by Congress in 1847 and came on the market on July 1 of the same year. By 1860, more than 90 countries, colonies, or districts were issuing postage stamps.

Most early stamps were of a single color-the United States, for example, did not produce multicolored stamps until 1869, and they did not become common until the 1920s. The penny black and other early stamps needed to be separated with a scissors; perforated stamps did not appear until 1854 in England and 1857 in the United States. However, though larger stamps are occasionally produced, the penny black's original size, .75 by .875 inch (1.9 by 2.22 centimetres), has remained standard.

Initially, stamps were manufactured by the same businesses that provided a country with currency, or by a country's mint. Yet it soon became apparent that printing stamps is unlike minting money in that the different paper types call for different printing pressures. Consequently, printing stamps became a discrete activity, though one still sometimes carried out by companies that made currency. In ensuing years, methods of producing stamps mirrored the development of modern printing processes. Today, stamp making processes utilize much of the finest printing technology available.

In the United States, the decision to produce a stamp is made by a Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, which meets regularly in conjunction with staff from the Post Office. The committee is responsible for determining what stamps will be produced, in what denominations, and at what time. Suggestions for stamps come from throughout the country, although the committee itself might recommend a particular design. Most frequently, however, there is a large pool of recommendations with which to work. In some cases, suggestions are accompanied by drawings and pictures which might form the basis for the stamp being considered.

Once the committee decides that a particular stamp will be produced, it commissions an artist to design it or modify a submitted design. It then decides, primarily on the basis of workload, whether the stamp should be produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing or by outside contractors, who have been used much more extensively since the late 1980s. It's possible for a common stamp in great demand (such as an everyday first class mail stamp) to be made by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and by several contractors. Currently, perhaps ten to fifteen American firms are capable of manufacturing stamps that meet Post Office standards.

Specifications for the stamp, such as color, size, design, and even the printing process itself are then drawn up in consultation with the original artist or designer. If the stamp is to be contracted out, a "request for proposal" appears in the Commerce Business Daily, a U.S. government publication which lists contracts available to non-government firms. After the stamp is printed, samples will be sent to the International Bureau of the Universal Postal Union in Switzerland, where they are marked as samples (commonly perforated with a word such as "specimen") and then distributed to member nations to help postal workers recognize other countries' legitimate postage.

In addition to requirements for the picture or design on a stamp, other requirements, all of which can be met at a printing plant, are sometimes added to a stamp's specification. The most common one is phosphor tagging, in which an invisible mark that can be read only by a special machine is placed on a stamp. The tagging facilitates the automated sorting of mail.

Other requirements might be for such things as printing the stamp on chalked paper to prevent reuse of a stamp by cleaning or washing off a cancellation. When a canceled stamp printed on chalked paper is wetted, the picture will blur as the cancellation mark is wiped off, cuing postal workers to the fact that the stamp is no longer valid.

Raw Materials

Although stamps were originally printed on sheets of paper that were fed into presses individually, the paper now used comes on a roll. The two kinds of paper most commonly used to print stamps are laid and wove paper, the former with ribbed lines and the latter without. While other nations use both types, the United States presently uses only wove. Either laid or wove paper might feature watermarks, faint designs that result from differences in the pressure applied to various parts of a roll of paper during the production process. Commonly used in other counties, watermarked paper has not been utilized in the United States since 1915.

The Manufacturing Process

At the printing plant, the process begins with the delivery of paper for stamps, with the glue already applied to the back. Two printing processes are most often used in making stamps, the intaglio process (which includes the gravure process), and the offset process. It is not unusual, however, for a particular stamp's specifications to call for the use of both methods.

Intaglio, perhaps the oldest means of producing stamps, is also the most time-consuming. However, because this method creates stamps with more distinct images, the process has not been pushed aside by newer, faster, and less expensive methods. Intaglio involves engraving, scratching, or etching an image onto a printing plate, which in turn transfers that image onto paper. In one well-known intaglio process, called gravure, the image is first transferred onto the plate photographically, and then etched into the plate. This section, however, will focus on an engraving process.

Creating the master die

   *  The engraving method of intaglio begins with the creation of a "master die" in which the design of the stamp is engraved, in reverse. The design is in the lowered portion of the die-the raised portion of the die will not be reproduced in the final product. This is an exacting hand process, in which the engraver is carefully cutting a mirror image of the original drawing for the stamp. It might be several weeks before the engraver is satisfied that he or she has created the perfect duplicate.

   *  After the die has been completed, it is heated to harden the engraved image. In the next step, the hardened intaglio is transferred to a transfer roll, which consists of soft steel wrapped around a rod-shaped carrier, or mandrel, and which resembles a shortened rolling pin. The transfer roll is machine-pressed against the master die, and rocked back and forth until the master die has created a relief impression on the transfer roll. At this point, the relief is a positive impression (no longer in reverse). The process is repeated until the desired number of reliefs has been created on the transfer roll.

Preparing the printing plate

   *  Like the master die, the transfer roll is hardened by heating. It is then pressed against a printing plate, leaving another relief, again in reverse, on the printing plate. If there are several reliefs on a transfer roll, all can be passed to the printing plate. Several printing plates can be made from the same transfer roll if the decision is made to use more than one machine to produce a particular stamp. The impression on the plate is in the form of grooves rather than a raised image.

   *  Once the plate is ready for use, it is fastened into the printing press and coated with ink. Inking is done automatically by several processes including spraying ink through small jets or moving an ink-covered roller across a plate. The plate is then wiped by a blade called the doctor blade, leaving ink only in the grooves.

   *  The plate then presses against the paper, leaving a positive impression of the reverse image that was originally copied onto the master die.

   *  If more than one color is involved, separate colors are handled by a process known as selective inking. A particular color of ink is applied by a piece of hard rubber that comes in contact with only the section of the stamp that is to receive that color. After the ink is applied in one area, another piece of rubber, with another color for another area, is used to ink another portion of the plate.

Offset lithography

   *  The offset method of printing is less expensive than intaglio and can also produce very fine results, and it is a common choice for many stamps. In this method, a picture or design is first made photochemically on an aluminum plate. Once attached to the printing press, the plate is alternately bathed in ink and water: the photochemical image gets ink, while the non-image parts are dampened with water, which acts as a repellent to the ink and ensures that only the image will be transferred to the paper. Next, the plate presses against a rubber "blanket," which carries a reverse image of the final picture. In turn, the  rubber blanket contacts the paper, producing the final positive image.


   *  Perforations can be made either during the printing process by an adjacent machine or, less commonly, by a separate machine afterwards. In the first method, the sheet of paper is passed through a machine which uses little pins to punch the perforation holes through the paper in a horizontal and vertical grid. After pushing through the paper, the pins meet a matching metal indentation on the other side. After being perforated, the stamps move out of the press. In the other method of producing perforations, called rouletting, a wheel similar to a pizza cutter but with pins is rolled across one side of the stamped paper after it has been removed from the printing press, laying down a row of holes. Though originally a hand-operation, this method of perforation is now automated.

Quality Control

Stamps are inspected at every stage of the printing process, by the people who are running the stamps and by inspectors whose only responsibility is to observe the process and remove errors before the stamps proceed to the next step.

Printing machines are hugely complex, and errors in the printing process are a fact of life. Misfed paper, clogged inking apparatus, variations in pressure, changes in ink quality, incorrectly adjusted mechanisms, and a host of other problems can be minimized but not always eliminated. Even changes in the humidity of the pressroom can affect the press and the paper enough to produce less-than-perfect results.

Several of the most spectacular errors of the past occurred because presses were manually fed; in other words, individual sheets of paper were inserted into the press by hand. If a sheet of paper required an impression from a second press (to add a second color), and the sheet was turned accidentally, the resulting stamps featured misplaced blotches of color. This type of error does not occur today because presses are roll-fed: rather than being fed into a press sheet by sheet, paper is fed in from a continuous roll.

Most errors are detected, and the flawed stamps destroyed, under tight security controls in the printing plant. Enough errors slip through, however, to make the collecting of "error stamps" an interesting specialty for some stamp collectors.

The Future

One twentieth-century innovation that has significantly diminished the use of stamps is the postage meter. Developed in New Zealand in 1902, meters were introduced in the United States twelve years later. In addition to their use by the federal Post Office, meters are now leased by private companies that send out large amounts of mail. These meters allow companies to post and mail letters without using stamps. Particularly popular with businesses that send out bulk mailings, meters now "stamp" over one half of the mail posted in the United States. However, individuals continue to use postage stamps, which remain not only functional but popular, as can be seen in the excitement generated by such recent stamps as those commemorating World War II, Elvis Presley, and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Where to Learn More about Stamps


Lewis, Brenda Ralph. Stamps! A Young Collector's Guide. Lodestar Books, 1991.

Olcheski, Bill. Beginning Stamp Collecting. Henry Z.Walck, 1991.

Scott 1993 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. Vol. 1: Basic Stamp Information, pp. 20A-26A. Scott Publishing Co., 1992.


Healey, Barth. "Tactical Technology Fights Counterfeiters." New York Times. May 16, 1993, p. N22.

Patota, Anne. "Coil Stamp Provides Test for Pre-Phosphored Paper." Stamps. May 16, 1987, p. 458.

Schiff, Jacques C., Jr. "Much to Learn about Printing." Stamps. July 4, 1992, p. 10.

"Computer Enhances National Guard Color." Stamps. November 8, 1986, p. 418.

"Postage Stamp Design: Creating Art Works the Size of Your Thumb." Stamps. November 5, 1988, p. 217.

Art Encyclopedia: Postage Stamp

Small piece of pre-gummed paper that, when affixed to an item of mail, indicates that postage costs have been prepaid. The postage stamp originated in Britain in 1840 as part of the reform of the postal system instigated by Sir Rowland Hill (1795-1879), who is also credited with the design of the first stamp, the Penny Black, which was first sold in London on 1 May 1840 (it was not officially valid until 6 May, although examples of premature use are known). This design government stamp affixed to mail to indicate payment of postage. The term includes stamps printed or embossed on postcards and envelopes as well as the adhesive labels. The use of adhesive postage stamps was advocated by Sir Rowland Hill; it was adopted in Great Britain in 1839. Zürich (Switzerland) and Brazil issued stamps in 1843 and by 1850 the custom had spread throughout the world. Although the postmasters of several cities had previously issued provisional stamps, the first U.S. official issue was in 1847. Stamps are usually printed from engraved steel plates or cylinders, or by typographic or lithographic means. Besides regular stamps, which date from 1847, the U.S. government also issues commemorative stamps, which celebrate events or persons; memorial stamps in honor of officials who die in office; airmail stamps; and special stamps, e.g., special delivery, postage due, and revenue stamps. Self-adhesive, or “self-stick,” stamps were introduced in the United States in 1974 but were not successful; they were reintroduced in 1994 and now comprise the vast majority of U.S. stamps issued. The computer age came to U.S. postage stamps in 1999, when, as PC Postage, they became available for purchase and downloading on the Internet. The popularity of philately has led some governments to issue a great many stamps, usually commemoratives. Some small countries, like San Marino, receive much of their revenue by issuing stamps attractive to collectors.

Mideast & N. Africa Encyclopedia: Postage Stamps

The Islamic states of the Middle East had operated elaborate postal messenger systems since the seventh century, but it was Great Britain in 1840 that issued the world's first postage stamp. It depicted Queen Victoria. Postage stamps quickly spread, with the Ottoman Empire issuing its first stamp in 1863, followed by Egypt in 1866, Persia in 1868, Afghanistan in 1871, the Hijaz (now part of Saudi Arabia) in 1916, and Yemen in 1926. Elsewhere, British, French, and Italian colonial officials in the Middle East designed the first stamps for their jurisdictions.

Early Middle Eastern stamps, like Islamic coins before them, observed conservative Islamic tradition by rarely portraying human figures. Arabesque designs, calligraphy, or a crescent and star served as symbols instead. In 1876, Persia broke with tradition by showing its ruler on a stamp; the Ottomans did the same in 1913. Egypt, Iraq, and Transjordan followed during the 1920s; then Afghanistan, Syria, and Lebanon during the 1940s. Saudi Arabia, more isolated and conservative, waited until the 1960s.

Rulers appeared variously in traditional dress, in Western coat and tie, or in military uniform. Turkey's Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who secularized Turkey after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire by, among other things, outlawing Muslim head-wear, wore civilian dress on his stamps from 1926 on, but many soldiers-turned-president preferred military uniforms. After coming to power in 1979, Iraq's President Saddam Hussein appeared variously on stamps in coat and tie, army uniform, and Arab kafiyya. Some rulers promoted a cult of the leader on their stamps, with the hero towering above the masses he claimed to embody. Syria's Hafíz al-Asad, Egypt's Anwar al-Sadat, and Iraq's Saddam saturated stamps with their own portraits. Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser was more reticent, and Husni Mubarak followed Nasser's rather than Sadat's  example in this regard.

The first stamps of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Persia, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen bore inscriptions in only Arabic script. Although they were not French colonies, they soon added French, long the main language of world diplomacy. All later switched to English as their second language on stamps - except Afghanistan, which kept French, and Turkey, whose adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1928 made its Turkish-only stamps partly accessible to Westerners. French colonial possessions used French and British possessions English. French Algeria and Italian Libya used no Arabic on their stamps until independence (1962 and 1951, respectively). Hebrew has been the main language on Israel's stamps since independence in 1948, with English and Arabic as secondary languages.

European colonial stamps presented romanticized and orientalist colonial picturesque themes - pre-Islamic ruins, old mosques, colorful landscapes, and folk scenes. European officials first selected the pyramids and sphinx as symbols for Egyptian stamps, but many Egyptians came to identify, at least partially, with these pre-Islamic symbols. Egypt often commemorates ancient pharaonic treasures on stamps; folk costumes are also shown as part of a proud national heritage. Even so, stamps with such themes are often issued with Western tourists and collectors in mind.

Revolutions drastically changed stamp designs. "The people" - symbolic soldiers, peasants, workers, professionals, and women in both traditional and Western dress - celebrate liberation, modernization, and the drive for economic development. Stamps advertise such things as petroleum pipelines, factories, and broadcasting stations. Socialist countries commemorated land reform, the spread of health-care, and five-year plans. In addition to such symbols of material and social progress, Israel also depicts themes from biblical history, Jewish history, and Zionism.

The stamps of Israel and the Arab states also reflect their respective versions of the Arab - Israel conflict. Stamps commemorate the war dead, advertise the latest aircraft, and boast of specific victories. Most Arab countries have issued stamps deploring the Dayr Yasin massacre (as they describe the event) of 1948,mourn the plight of Palestinian refugees, and celebrate Palestinian resistance to Israel. Since Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the Dome of the Rock (in the Haram alSharif) has often appeared on stamps as a symbol of Arab and Islamic claims to Jerusalem. The stamps of Arab countries that depict maps omit the name Israel, showing only the borders and sometimes the name of pre-1948 Palestine. With its borders still unsettled and controversial, Israel's stamp designers make it a practice to avoid showing national maps.

During the 1950s and 1960s, pan-Arab themes tended to overshadow symbols of local territorial patriotism. Beginning in the 1970s, Islamic themes became popular - mosques, Qurʾans, hegira dates, and crescents - on stamps honoring the prophet Muhammad's birthday, the Islamic New Year, and the hajj. Islamic themes stand out above all on the stamps of the Islamic Republic of Iran since the 1979 revolution, depicting deceased Shiʿite holy men, martyrs killed in the jihad (holy struggle) against Iraq, and anti-American symbols.

Wikipedia: postage stamp

A postage stamp is evidence of pre-paying a fee for postal services. Usually a small paper rectangle or square that is attached to an envelope, the postage stamp signifies that the person sending the letter or package may have either fully, or perhaps partly, pre-paid for delivery. Postage stamps are the most popular way of paying for retail mail; alternatives include prepaid-postage envelopes and Postage meters.


Postage stamps were first introduced in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in May 1, 1840 as part of the postal reforms promoted by Rowland Hill. With its introduction the postage fee was now to be paid by the sender and not the recipient as heretofore, though sending mail prepaid was not a requirement. The first postage stamp, the Penny Black, first issued on the 1st of May for use from May 6, 1840, and two days later, the Two pence blue, with an engraving of the young Queen Victoria, were an immediate success though refinements, like perforations were instituted with later issues. At the time of the Penny Black, there was no reason to include the United Kingdom's name on the stamp, and it remains the case as the UK is the only country that does not identify itself on its stamps.

Other countries followed suit by introducing their own postage stamps; the Canton of Zürich in Switzerland issued the Zurich 4 and 6 rappen; although the Penny Black could be used to send any letter weighing less than half an ounce within the United Kingdom, the Swiss postage still calculated mail rates based on the distance travelled. Brazil issued the Bull's Eyes stamps in the 1843, using the same printer as that used for the Penny Black the Brazilian government opted for an abstract design instead of an image of Emperor Pedro II in order that his image would be not disfigured by the postmark. In 1845 some postmasters in the USA issued their own stamps, but the first officially issued stamps came in 1847, with the 5 and 10 cent stamps depicting Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. A few other countries issued stamps in the late 1840s, but many more, such as India, started in the 1850s and by the 1860s most countries of the world had issued postage stamps.

Following the introduction of the postage stamp in the United Kingdom the number of letters mailed increased from 82 million in 1839 to 170 million in 1841. Today an average of 21 billion items is delivered by post every year in the UK alone.

Postage stamp design

Stamps have been issued in other shapes besides the usual square or rectangle, including circular, triangular and pentagonal. Sierra Leone and Tonga were among the first countries to have issued self-adhesive stamps in these instances some in the shapes of fruit; Bhutan has issued a stamp with its national anthem on a playable record, etc. Stamps have also been made of materials other than paper, commonly embossed foil (sometimes of gold); Switzerland made a stamp partly out of lace and one out of wood; the United States produced one made of plastic, and the German Democratic Republic once issued a stamp made entirely of synthetic chemicals. In the Netherlands a stamp was issued made of silver foil.

Types of stamps

   *  Airmail - for payment of airmail service. While the word or words "airmail" or equivalent is usually printed on the stamp, Scott (the dominant U.S. cataloguing firm) has recognised as airmail stamps some U.S. stamps issued in denominations good for then-current international airmail rates, and showing the silhouette of an airplane. The other three major catalogs do not give any special status to airmail stamps.

   *  ATM, stamps dispensed by automatic teller machines (ATMs) whose sheets are paper currency sized and of similar thickness.

   *  carrier's stamp

   *  certified mail stamp

   *  coil stamps - tear-off stamps issued individually in a vending machine, or purchased in a roll that often comprise 100 stamps

   *  commemorative stamp - a limited run of stamp designed to commemorate a particular event

   *  Computer vended postage - advanced secure postage that uses Information-Based Indicia (IBI) technology. IBI uses a 2-dimensional bar code (either Datamatrix or PDF417) to encode the Originating Address, Date of Mailing, Postage Amount, and a Digital signature to verify the stamp's authenticity.

   *  Customised stamp - a stamp the picture or image in which can in some way be chosen by the purchaser, either by sending in a photograph or by use of the computer. Some of these are not truly stamps but are technically meter labels.

   *  Definitive - stamps issued mainly for the everyday payment of postage. They often have less appealing designs than commemoratives. The same design may be used for many years. Definitive stamps are often the same basic size. The use of the same design over an extended period of time often leads to many unintended varieties. This makes them far more interesting to philatelists than commemoratives.

   *  express mail stamp / special delivery stamp

   *  late fee stamp - issued to show payment of a fee to allow inclusion of a letter or package in the outgoing dispatch although it has been turned in after the cut-off time

   *  Local post stamps - used on mail in a local post; a postal service that operates only within a limited geographical area, typically a city or a single transportation route. Some local posts have been operated by governments, while others, known as private local posts, have been for-profit companies.

   *  military stamp - stamps issued specifically for the use of members of a country's armed forces, usually using a special postal system

   *  official mail stamp - issued for use solely by the government or a government agency or bureau

   *  occupation stamp - a stamp issued for use by either an occupying army or by the occupying army or authorities for use by the civilian population

   *  perforated stamps - while this term can be used to refer to the perforations around the edge of a stamp (used to divide the sheet into individual stamps) it is also a technical term for stamps that have additionally been perforated across the middle with letters or a distinctive pattern or monogram known as perfins. These modified stamps are usually purchased by large corporations to guard against theft by their employees.

   *  personalised - allow user to add his own personalised picture or photograph

   *  Postage due - a stamp applied showing that the full amount of required postage has not been paid and indicating the amount of shortage and penalties the recipient will have to pay. (Collectors and philatelists debate whether these should be called stamps, some saying that as they do not pre-pay postage they should be called "labels".) The United States Post Office Department issued "parcel post postage due" stamps.

   *  Postal tax - a stamp indicating that a tax (above the regular postage rate) required for sending letters has been paid. This stamp is often mandatory on all mail issued on a particular day or for a few days only.

   *  Self-adhesive stamp - stamps not requiring licking or moisture to be applied to the back to stick. Self-sticking.

   *  semi-postal / charity stamp - a stamp issued with an additional charge above the amount needed to pay postage, where the extra charge is used for charitable purposes such as the Red Cross. The usage of semi-postal stamps is entirely at the option of the purchaser. Countries (such as Belgium and Switzerland) that make extensive use of this form of charitable fund-raising design such stamps in a way that makes them more desirable for collectors.

   *  Test stamp - a label not valid for postage, used by postal authorities on sample mail to test various sorting and cancelling machines or machines that can detect the absence or presence of a stamp on an envelope. May also be known as "dummy" or "training" stamps.

   *  War tax stamp - A variation on the postal tax stamp intended to defray the costs of war.

   *  Water-activated stamp - for many years "water-activated" stamps were the only kind so this term only entered into use with the advent of self-adhesive stamps. The adhesive or gum on the back of the stamp must be moistened (usually it is done by licking, thus the stamps are also known as "lick and stick") to affix it to the envelope or package.


Since their inception there have been numerous innovative developments in how stamps are dispensed and sold. Usually, they can be purchased over the counter or from vending machines at post-offices or selected retail outlets, as "books" or loose stamps. They are traditionally made as a perforated sheet which is gummed on the reverse, so that the purchaser may tear off each stamp, moisten it (frequently by licking), and apply it to the envelope, but self-adhesive stamps are now commonplace.

IBI "stamps"

In the United States, the introduction of Information Based Indicia (IBI) technology has allowed newer ways to sell stamps. IBI is an encrypted 2-dimensional bar code that makes counterfeiting more difficult and easier to detect, offering value beyond postage. Unlike traditional postage meter indicia, each IBI is unique. The IBI contains security critical data elements as well as other information, such as point of origin and the sender. The IBI is human and machine-readable.

Prior to IBI being introduced, postage vault devices were used on personal computers to allow postage stamps to be printed from one's computer. The postage vault device is a tamper resistant postal security device to disable postage equipment when tampered with. The postage vault can be also identified as the means to store (and keep track of) monetary funds in the postage vault. You can think of this as prepaying for the right to print postage from your personal computer. The Internet is used to reset or replenish funds in the postage vault.

In March 2001, the United States Postal Service authorized Neopost Online and Northrop Grumman Corporation to test an innovative purchasing stamp system. This self-service stamp vending system allows the consumer to peruse through a variety of denominations and quantities, select the desired purchase and swipe his/her credit card to submit a purchase order. The stamp vending system then authorizes the purchase order, prints the stamp sheet(s) and finally dispenses them to the consumer. The ability to peruse, request, authorize, print, and dispense a stamp purchase using the Internet makes these the world's first browser-based stamps. This is the first instance where IBI was utilized on adhesive labels. The product from this self-service stamp vending system is aptly named by collectors as Neopost web-enabled stamps. These stamps were available from March 2001 through August 2003 and were denominated (fixed value) stamps.

In 2002 the United States Postal Service authorized Stamps.com to issue NetStamps. The NetStamps utilizes IBI technology and can be printed from personal computers with postal vaults. In 2004 the United States Postal Service introduced the Automated Postal Centers (APC). This kiosk provided non-denominated ($0.01 to $99.99) stamps. The intent of the APC is to reduce labor required to service consumers at the postal counters. Recently, personal pictures have been paired with IBI technology to provide a personalized stamp for the consumer. These stamps are custom made and require a period of time (days) to produce.

The push towards using IBI technology aids the United States Postal Service in finding new venues to sell stamps. It also reduces the burden of maintaining the mechanical machines to sell stamps. The United States Postal Service still relies on co-signing stamps to retailers and banks (via automatic teller machines (ATMs). They must be the same size and thickness as currency in order to be dispensed by the ATM.

Similarly, Royal Mail in the United Kingdom has recently launched a "Print-your-own-postage" service allowing the general public to purchase IBI-style codes online, and print them onto address stickers or directly onto envelopes, in lieu of using First Class postage stamps. This was much remarked-upon in the press as the first time a consumer "stamp" has not featured an image of the reigning monarch. It joins the existing "SmartStamp" subscription service, which performs the same function but is primarily aimed at business customers.

First day covers

On the first day of issue a set of stamps can be purchased attached to an envelope that has been postmarked with a special commemorative postmark. Known as a "First Day Cover", it can also be assembled from the component parts by stamp collectors, who are the most frequent users. These envelopes usually bear a commemorative cachet of the subject for which the stamp was created.

Souvenir or miniature sheets

Postage stamps are sometimes issued in souvenir sheets or miniature sheet containing just one or a small number of stamps. Souvenir sheets typically include additional artwork or information printed on the selvage (border surrounding the stamps). Sometimes the stamps make up part of a greater picture. Some countries, and some issues, are produced as individual stamps as well as in the sheet format.


Stamp collecting is a popular hobby, and stamps are often produced as collectibles. Some countries are known for producing stamps intended for collectors rather than postal use. This practice produces a significant portion of the countries' government revenues. This has been condoned by the collecting community for places such as Liechtenstein and Pitcairn Islands that have followed relatively conservative stamp issuing policies. Abuses of this policy, however, are generally condemned. Among the most notable abusers have been Nicholas F. Seebeck and the component states of the United Arab Emirates. Seebeck operated in the 1890s as an agent of Hamilton Bank Note Company when he approached several Latin American countries with an offer to produce their entire postage stamp needs for free. In return he would have the exclusive rights to market the remainders of the stamps to collectors. Each year a new issue of stamps was produced whose postal validity would expire at the end of the year; this assured Seebeck of a continuing supply of remainders. In the 1960s certain stamp printers such as the Barody Stamp Company arranged contracts to produce quantities of stamps for the separate Emirates and other countries. These abuses combined with the sparse population of the desert states earned them the reputation of being known as the "sand dune" countries.

The combination of hundreds of countries, each producing scores of different stamps each year has resulted in a total of some 400,000 different types in existence as of 2000. In recent years, the annual world output has averaged about 10,000 types each year.

Earliest Postmark Associated with Franking

The earliest postmark associated with the franking privilege was a two line, unframed stamp inscribed AFFRANCHI/PAR ETAT (franked be State), struck in black or red on official correspondence from Paris in 1672. This stamp is all the more remarkable since it preceded any other handstruck postmark of France by twenty-three years. A considerable time elapsed before this was followed, in 1744, by a single line mark inscribed AFFAIRES DU ROY. During the Revolution, the use of franks proliferated rapidly, reflecting the turbulent nature of French politics at that time.

In Britain, parliamentary and official mail was carried free of charge, the privilege being granted by Royal Warrant as the revenue of the Post Office went to the Crown. In 1764, postal revenues were surrendered by the Crown to Parliament in return for a Civil List. The franking privilege, thereafter, had to authorised by Act of Parliament. This necessitated the introduction of special stamps inscribed FREE in May 1764. At first, these were undated but a date was incorporated in 1791. In 1799, a crown was also featured, and this was characteristic of the English franks until they were abolished in 1840 as part of the package of postal reforms introduced by Rowland Hill. Only one type of 'free' handstamp was ever used at Edinburgh (1772 - 1788) but Dublin had a most elaborate system. Ireland was, in fact, using distinctive franks from 1706 onwards, the most attractive being the 'mermaids' - so called from the female figure adorning their frame and probably derived from the figure on the heraldic harp.

Special Sunday postmarks were used in London and Dublin. It was a condition of the franking privilege that letters had to bear the date of posting, in the hand writing of the sender, and were not passed free of postage if posted on any other day. Since franked letters, if posted on a Sunday, were not franked till the following day, a special Sunday mark was impressed on them to explain the apparent difference between the handwritten date and the date in the frank. These marks were inscribed SUN or SUNDAY and, in the case of Dublin, were also applied to ordinary mail arriving in that city on a Sunday and not delivered until the following day. London also had special stamps instructing postmen to deliver the letter before 10am on Sunday morning. These 'Sunday Marks' survived the abolition of the franking privilege for several years.

Early Stamps of Mexico

Adhesive stamps were adopted by Mexico in August 1856 when a series of five was issued. All stamps of the Mexican republic, up to 1879, portrayed Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, leader of the revolt against Spain in the early nineteenth century. The earliest issue was lithographed in Mexico, but in 1864 the design was modified for a set of four recess-printed by the American Bank Note Company. These were overprinted 'Saltillo' or 'Monterrey' before issue to the public. Stamps without these overprints came from the remainder of stocks.

An empire, under French auspices, was proclaimed in April 1864 and the Austrian Archduke Maximilian was made emperor. The first stamps of the empire bore the eagle and serpent emblem but in 1866 - 1867, a series portraying Maximilian was issued. These stamps were usually issued with a district name and consignment number overprinted.

After the withdrawal of the French the republicans overthrew the erstwhile empire. Stamps of the first republican series were reintroduced overprinted 'Mexico' in Gothic script. A new Hidalgo series was issued in September 1868. The stamps may be found with thin or thick figures of value and both versions exist imperforate or perforated.

In 1879, Senor de la Pena designed a series portraying Benito Juarez, leader of the republican movement against Maximilian. Stamps of this series may be found with the usual medley of district overprints or with a second set of overprints. Such stamps, known to collectors as 'Habilitados' were returned to a central pool and overprinted a second time for distribution to offices, which had run out of certain denominations.

In 1914, a set of five stamps portraying President Madero was never released on account of the fall of the Madero government and the murder of the president. Venustiano Carranza recaptured Mexico City in January 1915 and ousted his rivals by August; the following month a general series of stamps for use throughout the country was reintroduced. They were designed with the coat of arms and various historic personalities. Cuauhtemoc, last of the Aztec rulers, was shown on the 2c stamp.

A lengthy series of ordinary and airmail stamps was released in December 1934 to celebrate the inauguration of President Cardenas. Although primarily commemorative, this series was retained for definitive use.

Errors Caused in Stamps Printing

In plate errors, it needs to be considered that printing plates, cylinders and clichés have to withstand high pressure and wear. When the material is worn, tears or bubbles may appear or a piece actually break away. Every such change will be immediately reflected in one or more stamps. Much depends on how quickly the error is detected and remedied.

When printing plates were originally grouped from individual clichés, and some fault occurred in one of the clichés, it was sufficient to replace the damaged cliché. As long as the cliché was produced from the original die everything was in order. Sometimes, a cliché was inserted upside down and a tete-beche reproduction resulted. There were also cases when a cliché was replaced by mistake, with a cliché of another stamp similar in appearance or of another value. This resulted in most interesting errors of colour and se-tenant stamps of different value.

With retouching, printing plates which are in one piece and in printing cylinders, it is impossible to change the damaged cliché. If a fault appears, the printers aim to correct it through retouching. With the help of a scorper, they re-engrave the blocked spots in order to try to remove the damaged areas. Even the smallest intervention of this nature changes, to some extent, the design of that particular stamp. In 1920, Czechoslovakia issued a set of definitives in two designs: the first was a dove carrying a letter in her beak and the second was an allegorical figure of a woman breaking her chains. The fifty heller stamp with the image of the chain-breaker was printed in red up to 1923, but from January 1922 to the end of 1925, it was also printed in green and the same printing plates as were used for the red stamps were used for the green. The thirty-ninth stamp in every sheet had a typical plate error - a white spot dubbed by philatelists as 'The Egg in the Waist'. This error can be found on both coloured stamps.

Double impressions occur if a worker handling a printing press mistakenly puts a sheet through the press twice; each stamp shows two impressions quite distinctly. This error is seldom seen as faulty sheets are usually discovered by checkers and then eliminated and destroyed.

Inverted printing. When stamps are printed in two or more colours, another printing error sometimes occurs: the worker, when putting a sheet of stamps into the press for a second time to print another colour, turns it by 180 degrees, and the second colour becomes inverted. In 1918, the first air-mail stamps of the United States were printed. The highest value of the set, twenty-four cents, had a deep carmine frame and a blue centre. One sheet of this stamp was printed with an inverted centre so that the aeroplane was flying upside down. Only one hundred copies of this error exist and they are highly prized by philatelists.

Mistakes on Stamps

Although a damaged stamp loses much of its value unless it is extremely rare, a stamp with a mistake in its design or printing usually gains, depending on how many were printed with the mistake. Some philatelists specialise in collecting stamps with mistakes, though apart from some common ones, they are expensive to acquire.

The 10pf green German stamp commemorating the death of the composer, Schumann, has music by Schubert in the background and the one and a half penny red of Fiji has a sailing canoe that should have a helmsman, but he is obviously absent. A 50cent red of North Borneo has the spelling of 'Jessleton' that should be spelt 'Jesselton'. Sarawak issued an orange 10cent stamp with an image of a scaly anteater walking on two legs, whereas in reality this animal can only walk on four legs. The 1d blue Guernsey, Bailiwick stamp has the line of latitude marked at 40.30degrees North which runs just north of Madrid, Spain. The accurate latitude should be 49.30 degrees North.

Stamps are carefully checked during printing and any that are found to have errors are meant to be destroyed. Some printer's errors, however, manage to make it to the public arena. Older printing machines could only print one colour at a time, which meant that the paper had to be taken out and fed through the machine several times during the course of printing. In a 4f green and red French stamp, the paper was put in the wrong way round for the centre picture to be printed and so it is 'inverted' or upside down. In 1d red British South Africa stamps, some were overprinted upside down. The bars should have blotted out the original value at the top of the stamps and the words 'Half Penny' in the overprint are obviously inverted. Even on modern, multicoloured stamps, it is possible for colours to be missed out completely if the ink supply fails. The New Zealand Centenary of Railways 1863 - 1963 is an example. The train should be red and the circle containing the face value is also meant to be red but, as the ink supply failed, both these areas remain white. New Zealand provides another example with the 3d blue + 1d for Red Cross Charity Stamp is meant to have a red flag. Some stamps escaped the watchful eye of the printer and emerged with the red missing and so the white flag is evident.

Perforation errors are also evident in some stamps. The 4d blue and white Postage Due stamp of Zambia is an example of where the perforators 'missed the mark' and perforated through one of the stamps. This is quite a rare error and can, therefore, make the stamp more valuable. When sheets of stamps are trimmed to go in booklets, perforations sometimes get cut off. This is fairly common and is unlikely to increase the value of the stamps significantly.

Postage Stamps and the Cold War

Stamps were the principal weapon in a cold war between Britain, Argentina and Chile which lasted more than thirty years. It was sparked off in 1933 when the Falkland Islands celebrated their centenary as a British colony with a lengthy set of stamps which included one three penny stamp showing a map of the islands.

Argentina, which had laid claims to the islands, retaliated by issuing a one peso stamp in 1936, which showed a map of South America, with Argentinian territory (including the Falkland Islands) shaded. At first, this stamp also showed the boundaries of the other South American countries. This was superseded by one omitting the boundaries because of the sensitivity of certain countries, particularly Bolivia and Paraguay, to the delineation of their frontiers.

The battle switched to the Antarctic in 1944 when Britain arranged to separate issues of stamps to be made in Graham Land, South Georgia, South Orkneys and South Shetland, followed by a joint issue for the Falkland Islands Dependencies in 1946 showing a map of the Polar Regions with British Territory delineated.

Again Argentina retaliated by issuing various stamps depicting maps of Argentina and her Antarctic possessions. The first of these appeared in 1947 and commemorated the forty-third anniversary of the first Argentinian Antarctic mail. Even the pre-war one peso stamp was redesigned to show the Antarctic territory, and in 1954, a stamp honoured the 'Orcadas del Sur' as the Argentinians called the South Orkneys.

Although territorial claims in the Antarctic were suspended under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty of 1961, both sides continued to snipe at each other philatelically. Many of the stamps of South Georgia, British Antarctic Territory, the Falkland Islands and its dependencies have featured maps stating unequivocally British sovereignty. Equally, Argentina has continued to depict its Antarctic Territory on postage stamps and, in 1964, issued a set of three stamps featuring maps of the Antarctic and 'Islas Malvinas' (the Falkland Islands) with Argentinian flags superimposed.

Chile's claim to a slice of Antarctica, overlapping with those of Britain and Argentina, was registered by stamps issued between 1947 and 1958.

Although the Cold War was definitely regarded as a major concern between USSR and USA following World War II, there was a significant cold war billowing on the philatelic front between Britain, Argentina and Chile.

'Specimen' and 'Cancelled' Stamps

One of the obligations of countries which are members of the Universal Postal Union is to inform all other members about new stamp issues. For this purpose, samples of new stamps are sent to the other postal administrations, free of charge. Some postal administrations overprinted these sample stamps with the word specimen to make their use for the franking of mail impossible. Texts and markings vary according to the country.

Stamps with the overprint 'specimen' were also presented to important personalities and institutions, which is how some of these varieties reached philatelists. Although they are not really postage stamps, since they cannot be used for franking, specialists are very much interested in them.

In France and other countries, it is customary for officials, including the Minister, to receive free of charge, imperforate copies of newly issued stamps. Much criticism has been voiced against this tradition, but in vain. Such imperforate copies are obviously interesting items and high prices are paid for them. Of a similar character are the so-called ministerial miniature sheets. These are newly issued stamps, imperforate, not printed in normal size sheets but in the form of miniature sheets. These ministerial miniature sheets are also presented to ministers and other celebrities. They have no franking value, but specialists are nevertheless on the look-out for them.

It happens that new stamps are issued at a time when large supplies of the valid stamps are still available. In some countries, the very earliest stamps issued are still valid. Elsewhere, old stamps have been declared invalid for postage. There are serious reasons for such steps including a change of regime, incorporation of the country by some other nation or currency reform.

What happens to the remaining stamps? This problem is solved in several ways. In some places, sales of stamps continue at special counters to philatelists until the supply is exhausted. In other countries, the remainders are burned under official supervision or taken to a paper mill. It has happened that, for some reason - for instance during a war - there has been a stamp shortage. In such cases, old supplies of stamps have been brought out and used again, usually with an appropriate overprint.

Another way to make stamps invalid was for the stamps withdrawn from circulation to be overprinted with the word cancelled or with an overprint of black lines, or something similar, across the design which made them useless for postage. Philatelic specialists remain interested in this type of stamp as well.

Stamp Clubs

The first philatelic club was founded in 1856 in the United States of America, and its name was The Omnibus Club. In 1866, The Excelsior Stamp-Association was founded in St John's, Canada. Towards the end of the 1860s, the Suddeutscher Philatelisten-Verein was founded in Heidelberg. Most of these old philatelist organizations did not exist for long and were eventually superseded by other associations.

The oldest and most famous philatelic organization in the world has its headquarters in London. The Philatelic Society, London was founded in April, 1869. In 1906, King Edward VII gave permission for the society to use the prefix 'Royal'. In 1896, HRH Duke of York (later King George V) became President of the Royal Philatelic Society, London, an office which he continued until his accession to the throne in 1910, when he was pleased to announce that he would act as its patron. This royal patronage has continued, and today the society is honoured by the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

It was the philatelic societies who organized contacts between stamp collectors and provided them with the necessary conditions for their hobby. First of all, meetings of members were held. There they could buy, sell or exchange stamps. The first approval booklets appeared and the societies undertook their circulation. In many cases, societies sponsored the publication of stamp magazines and assisted in the publication of stamp albums and catalogues. Later, stamp exhibitions were held and the societies appointed experts to assist their members. Philatelic clubs and organizations became a permanent institution.

The place of philatelic clubs which were dissolved or gave up their activities for various reasons was taken by new ones, and today there is hardly a city in the civilized world where some organization of stamp collectors does not exist. The need for closer contacts, the exchange of stamps and also the exchange of knowledge and experience brought philatelists closer together and led eventually to the formation of larger bodies and national federations. In some countries, these federations have a membership of hundreds of thousands. One of the great tasks of philatelic clubs and societies is the education of the next generation of stamp collectors.

Long ago, proposals were put forward to establish a world wide organization of philatelists. These suggestions materialized in 1926 when a conference of representatives of national philatelic societies was held and The International Federation of Philately (FIP) was founded. At present, FIP counts among its members over forty national philatelic societies from countries in Europe, America, Asia and Africa. The headquarters of FIP are in Geneva. FIP looks after international contacts between philatelic organizations of different countries, co-ordinates international philatelic activities, for instance, international stamp exhibitions, organizes an international fight against stamp forgers and propagates philately. Furthermore, FIP is doing its best to facilitate the international exchange of stamps, ensure philatelic documentation and take an interest in the education of young philatelists.

Stamps of French West Africa

Separate issues of stamps in the French colonies of Dahomey, French Guinea, French Sudan, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Upper Volta were superseded in 1944 by stamps inscribed 'Afrique Occidentale Francais'. Hitherto stamps with this inscription or the abbreviation AOF had been used in these territories, but distinctive designs and the names of the colonies had been featured. A series for the Free French was followed in 1947 by a series depicting the scenery and peoples of the various regions. The 30c stamp shows a girl by the submersible bridge over the Bamako River in French Sudan. The stamps of French West Africa were gradually phased out in 1958 - 1959 as the component territories became independent and resumed separate issues of stamps.

Dahomey issued its own stamps from 1899 to 1944 while under French colonial administration. The colonial key plates of 1899 - 1900 were superseded by the West Africa omnibus designs in 1906 - 1907 and these, in turn, gave way to a distinctive series showing a native climbing a palm tree.

Guinea became an independent republic in October 1958 but did not begin issuing its own stamps until the following year. A set of four stamps and two miniature sheets were issued in October 1964 to mark the New York World's Fair. The stamps depicted the Guinea pavilion while the miniature sheets showed the Unisphere with the Guinea pavilion in the background. The stamps were reissued the following year in new colours with the date '1965' incorporated in the design. Since independence, Guinea has changed its definitive series at frequent intervals, using various themes.  The series of 1971 illustrates various fish in denominations from 5 to 200f.

The independent Islamic republic of Mauritania began issuing its own stamps in 1960. The stamps reflect a catholicity of taste and interest, ranging from Soviet space achievements to Old Master paintings. The stamp portraying Martin Luther King was one of a pair of November 1968 dedicated to 'Apostles of Peace'. The other stamps portrayed Mahatma Gandhi. Since independence, Mauritania has issued numerous short thematic sets. A series from June 1965 was devoted to tourism and archaeology.

The colony of Upper Volta had a relatively brief existence between 1920 and 1933. In 1928, the colony issued stamps depicting three designs of a Hausa warrior, a Hausa woman and a Hausa horseman. Upper Volta was reconstituted as an independent nation in December 1958 and introduced a distinctive definitive series in April 1960. This series illustrated various animals and native masks. Each denomination from 50c to 85f featured a different type of mask from each region of the country.

Stamps of Southern Arabia

British interest in Arabia began in 1939, when the rock of Aden was captured by an expedition of the Honourable East India Company to suppress the pirates tyrannizing over the Indian Ocean. Similar expeditions stamped out piracy in the Persian Gulf and led to the creation of the Trucial States. The postal services in this British sphere of influence were, for many years, in the hands of the Indian authorities and ordinary Indian stamps were used, distinguished only by their postmarks. Kuwait (1923), Bahrain (1933) and Muscat (1944) began using Indian stamps suitably overprinted, while Aden (1937), in view of its status as a British crown colony, introduced stamps in distinctive designs. From then onward the usual pattern of former colonies and protectorates moving towards complete independence has been faithfully recorded in the stamps of the area.

De La Rue recess printed a set of twelve stamps in the uniform design featuring an Arab dhow, flanked by Arab knives and Islamic decorative motifs. The series had a relatively short life since it was felt that the king's portrait ought to be included and consequently the 'Dhows' were withdrawn after twenty months.

Waterlow and Sons used a slightly larger format for the series of 1939 incorporating the royal portrait. Six different designs were used, ranging from views of Mukalla and Aden Harbour, to a dhow and a patrolman of the Camel Corps. Three values, 3 and 14a and 10r depicted the capture of Aden by troops of the Honourable East India Company in 1839. The series was reissued in 1951, surcharged in the decimal currency of 100cents to the East African shilling.

In June 1953, the first definitive series featuring Queen Elizabeth II was issued. The colours were deepened in shade in 1955 and the vignettes of the higher values were changed from the original sepia to black. A gauge of perforations was introduced in 1956 and finally, the watermark was changed in 1965 - 1965. All of these changes added up to one of the most complex sets released in decades.

The move toward self-government was foreshadowed in the revised constitution granted in 1959. To mark the occasion, two stamps of the definitive series were overprinted, the 15c being entirely in Arabic and the 1.25s in English. The stamps of Aden were withdrawn on 31 March 1965, and were superseded by the issues of the Federation of South Arabia.

The Federation of South Arabia consisted of the former Aden colony, most of the colonies of the former Western Aden Protectorate and one sheikdom from the former Eastern Aden Protectorate. The federation continued to use ordinary Adenese stamps for the first two years and, in that period, the only distinctive stamps of the federation were the two stamps issued in November to mark the centenary of the Red Cross. The federation used the British colonial omnibus design, but modified it to omit the portrait of Queen Elizabeth. Subsequent colonial omnibus issues of the federation had the entwined crescent and star emblem substituted for the royal portrait.

The Colour of a Stamp

Stamps are printed in numbers running into millions and even hundreds of millions. It is impossible to print such large numbers in one run. Even nowadays, with the most modern technology and techniques, the printers do not always succeed in mixing exactly the same colour when they start a new run of printing. From time to time, it becomes necessary to clean the machines or the supply of ink runs out and a new supply has to be used, coming, perhaps, from another factory. If such problems have to be dealt with today, it is difficult to imagine how great the difficulties were in the classical stamp period when printing techniques were much more primitive.

This is how the different colour shades, which are of great interest to philatelic specialists, are produced. Often, for a new printing, new plates were used or the old plate was repaired. This is the origin of different types, as stamps are called which differ, as a result of reprinting, from the original issue.

Philatelists use a colour guide as an accessory to help them with the most difficult colour problems. Some of the common colour guides list about 160 squares with colour shades. In many cases, there is a hole in the centre of a colour to enable the philatelist to put the stamp in question underneath and to compare colours with printed squares. The name of the colour is printed underneath the square, usually in several languages, using the names of colours found in the most significant world catalogues.

Philatelists will often be at a loss as they may not be able to find the exact shade of their stamp in the colour guide. In such a case, they have to use their own judgement and decide which colour is nearest to the shade of their stamp. One can distinguish about 200 clear colour tones, but when colours are mixed, the number of shades can exceed 15000. Obviously, it is impossible to publish a colour guide listing such a vast number, or to produce in print all the finest shades or even to give them a name.

There are three basic shades: yellow, red and blue. If equal quantities of two of these colours are mixed, the results are green, orange and violet. Shades are obtained according to the proportion of the individual colour components. If all the basic colours are mixed, the result is black.

For the stamp collector, it is of importance to understand the system of listing colours in a catalogue. Whenever a combined name for a colour is given, the last named colour always predominates. For instance, yellowish-green means green with yellow added. On the other hand, greenish-yellow means yellow with green added. In the first case, green is predominant whereas in the second case, it is yellow.

Even the most comprehensive catalogues cannot go into all the details of colours. Therefore everything will depend on the collector: his experience, and most of all on the comparative material he has for making the right decisions on colours and shades concerned. This is frequently of great importance; there are many cheap and common stamps which have some colour shades that are rare and very expensive.

Thematic Collections of Stamps

Thematic collections are actually the youngest form of philately, based on a wealth of stamps with different motifs, issued all over the world. The first thematic collections were formed prior to the Second World War, but the great development within this field occurred after the war.

Thematic philately is still developing. It is clear that it differs from other philately in one basic point. Whereas for the philatelist forming a catalogue collection, the design and motif of the stamp is of inferior importance, for the thematic collector it is the most important element. The classical collector, particularly the specialist, is interested in the technical details of the stamp, in its perforation, paper and details of design. On the other hand, the thematic collector concentrates on the image on the stamp. He is interested in the meaning and so acquires knowledge in a variety of fields; he pursues variants of the factual and artistic expression of certain motifs and notes objective connections. He considers how he can apply the pictures to the basic theme and how he can illustrate the theme with the help of philatelic material. All through this work, the theme and its elaboration and the use and application of philatelic material are of equal importance.

One level of thematic collecting is subject collections and is distinguished by either the picture on the stamp - ships, flowers, prehistoric animals - or the purpose of the issue - Red Cross, Olympic Games, World Refugee Year. These collections are simply prepared without any libretto or guide line and without any detailed explanatory text. Usually whole sets of stamps are included. The simplest way or organizing such a collection is to arrange the individual stamps and sets with similar images according to the country of issue in alphabetical order, and within each country in chronological order based upon the catalogue and date of issue. A more ambitious way would be to organize the motifs on the basis of a specific key (flowers could be categorized according to botanical species).

A more demanding level in this style of philately is represented by thematic collections where a libretto is prepared, the collection provided with explanatory texts, and the stamp sets split up and distributed according to the requirements of the libretto. To form a good thematic collection, the philatelist must acquire a great deal of knowledge in the field of the selected theme. The collection as a whole must show the amount of creative work invested in the preparation and study of the theme as well as in the styling of the texts and the entire arrangement of the collection. Profound philatelic knowledge is an absolute requirement.

Every really good thematic collection represents a genuine, original achievement.

The Wide World of Stamps

It is necessary to identify the main attributes a stamp must have to be considered a postage stamp. A postage stamp must be issued by a postal administration of a State, or by the postal authorities of a part of this State, or by other authorities who are entitled to do so. A postage stamp must be issued officially and must prepay the cost of conveying an item of mail from the place of posting to the addressee in any part of the world by the regular services of any of the world's post offices.

Postage stamps do not have to be issued for the whole territory of a State (viz. the cantonal stamps of Switzerland, the stamps of the Canadian provinces), and do not have to be valid for the whole territory of a State (for example, the Czechoslovak 'service' stamps issued after 1945 which were valid only on the territory of Slovakia).

The issuing office must have postal sovereignty over the territory and also the means to transport mail. Therefore, stamps issued by governments in exile cannot be considered to be postage stamps. Although the overwhelming majority of postage stamps bear the name of the issuing State or country, this is not absolutely necessary. British stamps, for instance, have no text giving the name of the country; they just feature the portrait of the King or the Queen. After all, Great Britain was the first country to issue stamps and it is certainly entitled to this privilege.

Postage stamps usually have a text giving the franking value, but this is not absolutely necessary. Take for example the Austrian newspaper stamps with the head of Mercury of 1851. There are no value figures on the stamps; this was denoted by colour.

In addition to officially issued postage stamps there are other stamps worth attention. In various places during different periods, postal services were established which supplemented and enlarged the postal network of the State. For these purposes and the executive authorities, for instance the regional or local authorities or private companies and persons charged to supply these postal services, issued their own stamps. Although in these cases, there is no actual State postal service, such stamps are interesting for collectors. It is important to decide whether such issues are postage stamps, whether their issue really did serve a need, whether it was necessary and whether they were really used as payment for the delivery of mail. If these conditions are met, then such issues achieve the character of stamps and become items of philatelic interest.

Such semi-official and private issues can be found used on their own or on mail or in combination with official stamps in places where such a local or private postal service was connected to the official network of postal services. Such mixed frankings are of great interest and very much sought after in the philatelic world.

Who are the Stamp Experts?

Every large organization of philatelists has its expert committee whose members are amateur or professional philatelists with great knowledge who systematically study the stamps and philatelic material of their sphere of interest or speciality. If someone aspires to become a philatelic expert, he has first to prove his abilities and qualifications. This is usually done by publishing specialized studies dealing with certain stamp issues, lectures and practical work. Even so, a future expert is at first usually accepted only as a candidate; and only after a specific period of time, during which he has to prove his qualification, is he accorded the title of an expert.

The field of philately has become so wide that it is impossible for anyone to be a specialist and expert in everything so each expert has his own special, and sometimes very limited, field. There are experts for the whole field of classical philately, experts for British stamps, experts for German or Italian States, experts in aero-philately and experts in areas specific to thematic collections. The best experts and specialists of a certain country are usually to be found in that particular country. They mainly collect their own country's stamps; these are available in sufficient numbers and most is known about their background, production, printing and use.

Expert committees need not be large bodies, and not all fields of philately are represented on them. That is why a close co-operation has been established between the expert committees of the individual national philatelic societies. Out of the lists of experts registered, the judges for large international stamp exhibitions are chosen.

Members of the expert committees have the right and obligation to examine stamps. When an expert finds that the stamp he is scrutinising is genuine, he may apply his signature (handstamp) to the back of the stamp. This is the practice on the Continent. In England, the examination is made by expert committees of the Royal Philatelic Society of London or the British Philatelic Association. If a stamp is genuine, a photograph is taken and a certificate issued with photograph and number. Another photograph is kept in the records of the committee for further reference.

When expert signatures are printed on the back of a stamp, their position, according to international rules, is of great significance. If an expert finds that a stamp is a forgery, it is his duty to mark it as such. Everybody handing in stamps for scrutiny must expect that, if they are forgeries, they will be marked to make it impossible to sell them as genuine.

The signature of internationally recognised experts in certain fields of philately is well known among specialists. Do not accept any signature on the back as proof of genuineness. It has been found that stamp forgers not only forged stamps and overprints but experts signatures as well. Every philatelist has the ability to acquire deep, specialized knowledge in his field of collecting which will bring him near the level of philatelic expert. There is only one way to achieve this - devoted study of specialized literature, following up everything published in that particular field, study of historical sources and, most importantly, a serious study of the stamps in question.

Postage stamps and postal history of Argentina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Argentine postage stamps were first issued in 1862 by the National Postal Service, a federal entity that dates from 1854, following the establishment of the Republic in lieu of the former, failed Confederacy. A number of provinces and territories, particularly in the then-remote far north and far south, continued to issue their own postage brands and stamps for some time, afterwards; some of these issues have since become collectors' items.

The Classical Period: 1856-1892

Early provincial stamps

The first period in the political history of Argentine postage stamps is the so-called Classical one between the first stamps (1856) and the first commemorative ones (1892). The earliest Argentine stamps were issued by the separate provinces of Corrientes (1856-80), Cordoba (1859-62), and Buenos Aires (1858-59). The mere existence of these provincial stamps reflects the reality that Argentina was hardly a single organized country in that period, but rather a loose federation of some very independent provinces.

Corrientes Philately

Corrientes, a province in north-east Argentina, issued postage stamps from 1856 to 1878. The stamps were printed by typography and were crude copies of the first issue of stamps from France, which depicted the profile head of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. See this side by side comparison. They were individually engraved by hand, so that each die is noticeably different, and were printed in small sheets. All stamps were printed on brightly colored paper. The first stamp, issued in 1856, bore the denomination of one real in the lower panel. In 1860, the denomination was marked out by pen and the stamp was revalued at 3 centavos. Beginning in 1860, the value panel was erased and six more stamps were issued in two, three and (briefly) five centavos denominations, distinguished only by the color of the paper used. As locally produced "primitives", the early Corrientes stamps have long been prized by collectors. After 1880, stamps of Argentina were used.

Louis Stich, an expert on the Corrientes stamps, has explained the origin of the issue as follows: In 1856 there was an extreme shortage in paper or coins under 8 Reales. At the same time, the Corrientes Assembly authorized stamps for pre-paid postal use. The State Printing Bureau decided to print stamps to serve both for postal use and for small change. The director of the State Printing Bureau, Paul Emile Coni, supposedly could not locate anyone capable of cutting the stamp dies. At that time, a baker�s delivery boy, Matias Pipet, who had served as an apprentice to an engraver in Italy before arriving in Corrientes, said he could undertake the task. Coni, for reasons unknown, selected the French Ceres stamp as the design and the boy prepared the designs. The dies produced were "so extremely crude" that Coni was afraid to use them, but he eventually decided that he had no choice as the need for the stamps was urgent. Stich observed that "with each re-telling" of this story, "more fiction seems to replace the original facts."

The first argentine stamp

The first stamp of Argentina as a nation was a rather crude lithographed seal of the Confederation (Scott #1 to 4) in 1858, followed in 1862 by the seal of the Argentine Republic (Scott #5 to 7). From 1864 to the first commemorative in 1892 a total of 24 different designs were issued. The majority of these stamp designs were small portraits of famous men, principally of the Independence period. The stamps do not identify these heroes of independence, so they would have meant little to anyone who was not familiar with Argentine history. Bushnell has analyzed the proceres appearing on these stamps, and concludes that they were primarily of the liberal current in Argentine political history, reflecting the principal trend after the fall of the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas in 1852. The dominant figure was one of the major figures of Argentine liberalism, Bernardino Rivadavia (Scott #61).

The Popper locals

One locally used postage stamp from this period bears mentioning because it shows Argentina's lack of national consolidation in the nineteenth century, especially in the distant reaches of the territory: the Tierra del Fuego local stamps. These were issued by a Rumanian mining engineer named Julius Popper, who in 1891 prepared his own postage stamps to cover the cost of postage from the scattered mining camps of Tierra del Fuego to the closest points of the Argentine or Chilean postal system in Sandy Point (Punta Arenas), on the Strait of Magellan, or Ushuaia on the Beagle Channel. The Popper locals were not recognized by the central government in Argentina or Chile, which required that their own stamps be added once letters from the Popper mining camps entered their postal system. The stamp itself is well-designed, with mining tools, the Tierra del Fuego label, and a partially hidden letter P for Julius Popper.

Argentina stamps since 1900

Portraying historical political and military figures like José de San Martín, Guillermo Brown and (during the early 1950s) deceased First Lady Eva Perón, Argentine postage issues remained little changed in their conservative, generally Art Nouveau aspect for much of the twentieth century.

Between October 1935 and the mid 1950s Argentina produced stamps known as the "Patriots and Natural resources issue". The low values illustrate major Argentinian patriots, such as former President Bernardino Rivadavia and the high value denominations show a selection of the country's natural resources that were the major contributors to the Argentine economy during the period. The series was printed on several papers; watermarked paper have the letters RA-for 'Republica Argentina' inside a circle, with rays surrounding the circle, while the unwatermarked papers vary in color and thickness.

In 1946, President Juan Perón nationalized the British-owned postal and telegraph services (many of their quintessentially British red mail drop boxes can still be seen in Buenos Aires, today). His Ministry of Public Services created what would later become EnCoTel (the "National Postal and Telegraph Entity") and, until its dissolution in 1997, this authority issued all Argentine postage stamps.

Argentine postage has, since the original facility's 1881 opening, been printed at the National Mint. One of the largest in the world, it also prints stamps and currency for a number of smaller Latin American nations, such as Bolivia, as well as other financial instruments.

Return to democracy

The conclusion of Argentina's last military regime in 1983 brought with it, among other things, a radical departure in the design of both currency and stamps. Argentine stamps have since been much more varied in style and theme, depicting zoological and phytological diagrams, art of various movements, photographic scenes of daily life and more unconventional subject matter.

A number of stamps were issued to celebrate the return to democracy after the military government with the inaugural of President Raúl Alfonsín (in office from 10 December 1983 to 9 July 1989). Culturally close to Argentina, Uruguay issued a stamp commemorating Alfonsín's state visit to that neighboring nation in November 1986.

Ceres Stamp Series (France)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ceres series was the first postage stamp series of France, issued in 1849 as a representation of the French Republic.

Stamps of France

Second Republic, 1849/1851

The two first postal stamps issued in France were of the Ceres series. They were printed with the effigy of Ceres, goddess of growing plants in Roman mythology. She wore a garland of wheat and a bunch of grapes in her hair. The design, which avoided any specifically republican or Revolutionary connotations, was drawn by Jacques-Jean Barre, general engraver at the Paris Mint, under the supervision of Anatole Hulot, a civil servant who obtained the right to print the stamps at the Mint until 1876.

The issue on the first January 1849 marked the application of a postal reform similar to the one in the United Kingdom of May 1840: to simplify the nationwide postal rates between Metropolitan France, Corsica and French Algeria and to encourage the payment by the sender through the use of postage stamps.

In January 1849, the two first denominations were a 20 centimes black stamp and a 1 franc red. As the postal reform was extended to other rates (local, rural and newspapers), new denominations were issued.

As early as 1849, the first of these stamps that earned philatelic interests afterwards existed. Because the black cancellations can be masked and the 20 centimes black stamp easily reused, the issue of the 40 centimes blue in January was aborted and switched to orange. While the 20 centimes blue was first printed in Spring 1849, it never replaced its black counterpart because of a change of rates in July 1850. In December 1849, part of the much paler red of the 1 franc stamps were recalled by the postal administration because their tint was too close to the 40 centimes orange to be issued in February 1850. The lighter stamps were named "vermilion" by philatelists. Two half-stamps of each tint were stuck on the official order to retrieve the vermilion.

After the coup in December 1851, Prince-President Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte decided to have his effigy on French stamps. The first denominations were issued progressively from September 1852 and throughout the Second Empire.

A poor imitation of the French stamps was used by the Corrientes Province local post in Argentina between 1856 and 1880.

Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871

During the Franco-Prussian War, after Republicans abolished the Empire of Napoleon III on 4 September 1870, they faced the siege of Paris by the German armies and the lack of postage stamps from the former rule. Houlot had to print new Ceres stamps until the insurrection of the Paris Commune, in Spring 1871. The printer told afterwards he hid the Ceres series material and was forced by the insurgents to print Napoleon III stamps.

At the same time, in Bordeaux, where the provisional government fled, the printing of Ceres stamps was authorized from the 5 November 1870 to the 4 March 1871 to supply the post offices of non-occupied France. The stamps were printed in lithography (instead of typography) by Augue-Delile. Because of this choice, stamps differ repetitively from one another.

Third Republic

After the war, the Ceres head was kept until 1875, again printed only in Paris by Anatole Hulot. He had to use old material to create new denominations (like the low values created in Bordeaux) because Jacques-Jean's son, broke his association with Hulot in 1866.

In July 1875, the postal administration gave the printing of its postage stamps to the Banque de France to reduce the high cost and delays it accused Hulot. The stamp design was changed too: a competition launched in August 1875 was won by Jules-Auguste Sage with its Commerce and Peace uniting and reigning over the world allegory. The new stamps were issued in 1876.


For the philatelic exhibition of Paris in 1937, PEXIP, a minisheet of four bicolored Ceres stamps was issued.

The next year, in 1938, began a new Ceres series with high values (1.75 to 3 francs), alongside the Sower series and the Peace series. The head was kept into a new decorum. All these definitives retired in 1941 and replaced by Philippe Petain's effigies, the Iris and Mercury series.

Liberation, 1945-1947

In 1945, a redesign effigy of Ceres by Charles Mazelin was among the numerous definitive series to be issue in liberated France.

Since 1949, on commemorative stamps

The Jacques-Jean Barre's Ceres effigy had appeared again on stamps commemorating the philatelic and postal history of France:

   *  1948: Stamp's Day stamp on stamp with effigy of Etienne Arago, director of posts in 1849;

   *  1949: a vertical stripe of two Ceres stamps and two Mariannes by Gandon (the definitive series of the time) for the centenary of the first French postage stamp;

   *  1949: inside a large white minisheet, was printed in intaglio a vermilion 10 franc Ceres stamp for the CIPEX exhibition in Paris;

   *  1999: for the 150th anniversary, a booklet of five black Ceres and one red Ceres stamps on stamps;

   *  1999: at the occasion of Philexfrance '99 in Paris, a stamp on stamp with the 20 centimes black and a holographic Ceres head.

The logo of the philatelic service of La Poste used the Ceres head.


In the French colonies

From 1849 to 1924, French Algeria used the same postage stamps and postal rates as in Metropolitan France. The Ceres series from France could be found cancelled in the French colony.

In 1850 and 1851 a little number of colonies used the Second Republic Ceres stamps.

From 1871 to 1877, imperforated Ceres stamps were sent to the colonies to replaced imperforated Napoléon III stamps. They served until the issue of imperforated Sage stamps in 1876. One mean to recognize the colonial Ceres stamps was the cancellation with a three letter code for each colony.


Ceres Stamp series (Portugal)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ceres series of Portuguese postage stamps is a definitive series depicting the Roman goddess Ceres that was issued between 1912 and 1945 in Portugal and its colonies.

History and description

The Ceres stamps were the first issued after the proclamation of the Portuguese Republic, superseding stamps figuring king Manuel II that had been overprinted with the word "República" 1910-1911.

Drawn by Constantino de Sobral Fernandes and engraved by José Sérgio de Carvalho e Silva, the design represents the goddess Ceres, standing and looking forward, holding a billhook in one hand and a sheaf of grain in the other. The inscriptions are "REPUBLICA PORTUGUESA" and "CORREIO" (for Portuguese Republic and Post). It was printed in typography by the Portuguese mint, Casa da Moeda.

The series were issued between February 16, 1912 and 1931. During their period of issue, they went through several changes:

  • 1918-1919 - overprint with new denominations
  • 1929 - overprint "Revalidado"
  • 1930 - re-engraving by Arnoldo Fragoso

The 1926 series was printed in lithography, engraved by Eufénio Carlo Alberto Merondi and printed by the British firm De La Rue. The author's names are not printed on this series.

The Ceres stamps were declared obsolete September 30, 1945, having been superseded in 1943 by the Caravel series of definitives.

In the colonies

Ceres stamps were issued in the Portuguese colonies as well, in a key plate design with the denominations and name of the colony printed in black.

However, in the Azores and Madeira Islands, the Ceres stamps in use were Portuguese ones overprinted with the archipelago's name. In 1928, Madeira received intaglio printed stamps with typographic denominations; they were made by Perkins Bacon in London.


Stamp catalog

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A stamp catalog (or stamp catalogue) is a catalog of postage stamp types. Although basically just a list of descriptions and prices, in practice the catalog is an essential tool of philately and stamp collecting. Stamp catalogs are part of philatelic literature.


The first stamp catalog was published in France by Oscar Berger-Levrault on 17 September 1861 and the first illustrated catalog by Alfred Potiquet in December 1861 (based on the earlier work).

The first catalogs in Great Britain were published in 1862 by Frederick Booty, Mount Brown, and Dr. John Edward Gray.  The first in the United States was The Stamp Collector's Manual by A.C. Kline (a pseudonym for John William Kline), also 1862.

Catalogs today

Originally catalogs were just dealers' price lists, and in some cases, that is still one of their functions. Over time, as philately developed, catalogs tended to accumulate additional supporting details about the stamps, such as dates of issue, color variations, and so forth. As their use by collectors became widespread, the catalogs came to define what was and was not a legitimate stamp, since many collectors would avoid stamps not described in their catalog. In recent year, the Internet has become a common resource for stamps information. Some catalogs have an on-line version while others are available only on-line.

The following printed catalogs have a worldwide coverage:

  • Michel
  • Minkus
  • Stanley Gibbons
  • Scott
  • Yvert et Tellier

These are large undertakings, since there are thousands of new stamps to describe each year, and the prices of all stamps may go up or down. (In the case of publisher that are not dealers, the prices are estimated by collection of data from dealers and auctions.)

In addition, the catalog publishers usually put out specialized volumes with additional details, generally by nationality; Michel has a specialized German catalog, Scott a specialized US, and so forth.

Many countries have their own "national catalogs", typically put out by a leading publisher or dealer in that country. Postal administrations may themselves put out catalogs, although they tend to be aimed at less-experienced collectors, and rarely supply fully-detailed stamp data. Notable country catalogs include:

  • Anfils (Spain)
  • Brusden-White (Australia)
  • Facit (all countries of Scandinavia)
  • Fischer (Poland)
  • ISC catalog (Brunei, Malaysia & Singapore)
  • Ma (China)
  • Sakura (Japan)
  • Sassone (Italy)
  • Yang (Hongkong)
  • Yvert et Tellier (France)
  • Zumstein (Switzerland)

Building on this idea, many specialized catalogs have been published, for instance to list and value different kind of postmarks used in a particular country during a single era.

It is worth noting that older catalogs are widely used by collectors for several reasons:

  • Older catalogs may contain information not found in current catalogs
  • Stamps issued in recent years (1950-2005) have less variations than older stamps. Older catalogs cover the older issues.
  • Many collectors use a catalog for stamp identification instead of valuation. Therefore, outdated prices are less important.


Michel catalog

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Michel catalog (MICHEL-Briefmarken-Katalog) is the largest and best-known stamp catalog in the German-speaking world. First published in 1910, it has become an important reference work for philately, with information not available in the English-language Scott catalog.

The catalog started out as a price list for the dealer Hugo Michel of Apolda. By 1920 it was split into two volumes, for "Europe" and "overseas", and eventually grew to a present-day size of about a dozen volumes covering the entire world, with additional specialized volumes bringing the total to some forty catalogs. It extensively covers specialized Germany collecting including the complex WW2 era stamps of Germany, occupied territories, and provisional stamps.

Unlike Scott, Michel does not issue a complete set of catalogs every year, instead updating only several of the volumes. Michel is also more detailed, with quantities issued, sheet formats, and so forth. Also of significance to some collectors is its coverage of countries and periods omitted by Scott for editorial or political reasons. For instance, US embargoes against Cuba, Iraq and North Korea, are reflected by Scott's failure to show market values for those countries' stamp issues (as late as 2002, Scott did not supply any information at all about North Korean stamps), and Michel is one of few sources for that information.

Michel also documents stamps issued apparently with little or no intent of being used to pay postage and stamps issued by regions or areas with dubious political status. Scott excludes many issues that were unlikely to be actually used to pay postage.


Stanley Gibbons

Stamp catalogues

The first Stanley Gibbons stamp catalogue was a penny price list issued in November 1865 and issued at monthly intervals for the next 14 years. The company produces numerous catalogues which are largely defined by country, region or specialism, many of which are reissued annually. The catalogues lists all known adhesive postage stamp issues and include prices for used and unused stamps.


Unlike other catalogues, Stanley Gibbons state that their catalogue still represents a normal retail stamp dealers price list. In other words, if they had that exact stamp in stock in the exact condition specified, the current catalogue price is the price that they would sell it for. Of course, many items are unavailable or out of stock. Gibbons also impose a minimum charge for the supply of any stamp of £1, regardless of the value given in the catalogue and this represents a charge for service.

This contrasts with most other catalogues which are produced by firms that do not sell stamps and therefore attempt to give a price based on an average of market values in the country where the catalogue is published.

Catalogue range

The range includes the following catalogues:

  • Stamps of the World. (A simplified catalogue on which all the others are based.)
  • Commonwealth & Empire Stamps. (A specialised catalogue up to, currently, 1970. Known as Part 1.)
  • Individual specialised catalogues for Commonwealth countries. (e.g. Canada, Australia. The same content as Part 1 but up to date.)
  • Individual specialised catalogues for Foreign (non-Commonwealth) countries. (e.g. France, United States, parts 2 to 22.)
  • Collect British Stamps and versions for the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. (Simple colour catalogues.)
  • The Great Britain Concise catalogue. (Intermediate level of detail.)
  • The Great Britain Specialised catalogues (multi-volume). (Highly specialised for the expert.)

All are based on the same numbering system drawn from Stamps of the World, apart from the British Specialised catalogues which have their own numbering system.


Scott catalogue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Scott catalogue of postage stamps, published by Scott Publishing Co, a subsidiary of Amos Press, is updated annually and lists all the stamps of the entire world which its editors recognize as issued for postal purposes. It is published in six large volumes (as of 2008) and is also produced in non-printable CD and DVD editions. The numbering system used by Scott to identify stamps is dominant among stamp collectors in the United States and Canada.

The first Scott catalogue was a 21-page pamphlet with the title Descriptive Catalogue of American and Foreign Postage Stamps, Issued from 1840 to Date, Splendidly Illustrated with Colored Engravings and Containing the Current Value of each Variety. It was published in September 1868 by John Walter Scott, an early stamp dealer in New York, and purported to list all the stamps of the world, with prices for each. A notice inside does caution the reader that "it is simply impossible for any one to always have every stamp" in stock. The original catalog has been reprinted.

In subsequent years, the Scott company gave up dealing in stamps but continued to publish the catalog, gradually providing more detail as the hobby evolved and collectors became more sophisticated. In addition to the factual information about the stamps, the catalog includes price information based on market analysis and reported sales from the previous year. As of 2006, and despite annual changes to save space, the catalog was more than 5,000 pages.

The Scott numbering system assigns plain numbers for regular mail stamps, and uses capital letter prefixes for special-purpose types, such as "B" for semi-postals and "C" for airmail. The numbers are generally consecutive; there are gaps among older stamps, where some numbered types were later renumbered, and among newer stamps where Scott has left numbers unassigned in the anticipation of additional stamps in a series. If more stamps than expected appear, Scott will add a capital letter as suffix, or if the change is very recent, it will renumber stamps. Minor variations, such as shades or errors, get a lowercase letter; so the "C3a" above indicates a variation (error in this case) on the third US airmail stamp.

Because of its commercial importance the publishers of the Scott Catalogue claim copyright on their numbering systems, and grant only limited licences for their use by others. The inconsistency with which Scott enforced these licences resulted in a lawsuit by Krause Publications (publishers of the Minkus Catalogue) for copyright infringement. After Krause filed a defence the suit was settled out of court, and Krause continued to reference the Scott numbers. It has been speculated that Scott was not successful. Attempts by philatelists to establish an alternative have not yet been successful.

Editors of this, the dominant catalog in the US, have great influence over what is and is not considered to be a valid postage stamp. For instance, in the 1960s the countries of the United Arab Emirates issued many stamps that were likely never actually on sale in a post office, so Scott does not list them. One must go to a Michel catalog, for instance, to see them described. The lack of a Scott listing, though, means that most American dealers will refuse to trade in such stamps.

Similarly, Scott does not list most stamps from countries embargoed by the US government, or in some cases lists them but with no prices. To some extent, this is unavoidable, since the ban on importation means that Scott's editors are unable even to acquire copies of the stamps to be described. Moreover, since US dealers and collectors are unable to buy the stamps legally, they are unlikely to have any need of the data. (Again, interested persons typically use Michel or other catalogs instead.) The policy changes with government policy; stamps of Libya and North Vietnam recently reappeared in Scott after an absence of some years.

The dominance of Scott is such that US collectors know many of the numbers by heart, and dealers need only mention the number in their price lists. For instance, United States no. "C3a" is instantly recognized as the Inverted Jenny, a rare US airmail inverted error stamp.

The contents of each volume (in current editions) are as follows :

  • Volume 1: United States and Countries A-B
  • Volume 2: Countries C-F
  • Volume 3: Countries G-I
  • Volume 4: Countries J-O
  • Volume 5: Countries P-Si
  • Volume 6: Countries So-Z

Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers

Scott Publishing Co also produces a related volume which more comprehensively lists all United States Postage Stamps and Postal History. It is generally known as the "Scott Specialized" and is regarded by many as the definitive single volume reference to USA postage stamps. The catalogue provides more detail than Volume One, with particular emphasis on varieties and errors. A new edition of the catalogue is produced annually with a particular edition year date generally indicating production in the middle of the previous year. Biannual Valuing Supplements are also issued in the Spring and Fall.

Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue: Stamps and Covers of the World

Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue: Stamps and Covers of the World is limited to stamps and covers that were produced between 1840-1940 or for the British Common Wealth nations to 1952. It covers all postage stamp producing nations in one volume for those years.



Yvert et Tellier's major product is a stamp catalog which is a reference for stamps and countries that are most collected by French philatelists: France, Andorra, Monaco, and the former French colonies and their philatelic history as independent states. In France, it is one of the most important philatelic publishing companies, along with Cérès and Dallay.

Continuing the old association between Louis Yvert and Théodore Champion, the Ancienne Maison Théodore Champion edits monthly and yearly a colour catalog of newly issued stamps from all over the world. Usually, Yvert catalogs for non-European countries were printed in black and white, but in 2008 they started with full color prints.

It is one of the international references as well, with Michel, Scott and Stanley Gibbons. The Yvert catalogs list stamps issued by all countries in the world, but for non-European countries, the volumes are organized in alphabetic order whereas the German company Michel uses a geographical classification.


Genesis and management successions

During the 1890s in Amiens, the Yvert family's printing works is the property of Louis Yvert, grandson of the founder, and his chief printer Théodule Tellier; Tellier kept the company running after the premature death of Louis' father. Louis did not like being in charge of the legimist paper founded by his father, L'Écho de la Somme. He discovered stamp collecting thanks to Tellier, a philatelist, who had already added a small philatelic newspaper, L'Écho de la timbrologie, to the papers printed by the company.

In 1895, Yvert and Tellier started getting involved in philatelic books. In November 1896 they published a worldwide catalog of stamps and a stamp album. The success was immediate because of their logical and permanent numbering, in contrast to most of their contemporaries, who changed the numbers in their catalogues upon discovering forgotten stamps.

In 1900, Yvert et Tellier associated with Paris stamp dealer Théodore Champion, who sold unused stamps from all over the world. He fixed the prices of the stamps sold by the company. After Champion's death in 1955, Pierre Yvert and the brothers Ladislas and Alexandre Varga bought Champion's company and the new firm continued to fix Yvert et Tellier's prices.

In April 1913, Tellier sold his share of the company to Louis Yvert because of the loss of his young grandson. Due to their friendship, Yvert decided that the catalog would continue to be named Yvert et Tellier.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Yvert prepared his two sons and his son-in-law to run the firm. Henri ran the printing works, his brother Pierre directed L'Écho de la timbrologie, and Jean Gervais took care of the publishing.

Pierre Yvert's and Jean Gervais' two grandsons have run the company since the 1990s.

Recent commercial history

Since 2001 the apparition of the Dallay catalog has had a major effect on the French philatelist public by providing larger pictures of stamps and information not found in the Yvert et Tellier catalogs, such as the name of the artiste and/or engraver, first date of issue, use, etc. Yvert has been fighting on two fronts: it has successfully defended the rights to its numbering system, and it distributes a free CD-ROM with its French stamp catalog.

Nevertheless, in March 2005, by urging of the French Conseil de la concurrence, Yvert agreed to sell the use of the Yvert stamp numbers to other publishers.

In June 2006 Yvert et Tellier published a new catalog of French stamps, a cheaper pocketbook version containing just pictures and prices, as did Cérès, the second main philatelic publishing company in France.


Philatelic literature

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Philatelic literature is written material relating to philately, primarily information about postage stamps and postal history.

Background to philatelic literature

Consider a letter found pressed between the pages of an old book, sent from a relative working in a remote part of the world. How did the letter get from there to here? Was there a company mail boat that carried it, or was there a remote town with its own post office? Was the sender in an independent country, or a colony too small to issue its own stamps? Why did the recipient's country accept the expense of carrying the letter the rest of the way, and if it didn't, how did it arrange to get paid for delivering the letter? Come to think of it, how did the letter cross the border? Philatelic and postal history research answer these sorts of questions, and the results are then published in a variety of books and journals.

Main types of philatelic literature

Philatelic literature is generally divided into the following categories:

  • Stamp catalogues
    • Single country catalogues
    • Worldwide catalogues
    • Geographic area catalogues (e.g. Africa)
    • Time period catalogues (e.g. Reign of King George V)
    • Specialized catalogues (e.g. postmarks, plate blocks, perfins, etc)
  • Periodicals
    • Journals
    • Society newsletters
  • Auction catalogues
  • Books
  • Bibliographies of philatelic literature
  • Background material - Non philatelic material useful to stamp collectors. For example, currency exchange rates, maps, newspapers etc.

The stamp catalogue

Perhaps the most basic sort of literature is the stamp catalogue. This is basically a list of types of postage stamps along with their market values.

The first stamp catalogue was published in France by Oscar Berger-Levrault on 17 September 1861 and the first illustrated catalogue by Alfred Potiquet in December 1861 (based on the earlier work).

The first catalogues in Great Britain were published in 1862 by Frederick Booty,  Mount Brown, and Dr. John Edward Gray.  The first in the United States was The Stamp Collector's Manual by A.C. Kline (a pseudonym for John William Kline), also 1862.

Some catalogues, like the Michel catalogue and various one-country catalogues, offer a great deal of information going beyond the basic properties of each stamp type.

The single country book

Another common sort of book is the comprehensive "Stamps and Postal History" of a single country. These go beyond the basic date, denomination, and market price seen in the catalogues, explaining why particular stamps were issued, where and how they used, and more generally how the country's postal system worked in various periods.

The specialised study

The next level of specialization is remarkable both for the level of minutiae and the number of works that have been published. Specialists write monographs summarizing everything that is known about a single type of stamp - the history of its design, the printing process, when and where the stamp was sold to the public, and all the ways it was used on mail. If the stamps is particularly rare (the Inverted Jenny or the missionary stamps of Hawaii), the book may actually include a census of every single copy known to exist. As might be expected, the audience is small, and the print runs of these books are small too. Classic works out of print may be much-sought-after, sometimes even more than the stamps they are describing!

Other kinds of specialized work include comprehensive studies of postal usage in limited areas and times, perhaps mail in Montana Territory before it became a state, or mail from missionaries in Uganda before it became a British colony.

The philatelic journal

In addition to books, there are a great number of philatelic journals. The first stamp magazine was the Monthly Intelligencer from Brimingham, England, followed shortly by many others. The journals and newsletters of clubs and societies also have an important role in philatelic literature. Many journals only run for a few numbers and then cease but they often contain information found nowhere else and therefore are valuable sources for philatelists.

Some popular philatelic periodicals are:

  • The American Philatelist - worldwide topics with a focus on USA
  • Canadian Stamp News - worldwide topics with a focus on Canada
  • Deutsche Briefmarken Zeitung (Germany)
  • Gibbons Stamp Monthly (UK) - worldwide topics with a focus on Great Britain and British Commonwealth
  • Linn's Stamp News (USA) - worldwide topics with a focus on USA

Philatelic bibliography

The scale and complexity of philatelic literature is such that it has its own journal, the Philatelic Literature Review, published quarterly by the American Philatelic Research Library.

There are also a number of libraries devoted solely to philatelic literature. (see link below)

Further reading

  • Birch, Brian. The Philatelic Bibliophile's Companion, 3rd edition, Standish, Wigan, 2007.
  • Negus, James. Philatelic Literature. Compilation Techniques and Reference Sources, James Bendon, Limassol, Cyprus, 1991. ISBN 9963762433
  • Pearson, Patrick. Advanced Philatelic Research, Arthur Barker, London, 1971. ISBN 0213003260


Postage stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A postage stamp is adhesive paper evidence of a fee paid for postal services. Usually a small rectangle attached to an envelope, the stamp signifies the person sending it has fully or partly paid for delivery. Postage stamps are the most popular way of paying for retail mail; alternatives include prepaid-postage envelopes and postage meters. The study of postage stamps is philately. Stamp collecting is the hobby of collecting stamps.



Although James Chalmers and Lovrenc Košir lay claim to the concept of the postage stamp, postage stamps were first introduced in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in May 1, 1840 as part of postal reforms promoted by Rowland Hill. With its introduction the postage fee was to be paid by the sender and not the recipient, though sending mail prepaid was not a requirement. The first stamp, the Penny Black, put on sale on 1 May, was valid from 6 May, 1840; two days later came the Two pence blue. Both show an engraving of the young Queen Victoria and were a success though refinements like perforations were instituted later. At the time, there was no reason to include the United Kingdom's name on the stamp, and the UK remains the only country not to identify itself by name on the stamps (the monarch's head is used as identification).

Stamps were not officially perforated until January 1854,  except in the parliamentary session of 1851,  when stamps perforated by Mr. Archer were issued at the House of Commons. In 1853, the Government paid Mr. Archer £4,000 for the patent.

Other countries followed with their own stamps: the Canton of Zürich in Switzerland issued the Zurich 4 and 6 rappen on 1 March, 1843. Although the Penny Black could send a letter less than half an ounce anywhere within the UK, the Swiss continued to calculate mail rates on distance. Brazil issued the Bull's Eye stamps on 1 August, 1843. Using the same printer as for the Penny Black, Brazil opted for an abstract design instead of a portrait of Emperor Pedro II so that his image would be not be disfigured by the postmark. In 1845 some postmasters in the U.S. issued their own stamps, but the first official stamps came in 1847, with 5 and 10 cent stamps depicting Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. A few other countries issued stamps in the late 1840s. Many more, such as India, started in the 1850s and by the 1860s most countries had stamps.

Following the introduction of the stamp in the UK the number of letters increased from 82 million in 1839 to 170 million in 1841. Today 21 billion items are delivered by post every year in the UK.

Postage stamp design

Stamps have been issued in shapes besides rectangle, including circular, triangular and pentagonal. Sierra Leone and Tonga issued stamps in the shapes of fruit; Bhutan issued one with its national anthem on a playable record. Stamps have been made of embossed foil (sometimes of gold); Switzerland made a stamp partly of lace and one of wood; the United States produced one of plastic, and the German Democratic Republic issued a stamp of synthetic chemicals. In the Netherlands a stamp was made of silver foil. On paper, stamps have been produced by a variety of printing techniques such as lithography, line engraving, photogravure, intaglio and web offset printing.

First day covers

On the first day of issue a set of stamps can be purchased attached to an envelope with a commemorative postmark. Known as a First Day Cover, it can also be assembled from the component parts by stamp collectors, who are the most frequent users. These envelopes usually bear a commemorative cachet of the subject for which the stamp was created.

Souvenir or miniature sheets

Postage stamps are sometimes issued in souvenir sheets or miniature sheets containing one or a small number of stamps. Souvenir sheets typically include additional artwork or information printed on the selvage, the border surrounding the stamps. Sometimes the stamps make up a greater picture. Some countries, and some issues, are produced as individual stamps as well as sheets.


Stamp collecting is a popular hobby. Collecting is not the same as philately, which is the study of stamps. A philatelist often does, but need not, collect the objects of study, nor is it necessary to closely study what one collects. Many casual collectors enjoy accumulating stamps without worrying about the tiny details. The creation of a large or comprehensive collection, however, may require some philatelic knowledge.

Stamp collectors are an important source of revenue for some small countries who create limited runs of elaborate stamps designed mainly to be bought by stamp collectors. The stamps produced by these countries far exceed the postal needs of the countries.

The hundreds of countries, each producing scores of different stamps each year, resulted in 400,000 types of stamp by 2000. Annual world output averages about 10,000 types.

Philatelic abuse

Some countries produce stamps intended primarily for collectors rather than for postal use.This contributes to the countries' revenues. This practice is condoned by collectors for places such as Liechtenstein and Pitcairn Islands that have conservative stamp policies. Abuses, however, are generally condemned. Among the most notable abusers have been Nicholas F. Seebeck and the component states of the United Arab Emirates. Seebeck operated in the 1890s as agent of Hamilton Bank Note Company and approached Latin American countries with an offer to produce their entire postage stamp needs free. In return he would have exclusive rights to market stamps to collectors. Each year a new issue was produced but it expired at the end of the year; this assured Seebeck of a continuing supply of remainders. In the 1960s printers such as the Barody Stamp Company contracted to produce stamps for the separate Emirates and other countries. These abuses combined with the sparse population of the desert states earned them the reputation of "sand dune" countries.

Some collectors have taken to philatelic investment. Rare stamps are among the most portable of tangible investments, and are easy to store.


Sheet of stamps

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A sheet of stamps or press sheet is a unit of stamps as printed, usually on large sheets of paper based on the size of the printing plate, that are separated into panes that are sold at post offices. Where more than one pane is on a printed sheet they are arranged in a table-like arrangement. The spaces between the single stamps are all of the same size and provide space for a cut or perforation.

Size and format

Today, a sheet of stamps is the most common way of arranging stamps on the impressed paper. The number of stamps on a sheet and the format of the sheet depend on the size and format of the individual stamps. Small stamps are usually printed on sheets of a hundred stamps, although the Penny Black, as with other pre-decimal sterling currency stamps, were printed in sheets of 240; larger stamps are printed on sheets of fifty, twenty-five or twenty, as is done by the USPS.

On November 13, 1994, the Deutsche Post changed the format of its emissions to sheets of ten stamps each, due to reasons of efficiency. The edges of these sheets are specially designed, making them a novel field of collecting.

Printing sheet

In fact, the term printing sheet refers only to a part of the actual printing sheet. This is because stamps are mostly printed in four connected sheets, to make best use of the stamp paper. At the post office counter, only the four separated printing sheets are sold. Therefore the sheet of stamps is also called a counter sheet or pane, though improperly called a sheet of stamps.


The empty fields connecting the single counter sheets are called gutters. Normally they are separated in the middle after printing in order to obtain four counter sheets. The half empty fields or gutters then form the edge of the sheet. However from many issues, unseparated gutters with connected stamps of the neighbouring sheets come on the market (stamp - empty field - stamp). These gutters may be either empty or printed, if printed edges were intended.

The philatelist makes a distinction between horizontal and vertical gutters. A specific characteristic of the gutters is the heart of the printing sheet, where all four panes are connected. Gutters and hearts are very popular with collectors and reach high catalog prices, especially for classic issues.


Single counter sheets do not always have to be separated by empty fields. Issues which were not intended to have edges were naturally manufactured without empty fields. To be able to distinguish between the single sheets better, the stamps were printed rotated 180° to each other along the separation line. Philatelists describe the two stamps which are upside down in relationship to each other as tête-bêche. Some issues have tête-bêches as well as gutters.

Like gutters, tête-bêches are very popular with collectors due to their rarity.

Stamp arrangement and location

The stamps are arranged on the sheet in a table with rows and columns. Due to this arrangement, the location of each stamp can be precisely determined. The philatelist counts the single stamps horizontally from left to right, but the post counts them vertically from top to bottom. Accordingly, the third stamp in the sixth row of a sheet of 10 x 10 would be the 53rd stamp of the sheet for the collector, but the 26th stamp for the post.

The first postage stamps of the UK, the Penny Black, were printed in sheets of 20 rows and 12 columns, but the location on the sheet was indicated by different letters in the bottom corners of each stamp. An "A" in the lower left corner indicated the first row, a "B" the second one, the "C" the third one, etc. The columns were indicated according to the same scheme in the lower right corner. Thus the top left stamp had the letter combination "A" - "A", the bottom right stamp had "T" - "L". As a result, 240 different stamps were made for each plate used. This was intended to prevent forgery.

Sheet edge

The term "sheet edge" refers to the empty fields connected to the stamps and arranged around the sheet. These fields are often unprinted. However in many cases, quite a bit of interesting information can be found on them, e.g. printing dates or the like. The most important inscriptions printed on the edges of the sheet are:

  • number of the edition
  • sheet inscription (advertisements, information about the stamp issue, etc.)
  • printing dates
  • internal numbers
  • registration marks
  • plate numbers
  • banding
  • counter of the row value




From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In philately, tête-bêche (French for "head-to-tail", lit. "head-to-head") is a joined pair of stamps in which one is upside-down in relation to the other, produced intentionally or accidentally. Like any pair of stamps, a pair of tête-bêches can be a vertical or a horizontal pair. In the case of a pair of triangular stamps, they cannot help but be linked "head-to-tail".Mechanical errors during the process of production can result in tête-bêches, but in most cases tête-bêches are produced for the purpose of collecting.

During the printing of stamps for booklets, the pages of stamps are usually printed in

multiples from a larger printing plate. This can result in tête-bêche pairs. It is unusual

for these pairs to find their way into the postal system, as they are cut into individual

booklet pages before binding into the distributed booklet. A block of 24 5d Machin

stamps, which should have been guillotined into four booklet pages, includes four

tête-bêche pairs. This was sold in 1970, in the normal course of business, by the

British Post Office and is exhibited by a member of the Royal Mail Stamp Advisory



Coil stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A coil stamp is a type of postage stamp sold in strips one stamp wide. The name derives from the usual handling of long strips, which is to coil them into rolls, in a manner reminiscent of adhesive tape rolls. A large percentage of modern stamps are sold in coil form, since they are more amenable to mechanized handling in large quantities than either sheet stamps or booklet stamps.

Coil stamps first appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. In the United States for instance, vending machines companies began to experiment with the automated dispensing of stamps. Early efforts to break sheets into strips manually did not work well, since they were prone to tearing and jamming, and soon the companies began to request imperforate sheets from the post office, cutting those into strips and punching holes of various shapes between each stamp. A variety of these "private coils" is known, some quite rare. The first US government-produced coils appeared in 1908, produced by pasting together enough imperforate sheets to make rolls of 500 or 1,000 stamps, cutting them into strips and perforating between. In the UK, coil stamps first appered in 1907, to supply newly installed stamp vending machines. As these were cut from complete sheets, they are perforated on all four sides. As each stamp was worth either a half or one old penny and 240 pence made up one pound sterling, the coils were in rolls of 960 or 480 each.

Later a rotary press was adopted, which eliminated the pasting stage. The cylindrical plate used on a rotary press has a seam where ink tends to accumulate, resulting in joint line pairs.

The perforations of coil stamps are usually found along the right and left sides ("vertical perf"), but they have also been produced with perforations along the top and bottom ("horizontal perf").

A recent innovation enabled by self-adhesive technology is the linerless coil stamp. While most self-adhesive stamps have backing paper, linerless coils are like a roll of adhesive tape. Such rolls tend to be enormous, with thousands of stamps, and tend to be used only by large mailing operations.

While in most countries coil production is restricted to the workaday stamps used in large quantities, Sweden has produced coil versions of most of their stamps since 1920.


Postage stamp booklet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A postage stamp booklet is a set of one or more small panes of postage stamps, usually totalling about 10–20 stamps, folded over and placed in a cardboard cover. Smaller and easier to handle than a whole sheet of stamps, in many countries booklets have become a favored way to purchase stamps.

Booklets of telegraph stamps are known to have been issued by the California State Telegraph Company in 1870, and by Western Union in 1871, and on 14 October 1884 an A.W. Cooke of Boston received Patent 306,674 from the United States Patent Office for the idea of putting postage stamps into booklets.

However, Luxembourg was the first country to issue booklets, in 1895, followed by Sweden in 1898. The idea became popular, and spread worldwide shortly in the first part of the 20th century.

Originally booklets were produced manually, by separating sheets into smaller panes and binding those. These are not distinguishable from the sheet stamps. Later, the popularity of booklets meant that it was worthwhile to produce booklet panes directly; printing onto large sheets, then cutting into booklet panes each with a small number of stamps, and perforating between the stamps of each pane. These kinds of stamps usually have 1, 2, or 3 straight edges, although some booklet panes have been printed 3 stamps across, and the middle stamps will have perforations all around.

Some countries, such as Sweden, routinely issue a single stamp design in coils, booklets, and sheets. The complete stamp collection will contain examples of each of these. Some collectors specialize in collecting the booklets themselves, or whole panes from a booklet; these often sell at a premium over the equivalent number of stamps. The oldest types of booklets were not much noticed at the time, nearly all used for postage, and intact booklets are quite rare today.


Postage stamp separation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For postage stamps, separation is the means by which individual stamps are made easily detachable from each other.

Methods of separation include:

  1. perforation - cutting rows and columns of small holes
  2. rouletting - small horizontal and vertical cuts
  3. diecutting - cut paper to shape using a metal die - used for self-adhesive stamps.

Early years


In the early years, from 1840 to the 1850s, all stamps were imperforate, and had to be cut from the sheet with scissors or knife. This was time-consuming and error-prone (as mangled stamps of the era attest). Once reliable separation equipment became available, nations switched rapidly. Imperforate stamps have been issued occasionally since then, either because separation equipment was temporarily unavailable (in newborn nations for instance), or to makers of automatic stamp vending equipment (the United States did this in the 1900s and 1910s), as novelties for stamp collectors (particularly when stamps are issued in souvenir sheets), or as errors.

In 1848, Henry Archer patented a "stroke process" for the perforation of stamps, and in 1854 a "rotary process" was patented by William Bemrose and Henry Howe Bemrose. The common aspect of the two processes was the use of rows of small round pins ("combs") to punch out the holes. The processes have been refined since then, but are basically still the ones in use in the 21st century. The key decision for the perforator is the spacing of the holes; if too far apart, the stamps will not separate easily, and the stamps are likely to tear, but if too close, the stamps will tend to come apart in normal handling.

In a few cases the size of the holes has been a factor. In the case of certain stamps produced by Australia for sale in rolls rather than sheets (coil stamps) a pattern can be seen on the stamp's short side of two small, ten large and two small holes.

The standard for describing perforation is the number of holes (or the "teeth" or perfs of an individual stamp) in a 2-centimeter span. The finest gauge ever used is 18 on stamps of the Malay States in the early 1950s, and the coarsest is 2, seen on the 1891 stamps of Bhopal. Modern stamp perforations tend to range from perf 11 to 13 or so.

Stamps that are perforated on one pair of opposite sides and imperforate on the other have most often been produced in coils instead of sheets, but they can sometimes come from booklet panes. Booklet panes can be associated with any combination of one, two or three imperforate sides. Sheet edges can produce any one imperforate side or two adjacent imperforate sides when the stamp comes from the corner of the sheet.

Variations include syncopated perforations which are uneven, either skipping a hole or by making some holes larger. In the 1990s, Great Britain began adding large elliptical holes to the perforations on each side, as an anti-counterfeiting measure.

Rouletting uses small cuts in the paper instead of holes. It was used by a number of countries, but is rarely if ever seen on modern stamps. Varieties, often described by philatelists in French terms, include straight cuts (percée en lignes, and percée en lignes colorées with inked cutting bar), arc (percée en arc), sawtooth and the serpentine roulettes (percée en pointe) used by the early stamps of Finland.

A few types of stamps have combined rouletting and perforation, for instance South Africa in 1942.

Late 20th Century

The first self-adhesive stamp was issued by Sierra Leone in 1964, and by the 1990s these stamps came into wide use. These are inevitably diecut, meaning that the stamps themselves are cut entirely apart, held together only by the backing paper. At first the backing paper was itself solid, but in a repeat of history, is now slightly rouletted so as to facilitate tearing off blocks of stamps without having to remove them from the backing. Since the diecut goes all the way through the stamp, any shape will work, and the original self-adhesives were straight-edged. However, the tradition of perforation is so strong that more recent self-adhesives have a wavy diecut simulating the perforation. It can be recognized by studying the edge of the stamp closely; true perforations will have torn paper fibers on each tooth, while simulated perforations are smooth.

For the stamp collector, perforations matter, not only as a way to distinguish different stamps (a perf 10 may be rarer and more valuable than a perf 11 of the same design), but also as part of the condition of stamps. Short or "nibbed" perfs are undesirable and reduce value, as are bent or creased perfs. Although the collector could count the number of holes using a ruler, the usual practice is to use a perforation gauge, which has preprinted patterns of holes in a selection of common perforations, requiring one merely to line up the stamp's perforations with the closest match.

As is inevitable for a mechanical process like perforation, many things can go wrong. Blind perfs are common, occurring when a hole is not completely punched out, as are offcenter perfs that cut into the design of the stamp, sometimes very badly. Occasionally pairs or larger groups of stamps may be imperforate between meaning that they are not separated on all sides. Although it is very common to have different gauges of perforation horizontally and vertically, in rare circumstances a stamp may have different perforations on opposite sides; in the case of US stamps only a handful of these are known to exist. The various types of perforation errors are collectively known as misperfs.


Revenue stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A revenue stamp, tax stamp or fiscal stamp is a type of adhesive label used to collect taxes or fees on various items. Many countries of the world have used them, for documents (often called stamp duty), tobacco products, liquor, drugs, playing cards, hunting licenses and other kinds of things.

While revenue stamps often resemble postage stamps, they were not normally intended for use on mail and therefore did not receive a postal cancellation. (Some countries did issue stamps valid for both postage and revenue, but this practice is rare now). Revenue stamps can display cancellation markings, three types being by manuscript signature of the person canceling the stamp (usually with date), by hand stamp identifying the canceling agent (also usually with date), or by punch; otherwise, they may be simply affixed to a product in such a way so as to be invalidated or destroyed upon its unpackaging.



Revenue stamps are securities, usually printed by the finance ministry of the relevant country. In many countries, they are as detailed in their design as banknotes; they are often made from the same type of paper as banknotes and many contain holograms and other anti-counterfeit devices. The reason for these measures is that excise duty is extremely expensive, in most EU countries accounting for around half the market price of the product.


The use of revenue stamps goes back further than that of postage stamps; the stamps of the Stamp Act of the 18th century were revenues. Their use became widespread in the 19th century, partly inspired by the success of the postage stamp, and partly motivated by the desire to streamline government operations, the presence of a revenue stamp being an indication that the item in question had already paid the necessary fees. Revenue stamps have become less commonly seen in the 21st century, with the rise of computerization and the ability to use numbers to track payments accurately.

There are a great many kinds of revenue stamps in the world, and it is likely that some are still uncataloged. Both national and subnational entities have issued them. While some use a single design for all forms of fee payment, others have introduced distinct designs usable for only a single type of item. In certain periods government have combined the uses of postage and revenue stamps, calling them "postal fiscals" or inscribing them "Postage and Revenue".

By Category

Court Fees

One of the earliest uses of adhesive stamps to pay tax was the Court Fee system, set up in the Indian feudal states as early as 1797, almost 50 years before the first postal stamps.

Although India is only one of several countries that have used tax stamps on legal documents, it was one of the most prolific users. The practice is almost entirely stopped now, partly due to the prevalence of forgeries which cost the issuing government revenue.

Tobacco and Alcohol

In many countries, excise duty is applied by the affixation of excise stamps to the products being sold. In the case of tobacco and alcohol, the producer buys a certain quantity of such stamps from the government and is then obliged to affix one to every packet of cigarettes or bottle of spirits produced.

The excise stamp is usually placed on the box/bottle in such a way as to be both easily visible and easily destroyed upon the unpackaging of the product.


Gambling was for a time subject to stamp duty, whereby a revenue stamp had to be placed on the ace of spades - which eventually led to the elaborate designs that evolved on this card in most packs. Stamp duty was applied to playing cards, ostensibly because cards were defined as being a type of document (as it was originally only documents which were subject to stamp duty), however this could also be seen as a type of excise duty on gambling, since it was not only cards that were taxed by the Stamp Act of 1765, but also dice.


Philatelic fakes and forgeries

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In general, philatelic fakes and forgeries refers to labels that look like postage stamps but are not. Most have been produced to deceive or defraud. Learning to identify these can be a challenging branch of philately.

To a large extent the definitions below are consistent with those given in the introduction to various recent editions of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. "We use the term "forgery" to indicate stamps produced to defraud collectors (properly known as forgeries) and to defraud stamp-issuing governments (properly known as counterfeits). "Fake" is used to indicate the alteration of a genuine stamp to make it appear as something else. Fakes might refer to cancels, overprints, added or clipped perforations, stamp design alterations, etc." Although some philatelists stick to precise definitions of these terms, one should not assume that this is the case with every writer.

Questions are often raised about when a stamp is legitimately produced for postage. The following quotation may be helpful:

Stamps are legitimate if they are recognized internationally in practice, even if they are not recognized expressly, as by a treaty or international agreement. This is the same principle of international law that applies to the recognition of nation-states. A nation becomes a nation-state when the international community begins treating it as such. For Karabagh which is not a member of the UPU but which does get its mail delivered, this demonstrate that the stamps it issues are neither propaganda labels nor part of a money-making scam. [


History of philatelic fakes and forgeries

The first postage stamp was issued in Great Britain in 1840, and twenty years later, the first postage stamp forgery -- in the sense of a stamp created to fool philatelists into thinking that it is a genuine one -- appeared on the market. Jean de Sperati is among the master forgers in the history of philately. The Vancouver Island forgery refers to a stamp that was originally issued in 1865. To produce his forgery, de Sperati bleached a real, cheaper stamp of the same vintage. He then used a process called photolithography to make an almost perfect copy of the stamp. In his lifetime, Jean de Sperati forged over 500 stamps. He sometimes signed his work in pencil on the back. His forged stamps are now often worth more than the originals.


Stamp-like objects, not all of which are really fakes and forgeries, are described below for the sake of developing a better understanding of such claims.

Postal forgeries or counterfeits

Those who produce counterfeits appeal to a very different market than philatelists. They depend on their stamps being produced in large quantities in order to be able to recover their investment. The person who would use them must feel that he can purchase them for a price that is significantly lower than what he would pay at a legitimate post office. This makes the most common current stamp used for everyday mailing a prime target for counterfeiting activity.

The earliest forgeries are all postal, and the Penny Black was the first stamp to be copied already in its first year in 1840.Partial forgery consists of changing colors or changing the numericals of stamps to imitate a higher value stamp. Other tricks consisted of methods to make the marker disappear (chemically erasing, placing a second stamp on it if it just hits a corner. The Spanish Post Office had to change its stamps almost annually between 1850 to 1879 to stay ahead of the forgers.

Notable postal forgeries include:

  • France: 20c (1870), 15c (1886), sower 25c (1923)
  • Germany: 10pf (1902), 10pf (1910)
  • Great Britain: 1s (1872), 4d World Cup Winners (1966)
  • Australia: 2d Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932)
  • USA: 13c Liberty Bell (1980)

As a curiosity postal authorities have published their own forgeries, thus the British Post Office forged its own 1d stamps in 1856 to see if its features were fraud-proof.

Protective measures

Postal services developed early on measures to protect the integrity of their stamps. Some of these steps are similar as used to protects against forged currency. Major steps include:

  • Watermarks
  • Special paper
  • Delicate engraving
  • Printing methods
  • Special ink for post marks
  • Insertion of silk threads
  • Secret marks either visible or invisible to the microscope
  • Re-issue of stamps

It may not be possible to distinguish between a philatelic and postal forgery if the stamps are unused merely by looking at them; the techniques utilized in producing them are identical. However, if the stamps bear cancellations, they may be more readily distinguished. If a stamp has a forged cancellation, it necessarily is a philatelic forgery since it was obviously made for sale to collectors, not to be used to send a letter. If the cancellation is genuine, it is likely a postal forgery, but not necessarily, since sometimes forgers have used genuine cancellation devices to "cancel" forged stamps.  A helpful distinction may be to have one of these stamps on an envelope that actually went through the mail, but that too requires caution. Counterfeits that reach the philatelic community are fairly scarce, and that alone makes them more valuable. There is more than enough incentive for an unscrupulous individual to fake a counterfeit usage by applying a philatelic forgery to an envelope!

Philatelic forgeries

Soon after their introduction, stamps became philatelic objects, and stamp forgery to the detriment of the collector became a problem. The first book about the topic was written by Jean-Baptiste Moens from Belgium De la falsifications des timbres-poste in 1862. Shortly thereafter Pemberton published Forged Stamps: How to detect them and Robert Brisco Earée Album Weeds. Stamps produced by famous forgers have become collectibles, as well.

Unlike counterfeits these are very common in collections. Many that were produced in the earliest days of stamp collecting in the 19th century are still plentiful. At that time many considered it quite acceptable to fill a space in an album with a facsimile when the genuine stamp was unavailable. Later, especially in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, massive numbers of stamps were forged for the packet trade, including very common as well as rare stamps, so that the fact that a stamp is common is no guarantee that it is not a philatelic forgery.


Fakes begin with a genuine stamp and alter it in some way to make it more valuable to stamp collectors. When catalogues show different varieties with significantly different values that can be great motivation to alter the cheap example into something that can be sold for great profit. Sometimes only minor changes can affect the apparent valuation of a stamp.

Knowledge is an important tool in helping to detect fakes and forgeries. A person who is able to identify some of the most obvious forgeries can save a lot of money in expertising fees, though the information may not yet be enough to establish that a stamp is genuine. Earee's Album Weeds, and Serrane's Vade Mecum are only two books in the vast literature about stamp forgeries.

Expertising stamps as protection

As an expert can falsify stamps often quite easily, it is advisable particularly when dealing with stamps of value to have them examined and expertised. Such experts are highly specialized and generally focused on a selected philatelic areas. Falsified stamps will be marked as such, while a genuine stamp of value should receive a certificate of authenticity by a reputable authority.

It has been pointed out that today homemade forgeries can easily reach the market through the internet.

Government and propaganda forgeries

Political and propaganda forgery is produced by countries in conflict to hurt the opponent. Stamps may be issued to deprive the enemy of revenue, to distribute propaganda material, to cause confusion, and to depict propaganda messages. Propaganda stamps are very collectable and have been philatelically forged: a forgery of a forgery. Many propaganda stamps would have been difficult to circulate in the postal system because they would have been immediately removed, thus used propaganda stamps are unusual (but easily falsified).

World War I

During World War I the United Kingdom authorized forging of stamps of Germany, Bavaria, and Austro-Hungary in 1918. Ten and 15 pf Germania stamps of Germany were affected but differ in engraving, paper, and water mark from the original. Unused forgeries of the 5, 10, and 25 Austrian heller stamps with the image of Emperor Charles I of Austria are known to exist. These stamps do not carry propaganda messages, and were intended to cause economic damage.

World War II

All known German falsifications are propaganda forgeries. Forgeries of the Silver Jubilee issue of 1935 were falsified at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp by order of Heinrich Himmler during the war. The modifications included the insertion of Jewish and communist emblems, placement of Stalin's head, the inscription that was faulty ("This war is a Jewsh war") and the years altered to 1939-1944. A similar falsification concerned the coronation issue from 1937 in which Stalin's head appears, the star of David is present, as well as an inscription concerning the Tehran conference. A third forgery is different and affects the 1937 series with the head of King George VI. The alterations are very subtle affecting emblems. Six values of the series were falsified. In the short film "Adolph Burger's Historical Artifacts" Sachsenhausen survivor Burger shows examples of some of these stamps that he helped produce. He also describes this in greater detail in his book "The Devil's Workshop"

United States forgeries for Germany

The first stamps to be forged were the common 6 and 12 pfennig Hitler head stamps that were printed in Rome by the Office of Strategic Services in 1944. These stamps were applied to letters containing propaganda, marked with false postmarks (Wien 8, Wien 40, Hannover 1), and distributed by drops from air planes as Operation Cornflakes.

The US modified the 12 pfennig Hitler head stamp by the insertion of a death head and the incription "Futsches Reich" (The Reich is gone) replaces "Deutsches Reich". Similarly, the Hitler block from 1937 was altered showing a death head, graves, and gallows; the inscription is "Deutsches Reich 1944". Also, postcards were forged.

Soviet forgeries for Germany

Soviet forgeries were limited to postcards with propaganda messages that had imprinted stamps.

British forgeries

Great Britain produced forgeries for Germany, France, Italy, Poland (Generalgouvernement), and French-Morocco during World War II.

Regarding Germany, the first forgery was the 12 pfennig Hindenburg head stamp, later followed by the 3,4,6, and 8 pfennig values, to distribute propaganda material in Germany. Other stamps such as the Hitler heads and some fieldpost stamps may not have reached circulation.

A major effort was the production of propaganda stamps. The Hitler head stamp was modified to depict Heinrich Himmler

Another propaganda forgery concerns the 1943 Hitler putsch stamp that shows General Witzleben (a participant in the July 20, 1944 Hitler attentat) and is inscribed with "Gehängt am 8. August 1944" (Hanged on ..). Other forgeries affect the welfare stamps from 1938, and the 1944 Hitler putsch stamp.

Regarding France, Britain produced forgeries of the Iris series and of stamp depicting Marshal Philippe Pétain.

For Italy, Britain produced stamps of the Victor Emmanuel stamps, as well as propaganda stamps with Hitler and Mussolini inscribed "Due populi, un führer".

Stamps were produced in Great Britain for the Generalgouvernement and utilized by the Polish underground army to distribute propaganda material. The Hitler head stamp of the Generalgouvernement was modified to depict Hans Frank on the 20 groszy value. These stamps circulated in the postal system.

French-controlled Morocco received stamps forged by the British authorities that had overprints of "Deutsche Reichspost in Marokko" to create confusion and suggest an imminent German occupation. Few examples are known.

Cold war

West Berlin for the GDR

Between 1948 and 1954 the a group founded by Werner Hildebrandt produced anti-communist propaganda including stamps that were used in the postal system of the GDR. The first stamps to get modified were the 12 and 24 pfennig values of the series depicting the President of the GDR Wilhelm Pieck that showed a noose and the inscription "Undeutsche Undemokratische Diktatur" (un-German un-democratic dictatorship). Other changes were made to the stamps of the Five-Year-Plan. The group also modified production instructions to factories that caused economic damage.

Other types

Official reprints

Official reprints of stamps that are no longer valid for postage are usually produced by governments to meet a philatelic demand. Scott numbers 3 and 4 of the United States were produced in this way. This also happened with several early sets of the Peoples' Republic of China.


Remainders are surplus stocks of legitimate postage stamps that have been put into the philatelic market after being demonetized. Among these are the later stamps of Nova Scotia, before it became a province of Canada, and the German inflationary period stamps. One effect of distributing large quantities of remaindered stamps to the public is that used stamps can be much more valuable than mint ones.

Bogus stamps

Bogus stamps purport to be produced by an entity that exists and could have produced them, but didn't. Unlike forgeries they do not even resemble anything that the entity did produce, and only rarely are any of these labels ever shipped to the place that is shown as issuing them. They are generally issued to deceive collectors. Among these are the issues for South Moluccas when Henry Stolow printed the Maluku Selatan stamps, and the uninhabited Scottish island of Staffa. The 1923 famine relief stamps of Azerbaijan were bogus, but these too were also subsequently forged.


Fantasies claim to be issued by places that don't even exist. One of the most famous of these were "King" Charles-Marie David de Mayréna's for Sedang.The stamps of New Atlantis required the construction of a bamboo raft that would be floated in the Atlantic as the country.

Local stamps

Local stamps are usually intended to serve a local purpose, and are not necessarily fraudulent. Thus we have in relation to the Great Britain: "... there were two local entities that 'performed much in the way of postal service ... Herm and Lundy.' Those two, it would seem, are considered thoroughly legitimate."  The legitimacy arises from the fact that these islands did not have official post offices, and a private service needed to be established to transport mail to the mainland. More often, however, a person should be wary of local issues which find a market with tourists and unwary collectors.


Cinderellas is a broad term for just about anything that looks like a postage stamp but isn't. While the term includes bogus stamps and fantasies it also includes many fund raising labels, Christmas seals and other stickers that were produced for perfectly legitimate purposes.


Entire forgeries

This is the most obvious way of producing forgeries, and as such is self-evident. The forger starts from scratch, and completely re-engraves the plate. It is virtually impossible to produce a new engraving that will be identical to the original. Thus, in the earliest set of Hong Kong stamps the forgeries can be distinguished by counting the number of shading lines in the background. Some early Japanese forgeries are distinguished by remembering that the chrysanthemum crest in the stamp should always have 16 petals.

Modern electronic techniques would appear to make things easier for the forger, but understanding how different printing methods work can be very helpful in discovering these forgeries. Recently Peter Winter from Germany used modern technology to produce convincing reproductions which were then sold on as genuine by unscrupulous persons.

Forged overprints

One would imagine that overprints should be easier for a forger to falsify. It is just a simple matter of applying a few letters to a stamp with black ink. Paying attention to detail can reward a philatelic sleuth. The stamps of Bangkok from the 1880s were produced by overprinting each stamp a single letter "B" on stamps of the Straits Settlements. Some of these overprints are bogus because they are on underlying stamps that were never known to have been issued with that overprint. Forgeries can be discovered by examining the relative heights of the two loops of the B.

Another example, from New Zealand, is four stamps overprinted for an industrial exhibition held in Auckland in 1913. The accompanying image shows genuine overprints, and forged overprints from an internet auction. A New Zealand dealer prices a set of postally used stamps with genuine overprints at NZD 1600, while the same four stamps, postally used without the overprint, are priced at NZD 8. This indicates the potentially lucrative payoff for forgers.

In another example the 1948 Gandhi stamps of India were overprinted with the single word "SERVICE" to produce a stamp for official government use. The key to knowing the difference between the two is based on recognizing the difference between a typographed and a lithographed overprint. The former will leave an impression in the paper which can be detected by looking at the back of the stamp.


In some cases a valuable and a common variety of a stamp differ only by the presence or size of the perforations. Thus perforations are cut off to make a stamp appear imperforate, or new perforations are carefully cut into the stamp. When considering this possibility it is important to consider whether the stamp has been made smaller than it should be, or whether the perforations come together at the corners as they should with a comb or harrow perforated stamp.


Although this is controversial, many collectors believe that a mint stamp is more valuable when the gum has been undisturbed. There are many fakers who are happy to accommodate them so that they can receive a premium price for a mint-never-hinged stamp. Not all expertisers are willing to give an opinion on this kind of fakery. If you suspect that a stamp has been regummed look to see if the gum has the right colour. Some stamps should have scoring lines which seem to be defects, but are really there to prevent the sheet of stamps from curling. Examine the perforations closely; genuine gum is normally put on stamps before they are perforated so that gum that flows into the perforations may be a sign of being faked. There are situations where the original gum should have been washed off; bright fresh gum on the 1933 WIPA souvenir sheet of Austria would probably be false since the acidic nature of the original gum would cause the paper to deteriorate.

It is possible to test for regumming by running your finger along the perforations. On a genuinely gummed stamp, the perforations will feel soft; on a regummed stamp, the perforations will feel rough to the touch, indicating that gum has been placed on the stamp after perforation.


In some cases the value of a damaged stamp can be enhanced by repairing the damage. This is also considered faking. Sometimes this can be detected by making sure that the right kind of paper is on the back of the stamp, or by putting the stamp in watermark fluid.

Colour changes

The colour of a stamp can be changed by exposing the stamp to various chemicals, or by leaving it out in bright sunlight. Carefully applied chemicals can also be used to removed specific colours to produce "rare" missing colour varieties.

False postmarks

For a beginner it is self-evident that a bright new unused postage stamp is worth more than one that has been soiled by a cancellation. This is not always true. There are many instances of stamps that have been produced in large quantities, but where comparatively very small numbers have done postage service. Huge quantities of mint stamps can be left over after a bout of inflation, a political overthrow or loss of a war. In some cases a forged stamp can have a fake overprint applied to help build the aura of being genuine. To identify these fakes it is important to understand the postmarks that were in use at the time, and to make sure that the date is consistent with proper usage, or that the cancelling post office existed during the time the stamp was in proper use.

It is also important to know that not all cancellations are postal. Some countries have inscribed their stamps "Postage and Revenue". Some very high face values on such stamps could not reasonably have been used for postage, thus making any kind of proper postal usage exceedingly rare. More commonly these high face values were for fiscal usages to indicate the payment of taxes on real estate or corporate shares. While such cancellations are not fakes, they can easily be misrepresented to the unwary as the more valuable postal cancellations. Rainer Blüm was sentenced recently in a high-profile German legal case for forgery of postmarks to increase the value of stamps.

Cancelled to order

Technically "C.T.O."s are not fakes since they have been cancelled by the stamp issuing authority. Many of these are easily identified because while they have been postmarked they still retain their original gum. Some postal authorities cancel them and sell them at a considerable discount to the philatelic community. The authorities can do that profitably because they no longer need to provide the postal services that the stamps were meant to pay for. Serious collectors are more interested in stamps that have been correctly used, and the corresponding used stamp may often be worth more than a mint stamp. Authorities who do this tend to use the same canceller for all C.T.O.s, and apply it very neatly in the corner of four stamps at one time.


Mauritius "Post Office"

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Mauritius "Post Office" stamps are among the rarest postage stamps in the world, and are of legendary status in the world of philately. Two stamps were issued, an orange-red one penny (1d) and a deep blue two pence (2d).

They were engraved by Joseph Osmond Barnard, born in England on August 10, 1816, who stowed away on a ship to Mauritius in 1838. The designs were based on the then current issue of Great Britain stamps (first released in 1841), bearing the profile head of Queen Victoria and issued in two denominations in similar colors: one penny red brown and Two pence blue. Although these locally-produced stamps have a distinct primitive character, they made Barnard’s “name immortal in the postal history of Mauritius”.

 Five hundred of each value were printed from a single plate bearing both values and issued on September 21,

1847, many of which were used on invitations sent out by the wife of the Governor of Mauritius for a ball she

was holding that weekend. The stamps were printed using the intaglio method (recessed printing), and bear

the engraver's initials "JB" at the lower right margin of the bust.


The words "Post Office" appear in the left panel, but on the following issue in 1848, these words were

replaced by "Post Paid." A legend arose later that the words "Post Office" had been an error.

The stamps, as well as the subsequent issues, are highly prized by collectors because of their rarity, their early dates and their primitive character as local products. Surviving stamps are mainly in the hands of private collectors but some are on public display in the British Library in London, including the envelope of an original invitation to the Governor's ball complete with stamp. Another place where they can be seen is at the Blue Penny Museum in Mauritius. The two stamps also can be seen at the Museum for Communication (Museum für Kommunikation) in Berlin and in the Postal Museum of Sweden in Stockholm.

The "Post Office" versus "Post Paid" myth

In 1928, Georges Brunel published Les Timbres-Poste de l'Île Maurice in which he stated that the use of the words "Post Office" on the 1847 issue had been an error. Over the years, the story was embellished. One version was that the man who produced the stamps, Joseph Barnard, was a half-blind watchmaker and an old man who absent-mindedly forgot what he was supposed to print on the stamps. On his way from his shop to visit the postmaster, a Mr. Brownrigg, he passed a post office with a sign hanging above it. This provided the necessary jog to his memory and he returned to his work and finished engraving the plates for the stamps, substituting "Post Office" for "Post Paid".

These stories are purely fictional; philatelic scholars have confirmed that the "Post Office" inscription was intentional.  Adolphe and d'Unienville wrote that "It is much more likely that Barnard used 'Post Office' because this was, and still is, the legal denomination of the government department concerned". The plates were approved and the stamps issued without any fuss at the time. Joseph Barnard was an Englishman of Jewish descent from Portsmouth who had arrived in Mauritius in 1838 as a stowaway, thrown off a commercial vessel bound for Sydney. He was not a watch-maker, although he may have turned his hand to watch repairs; not half-blind; and certainly not old; he was born in 1816 and was therefore 31 years old when he engraved the stamps in 1847. In addition, several rubber stamps used in Mauritius on letters prior to these stamps also used the words "Post Office", as did the first two stamps issued by the United States in July 1847.

Philatelic Discovery

The Mauritius "Post Office" stamps were unknown to the philatelic world until 1864 when Mme. Borchard, the wife of a Bordeaux merchant, found copies of the one and two pence stamps in her husband's correspondence. She traded them to another collector. Through a series of sales, the stamps ultimately were acquired by the famous collector Ferrary, and were sold at auction in 1921.

Over the years, the stamps became legendary in the philatelic world and sold for increasing and ultimately astronomical prices. Mauritius "Post Office" stamps and covers have been prize items in collections of famous stamp collectors, including Sir Ernest de Silva, Arthur Hind, Alfred F. Lichtenstein, and Alfred H. Caspary, among other philatelic luminaries. The greatest of all Mauritius collections, that of Hiroyuki Kanai, included unused copies of both the One Penny and Two Pence "Post Office" stamps, the "Bordeaux" cover with both the one penny and two pence stamps which has been called "la pièce de résistance de toute la philatélie"or "the greatest item in all philately", and numerous reconstructed sheets of the subsequent issues.  Kanai’s collection was sold by the auctioneer David Feldman in 1993, the Bordeaux cover going for the equivalent of about $4 million.

Subsequent issues

The subsequent issues are discussed in Postage stamps and postal history of Mauritius.

Reprints and forgeries

The "Post Office" stamps have been reprinted from the original plates  and, like many other postage stamps, both rare and common, have been faked many times.

References and sources


  1.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius, p. 17.
  2.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius p. 21.
  3.  Scott Cat. nos. 1-2; Stanley Gibbons Cat. 3-25 (various states of wear).
  4.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius, pp. 20-21.
  5.  Scott Cat. nos. 3-4.
  6.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius, p. 20.
  7.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius, pp. 15-18.
  8.  L.M. Williams, Fundamentals of Philately, American Philatelic Society (rev. ed. 1990), p. 523; Kanai, Classic Mauritius, p. 24.
  9.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius, p. 19.
  10.  Georges Brunel, "Les Timbres-Poste de l'Ile Maurice: Emissions de 1847 à 1898", Editions Philatelia, Paris (1928)
  11. ^  Source?
  12.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius, p. 19-20; Peter Ibbotson, The Barnard Myth; Harold Adolphe and Raymond d'Unienville, The Life and Death of Joseph Osmond Barnard, The London Philatelist, vol. 83, pp 263-265 (December 1974).
  13.  Scott nos. 1 & 2.
  14.  David Feldman SA, Mautitius: Classic Postage Stamps and Postal History Switzerland (1993) pp. 10-17.
  15.  Roger Calves, quoted in David Feldman SA, Mauritius: Classic Postage Stamps and Postal History Switzerland (1993) p. 92.
  16.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius.
  17.  David Feldman SA, Mauritius: Classic Postage Stamps and Postal History, Switzerland (1993), Prices Realized supplement.
  18.  Kanai, Classic Mauritius, pp. 22-23; Mauritius Reprint from Original Plate
  19. Fernand Serrane, The Serrane Guide (1998), pp. 234-235.


A number of full length studies have been published of the “Post Office” issue and the early stamps of Mauritius. These include:

  • Hiroyuki Kanai, Classic Mauritius, Stanley Gibbons, London (1981) ISBN 0852592515 -- an illustrated work on the author's famous Mauritius collection, including photos of reconstructed plates, postmarks and postal history.
  • David Feldman SA, Mauritius: Classic Postage Stamps and Postal History, Switzerland (1993), illustrated auction catalog including the Kanai collection (see above), with Supplement providing detailed information on plating positions of the "Post Paid" and the "Lapirot" issues in their different states.
  • Helen Morgan, Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Stamps, Atlantic Books (2006) ISBN 1843544350 -- a detailed study of the Penny Blues, including the social and economic factors that brought about the modern postal system in Mauritius and the resulting philatelic interest. The author compiled her sources and bibliography on a website: Blue Mauritius Research Companion.


Cinderella stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A cinderella stamp has been defined as "Any collectible stamp-like item that isn't a postage stamp". The term also excludes imprinted stamps on postal stationery.


As cinderella stamps are defined by what they are not, there are many different types, including poster stamps, propaganda labels, stamps issued by non-recognised countries or governments, Court Fee stamps, charity labels like Christmas seals and Easter seals, most telegraph stamps and purely decorative items created for advertising or amusement. Revenue stamps are sometime considered cinderellas, but as they are normally issued by an official government agency, they tend to be classed separately from other cinderella stamps.

A significant number of cinderella stamps issued in the 1910s and 1920s were advertising poster stamps. One of the most notable creators of cinderella stamps was A.C. Roessler, a stamp dealer, who created many visually attractive cinderellas during the 1930s.

Local stamps

Local stamps have a long history and began to be issued soon after the invention of the postage stamps. In Russia zemstvo, (rural) stamps were issued from the 1860s and local stamps have been issued in many other countries. Many local stamps performed a genuine postal function where the national post was lacking, however, other locals amount to nothing more than colourful labels.

In the United Kingdom many local carriage labels have been issued by offshore islands which in some cases had a genuine use to pay for transport of the mail to the mainland by ferry. Others were produced simply to sell to collectors and tourists. Usually they had to be placed on the back of the envelope, with a conventional stamp on the front to pay for onward delivery by the official postal service. Islands for which such labels have been issued include the Summer Isles, Lundy and the Calf of Man.

Hotel Stamps may also be regarded as a form of local stamp.

Political and propaganda stamps

While it is common to find patriotic sentiments on official stamps, the term propaganda stamp is often used to mean unofficial stamps produced to promote a particular ideology, or to create confusion among the enemy. Stamps with encouraging slogans have been attached to letters for prisoners of war, or troops serving aboad.

Sometimes stamps are issued by breakaway governments or governments in exile in order to give themselves greater legitimacy, however, these stamps usually have no postal validity and are therefore cinderella items. The Indian National Army (Azad Hind) produced ten stamps as part of their campaign.

From 1951 to 1966 UNESCO issued a series of 41 "gift stamps." Considered to be Cinderellas, they were produced to raise money for the organization.  The series is unusual in being an international cooperative effort. Most are readily available from specialized dealers.

Non-official railway stamps

In the United Kingdom, the railway letter service, a special facility offered by most British railway companies since 1891, under license from the Postmaster General, has produced a great variety of stamps and labels, which were originally an official requirement of the service. Current officially licensed Heritage railway-operated services include the Ffestiniog Railway Letter Service. It should be noted that United Kingdom railway letter stamps almost always specify a fee (often, even in Victorian times, priced higher than the current postage fee, which additionally had to be paid with regular postage stamps) for the use of this official and once-important British postal facility.


The design of cinderella items generally follows the principles of postage stamp design, but they typically lack a country name, often replaced by the organization or cause being promoted, or a denomination. Sometimes a fictitious country or denomination may be present.


Cinderellas are often collected in a manner similar to stamp collecting. While a great many are common and readily available, others were privately produced in limited numbers, are little-known, and can be quite rare. Cinderella stamps are not normally listed in the main stamp collecting catalogues, and some only list them in a separate appendix within the publication. For this reason, Cinderellas are sometimes referred to as back of the book stamps.

There are cinderella stamp clubs in the United Kingdom and in Australia, both of which accept members worldwide.


Azad Hind stamps

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Azad Hind Stamps are a set of ten Cinderella stamps in six different designs first produced in February 1943 in Germany for Subhas Chandra Bose's Azad Hind (Indian National Army). The Indian Postal Department includes these six unused Azad Hind Stamps in its commemorative book India's Freedom Struggle through India Postage Stamps. These are currently listed on the German Michel catalog.

A concept of Subhas Chandra Bose, the stamps were designed by Werner and Maria von Axster-Heudtlass, who also created many German issues between 1925 and 1949, and show themes depicted on ten denominations. The designs are

  • 1+1 Anna design depicting an Indian Sikh soldier firing a German MG34 machine gun.
  • 1/2 Anna, 1 Anna and 2+2 Annas design, which shows a plough and a peasant plowing a field in the background.
  • 2-1/2, and 2-1/2 + 2-1/2 Annas design, which shows an Indian woman spinning cloth on a charkha.
  • 3+3 Anna design depicting a nurse comforting a wounded soldier.
  • 8+12 and 12 Anna + 1 Rupee design depicting breaking chains on a map of India.
  • 1+2 Rupee, which show three INA soldiers -- one clearly a Sikh, the other two presumably a Hindu and a Moslem -- with the flag of Azad Hind.

All stamps were printed by photogravure in sheets of 100 at the "Reichsdruckerei", the Government Printing Bureau in Berlin. A million copies of the lower denominations were produced, with a further half million of the higher values, except for the 1 + 2 Rupee stamp, of which only 13,500 were printed in three color varieties.

Each value was printed in a different color. The 1 + 2 Rupee stamp was designed as a multi-color design.

The German Michel catalog lists the seven semipostals first (Mi. I-VII); the surcharge was for the administration of Andaman and Nicobar Islands then under Japanese control. Next come the three regular postal issues with no surcharge (Mi. VIII-X). A set of 21 stamps currently exist, both perforated (10 mm x 12 mm) and unperforated.

A complete set includes several color varieties of the Mi. VII 1 Rupee + 2 Rupee design.


Hotel post

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hotel Post was a service offered by remote Swiss hotels for the carriage of mail to the nearest official post office.


In the nineteenth century, Switzerland developed an important tourist industry. Guests enjoyed Alpine air and spas at hotels in remote areas that were not serviced by the Swiss Post Office. Some of these hotels offered a service to guests of carrying their mail to the nearest official post office for a fee paid by the purchase of a specially printed stamp. The first hotel stamp was issued by Rigi Kaltbad in 1864, followed by hotels at Rigi Scheideck, Belalp, Kurort Stoos, Maderanerthal and Rigi Kulm.

Last usage in Switzerland

These services became unnecessary as the Swiss railway was extended and a normal postal service introduced. After 20 September 1883, all remaining services were prohibited by the Swiss government.

Use in other countries

Hotels in several other countries have issued stamps including in Austria, Hungary, Egypt (Shepherd's Hotel, Cairo), Japan (The Imperial Hotel, Tokyo), Romania and Singapore (Raffles Hotel). In Hungary stamps were issued at Carpathian resorts for Kurhaus auf der Hohen Rinne between 1895 and 1926, Magura in 1903 and 1911, and Bistra in 1909 to 1912. These resorts were part of Rumania after World War One. In Austria stamps were issued for Kesselfall-Alpenhaus and Moserboden between 1927 and 1938 and Katschberghohe in 1933-38. Stamps were also issued at a hotel in the Kulmi Mountain region of Liechtenstein.


Hotel stamps are regarded as local or cinderella stamps.


Poster stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The poster stamp was an advertising label a little larger than most postage stamps, that originated in the mid 1800s and quickly became a collecting craze, growing in popularity up until World War One, and then declining by World War Two until they are now almost forgotten except by collectors of cinderella stamps.

The first poster stamps were inspired by the invention of the postage stamp. A perforated label was produced in England in 1864 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and in Italy a label was produced in 1860 to celebrate Garibaldi's expedition to Sicily during the campaign to unify Italy. Commercial interests soon realised the publicity potential of the stamps and they were quickly adopted for the promotion of every type of product and cause. Poster stamps were also widely used by both sides during World War One as political propaganda. They also served as a blank canvas for every artistic style and the promotion of sports, particularly the Olympics.

As late as the 1930's they were still being used to promote political and other causes. In 1937 Irene Harand published a series of anti-Nazi poster stamps portraying the contributions made by Jews to civilisation over the centuries.

The unofficial nature of poster stamps has lead to debate about exactly what is and is not a poster stamp. One definition has been "labels without postage stamp values, not good for postal service; advertising labels or charity labels."



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term artistamp (a portmanteau of the words "artist" and "stamp") or artist's stamp refers to a postage stamp-like artform used to depict or commemorate any subject its creator chooses. Artistamps are a form of Cinderella stamps in that they are not valid for postage, but they differ from forgeries or bogus stamps in that typically the creator has no intent to fool postal authorities or stamp collectors. Some artists working in the artistamp medium, however, such as Michael Hernandez de Luna and Michael Thompson, make the goal of passing off their stamps as postage (and thereby obtaining the endorsement of postal authorities in the form of a cancellation) as an important aspect of the artistic process.

Depending on how the stamp is used, it may be difficult to distinguish artistamps from local post stamps.

Irony, satire, humor, eroticism and subversion of government authority are frequent characteristics of artistamps.


The first artist to produce an "artist’s stamp" is open to interpretation. Fine artists were certainly commissioned to create poster stamps (advertising posters in collectible stamp form) from the late 1800s, but none appear to have worked with the format outside the commercial or advertising context.

In 1919, Dadaist Raoul Hausmann affixed a self-portrait postage stamp to a postcard, but given that Dada was determinedly anti-art (at least in theory), calling this an "artist’s stamp" seems almost counterintuitive.

German artist Karl Schwesig, while a political prisoner during World War II, drew a series of pseudo-stamps on the blank, perforated margins of postage stamp sheets, using coloured inks. Jas Felter asserts that this 1941 series, which illustrated life in a concentration camp, is the first true set of artist's stamps.

Robert Watts, a member of the Fluxus group, became the first artist to create a full sheet of [faux] postage stamps within a fine art context when he produced a perforated block of 15 stamps combining popular and erotic imagery in 1961.

Canadian multimedia artist and philatelist T Michael Bidner, who made his life's work the cataloguing of all known artist's stamps, coined the word "artistamp" in 1982. It quickly became the term of choice amongst mail artists.

Artist Clifford Harper published a series of designs for anarchist postage stamps in 1988, featuring portraits of Shelley, Emma Goldman, Oscar Wilde, Emiliano Zapata and Herbert Read.

In 1999 documentation artist Rosemary Gahlinger-Beaune together with Giovanni Bianchini, program analyst, released "The World of Artistamps", an encyclopedic CD-ROM depicting over 10,0000 artistamp images, and defined the medium and genre of Artistamps.

Recognition of the art form

Despite the exhibitions, history, number of artists and global sweep of the artistamp movement, the concept had long been ignored by major institutions and derided by the arts establishment: before his death in 1989, Bidner attempted to donate his definitive collection to several major Canadian institutions but was turned down by every one. The collection eventually went to Artpool, an art research centre in Budapest, Hungary. Upon his death, Bidner's friend Rosemary Gahlinger-Beaune, undertook Bidner's vision and began to catalogue, using philatelic standards, artistamps from over 200 artists from 29 countries, documenting more than 10,0000 artistamp images. In 1999, Gahlinger-Beaune and Bianchini released a CD entitled "The World of Artistamps", the most comprehensive database of artistamps of the time.

Multimedia artist James Warren "Jas" Felter curated an exhibition called Artists' Stamps and Stamp Images at Simon Fraser Gallery, Simon Fraser University, Canada, in 1974: the first exhibition to acknowledge the stamp as an artistic medium. This collection, which toured Europe and America for the next ten years, led to an explosion in the number of artists using stamps as an artistic format.

Photographer and multimedia artist Ginny Lloyd started her Gina Lotta Post series in 1979 and by 1982 had produced some of the first computer generated imagery used in artists stamps. On a visit to Artpool in 1982, she collaborated with György Galántai on artistamp issues. During an Art in Space event she co-organized in 1984, held in San Francisco, California a rocket containing artistamps on a microchip was launched. In 1986 the artist received a Visual Studies Workshop artist-in-residence funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts in the United States. Her project for the residency was the creation of artist stamps as part of her Gina Lotta Post series. The project culminated into an artist book titled Gina Lotta Post printed in four color offset with a series of artistamp postcards.

In 1989, Felter curated the first of three International Biannual Exhibitions of Artistamps at Davidson Galleries in Seattle.

In 1995, Patricia Tavenner curated The First California Artistamp Exhibit at University of California, Berkeley - San Francisco Extension. The exhibit presented works of about 170 artists from around the world.

The First Moscow International Artistamp Exhibition was held in Moscow in December 1998, as part of International Art Fair XX. The event was curated by Natalie Lamanova, Alexander Kholopv and Jas Felter. This event gave rise to the "Moscow Artistamp Collection" which presently includes more than 700 works of 83 artists from 19 countries.

From November 12th, 1999 to January 19th, 2000, the Art Institute of Boston hosted the "Stamp Art and Artists Stamps" exhibition. The show included artistamp sheets from Natalia Lamanova, Alexander Kholopov of Russia, Vittore Baroni, Clemente Padin, Jose Carlos Soto, Pere Sousa and Donald Evans. PBS documented this exhibit.

In December, 2000, an exhibit featuring artistamps from around the world was displayed at the E. Max von Isser Gallery of Art at Elgin Community College, Elgin, Illinois.

The exhibition Motherland/Fatherland was held at The International Museum Exhibition Centre in Moscow from July 11 to 21, 2002. The event was curated by Natalie Lamanova, Alexander Kholopv and Jas Felter. Presented there were works by 44 artists from Russia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Korea, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Venezuela, Armenia and the United States.

The Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa, California hosted the exhibit Post Modern Post: International Artistamps in April 2003. The show including the work of 50 artists from 15 countries.

In 2005, The exhibition Axis of Evil opened at The Nexus Gallery, Philadelphia in March, 2005, and later traveled to Chicago and Green Bay, Wisconsin. Curated by Chicago-based artist Michael Hernandez de Luna, the exhibit featured 127 works by 47 stamp artists from 11 countries. It originated with the publication of the book Axis of Evil: Perforated Praeter Naturam, published by Qualiatica Press.

In the spring of 2007, the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts hosted a successful exhibition entitled ParaStamp: Four Decades of Artistamps, from Fluxus to the Internet. Curated by György Galántai, the exhibition presented approximately 500 works selected from the archive of the Artpool Art Research Centre. More than 250 of the most important artists working in the artistamp genre were represented, including Natalie Lamanova, Anna Banana, Ed Varney, Guy Bleus, Twine Workshop, Michael Hernandez de Luna, Steve Smith, Vittore Baroni, Robert Watts, H.R. Fricker, Ryosuke Cohen, Ginny Lloyd, and Al Brandtner. "The new function artistamp has in this exhibition is to convey the explosively changing worldview at the turn of the millennium," said Galántai in an interview. The show ran from March 23 to June 24, 2007.

In July 2007, the SomArts Cultural Center gallery presented the Multiplicity/Multiplicidad: Mailart & Artistamp Show, in collaboration with Vortice Agentina, Buenos Aires.

Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen assembled the Queen and Country exhibition comprising stamps depicting British servicemen and women killed in Iraq. The exhibition was hosted at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh between December 3, 2008 and February 15, 2009.

David Krueger's series of pseudo-stamps critiquing the Bush administration, begun in 2001, was on view at the CUE Art Foundation in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York, from April 24 - May 31, 2008.

Artistamps have been recognized in mainstream stamp publications, such as Linn's Stamp News.


In 2005, United States Secret Service agents attended the opening of the Axis of Evil exhibition at Columbia College Chicago's Glass Curtain Gallery. According to Carol Ann Brown, director of the gallery, the agents were most interested in the work entitled "Patriot Act" by Chicago-based artist Al Brandtner. The work depicts a revolver pointed at the head of then President George W. Bush. Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur stated, "We need to ensure... that this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement."

When the exhibit opened at a gallery on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus on September 15, 2005, university chancellor Bruce Shepard unilaterally directed the removal of Brandtner's work from the gallery. In a letter to faculty and staff, Shepard said "in a society all too violence prone, using these or other venues to appear to advocate or suggest assassination is not something the UW-Green Bay may do." About 30 demonstrators protested the chancellor's supression of artistic expression and political commentary.

The artistamp creation process

Artistamps are created uniquely or in limited editions. Artistamps have been produced as multiples of one design per sheet; a multitude of designs per page; as miniature sheets with a decorative or inclusive border; in booklets; or any combination/size/shape the artist chooses.

Artists who regularly use the form often create fantasy stamps for their own imaginary "postal administrations" or countries – in many cases developing or complementing an entire "governmental system" – and their subjects may reflect personal interests, from the political to the fantastic. Artistamp creators often include their work on legitimate mail, alongside valid postage stamps, in order to decorate the envelope with their art. In many countries this is legal, provided the artistamp doesn't pretend to be, or is unlikely to be mistaken for, a legal postage stamp. When so combined (and sometimes, less strictly speaking, even when not so) the artistamp is part of the mail art genre.

Techniques for the creation of artistamps may or may not include perforating the boundaries of the piece to resemble a traditional gummed stamp, as well as applying gum to the reverse side of the paper. Self-adhesive artistamps have also been made; however, this type of adhesive may not be archival. Whole sheets of such stamps are often made at one time. The artwork may be hand-drawn or painted, lithographed or offset-printed, photographed, photocopied, etched, engraved, silk-screened, rubber stamped, or produced on a digital printer. As with the design, the production method is entirely the choice of the artist.

For artists who wish to produce their own artistamps, the personal computer is a godsend: inexpensive colour printing, in small or large runs, is ideally suited to artistamp production. It's no coincidence that the early '70s explosion in artistamp creation paralleled the development and widespread use of colour photocopiers.

Makers of artistamps sometimes apply cancellations to them when they are applied to covers; first day of issue covers for artistamps exist.

The rise of the Internet has seen the development of a new concept in artistamps: cyberstamps, designed specifically to be viewed online (often sent with e-mails) and never intended to be printed. Cyberstamps also allow the use of animated imagery.

Artists working in the stamp art medium often employ fixed-line perforators as part of the creation process. Most functional and popular (though often difficult to find) are manually-operated, foot-powered machines manufactured beginning in the 1880s by bindery equipment makers like F.P Rosback Co. and Latham Machinery Co. Other methods of producing perforations for artistamps have generally proven unsatisfactory. Such alternative methods used include using sewing machines, sewing pounces, leather punches, veterinary needles, and speciality scissors.

In 2005 and 2006, a machinist operating under the name "Dr. Arcane" manufactured about 20 "Whizbang" perforators. These table-top devices worked well, but were reportedly fragile.

In 2004, the International Brotherhood of Perforator Workers (IBPW), an organization based in Washington D.C., was established to represent the interests of artists owning and/or operating perforators in the creation of stamp art.

Artistamp creators

Creators of artistamps include Donald Evans, Anna Banana, Patricia Tavenner, Jas W Felter, Ginny Lloyd, Michael Hernandez de Luna, Michael Thompson, Ed Paschke, Clifford Harper, Al Brandtner, Steve Smith, Russell Butler (buZ blurr), Alan Brignull, Dennis Jordan, Rachel Scott, Guy Bleus, Harley, Marlon Vito Picasso, Kursade Karatas, Bruce Grenville, Natalie Lamanova, Robert Rudine, H.R. Fricker, John Rininger, Slava Vinogradov, John Held Jr., Mike Dickau, John Langford, Matthew Rose, Vittore Baroni, Eiichi Matsuhashi, Ivan Kolenikov, and Sergej Denisov.

Publishers have been known to jump on the artistamp bandwagon: Mad Magazine included perforated, gummed stamps in a few issues. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau, creator of the Doonesbury comic strip, released The 1990 Doonesbury Stamp Album through Penguin in 1990; this album contained a large number of perforated, gummed stamps featuring characters and settings from Doonesbury. Another example is a series of Ankh-Morpork stamps created to publicise the Discworld novel Going Postal; the stamps proved so popular that more Discworld stamps are planned.

Purchase and collection

For the collector, artistamps can be purchased via the internet, either through on-line auctions or direct from artists or other collectors. Many artistamp creators swap their creations with other practitioners of the form, either directly or within the broader concept of mail art.


Imprinted stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In philately an imprinted stamp is a stamp printed straight on to a piece of postal stationery such as a postcard, letter sheet, aerogramme or newspaper wrapper.

The cost of the item of stationery includes the manufacture of the item and the charge for postal service. The design of imprinted stamps often bears a close resemblance to normal adhesive stamps of the same country and era.

Imprinted stamps have also been called unadhesive stamps.


In the early days of philately it was common to cut the stamp from the rest of the item and retain only the stamp. These items are known as cut squares, unless the stamp is then trimmed to shape in which case it is know as cut to shape. Today collectors prefer to keep postal stationery items intact.


In some countries it was permitted to cut out the imprinted stamp and use it to pay postage on another item of mail. This is known as a cut-out.

Items of postal stationery with an imprinted stamp are also sometimes found with adhesive stamps added to pay for additional services such as airmail, registration or the part transport of mail by a local postal service. Such covers are known as conjunctive covers. The use of an adhesive stamp on a postal stationery item is known as a conjunctive use of the stamp.


Precanceled Stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A precanceled stamp, or precancel for short, is a postage stamp that has been cancelled before being affixed to mail. Precancels are typically used by mass mailers, who can save a postal system time and effort by prearranging to use the precancels, and delivering the stamped mail ready for sorting. The postal administration will typically offer an incentive in the form of a reduced price for precancelled stamps in volume. Precancels cannot normally be purchased by the general public, although they are often seen in one's daily mail.

A number of nations of the world use precancels, typically in the form of an overprint on definitive series stamps. For instance, in France, the overprint is a semicircle reading Affranches. Many towns and cities of Belgium and the United States have issued precancels printed with the community's name; in the case of the US, some 9,500 distinct examples of "bureau precancels" are known. Some types of precancels include a date as well.

In the US, overprints have been gradually displaced by special-purpose stamps typically inscribed "bulk rate", "presorted first-class", or "presorted STD".

The Precancel Stamp Society, formed in 1922 from two previously-existing clubs, specializes in the study of precancels. A number of catalogs list all the types of precancels issued in the countries that use them.


Cancellation (mail)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A cancellation (or cancel for short; French: "oblitération") is a postal marking applied on a postage stamp or postal stationery to deface the stamp and prevent its re-use. Cancellations come in a huge variety of designs, shapes, sizes and colors. Modern United States cancellations commonly include the date and post office location where the stamps were mailed, in addition to lines or bars designed to cover the stamp itself. The term "postal marking" sometimes is used to refer specifically to the part that contains the date and posting location, although the term often is used interchangeably with "cancellation." The portion of a cancellation that is designed to deface the stamp and does not contain writing is also called the "obliteration" or killer. Some stamps are issued pre-cancelled with a printed or stamped cancellation and do not need to have a cancellation added. Cancellations can affect the value of stamps to collectors, positively or negatively. The cancellations of some countries have been extensively studied by philatelists and many stamp collectors and postal history collectors collect cancellations in addition to the stamps themselves.


The first adhesive postage stamp was the Penny Black, issued in 1840 by Great Britain. The postal authorities recognized there must be a method for preventing reuse of the stamps and simultaneously issued hand stamps for use to apply cancellations to the stamps on the envelopes as they passed through the postal system. The cancels were handmade and depicted a Maltese cross design. Initially, the ink used was red, which was difficult to see against the black stamps, and the ink color was subsequently changed to black.

Britain soon abandoned the Maltese crosses and in 1844 began to employ cancellations displaying numbers which referred to the location of mailing. A similar scheme was used for British stamps used abroad in its colonies and foreign postal services, with locations being assigned a specific letter followed by a number, such as A01 used in Kingston, Jamaica, or D22 for Venezuela.

Early cancellations were all applied by hand, commonly using hand stamps. Where hand stamps were not available, stamps often were cancelled by marking over the stamp with pen, such as writing an "x". Pen cancellations were used in the United States into the 1880s, and in a sense continue to this day, when a postal clerk notices a stamp has escaped cancellation and marks it with a ball point pen or marker.

In the early period of the issuance of postage stamps in the United States a number of patents were issued for cancelling devices or machines that increased (or were purported to increase) the difficulty of washing off and reusing postage stamps. These methods generally involved the scraping or cutting-away of part of the stamp, or perhaps punching a hole through its middle. (These forms of cancellation must be distinguished from perfins, a series of small holes punched in stamps, typically by private companies as an anti-theft device.)

High speed cancellation machines were first used in Boston between 1880-1890 and subsequently throughout the country.

Today, cancellations may either be applied by hand or machine. Hand cancellation is often used when sending unusually shaped mail or formal mail (e.g., wedding invitations) to avoid damage caused by machine cancellation.

Postal meter stamps and similar modern printed to order stamps are not ordinarily cancelled by postal authorities because such stamps bear the date produced and can not readily be re-used.

Types of Cancellations

  • Bullseye cancellation also called "Socked on the nose" or SOTN, is a stamp collector's term for a cancellation, typically of circular design, centered on the postage stamp. Such cancellations are popular with some stamp collectors because of their neatness and the fact that the time, date, and location where the stamp was used may be readily seen. The prevalence of bulls-eye cancellations varies considerably by country and time period.
  • Cancelled-to-order. Cancelled-to-order stamps, also known as CTOs, are stamps that have been cancelled by a postal authority, but were never used to transmit mail. CTOs are created by postal authorities to sell the stamps cheaply to stamp collectors. Many Eastern European countries and others sold great numbers of CTOs to collectors in the 1950s - 1990s strictly for revenue. CTOs often may be identified as the stamps still retain their original gum. Some authorities use the same canceller for all CTOs, and apply it very neatly in the corner of four stamps at one time. In some instances, the "cancellations" are actually printed as part of the stamp itself.
  • Deferential cancellation is a cancellation designed so as not to deface the image of the ruler or regent on the stamp. See example above.
  • A duplex cancel includes a postmark as well as the cancellation.
  • Fancy cancels. In the second half of the 19th century, many postmasters in the United States and Canada cut their own cancellers from cork or wood in a great variety of designs such as stars, circles, flags, chickens, etc. These are known as fancy cancels and have been heavily studied by philatelists and collectors. One of the most famous is the "kicking mule" used in the 1880s.
  • First day of issue are special cancellations with the date the stamp was first issued for sale and the words "first day of issue."
  • Flag cancellations are a type of machine cancellation incorporating a design of the United States flag with the stripes serving as the "killer". The first machine flag cancel (preceded by fancy cancels of flags) was used in Boston in November-December 1894.
  • Handstamped cancellations are cancellations added by means of a hand stamping device.
  • Highway post office cancels refers to cancels added in transit by portable mail-handling equipment for sorting mail in trucks.
  • Machine cancellations are automatically added by machines that rapidly process large numbers of envelopes. A 1903 silent film of an operating cancelling machine may be seen here.
  • Mute cancel refers to a cancellation that includes no writing and thus "does not speak."
  • Pen cancels refer to the use of a writing pen to deface the stamp, and were more common in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Pictorial cancellations" include images associated with the commemoration of some event or anniversary. Some people attempt to use stamps relating to the theme of a pictorial cancellation on the envelope.
  • Precancels are stamps that have been issued with printed cancellations on them, typically to mass mailers. Precancels cannot normally be used by the general public.
  • Railway post office (R.P.O.) cancels refer to cancellations applied on mail sorted on trains. The first United States cancellation with the word "railroad" dates from 1838. The last Railway Post Office (R.P.O.) operated by the United States closed in 1977.
  • Ship cancels were added to stamps that were mailed on or carried on a ship, commonly a steamer ship in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. In French, the cancellation reads "Paquebot".
  • Slogan cancellations contain a slogan, perhaps commemorative or advertising, in the killer box. See further below.

Pictorial and special cancellations

The United States Postal Service distinguishes between special cancellations which have a caption publicizing an event, and pictorial cancellations, which contain an image of some sort. Special cancellations are essentially a type of slogan cancellations.

In the United States, official pictorial cancellations are almost invariably applied at special "stations", i.e., post offices existing only for a limited time, usually one day, at special events, although there are frequently other pictorial cancellations that are not officially described as such — they are among what are called special cancellations and are special die-hubs added to machine cancels, which usually contain merely a slogan but sometimes contain a picture. There are a very few exceptions in which a particular post office uses a pictorial cancellation on all its mail.

The range of allowable subjects is very broad, and may include a variety of commercial tie-ins, such as to movie characters.

Other post offices such as the Isle of Man Philatelic Bureau also create special pictorial cancellations as they did in 1985 to mark the anniversary of the aircraft Douglas DC-3. A special handstamp was created  depicting a Dakota flying "free" and not "boxed in".


Cancellations may have a significant effect on the value of the stamps that are cancelled. Generalist stamp collectors usually prefer lightly cancelled stamps which have the postmark on a corner or small portion of the stamp without obscuring the stamp itself, which ordinarily are more valuable than heavily-cancelled stamps. In order to get the postal clerk to cancel the stamps lightly, collectors may rubber-stamp or write "philatelic mail" on the envelope.

Cancellations may significantly affect the value of the stamps. Many stamps are rarer, and consequently much more expensive, in unused condition, such as the Penny Black, which in 1999, catalogued for $1,900 mint and $110 used. The reverse is true for some stamps, such as the hyperinflation stamps of Germany, which may be worth many times more if genuinely postally used. Where stamps are much more valuable in used condition than unused, it may be advisable to have such stamps expertised to confirm that the cancellation is genuine and contemporary.

Some stamp collectors are interested in the cancellations themselves, on or off cover, of a particular country or issue, or collect a specific type of cancellation, such as fancy cancels. There have been many published studies of the cancellations of many countries, some of which are listed below. Collectors who are interested in the cancellations themselves prefer bold, readable cancellations. Cancellations also are an integral part of the collection of postal history.

Historically, collectors disliked pen cancels and removed many of them, making the stamp appear unused or to add a fake cancellation. Today, early United States pen cancelled stamps still are worth considerably less than examples with hand stamped cancels.

Collectors generally view modern cancelled-to-order stamps or CTOs as philatelic junk, and they rarely have any significant value. Stamp catalogs commonly state whether their values for used stamps are for CTOs or for postally used examples. For example, the Scott Catalog used value listings for the German Democratic Republic are for CTOs from 1950 through mid-1990, over 2700 stamps.


Forgers have not only manufactured stamps for the philatelic market, they have added forged cancellations to those stamps. This was especially common in the late 19th century and early 20th century, when huge numbers of inexpensive stamps were forged for the packet trade.

Forged cancellations have also be applied to genuine stamps, in cases where the stamps are worth much more postally used. In addition, where rare cancellations are desired by collectors, those cancellations have also been forged.

Cancellations also may be used to prove that certain philatelic items are genuine. For example, forgers have fabricated many supposedly valuable postal covers by adding genuine stamps and forged postal markings to pre-stamp covers. A cover can be shown to be genuine if a genuine cancellation "ties" the stamp or stamps to the cover; that is, if a genuine cancellation runs continuously over the stamp and adjacent portion of the envelope, although one still may need to rule out the possibility that the cancellation was added later. Similarly, stamps that were cut in parts and used for a portion of the full value as splits can only be shown to have been so used if a genuine cancel ties the stamp to the cover or piece of cover.

Studies of cancellations

Great Britain & Ireland

  • R.C. Alcock & F.C. Holland, The Postmarks of Great Britain and Ireland, 1660-1940 (Alcock, Cheltenham 1940)(and supplements).
  • George Brumell, British Post Office Numbers 1844-1906 (Alcock, Cheltenham 1971).
  • Robert Danzig & David Goldsmith, The Cancellations of the 1841 Penny Red (Philatelic Imprint, London 1991).
  • William Kane, Catalogue of the postal markings of Dublin, c. 1840-1922 (M.P.Giffney, Dublin 1981).
  • John Parmenter, Michael Goodman, & John Saylor, Jr., Barred Numeral Cancellations, Vols. I-IV (1985-1988).
  • H.C. Westley, The Postal Cancellations of London, 1840-1890 (H.F. Johnson 1950).
  • J.T. Whitney, Collect British Postmarks: Handbook to British Postal Markings and Their Values (British Postmark Society).

United States

  • James M Cole, Cancellations and Killers of the Banknote Era, 1870-1894 (U.S. Philatelic Classics Society Columbus, OH 1995).
  • Kenneth L. Gilman, The New Herst-Sampson catalog : a Guide to 19th century United States Postmarks and Cancellations (D.G. Phillips Pub. Co. North Miami, FL 1989).
  • R. F. Hanmer, A collector's guide to U.S. Machine Postmarks, 1871-1925: with examples of later types (D.G. Phillips Pub. Co. North Miami 3d rev. ed. 1989).
  • Herman Herst, Jr., Fancy Cancellations on Nineteenth Century United States Postage Stamps (Shrub Oak, New York 3rd rev. ed. 1963).
  • Foster W. Loso, Twentieth Century United States Fancy Cancellations (Somerset Press, c. 1952).
  • Moe Luff, United States Postal Slogan Cancel Catalog (Spring Valley, N.Y. rev. ed 1968).
  • Sol Salkind, U.S. Cancels 1890-1900, with Special Emphasis on the Fancy Cancels found on the 2¢ Red Definitive Stamps of this period (David G. Phillips Co. c. 1985).
  • Hubert C. Skinner & Amos Eno, United States Cancellations, 1845-1869:Unusual and Representative Markings (American Philatelic Society, State College, PA 1980).
  • Scott R. Trepel, U.S. postmarks and cancellations (Philatelic Foundation, New York 1992).
  • William R. Weiss, Jr. & Foster W. Loso, The Complete Pricing Guide of United States 20th Century Fancy Cancellations (W.R. Weiss, Jr. 1987).
  • Michel Zareski & Herman Herst, Fancy Cancellations on 19th Century United States Postage Stamps (Shrub Oak, NY. 3d rev. ed. 1962).


  • K. M. Day, Canadian Fancy Cancellations of the Nineteenth Century (British North America Philatelic Society, Toronto 1963).
  • D.M. Lacelle, Fancy cancels on Canadian stamps 1855 to 1950 (British North America Philatelic Society Ltd., Ottawa 2007).
  • Lewis M. Ludlow, Catalogue of Canadian railway cancellations and related transportation postmarks (L.M. Ludlow, Tokyo 1982).
  • G.Douglas Murray, 2000 postmarks of Prince Edward Island, 1814 to 1995 (Retrospect Pub., Charlottetown, PEI 1996).


  • Jean Pothion, France Obliterations 1849-1876 (La Poste aux Letters, Paris 1975).


  • Archibald George Mount Batten, The Postmarks of the Orange Free State and the Orange River Colony, 1868-1910 (1972).
  • H.M. Campbell, Queensland cancellations and other postal markings 1860-1913 (Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria, Melbourne 1977).
  • John H. Coles & Howard E. Walker, Postal Cancellations of the Ottoman Empire (Christie’s-Robson Lowe, London [1984]-1995).
  • R.J.G. Collins, The Cancellations of New Zealand: with notes on the early philatelic history (Kiwi Publishers Christchurch, N.Z. 1926 (1995)).
  • H.C. Dann, The cancellations of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland (Robson Lowe Ltd., London 1950).
  • Roger Hosking, Paquebot Cancellations of the World (Oxted 1977).
  • Tom Lee & John Watts, New Zealand pictorial and special event date stamps, 1882-2002(North Shore Philatelic Society, Auckland 2002).
  • D.R. Martin, Numbers in Early Indian Cancellations, 1855-1884 (Robson Lowe, London 1970).
  • J.R.W. Purves, Victoria: the "Barred Numeral" Cancellations, 1856-1912, and the post offices which used them (Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria, Melbourne 1963).
  • Joseph Schatzkes (rev. Karl H. Shimmer), The Cancellations of Mexico, 1856-1874 (W.E. Shelton n.p.1983).
  • Derek Willan (editor), Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers (Hellenic Philatelic Society of Great Britain, 1994)
  • Illustrated Ottoman Turkish Postmarks 1840-1929 ("Resımlı Osmanli - Tűrk Posta Damgalari") (10 vols in process).


Basel Dove

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Basel Dove (Swiss German Basler Dybli or (older) Basel Dybli;German Basler Taube) is a notable stamp issued by the Swiss canton of Basel. It was issued on 1 July 1845 with a value of 2 1/2-rappen. At the time each canton was responsible for its own postal service. There were no uniform postal rates for Switzerland until after the establishment of a countrywide postal service on 1 January 1849. The only other cantons to issue their own stamps were Zürich and Geneva.

The stamp, designed by the architect Melchior Berry, featured a white embossed dove carrying a letter in its beak, and was inscribed "STADT POST BASEL". The stamp is printed in black, crimson, and blue, making it the world's first tri-colored stamp.

The stamp was not valid for use after 30 September 1854, by which time 41,480 stamps had been printed. Collectors need to be aware that several forgeries have been circulated.


British Guiana 1c magenta

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The British Guiana 1c magenta is "[r]egarded by many as the world's most famous stamp." It was issued in limited numbers in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1856, and only one specimen is now known to exist.

It is imperforate, printed in black on magenta paper, and it features a sailing ship along with the colony's Latin motto "Damus Petimus Que Vicissim" (We give and expect in return) in the middle. Four thin lines frame the ship. The stamp's country of issue and value in small black upper case lettering in turn surround the frame.


The 1c magenta was part of a series of three definitive stamps issued in that year and was intended for use on local newspapers. The other two stamps, a 4c magenta and 4c blue, were intended for postage.

The issue came through mischance. An anticipated delivery of stamps never arrived by ship in 1856, so the local postmaster, E.T.E. Dalton, authorised a printer, Joseph Baum and William Dallas, who were the publishers of the Official Gazette newspaper in Georgetown, to print out an emergency issue of three stamps. Dalton gave some specifications about the design, but the printer chose to add a ship image of his own design on the stamp series. Dalton was not pleased with the end result, and as a safeguard against forgery ordered that all correspondence bearing the stamps be autographed by the post office clerks. This particular stamp was initialed E.D.W. by the clerk E.D.Wight.

Description and history

Only one copy of the 1c stamp is known to exist. It is in used condition and has been cut in an octagonal shape. A signature, in accordance to Dalton's policy, can be seen on the left hand side. Although dirty and heavily postmarked on the upper left hand side, it nonetheless could be the most valuable stamp in existence.

It was discovered in 1873, by 12-year-old Scottish schoolboy Vernon Vaughan in the Guyanese town of Demerara, amongst his uncle's letters. There was no record of it in his stamp catalogue, so he sold it some weeks later for a few shillings to a local dealer, N.R. McKinnon. After that, the price escalated. It was bought by a succession of collectors before being bought by Philippe la Rénotière von Ferrary in the 1880s for US$750. His massive stamp collection was willed to a Berlin museum. Following Ferrary's death in 1917, the entire collection was taken by France as war reparations following the end of World War I. Arthur Hind bought it during the series of fourteen auctions in 1922 for over US$36,000 (reportedly outbidding three kings, including King George V), and it was sold by his widow for US$40,000 to a Florida engineer. In 1970, a syndicate of Pennsylvanian investors, headed by Irwin Weinberg, purchased the stamp for $280,000 and spent much of the decade exhibiting the stamp in a worldwide tour. John E. du Pont bought it for $935,000 in 1980. Today it is believed to be locked away in a bank vault, while its owner serves a 30-year sentence for murder.


At one point, it was suggested that the 1c stamp was merely a "doctored" copy of the magenta 4c stamp of the 1856 series, a stamp very similar to the 1c stamp in appearance. These claims were disproven.

In the 1920s a rumor developed that a second copy of the stamp had been discovered, and that the then owner of the stamp, Arthur Hind, had quietly purchased this second copy and destroyed it. The rumor has not been substantiated.

In 1999, a second 1c stamp was claimed to have been discovered in Bremen, Germany. The stamp was owned by Peter Winter, who is widely known for producing many forgeries of classic philatelic items, printed as facsimiles on modern paper. Nevertheless, two European experts, Rolf Roeder and David Feldman, have said Winter's stamp is genuine. The stamp was twice examined and found to be a fake by the Royal Philatelic Society London. In their opinion, this specimen in fact was an altered 4c magenta stamp.

Popular culture

  • The Guyana 1c was used as a plot device in the 1941 movie, "The Saint in Palm Springs." In the movie its value was stated to be $65,000.
  • The stamp was sought after in the 1952 Carl Barks comic "The Gilded Man", in which Donald Duck, the philatelist, said it was "worth more than fifty thousand dollars!"


Christmas stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Many nations of the world issue Christmas stamps, postage stamps with a Christmas theme and intended for use on seasonal mail such as Christmas cards. These stamps are regular postage stamps, unlike Christmas seals, and are valid for postage year-round. They usually go on sale some time between early October and early December, and are printed in considerable quantities.


It is a matter of some debate as to which is the first Christmas stamp. The Canadian map stamp of

1898 bears an inscription "XMAS 1898", but it was actually issued to mark the inauguration of the

Imperial Penny Postage rate. The Christmas connection has long been reported to have been the

result of quick thinking; William Mulock was proposing that it be issued on 9 November, to "honor

the Prince" (meaning the Prince of Wales), but when Queen Victoria asked "what Prince?" in a

displeased manner, Mulock realized the danger, and answered "Why, the Prince of Peace, ma'am".

In 1937, Austria issued two "Christmas greeting stamps" featuring a rose and zodiac signs. In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star, an angel and child, the Southern Cross and a child, and a mother and child. In 1941 Hungary also issued a semi-postal whose additional fees were to pay for "soldiers' Christmas". The first stamps to depict the Nativity were the Hungary issue of 1943. These were all one-time issues, more like commemorative stamps than regular issues.

The next Christmas stamps did not appear until 1951, when Cuba issued designs with poinsettias and bells, followed by Haiti (1954), Luxembourg and Spain (1955), then Australia, Korea, and Liechtenstein (1957). In cases such as Australia, the issuance marked the first of what became an annual tradition. Many more nations took up the practice during the 1960s.

By the 1990s, approximately 160 postal administrations were issuing Christmas stamps, mostly on an annual basis. Islamic countries constitute the largest group of non-participants, although the Palestinian Authority has issued Christmas stamps since 1995.


Although some tropical islands produce large-format Christmas stamps primarily intended for sale to stamp collectors, for the rest of the world, Christmas stamps are "working stamps" that will be used in large numbers to send greeting cards and postcards. Accordingly, the stamps tend to be normal-sized, and offered in one or a few denominations, for instance to cover differing domestic and international rates.

The choice of designs is highly variable, ranging from an overtly religious image of the Nativity, to secular images of Christmas trees, wreaths, Santa Claus, and so forth. A country may maintain a unified theme for several years, then change it drastically, in some cases seemingly to follow "fashion moves" by other countries. For instance, during the 1970s many countries issued Christmas stamps featuring children's drawings, with the young artist identified by name and age.

The choice of secular or religious designs is frequently a bone of contention; church leaders often see secular designs as diluting the meaning of the holiday, while postal officials fear that overly religious designs could lead their secular customers to avoid the stamps, leaving millions unsold, and even expose the postal administration to charges that they are violating laws prohibiting the promotion of a particular religion.

In the United States, annual discord over "secular" versus "religious" designs was resolved by issuing some of each; typically a group of 4-6 related secular designs, plus a Madonna and Child design. To avoid difficulties attendant upon contracting for original designs with a religious theme, the designs are based on Old Master paintings hanging in U.S. galleries, thus qualifying as depictions of art. The British Royal Mail resolves the difficulty by issuing "religious" and "secular" themed designs in alternate years.



The usual usage of Christmas stamps is to quickly apply them to a stack of Christmas cards to go out. In the age of email, Christmas stamps may represent some individuals' largest remaining use of stamps in a year, and it is not unusual to see "leftovers" appear on regular mail during the first months of the new year, Except in Australia where Christmas stamps are only valid during the holiday season and cannot be used for regular mail, but only Christmas cards. This is because the Australian Christmas stamp is valued 5c lower than regular postage stamps.


Christmas is a popular theme for topical collecting. Because of the quantities printed, almost all Christmas stamps are easy to come by and of negligible cost. Collecting challenges would be to get covers with apropos postal markings, such as a postmark on Christmas day (not all post offices get the day off), from a location such as North Pole, Alaska, North Pole, New York, Santa Claus, Indiana, or Christmas Island, or slogan postmarks with a Christmas theme.

The Christmas Philatelic Club was formed in 1969 by Christmas stamp collectors, and has issued its bimonthly journal, the Yule Log since that time. A number of collectors treat Christmas collecting as a subcategory of religion on stamps.

Other holiday stamps

In Japan, there is a longstanding tradition of a New Years stamp. A number of Easter stamps have been issued, but these are clearly aimed at collectors.

The United States has occasionally issued stamps for New Years and Thanksgiving. During the 1990s, stamps for Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Eid, and Chinese New Year have become a regular part of the holiday program, although the designs tend be used for several years, distinguishable only by a different denomination or year date.

Commemorative stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A commemorative stamp is a postage stamp issued to honor or commemorate a place, event or person. Most postal services of the world issue several of these each year, often holding first day of issue ceremonies at locations connected with the subjects. Commemorative stamps are usually used alongside ordinary or regular-issue stamps of the time, although in some cases their use has been obligatory.

There are several candidates for the title of first commemorative. A 17-cent stamp issued in 1860 by New Brunswick, showing the Prince of Wales in anticipation of his visit is one possibility. The United States 15-cent black stamp of 1866 depicts Abraham Lincoln, and was the first stamp issued after his assassination in 1865, but it was not officially declared as a memorial to him. The U.S. also issued a 5-cent stamp in 1882 showing the recently murdered President James A. Garfield. In addition, the United States issued stamped envelopes for the Centennial Exposition in 1876, although technically these are postal stationery and not stamps. The UK's Jubilee Issue of 1887 may be thought of as commemorative of the 50 years' reign of Queen Victoria, although there are no special inscriptions on the stamps, and they were intended as regular stamps.

The first undoubtedly commemorative stamps were issued by New South Wales in 1888 to mark its 100th anniversary; the six types all include the inscription "ONE HUNDRED YEARS". Commemoratives followed in 1891 for Hong Kong and Romania, then in 1892 and 1893 a half-dozen nations of America issued commemoratives for the 400th anniversary of the discovery by Christopher Columbus.

The appearance of commemoratives caused a backlash among some stamp collectors, who balked at the prospect of laying out ever-larger sums to acquire the stamps of the world, and they formed the Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps around 1894 to blacklist what they deemed to be excessive stamps. However, it had very little effect, and today the early commemoratives are prized by collectors.

Today, commemorative stamp collection remains one of the most popular collection hobbies in the world.


Definitive stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A definitive stamp is a postage stamp that is part of a regular issue of a country's stamps available for sale by the postal service for a prolonged period of time. The term is used in contrast with a "provisional stamp", one that is issued for a temporary period until regular stamps are available, or a "commemorative stamp", a stamp "issued to honor a person or mark a special event" available only for a limited time.

Commonly a definitive issue or series includes stamps in a range of denominations sufficient to cover many or all postal rates usefully. (An "issue" generally means a set that is put on sale all at the same time, while a "series" is spread out over several years, but the terms are not precise.)

The range of values varies by era and country, but the focus is on coverage; the values should be sufficient to make up all possible charges using as few stamps as possible. Generally the smallest value will be the smallest unit of currency, or smallest fractional postal rate; for instance, the 1954 Liberty issue of the United States included a 1/2-cent stamp because some rates were expressed in fractions of a cent per ounce. The highest value of the series is generally quite large, typically from 50-100 times the normal letter rate; typical values include one pound, five dollars, etc. Not often seen by the average person, they are most common for parcels.

The in-between values are usually chosen to "make change" efficiently, for instance 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 in a decimal currency. It is common to include all values between 1 and 10, multiples of 5 from 10 to 50, and multiples of 10 from 50 to 100. Additional "oddball" values may reflect specific common rates, and if the series lasts for a period of time, there may be a number of such unusual values as in the UK QE II Machin series below.

Definitives are the workhorse stamps of a country, and as such, they tend to be small, with designs reflecting local culture and history. The definitives of poorer countries will often be very plain and cheaply printed, unlike the large and decorative commemoratives, which are almost pure profit if bought by foreign collectors and never used for postage.

Since postal administrations know that stamp collectors want to own every stamp of a definitive series, and a complete series can be quite expensive, there is always the temptation to make some extra money by issuing new definitive sets as well as including stamps with very high face values in a set. Collectors' organizations have recommended that administrations only bring out new definitive issues no more often than every five years, and most administrations of the world follow this policy. An exception would be the death of a monarch, necessitating a new definitive series for the new ruler. Sometimes merely the portrait is changed, and the outer design (known as the frame) remains the same throughout several issues.

Since definitive series are issued over a period of time and are reprinted to meet postal demand, they often contain more variation than is typically found in stamps that have a single print run. Switching printing methods and experimenting with phosphors is a common source of variation in modern stamps, while differences in watermarks and perforation are also prevalent, especially in older stamps. Many philatelists study these differences as part of their hobby and try to collect all the varieties of each stamp. Some varieties are particularly rare and can be more valuable than others of the same stamp that may look the same to the casual observer. One notable example of this variation is the Machin stamps of the UK, where philatelists have identified over 1000 varieties of the same basic design.

Special stamps, such as the Christmas stamps issued annually by various countries, are sometimes regarded as definitives because they are not commemoratives, but they typically only include a limited range of denominations relating specifically to the mail seen on the occasion for which they are issued.


Holiday stamp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Holiday stamps are a type of postage stamp issued to celebrate a certain Religious festival or holiday.

Christmas stamp

Many nations in the world issue Christmas stamps intended for use on holiday mail.

Cinco de Mayo

United States & Mexico

In 1997 a joint issue was issued by Mexico, who issued one stamp, and the United States, who issued both a 32-cent and a 33-cent denomination. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the defeat of the French Army by Mexican soldiers at the Battle of Puebla though some people believe it is the Mexican day of independence.


Ukraine is among the countries that have issued a stamp commemorating Easter, a Christian holiday.

Eid stamp

United States

The U.S. Postal Service issued a 34 cent stamp on the 1 Sep 2001 at the annual Islamic Society of North America's convention in Des Plaines, Ill. It features gold Arabic calligraphy on a lapis background that commemorates two of the most important Muslim festivals: Eid ul-Fitr, marking the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha, at the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. During the festival, Muslims wish each other "Eid mubarak," the phrase featured on the stamp. "Eid Mubarak" translates into English as "blessed festival," and can be paraphrased as "May your religious holiday be blessed." This phrase can be applied to both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. This stamp was designed by the Islamic calligrapher Mohammed Zakariya.

Pakistan is among the other countries with an Eid stamp.


Hanukkah stamp

United States & Israel

The U.S. Postal Service issued a 32 cent stamp on October 22, 1996 as a joint issue with Israel. Hanukkah commemorates the revolt led by Judah Maccabee against the government of Antiochus IV in 165 BC. This initial printing produced 103.5 million stamps and in it was re-issued in 1999 in a 33 cent value.

The Israeli stamp employs the same multi-colored menorah design, by American Hannah Smotrich, a graduate of the Yale School of Art. Israel also issued a first day cover as well as a souvenir sheet, which shows both stamps (pictured on left). As a unique feature, this was this first self-adhesive stamp in Israel.

In 2004, the U.S. issued another hanukkah stamp depicting a photograph of a dreidel (a spinning toy with four sides), with the word 'Hanukkah' in the background. The dreidel shown was purchased in Jerusalem by an American couple. The stamp was first issued on October 15 in New York.  The initial version of the stamp has been reissued; in 2007, it was a 41 cent stamp.

Independence Day stamps

Many countries issue stamps to celebrate their Independence Day or Republic Day.

India celebrates its Independence on August 15, beginning with its first three stamps issued in 1947. Republic Day is celebrated on January 26, commencing with the four stamps issued in 1950.

Pakistan celebrates its Independence (Yaum e Azadi) on August 14, beginning with its first recess printed stamps.

Kwanzaa stamp

Kwanzaa is a non-religious African-American festival which synthesizes and reinvents traditional African "first fruits" celebrations. The U.S. Postal Service issued the first 32 cent stamp designed by self-taught artist Synthia Saint James for Kwanzaa in October 22, 1997.[7] This design was revalued three times to 33-cent, 34-cent and 37-cent in 1999, 2001 and 2002, respectively. A total of 133 million Kwanzaa stamps were produced in 1997.[8] A second Kwanzaa stamp, a 37-cent self adhesive value, was introduced on October 16, 2004 with a new design by Daniel Minter that was intended to convey "balanced formality with a celebratory, festive mood." This stamp has been reissued; the 2007 value was 41 cents.


Rosh Hashanah

Israel has issued its "festival" series of stamps every year to commemorate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. In 1948, Israel's first festival stamps were designed by Otte Wallish and depicted LMLK seals stamped onto jars from the time of King Hezekiah (circa 700 BCE). The Rosh Hashanah stamps often display secular and patriotic motifs, such as bread, wine, olives, soldiers, kibbutzniks, Israeli dancing and the national library (1992). Fittingly, many series feature religious motifs, such as curtains for synagogue arks (1999), Hebrew Bible stories (1994), ushpizin of Sukkot (1997), Jewish lifecycle events (1995), and the orders the Mishnah 92006), with Nezikin pictured here.

Saint Valentine's Day stamp

Several countries have issued love stamps for Saint Valentine's Day, such as; Belgium, France, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.[11] Collectors will often try to collect covers from romantically named towns. Perhaps the most well known, servicing more than 200,000 each year around Valentine's Day, is Loveland, USA.


In 1985 An Post, the Irish Post Office, started issuing Love stamps for use on Saint Valentine's Day cards. The first pair of stamps issued depicted clouds and balloon (22p value) and hearts and flowers (26p value). An Post continues to issue new designs each year.

United States

The U.S. Postal Service has issued Love stamps for Saint Valentine's Day annually since the 1973 issue designed by Robert Indiana. The first issue was an 8 cents stamp with a printing production of 320 million stamps.

Chinese New Year

Several nations issue postage stamps to mark the Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year). Typically appearing in January and February, issuing countries have included China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and France.

The stamps usually depict the animal sign of that year, consisting of the sequence: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig. The designs may be part of a set, or individually-designed; for instance, since 1992 the US has been issuing Chinese New Year stamps using a common design type based on colored paper cutouts of the animals. In succeeding years, the U.S. Postal Service issued additional stamps until all twelve animals associated with the Chinese lunar calendar were represented. The calligraphic characters on these stamps may be translated into English as "Happy New Year".

Hong Kong was one of the first countries to issue a commemorative stamp for the lunar new year since the 1960s (1967), but other countries have followed:

  • Republic of China (Taiwan) - since 1965
  • People's Republic of China - since 1980
  • Singapore - Zodiac series since 1996, Festival series on-off since 1971, biannually since 2000
  • United States - since 1992
  • Australia - since 1994
  • Canada - since 1997
  • Macau - since 1997?
  • France - since 2005
  • Ireland - since 1994

Most of these stamps consist of first day covers, commemorative sheets and multiple country brochures.


Invert error

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In philately, an invert error occurs when part of a postage stamp is printed upside-down. Inverts are perhaps the most spectacular of a postage stamp errors, not only because of the striking visual appearance, but because they are almost always quite rare, and highly valued by stamp collectors.

Invert errors, or "inverts" for short, most commonly arise when producing multi-colored stamps via multiple passes through the printing press. It is all too easy for a printing plant worker to insert a half-finished sheet the wrong way around, resulting in the inverts. Such an error being so obvious, nearly all misprinted sheets are caught and destroyed before they leave the plant, and still more are caught during distribution or at the post office before being sold.

A much less common situation is for the invert to be embedded into the printing plate or stone, most famously the Inverted Swan of early Western Australia.

An invert may be characterized as an "inverted center" or "inverted frame" when the underlying paper is watermarked or otherwise carries a basic orientation. It is possible for a single-color stamp to be inverted relative to watermark, but this is called an "inverted watermark" rather than an "inverted stamp". Depending on the positioning of stamps within their sheet, the invert may be perfectly centered (as with the Inverted Jenny), or offset.

Not all inverts are spectacular. The Dag Hammarskjöld invert of 1962 consists only of a misprinted yellow layer, and it is not immediately clear that the white area is not a deliberate element of the design. Early Danish posthorn issues have an ornate frame that is almost perfectly symmetrical, and an inverted frame can only be detected by minute examination.

Overprints may also be inverted. Many of these are common, since the expedient nature of many overprints means that the production process is not so carefully controlled.

Rare inverts often have significant monetary worth. Inverted Jennies have long sold for over 100,000USD apiece, and the St. Lawrence Seaway inverts of Canada approach those numbers. High prices for inverts have tempted printing company employees to steal misprinted sheets from the printing plant and attempt to pass them off as genuine, as in the 1996 case of the "Nixon invert".


Inverted Jenny

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Inverted Jenny (or Jenny Invert) is a United States postage stamp first issued on May 10 1918 in which the image of the Curtiss JN-4 airplane in the center of the design was accidentally printed upside-down; it is probably the most famous error in American philately. Only one pane of 100 of the invert stamps was ever found, making this error one of the most prized in all philately; an inverted Jenny was sold at a Robert A. Siegel auction in November 2007 for US $977,500. In December 2007 a mint, never hinged example (one not previously affixed to a stamp album), was sold for $825,000. The broker of the sale said the buyer was a Wall Street executive who lost the auction the previous month. A block of four inverted Jennys was sold at a Robert A. Siegel auction in October 2005 for US$2.7 million.


During the 1910s, the United States Post Office had made a number of experimental trials of carrying mail by air, and decided to inaugurate regular service on May 15, 1918, flying between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. The Post Office set a controversial rate of 24 cents for the service, much higher than the 3 cents for first-class mail of the time, and decided to issue a new stamp just for this rate, patriotically printed in red and blue, and depicting a Curtiss Jenny, the biplane chosen to shuttle the mail.

The job of designing and printing the new stamp was carried out in a great rush; engraving only began on May 4, and stamp printing on May 10 (a Friday), in sheets of 100 (contrary to the usual practice of printing 400 at a time and cutting into 100-stamp panes). Since the stamp was printed in two colors, each sheet had to be fed through the printing press twice, an error-prone process that had resulted in invert errors in stamps of 1869 and 1901, and at least three misprinted sheets were found during the production process and were destroyed. It is believed that only one misprinted sheet of 100 stamps got through unnoticed, and stamp collectors have spent the ensuing years trying to find them all.

Initial deliveries went to post offices on Monday, May 13. Aware of the potential for inverts, a number of collectors went to their local post offices to buy the new stamps and keep an eye out for errors. Collector W. T. Robey was one of those; he had written to a friend on May 10 mentioning that "it would pay to be on the lookout for inverts". On May 14, Robey went to the post office to buy the new stamps, and as he wrote later, when the clerk brought out a sheet of inverts, "my heart stood still". He paid for the sheet, and asked to see more, but the remainder of the sheets were normal.

Additional details of the day's events are not entirely certain—Robey gave three different accounts later—but he began to contact both stamp dealers and journalists, to tell them of his find. After a week that included visits from postal inspectors and the hiding of the sheet, Robey sold the sheet to noted Philadelphia dealer Eugene Klein for US$15,000. Klein then immediately resold the sheet to "Colonel" H. R. Green, son of Hetty Green, for US$20,000.

Klein advised Green that the stamps would be worth more separately than as a single sheet, and Green went along; the sheet was broken into a block of eight, several blocks of four, with the remainder sold as individuals. Green kept a number of the inverts, including one that was placed in a locket for his wife. This locket was offered for sale for the first time ever by the Siegel Auction Galleries Rarity Sale, held on May 18, 2002. It did not sell in the auction, but the philatelic press reported that a Private Treaty sale was arranged later for an unknown price.A center-line block catalogs for $600,000.

A rare swap

In late October 2005 the unique plate number block of four stamps was purchased by a then anonymous buyer for $2,970,000. The purchaser was revealed to be U.S. financier Bill Gross. Shortly after purchasing the Inverted Jennys he proceeded to trade them with Donald Sundman, president of the Mystic Stamp Company, a stamp dealer, for one of only two known examples of the USA 1c Z Grill. By completing this trade, Gross became the owner of the only complete collection of U.S. 19th century stamps.


2006 Find

In November 2006, election workers in Broward County, Florida claimed to have found an Inverted Jenny affixed to an absentee ballot envelope. The sender did not include any identification with the ballot, which meant the ballot was disqualified.

In a review of a digital photograph of this stamp, Peter Mastrangelo, director of the Pennsylvania-based American Philatelic Society said "It is our opinion, from what we've seen, that this stamp is questionable, and we are of the opinion at this point that it appears to be a reproduction". He said an in-person review was needed to be sure, but that all indications are that the stamp is a counterfeit. "The perforations on top and bottom do not match our reference copies." Mastrangelo said. "The colors of the blue ink are consistent with the counterfeit."

On November 13, 2006, an elderly Sarasota, Florida man contacted SNN News 6, claiming to be the man who mailed the ballot. Dan Jacoby says the stamp he used is a commemorative stamp that is worth about 50 cents.

On December 4, 2006, it was confirmed that this stamp used on the ballot was a counterfeit. Inside the Broward County Elections Office in Florida, experts studied the stamp and decided that the method used to print it and the perforations along the sides were evidence of the stamp being fake.

This story recalls a plot point from the 1985 movie version of Brewster’s Millions, in which a man named Brewster (played by Richard Pryor) was challenged to spend thirty million dollars in thirty days without having anything to show for it (i.e. without accumulating assets). One of the many things he did in his attempt was to use an Inverted Jenny to mail a post card.

In popular culture

In The Simpsons fifth season's first episode, "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", Homer Simpson, along with finding an original copy of the U.S. Constitution and a Stradivarius violin both of which he throws away not knowing their value, then comes across a full sheet of Inverted Jennys in the 5 cent box at a local swap meet. He also throws it away saying "Airplane's upside down!".

The play Mauritius, written by Pulitzer Prize for Drama-nominee Theresa Rebeck, features the Inverted Jenny alongside the one- and two-penny Mauritius "Post Office" stamps.


Local post

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A local post is a mail service that operates only within a limited geographical area, typically a city or a single transportation route. Historically, some local posts have been operated by governments, while others, known as private local posts have been for-profit companies. Today, many stamp collectors operate hobbyists' local posts, issuing their own postal "stamps" for other collectors but rarely carrying any mail.

Official local posts

Government local posts go back to at least 1680, when the Penny Post was established in London to handle intra-city mail delivery at a uniform rate of one penny.

From 1840 onwards, when postage stamps were first introduced, special stamps were often issued; for instance the cantons of Switzerland issued stamps for use within a canton, and inscribed them "Poste-Local" or "Orts-Post". The Russian province of Wenden issued stamps for a local post from 1862 to 1901, while Nicaragua issued stamps for Zelaya only, due to its use of a different currency.

Rural Russia had a great many zemstvo posts handling local mail independently of the central government; some of these lasted until the 1917 revolution.

Private local posts

Many countries have had private local posts at one time or another. Usually these operated with the acquiescence of the government, and at other time in competition. Types of local posts included intra-city systems, transcontinental delivery (such as the Pony Express), and riverboat routes.

Many of these existed for only short periods, and little is known of their operations. Some of their stamps are among the great rarities of philately.

An example of a private modern day local post currently in operation is Hawai'i Post.

The world renowned philatelist, the late Herman Herst Jr., is considered the father of the modern United States local post having started his Shrub Oak Local Post in the early 1950s. He called his issues "stamps" and most local posters today call their issues "stamps" also. It was the philatelic press that got into the practice of calling them local post "labels" so to not confuse the beginning collectors.

Private local posts typically issue their own stamps, which can become collectors' items. These stamps are typically canceled with special cancellations, and their first day of issue can be thus commemorated.

In 1844, Lysander Spooner founded the American Letter Mail Company, competing with the legal monopoly of the United States Post Office (USPO) (now the United States Postal Service {USPS}) in violation of the Private Express Statutes. It succeeded in delivering mail for lower prices, but the U.S. Government challenged Spooner with legal measures, eventually forcing him to cease operations in 1851.

In 1968, Thomas M. Murray (1927 - 2003) founded the Independent Postal System of America (IPSA) as a nation-wide commercial carrier of Third and Fourth Class Mail, in direct competition with the United States Post Office (USPO), now the United States Postal Service (USPS). But in 1971, when the company entered the First Class delivery business, they endured a number of lawsuits brought against them, which finally led to the company's collapse in the mid 1970's. The company issued a number of stamps during the years of its operation, including commemoratives for Lyndon B. Johnson, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Charles Lindbergh before the USPS did.

Rattlesnake Island is an 85-acre (340,000 m2) island located on Lake Erie near Put-In-Bay, 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Port Clinton, Ohio, and has the only USPS-sanctioned local post operating in the United States. Service is provided by way of a Ford Trimotor which shuttles mail between the island and the mainland. From 1966 to 1989, USPS mail was routed by way of Port Clinton, Ohio. Today, outgoing mail from the island enters the USPS mail stream by way of Sandusky, Ohio. Local Post service began in 1966 and continued through 1989, when the island was sold and the new owners discontinued the service. It was re-started in 2005 and continues to the current day.

Hobbyists' local posts

Today's Local Posters (also known as phiLOPOlists) issue their local post "stamps", and issue a variety of commemorative "stamps" covering a wide range of events or personal interests, of subjects that are not normally issued by their own countrys postal service.

In some cases these modern day local posts have issued stamp subjects before their own country issued the same subject. The Free State Local Post issued an Audie Murphy stamp long before the U.S. Postal Service issued one of the same subject. The Ascension AAF Local Post, located on the island of Ascension in the South Atlantic Ocean, in 1972 commemorated the anniversary of the first aircraft to land at Ascension Island. This same subject was commemorated by the Ascension Island postal system in 1982.

This sort of local post is effectively a "home-brewed" postal system , and the typical hobbyist carries little, if any, mail (though some do carry mail over a short distance for themselves or a few people).

The Local Post Collectors' Society, established in 1972, coordinates communication among local posters. The LPCS issues a regular Bulletin "The Poster" to its members around the world, relating stories of local posts, showing new issues and other related items.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A perfin (a contraction of 'PERForated INitials'), also called SPIFS (a contraction of 'Stamps Perforated by Initials of Firms and Societies'), is a pattern of tiny holes punched through a postage stamp. Organizations used perforating machines to make perforations forming letters or designs in postage stamps they purchased, often in bulk, with the purpose of discouraging pilferage. The size and number of perfin holes, and sometimes the design permitted, is usually regulated by law or postal regulation in the relevant country.

Great Britain was the first country to use perfins in 1868. They are still used there and in a few other countries, although their use has declined dramatically since the introduction of franking machines. In Britain unused postage stamps could be redeemed for cash at the post office but a perforated stamp had obviously been stolen so the use of perfins gave organisations better security over their postage before franking machines became popular.

Officially prepared perfins

A number of countries perforated stamps as a means to denote official mail. For example in 1906 the Cape of Good Hope Government Printing and Stationery Department adopted a system of perforating in connection with the stamps used by their Department for Foreign Mail matter. The stamps were perforated by a machine, consisting of eleven round holes, in the form of two triangles, having their common apexes meeting in the hole at the centre of the stamp.

Denmark punctured stamps for use by the Home Guard. The United States has punctured stamps for use by the Federal Housing Administration, the various Federal Reserve Banks, the Bureau of the Census, and the United States Veterans Administration.

Collecting perfins

Formerly considered damaged and not worth collecting, perforated postage stamps are now highly sought by specialist stamp collectors. It is often difficult to identify the originating uses of individual perfins because there are usually no identifying features, e.g., Kodak used a simple K as their perfin, but on its own a stamp perforated K could have been used by several other users. A K perfin still affixed to a cover that has some company identifying feature, like the company name, address, or even a postmark or cancellation of a known town where the company had offices, enhances such a perfin.

Perfinned postal orders

British postal orders were perfinned by special machines as part of paying out on bets in the football pools. These postal orders turn up from time to time, but they are very sought after by postal order collectors.

Other uses

Perfins are widely used in orienteering, to mark control cards as proof that the orienteer has visited each control point.


Postage stamps and postal history of Malaysia


All states in Malaysia produce their own stamps, though most states have the same definitive stamps.

Malaysia started issuing stamps after independence from the United Kingdom on 31 August 1957. These stamps bore the title of Malayan Federation until 9 August 1963 when Sabah and Sarawak were added to Malaya to form Malaysia Singapore left Malaysia.

Malaysian Definitive Stamps

Orchid and Bird Definitives

During 1963 Malaysia issued its first definitive stamps. The stamps featured orchids for the State low values and birds for the Malaysia high values.

Butterfly Definitives

There were seven values for each state and eight high values inscribed 'Malaysia.' The states were: Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Trengganu. The original state issues were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson & Sons in the United Kingdom,in sheets of 200 in two panes of 100, 10 x 10,for the values of 1c, 2c, 5c, 6c, 10c, 15c and 20c. The printing process was lithography.

Colour separation proofs for each individual colour were printed for each value, and the colours combined in a process that eventually produced a full colour proof. These proofs were produced, initially, in small units, four or so and later as full sheets. This printing took place to ensure that all colours printed correctly when combined and also registered correctly. The more common sheet proofs can be easily identified from the smaller units as the latter have white borders. The stamps printed as sheets had a design that allowed for 'bleeding' between each stamp, printing over the perforations. Each value had two separate black colours, the first was applied as detail for the butterfly and the stamp value, being common for all States. and the second for the State name, Rulers portrait and/or State coat of arms, this being the 'customising' colour for the base stamps.

In addition to sheet stamps, two values, 10 cents and 15 cents, were produced as coil stamps for use in vending machines in several locations throughout Malaysia. The designs were similar to the state values, but produced with 'Malaysia' in place of a state name as they were for use in any state. These coils were printed by Harrison & Sons in photogravure. From the start, the coil stamp machines proved to be inefficient at dispensing the correct values for the money tendered, possibly due to humidity affecting the stamps. Due to these problems, the machines were dispensed with quite soon after they commenced their duty. As a result, commercially used examples of both values are scarce. During 2006 a variant of the gum was identified. It is brown, with a clear 'ribbing' effect. This may have been a trial to overcome some of the problems with the machines, the ribbing possibly helping to prevent curling of the individual stamps. Harrison Proof Cards exist for both values with an imperforate stamp in full colour on each.

During 1978, unannounced reprints for some state values were issued printed in photogravure by Harrison & Sons, also in the United Kingdom. Some of these reprints are quite scarce, particularly the Perlis 10 cents and Sabah 20 cents values, as they were replaced by the new issue of Flowers and Animals the same year. Once again, the stamps were printed in sheets of 200 in two panes of 100, 10 x 10. Unlike the Bradbury Wilkinson printings, these sheets had cylinder numbers in the bottom right margins, one for each colour and numbered 1A for the left pane and 1B for the right.

The only proofs that have appeared to date are single full colour proofs on Harrison & Sons presentation cards, all values existing. It is considered that only two each of these cards would have been produced, one for the printers record and one for the Malaysian Post Office in Malaysia.

Malaysian Commemorative Stamps

In 1982, Malaysia created its first miniature sheet to commemorate its 25th anniversary as an independent nation. This has proven a success and Malaysia has started to create more new miniature sheets.

Sports stamps

Malaysia started producing its first sport stamps in 1965 for the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games. This still continues to this day.


Treskilling Yellow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The "Treskilling" Yellow, or 3 skilling banco error of color (Swedish: Gul treskilling banco, Gul=yellow), is a postage stamp of Sweden, and holds the world's record auction sales price for a postage stamp.

In 1855, Sweden issued its first postage stamps, a set of five depicting the Swedish coat of arms, with denominations ranging from 3 to 24 skillings banco. The 3-skilling banco value was normally printed in a blue-green color, while the 8-skilling was printed in a yellowish orange shade. It is not known exactly what went wrong, but the most likely explanation is that a cliché of the 8-skilling printing plate (which consisted of 100 clichés assembled into a 10 x 10 array) was damaged or broken, and mistakenly replaced with a 3-skilling cliché. The number of stamps printed in the wrong color is unknown.

Somehow, this error went entirely unnoticed at the time, and by 1858 the currency was changed. The skilling stamps were replaced by new stamps denominated in öre. In 1886, a young collector named Georg Wilhelm Baeckman was going through covers in his grandmother's attic, and came across one with a 3-skilling stamp, for which local dealer Heinrich Lichtenstein was offering 7 kronor apiece.

After changing hands several times, Sigmund Friedl sold it to Philipp von Ferrary in 1894, who had at that time the largest known stamp collection in the world, and paid the breathtaking sum of 4,000 gulden. As time passed, and no other "yellows" surfaced despite energetic searching, it became clear that the stamp was not only rare, but quite possibly the only surviving example.

When Ferrary's collection was auctioned in the 1920s, Swedish Baron Eric Leijonhufvud acquired the Yellow, then Claes A. Tamm bought it in 1926 for £1,500 (GBP) in order to complete his collection of Sweden. In 1928, the stamp was sold to lawyer Johan Ramberg for £ 2000 who had it for nine years. In 1937, King Carol II of Romania purchased it from London auction house H. R. Harmer for £5,000, and in 1950 it went to Rene Berlingen for an unknown sum.

In the 1970s, the Swedish Postal Museum caused controversy by declaring the stamp to be a forgery, but after examination by two different commissions, it was agreed that it was a genuine error.

In 1984 the stamp made headlines when it was sold by David Feldman for 977,500 Swiss francs. A 1990 sale realized over one million US dollars, then in 1996 it sold again for 2,500,000 Swiss francs. Each successive sale has produced a world record price for a postage stamp.


Z Grill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Benjamin Franklin Z Grill, or simply Z Grill, is a 1-cent postage stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in 1868 depicting Benjamin Franklin. While stamps of this design were the common 1-cent stamps of the 1860s, the Z Grill is distinguished by having the so-called "Z" variety of a grill pressed into the stamp. The 1-cent Z Grill is generally considered the rarest and most valuable of all US postage stamps.

The purpose of the grill was to permit the canceling ink to be better absorbed into the stamp paper, thus preventing reuse of stamps by washing out the cancellation marks. The use of grills was not found to be practical and they were soon discontinued.

There are currently only two known 1-cent 1868 Z-Grills. One is owned by the New York Public Library as part of the Benjamin Miller Collection. This leaves only a single 1-cent 1868 Z-Grill in private hands.

This 1868 1 cent "Z-Grill" stamp sold for $935,000 in 1998 to Mystic Stamp Company, a stamp dealer. Siegel Auctions auctioned the stamp as part of the Robert Zoellner collection. Zachary Sundman, the eleven-year-old son of Mystic Stamp Company President Donald Sundman, was the individual responsible for wielding the paddle and doing the actual bidding.

Later, in late October 2005, Sundman traded this Z Grill to financier Bill Gross for a block of four Inverted Jenny stamps worth nearly $3 million. By completing this trade Gross became the owner of the only complete collection of U.S. 19th century stamps.

Both the Z Grills were on display at the National Postal Museum along with the first part of the Benjamin Miller Collection from 27 May 2006 till 1 October 2007.

Gronchi Rosa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Gronchi Rosa is a rare Italian postage stamp design error. It was part of a 1961 issue for the voyage of president Giovanni Gronchi to three South American countries.

The 205 liras rosa was intended for the stopover in Peru. The artist made a mistake with the boundaries between Peru and Ecuador. The rose-colored stamp was quickly replaced by a grey version with corrected boundaries, but some philatelic souvenirs using the Gronchi Rosa already existed. A forgery of this stamp is known to exist.


Inverted Head 4 Annas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Inverted Head Four Annas of India is a famous stamp prized by collectors. The 1854 first issues of India included a Four Annas value in red and blue. However, an invert error occurred during production, showing the head "upside down." This is one of the world's first multicolored stamps; the Basel Dove preceded it by 9 years.

The Four Annas Stamps

The Four Annas stamps were lithographed by the Survey Office in Calcutta. Two colors were used, red for the frame and blue for the head. During production, the paper was first imprinted with the red frames and later the blue heads were added within the frames. The First Printing began on October 13, 1854, using Head Die I and Frame Die I. There were 12 widely spaced stamps in each sheet. Exactly 206,040 stamps were printed from this Head Die I issue.

The Inverted Head Four Annas

Among these First Printing stamps, at least three sheets with the red frames had been inadvertently placed in the press backwards, head to foot. Hence, the heads appear to be upside down, although in actuality the red frames were inverted.

The surviving examples of this error are low in number. E. A. Smythies states, "Details and illustrations of all the known copies are given in that interesting publication, Stamps of Fame, by L. N. and M. Williams." All of these are postally used. Only two (or three) are known cut square; another 20 or so are cut to shape (that is, in an octagonal shape). One from the collection of the Earl of Crawford was exhibited in the World Philatelic Exhibition in Washington in 2006.

Discovery of the Error

This error was not found before the stamps were issued, of course, and it seems to have been not discovered for many years after. None of the 1870s publications mentions the Inverted Head Four Annas. The 1891 reprints provide the first conclusive evidence that the error was known, but E. A. Smythies said the error was first noticed during a meeting of the Philatelic Society of London in 1874. In 1907 Hausburg mentioned the Inverted Head Four Annas, but incorrectly, as he was not sure whether it came from the First or Second Printings. Mr. Séfi described this error in the West End Philatelist, January, 1912.


Three cut to shape examples of the Inverted Head Four Annas repose in the Tapling Collection at the British Museum, London, including two (positions 3 and 4 on the printed sheet) on piece, showing that the error was created by an incorrect sheet placement rather than by a careless die transfer. One carefully cut to shape is found in the Royal Collection, position 5 on the sheet. The Government of India Collection, in Delhi, has a cut to shape example on piece, position 2 on the sheet. Two examples cut square, one of them on cover, were in the collection of Desai. Desai "raised" his stamp from its cover for study. The provenance of several other examples is described in Martin and Smythies, as cited below.


Dangerous forgeries have been made by chemically erasing the upright head or the frame and then printing over it. These can be detected using "black light" and other techniques. One of these fakes appeared in the Masson sale, and one or two in the Ferrary auctions. Some clever forgeries purport to show an inverted head with different head dies, which are obvious, and crude forgeries are plentiful.


Uganda Cowries

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Uganda Cowries, also known as the Uganda Missionaries, were the first adhesive postage stamps of Uganda. Because there was no printing press in Uganda the stamps were made on a typewriter by Rev. E. Millar of the Church Missionary Society, in March 1895, at the request of C. Wilson, an official of the Imperial British East Africa Company. After Millar received a much-needed new ribbon, the color of the typewritten characters changed from black to a violet color. The stamps were valid for postage within the Kingdom of Buganda; in adjoining kingdoms and provinces they were used only for communications between officials of the Church Missionary Society.

The values of the stamps varied, but all were denominated in cowries (monetary seashells), at 200 cowries per rupee or 12 1/2 cowries = 1d. The design was simple, showing just the initials of the jurisdiction and a number for the denomination. The paper used was extremely thin. The stamps have been forged. Only a small number of the genuine stamps seem to have survived. Pen initialed, surcharged values exist; of these Robson Lowe commented, "All are rare. We do not recall selling a copy in over 25 years."

Wilson's embryonic postal system for Uganda commenced operations on March 20, 1895. A single letter box was set up in Kampala, at Wilson's office, offering twice-daily letter service to Entebbe and Gayaza for postage of 10 cowries. Other destinations had different rates. For addresses beyond Entebbe or Gayaza the mails were collected less frequently. Letters with European addresses were dispatched once a month, and they arrived at their destinations some three months later.

This postal service of Uganda may have been preceded by a postal service of the Kingdom of Unyoro (Bunyoro), which applied a handstamp in Arabic script.

Military Forces assumed the operation of the mails in June, 1896. The Uganda Missionaries were then followed by a typeset issue from a printing press in November, 1896, after the British Foreign Office had gained control of the government. A recess printed issue from De La Rue & Co. appeared in 1898, featuring a detail from von Angeli's 1885 portrait of Queen Victoria


Scinde Dawk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scinde Dawk was a very old postal system of runners that served the Indus Valley of Sindh, an area of present-day Pakistan. The term also refers to the first postage stamps in Asia, the forerunners of the adhesive stamps used throughout India, Burma, the Straits Settlements and other areas controlled by the British East India Company. The name derives from the words “Scinde”, the British spelling of the name of the province of Sindh, and “Dawk”, the anglicised spelling of the Hindustani word “Dak” or Post.




The Dawk, or Dak, was a very old postal system of runners. The runners were paid according to their

distance of travel and the weight of their letters. This was a local Indus Valley system, inefficient and

inadequate for the military and commercial needs of the British East India Company after their conquest

of Sindh.



Reform of the postal system

Sir Bartle Frere of the East India Company became the Chief Commissioner of Sindh in 1850. Following the English example set by Rowland Hill, Frere improved upon the postal system of Sindh by introducing a cheap and uniform rate for postage, independent of distance travelled. In 1851 the runners were replaced with an efficient system using horses and camels, following routes through Scinde province, generally along the valley of the Indus river. The mail was carried quickly and efficiently, connecting government offices and post offices from Karachi through Kotri and Hyderabad up to Shikkur in the north.

The stamps

Stamps were required for the prepayment of postage, a basic feature of the new system. These stamps bore the Merchants' Mark of the British East India Company in a design embossed on wafers of red sealing wax impressed on paper. Because they cracked and disintegrated, they were soon replaced by a colourless design embossed on white paper which was hard to see in a dim light. The last stamps were a blue embossing on white paper. All of these had a value of only one-half anna each, but today they rank among the rare classics of philately.


Forgeries of these rare stamps are plentiful. The most easily detected fakes are not embossed on paper. Other crude fakes show a misalignment of the second letter 'A' of ANNA with the 'K' of DAWK; and in other fakes the '1/2' is not separated from the central heartshaped emblem.

Later Developments

After the Scinde Dawk, Colonel Forbes of Calcutta Mint came up with an essay for a postage stamp depicting a lion and palm tree. This, and several other essays, were never printed because Forbes could not ensure an adequate supply with the limited machinery at hand. Soon after, new, lithographed stamps printed by the Survey Office appeared in several denominations valid for use throughout British India as part of sweeping postal reforms.

The British East India Company's posts are important, because the "Great Company" held sway over so much of the world's commerce in those days, extending across Asia and East Africa. It had its own armies, coinage and postal service; constructed railways and public works; and acted like an imperial force long before the Empire was established.


Postage stamps and postal history of Great Britain

The postal history of Great Britain is notable in at least two respects; first, for the introduction of postage stamps in 1840, and secondly for the establishment of an efficient postal system throughout the British Empire, laying the foundation of many national systems in existence today.

Early history

The story begins in the 12th century with King Henry I of England, who appointed messengers to carry letters for the government. At this time, private individuals had to make their own arrangements. Henry III provided uniforms for the messengers, and Edward I instituted posting houses where the messengers could change horses. The reign of Edward II saw the first postal marking; handwritten notations saying "Haste, post haste".

Henry VIII created the Royal Mail in 1516, appointing Brian Tuke as "Master of the Postes", while Elizabeth I appointed Thomas Randolph as "Chief Postmaster". Under Thomas Witherings, chief postmaster under Charles I of England, the Royal Mail was made available to the public (1635), with a regular system of post roads, houses, and staff. From this time through to the postal reforms of 1839 - 1840 it was most common for the recipient to pay the postage, although it was possible to prepay the charge at the time of sending.

In 1661, Charles II made Henry Bishop the first Postmaster General (PMG). In answer to customer complaints about delayed letters, Bishop introduced the Bishop mark, a small circle with month and day inside, applied at London, in the General Post office and the Foreign section, and soon after adopted in Scotland, (Edinburgh), and Ireland, (Dublin). In subsequent years, the postal system expanded from six roads to a network covering the country, and post offices were set up in both large and small towns, each of which had its own postmark.

Note on British currency

The unit of currency is the pound sterling. Its symbol is £ which represents the Latin word for pound, libra. Until February 1971, it was divided into twenty shillings (20s. or 20/-) the / derives from the old long s. both symbols stand for its Latin name solidus. Each shilling was divided into twelve pence 12d. The d represents denarius, the Latin word for a ten as piece. Since 1971, the pound remains but it is divided into a hundred of what were for a few years, called "new pence". Now they are "pence" for which the symbol is p. Thus, ignoring inflation, 2.4d. = 1p and 1/- = 5p.

Postage stamps

The Great Post Office Reform of 1839 and 1840 was championed by Rowland Hill as a way to reverse the steady financial losses of the Post Office. Hill convinced Parliament to adopt a flat 4d per 1/2 oz (£1.18/kg) rate regardless of distance, which went into effect 5 December 1839. This was immediately successful, and on 10 January 1840 the Uniform Penny Post started, charging only 1d for prepaid letters and 2d if the fee was collected from the recipient. Fixed rates meant that it was practical to avoid handling money to send a letter by using an "adhesive label", and accordingly, on May 6, the Penny Black became the world's first postage stamp in use.

The stamp was originally for use only within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and as such was in effect initially a local stamp. For this reason the name of the country was not included within the design, a situation which continued by agreement with foreign post offices, provided the sovereign’s effigy appeared on the stamp. Envelopes sold with postage paid did not include this so were marked with the country's name. In 1951, the special commemorative issue for the Festival of Britain included the name 'Britain' incidentally. It could therefore be said by a rather forced argument that for the first time, the name of the country then appeared on a stamp of the UK.

It soon became obvious that black was a not a good choice for stamp colour, since any cancellation marks were hard to see, and from 1841 onward, the stamps were printed in a brick-red colour. The Penny Reds continued in use for decades.

Victorian era

The Victorian age saw an explosion of experimentation. The inefficiency of using scissors to cut stamps from the sheet inspired trials with rouletting (the Archer Roulette), and then with perforation, which became standard practice in 1854. In 1847, the 1 shilling (£0.05) became the first of the British embossed postage stamps, (of an octagonal shape), to be issued, followed by tenpenny stamps the following year, and sixpence (£0.025) values in 1854.

Surface-printed stamps first appeared in the form of a fourpenny stamp in 1855, printed by De La Rue, and subsequently became the standard type. 1/2d (halfpenny) and 1 1/2d (penny halfpenny - pronounced pennyhaypny or threehapence) engraved stamps issued in 1870 were the last engraved types of Victoria; the next would not appear until 1913. Surface-printed stamps of the 1860s and 1870s all used the same profile of Victoria, but used a variety of frames, watermarks, and corner lettering.

A 5 shilling (abbreviated as 5/- or as 5s.) (£0.25) stamp first appeared in 1867, followed by 10 shilling (£0.50) and 1 pound values in 1878, and culminating in a 5-pound stamp in 1882.

Meanwhile, the age of the Penny Reds had come to an end along with the Perkins Bacon printing contract. The new low values were also surface-printed; first was a penny stamp coloured Venetian red in a square frame, issued in 1880. However, the passage of the Customs and Inland Revenue Act of 1881 necessitated new stamps valid also as revenue stamps, and so the Penny Lilac was issued in that year, inscribed "POSTAGE AND INLAND REVENUE". This stamp remained the standard letter stamp for the remainder of Victoria's reign, and vast quantities were printed. Later issues were inscribed POSTAGE & REVENUE which became the more familiar POSTAGE REVENUE.

1883 and 1884 saw experimentation with stamps using fugitive inks. These were rather plain designs, low values in lilac and high values in green, because those were the only colours available. They succeeded in their purpose - relatively few of the stamps survived usage, their colours fading away when soaked from the envelope - but they were not liked by the public.

The last major issue of Victoria was the "Jubilee issue" of 1887, a set of twelve designs ranging from ½d. to 1s., most printed in two colours or on coloured paper. (Although issued during the Jubilee year, they were not issued specifically for the occasion, and are thus not commemoratives.)

Early 20th century

When Edward VII succeeded to the throne, new stamps became necessary. The approach was very conservative however; most of the Jubilee frames were reused, and the image of the King was still a single profile. Edward's reign being short, there were no major changes of design, but the use of chalk-surfaced paper was introduced. (This type of paper can be detected by rubbing the surface with silver, which leaves a black mark.)

By contrast, the stamps of King George V were innovative from the very first. The first issue made was of the halfpenny and penny values, which were in the same colours as used for the previous reign. Although the main design feature remained the same, (a central ellipse for the portrait, an ornamental frame, value tablet at the base and a crown at the top), a three quarter portrait was used for the first time. Subsequent designs reverted to the standard profile however.

Britain's first commemorative stamps were issued for the British Empire Exhibition in 1924. The pair of large-format stamps featured a lion in an imposing stance; they were issued twice, in 1924, and then in 1925, the stamps of each year being inscribed with the year of issue. A second set of commemoratives in 1929 marked the 9th Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), held in London that year.

Abdication and war

A set of four stamps was issued in 1936 for Edward VIII before he abdicated. George VI's coronation was marked with a commemorative; part of an omnibus issue included every colony in the Empire. New definitives featured a profile of the king on a solid colour background, precursors of the Machins three decades later. (See below)

The century of the postage was celebrated in 1940 with a set of six depicting Victoria and George VI side-by-side. By the following year, wartime exigencies affected stamp printing, with the 1937 stamps being printed with less ink, resulting in significantly lighter shades. Post-war issues included commemoratives for the return of peace, the Silver Jubilee and the 1948 Summer Olympics in 1948, and the 75th anniversary of the UPU, in 1949.

In 1950 the colours of all the low values were changed. 1951 saw a new series of high values (2s 6d, 5s, 10s, £1), and two commemoratives for the Festival of Britain.

Modern era

When Elizabeth II succeeded her father in 1952, new stamps were needed. The result was a collection of variations on a theme that came to be known as the Wilding issues, based on a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by photographer Dorothy Wilding.

Wildings were used until 1967, when the Machin issues were introduced. The Machin design is very simple, a profile of the Queen on a solid colour background, and very popular, still being the standard British stamp as of 2009. They have been printed in scores of different colours; in addition, decimalisation required new denominations, and there have technical improvements in the printing process, resulting in literally hundreds of varieties known to specialists.

The monarchy and trends in design of British stamps

Up to the 1950s British commemorative stamps were few and far between; most of the stamps were definitive issues where the portrait of the reigning monarch was the dominant element. Even after commemorative stamps began to appear more often during the 1950s and early 1960s, the monarch's effigy was prominent, usually taking up a quarter to a third of the stamp's design, which limited flexibility and creativity. The turnaround came about in 1965-66, when then Postmaster General Tony Benn pushed for the use of a small silhouette of the Queen, based on the Machin profile, and this has become the standard design ever since. When the monarch's portrait is part of the stamp's main design (as for example in the case of issues commemorating the Queen's birthday), then the silhouette is not needed and does not appear. (An example of an exception to this rule occurred in 2000 when a souvenir sheet issued in commemoration of the Queen Mother's 100th birthday included a stamp with a photograph of the Queen and the silhouette.)

Another trend is the growing use of stamps to commemorate events related to the present Royal Family. Up to Queen Elizabeth II's accession in 1952 the only commemorative stamps to have been issued related to royal events were for King George V's silver jubilee in 1935, King George VI's coronation in 1937, and a 1948 issue to commemorate George VI's 25th wedding anniversary. Since 1952, however, stamps have been issued not only to commemorate the Queen's silver and golden jubilees, as well as the 40th anniversary of her accession (in 1977, 1992 and 2002), her coronation in 1953, and her silver, gold and diamond wedding anniversaries (in 1972, 1997 and 2007), but also to commemorate the 25th and 50th anniversaries of her coronation (in 1978 and 2003); her 60th and 80th birthdays (in 1986 and 2006); the weddings of her sons and daughter (Anne's in 1973, Charles' two weddings in 1981 and 2005, Andrew's in 1986, and Edward's in 1999; Anne's second wedding in 1992 was not commemorated); her mother's 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays (in 1980, 1990 and 2000); the Prince of Wales' investiture and its 25th anniversary (1969, 1994); and Prince William of Wales' 21st birthday in 2003. In addition memorial stamps have been issued after the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales (in 1998) and Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (in 2002).

With regard to previous monarchs, stamps were issued in 1987 to mark the 150th anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession, and in 1997 to mark the 450th anniversary of King Henry VIII's death. Lately (2008-9) stamps have began to be issued featuring all of England's kings and queens, starting with the Lancaster, York and Tudor dynasties.

Regional Issues

Main article: Regional postage in Great Britain

Beginning in 1958, regional issues were introduced in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales. While these issues are only sold at post offices in the respective countries, they are valid throughout the United Kingdom.


Hawaiian Missionaries

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hawaiian Missionaries are the first postage stamps of the Kingdom of Hawaii, issued in 1851. They came to be known as the "Missionaries" because they were primarily found on the correspondence of missionaries working in the Hawaiian Islands. Only a handful of these stamps have survived to the present day, and so they are amongst the great rarities of philately.


In the early 19th century, mail to and from Hawaii was carried by ship captains on an ad hoc basis. By 1849, partly as a side effect of the California Gold Rush and the settlement of California, mail to and from San Francisco had increased greatly. In response, the Hawaiian government established a post office and set postal rates. Henry M. Whitney, the first postmaster, was authorized to print stamps for those rates in June 1851, which he did using the printing press of The Polynesian, a weekly government newspaper.


The stamps went on sale October 1, 1851, in three denominations covering three rates: the 2-cent stamp was for newspapers going to the US, the 5-cent value was for regular mail to the US, and the 13-cent value was for mail to the US East Coast, combining the 5 cents of Hawaiian postage, a 2-cent ship fee, and 6 cents to cover the transcontinental US rate.

The design was very simple, consisting only of a central numeral of the denomination framed by a standard printer's ornament, with the denomination repeated in words at the bottom. The top line read "Hawaiian / Postage" for the 2- and 5-cent values, but "H.I. & U.S. / Postage" for the 13-cent value, reflecting its unusual role of paying two different countries' postage. A thin line surrounded by a thicker line framed the stamp as a whole. All stamps were printed in the same shade of blue on pelure paper, an extremely thin tissue-like paper prone to tearing; 90% of known Missionaries are damaged in some way.

Although the stamps were in regular use until as late as 1856, of the four values issued only about 200 have survived (Scott Trepel's census in the Siegel catalog lists 197, but see below), of which 28 are unused, and 32 are on cover.

The 2-cent is the rarest of the Hawaiian Missionaries, with 15 copies recorded. When Maurice Burrus sold his 2-cent Missionary in 1921 the price was USD$15,000; when Alfred Caspary sold the same stamp in 1963 the price was $41,000, the highest value ever paid for any stamp at that time (even more than the British Guiana 1c magenta and "Post Office" Mauritius Blue Penny and Red Penny rarities). An astonishing lore surrounds this stamp: in 1892, one of its earlier owners, Gaston Leroux, was murdered for it by an envious fellow philatelist, Hector Giroux.

The Dawson Cover

The most valuable of all Missionary items is a cover sent to New York City bearing the only known use of the 2-cent value on cover, as well as a 5-cent value and two 3-cent US stamps. This is known as the Dawson Cover. It was in a bundle of correspondence shoved into a factory furnace around 1870, but packed so tightly that the fire went out (though one side of the cover bears a scorch mark). The factory was abandoned; 35 years later, a workman cleaning the factory for reuse discovered the stuffed furnace, and knew enough about stamps to save the unusual covers. This cover was acquired by George H. Worthington in 1905, then bought by Alfred Caspary around 1917. It has changed hands several more times: in the 1995 Siegel auction it realized a price of US$1.9 million, and was last sold publicly for $2.09 million, making it one of the highest-priced of all philatelic items.

The Dawson cover, shown on the 2002 Souvenir Sheet (Scott 3694) may be evidence of the validity of the 1850 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation between the United States and Hawaii as a sovereign nation. Under Article XV,

So soon as Steam or other mail packets under the flag of either of the contracting parties, shall have commenced running between their respective ports of entry, the contracting parties agree to receive at the post offices of those ports all mailable matter, and to forward it as directed, the destination being to [some] regular post office of either country, charging thereupon the regular postal rate as established by law in the territories of either party receiving said mailable matter, in addition to the original postage of the office whence the mail [was] sent.

On September 9, 1850, Hawaii's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Robert Crichton Wyllie, asked San Francisco's postmaster J. B. Moore to implement the treaty's mail exchange provision quickly, to support Hawaii's sovereignty against any potential French ambitions in the Hawaiian Islands. Moore agreed by early December, and the Honolulu Post Office opened on December 21, 1850.

The Grinnell Missionaries

In 1920, 43 additional Missionaries appeared on the philatelic market. They came from a Charles Shattuck, whose mother had apparently corresponded with a missionary family in Hawaii, were acquired by George H. Grinnell and then sold to dealer John Klemann for $65,000. But in 1922, the stamps' authenticity became the subject of a court case, and they were adjudged forgeries.

They have been studied on a number of occasions since then, but opinion remains divided. In 1922, experts testified that the Grinnells had been produced by photogravure and not by handset moveable type, but in the 1980s Keith Cordrey showed that they were probably typeset, and the Royal Philatelic Society London agreed. Further analysis showed that the ink and paper were consistent with 1850s types. Even so, the Royal Philatelic Society declared the stamps to be counterfeit, and is preparing a book detailing their findings.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aerophilately is the branch of philately that specializes in the study of airmail. Philatelists have observed the development of mail transport by air from its beginning, and all aspects of airmail service have been extensively studied and documented by specialists.


The scope of aerophilately includes:

  • airmail postage stamps, both official and unofficial (see list of US airmail postage here)
  • other types of labels (such as airmail etiquettes)
  • postal documents transmitted by air
  • postal markings related to air transport
  • rates and routes, particularly first flights and other "special" flights
  • mail recovered from aircraft accidents and other incidents (crash covers)

While most of the study of airmail assumes transport by fixed-wing aircraft, the fields of balloon mail, dirigible mail, zeppelin mail, missile mail, and rocket mail are active subspecialties. Astrophilately, the study of mail in space, is a related area.


International Federation of Aerophilatelic Societies, (FISA), is the umbrella organization for aerophilately though aerophilatelists have formed a number of organizations around the world; many of them put out a variety of specialized publications.

  • FISA
  • Air Mail Society of New Zealand
  • American Air Mail Society
  • British Air Mail Society
  • The Canadian Aerophilatelic Society
  • Irish Airmail Society





From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Franking is also the passing of franking credits to shareholders in countries that have dividend imputation to reduce or eliminate double taxation of company profits.

For the town in Upper Austria, see Franking, Austria.

Franking (or "franks") are any and all devices or markings such as postage stamps (including printed and/or embossed on postal stationery), printed or stamped impressions, codings, labels, manuscript writings (including "privilege" signatures), and/or any other authorized form of markings affixed or applied to mails to qualify them to be postally serviced.

Franking types and methods

While all affixed postage stamps and other markings applied to mail to qualify it for postal service are franking (or "franks"), not all types and methods are used to frank all types or classes of mails. Although there are differences in the manner that the postal systems of the 191 nations that belong to the Universal Postal Union (UPU) apply and regulate the way their mails are franked, most mails fall under one (and sometimes more) of the following four major types and/or methods of franking. The UPU co-ordinates the application of the regulations of postal systems of its member nations, including as they relate to franking, to permit the servicing and exchange of international mails. Prior to the establishment of the UPU in 1874, international mails sometimes bore mixed franking (the application of franking of more than one country) before the world's postal services universally agreed to deliver international mails bearing only the franking of the country of origin.

"Postage" franking is the physical application and presence of postage stamps, or any other markings recognized and accepted by the postal system or systems providing service, which indicate the payment of sufficient fees for the class of service which the item of mail is to be or had been afforded. Prior to the introduction to the first postage stamp in 1840 (the British "Penny Black"), pre-paid franking was applied exclusively by a manuscript or handstamped "Paid" marking and the amount of the fee collected.

In addition to postage stamps, postal franking can be in the form of printed or stamped impressions made in an authorized format and applied directly by a franking machine, postage meter, computer generated franking labels or other similar methods ("Postage Evidencing Systems"), any form of preprinted "postage paid" notice authorized by a postal service permit ("Indicia"), or any other marking method accepted by the postal service and specified by its regulations, as proof of the prepayment of the appropriate fees. Postal franking also includes "Postage Due" stamps or markings affixed by a postal service which designate any amount of insufficient or omitted postage fees to be collected on delivery.

"Privilege" franking is a personally pen signed or printed facsimile signature of a person  with a "franking privilege" such as certain government officials (especially legislators) and others designated by law or Postal Regulations. In the United States this is called the "Congressional frank" which can only be used for "Official Business" mail. In addition to this type of franking privilege, from time to time (especially during wartimes) governments and/or postal administrations also authorize active duty service members and other designated individuals to send mails for free by writing "Free" or "Soldier's Mail" (or equivalent) on the item of mail in lieu of paid postal franking, or by using appropriate free franked postal stationery.

  • "Official Business" franking is any frank printed on or affixed to mails which are designated as being for official business of national governments (i.e. governments which also have postal authority) and thus qualify for postal service without any additional paid franking. In Commonwealth countries the printed frank reads "Official Paid" and is used by government departments on postmarks, stationery, adhesive labels, official stamps, and handstruck or machine stamps.

In the United States such mails are sent using postal stationery or address labels that include a "Penalty" frank ("Penalty For Private Use To Avoid Payment of Postage $300") printed on the piece of mail, and/or is franked with Penalty Mail Stamps (PMS) of appropriate value.  Such mails are generally serviced as First Class Mail (or equivalent) unless otherwise designated (such as "bulk" mailings).

"Business Reply Mail" (BRM) franking is a preprinted frank  with a Permit number which authorizes items so marked to be posted as First Class Mail with the authorizing postal service without advance payment by the person posting the item. (International Reply Mail may specify Air Mail as the class of service.) Postage fees for BRM are paid by the permit holder upon its delivery to the specified address authorized by the permit and preprinted on the item of business reply mail. Governments also use BRM to permit replies associated with official business purposes,

Each of the world's several hundred national postal administrations establish and regulate the specific methods and standards of franking as they apply to domestic operations within their own postal systems. Any and all conflicts that might arise affecting the franking of mails serviced by multiple administrations which result from differences in these various postal regulations and/or practices are mediated by the Universal Postal Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations, as the organization which sets the rules and technical standards for international mail exchanges.

Franking privilege

A franking privilege, typically granted to certain elected officials by a government, is the privilege to send mail over the signature of an authorized person as the only frank required to be afforded postal service. Use of the franking privilege is not absolute, however, but generally limited to official business, constituent bulk mails, and other uses as prescribed by law. A primary example of this type of limited privileged franking is the "Congressional Frank" afforded to Members of Congress in the United States. This is not "free" franking, however, as the USPS is compensated for the servicing of these mails by specific annual appropriations against which each Member is given a budgeted amount upon which he/she may draw.

A six-member bipartisan Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, colloquially known as the "Franking Commission," is responsible for oversight and regulation of the franking privilege in the Congress. Among the Commission's responsibilities is to establish the "Official Mail Allowance" for each Member based proportionally on the number of constituents they serve. Certain other persons are also accorded the privilege such as Members-elect and former Presidents and their spouse or widow as well. A President who is convicted in the Senate as a result of an impeachment trial would not have a franking privilege after being forced to leave office.  The sitting President does not have personal franking privileges but the Vice President, who is also President of the Senate, does.

In Canada, the monarch, the Governor General, members of the Canadian Senate, members of the House of Commons, Clerk of House of Commons, Parliamentary Librarian, Associate Parliamentary Librarian, officers of parliament and Senate Ethics Officer all have franking privilege and mails sent to or from these people are sent free of charge.

In Italy, mails sent to the President of the Republic are free of charge.


A limited form of franking privilege originated in the British Parliament in 1660, with the passage of an act authorizing the formation of the General Post Office. In the 19th century, as use of the post office increased significantly in Britain, it was expected that anybody with a Parliament connection would get his friends' mail franked.

In the United States, the franking privilege predates the establishment of the republic itself, as the Continental Congress bestowed it on its members in 1775. The First United States Congress enacted a franking law in 1789 during its very first session. Congress members would spend much time "inscribing their names on the upper right-hand corner of official letters and packages" until the 1860s for the purpose of sending out postage free mail. Yet, on January 31, 1873, the Senate abolished "the congressional franking privilege after rejecting a House-passed provision that would have provided special stamps for the free mailing of printed Senate and House documents." Within two years, however, Congress began to make exceptions to this ban, including free mailing of the Congressional Record, seeds, and agricultural reports. Finally, in 1891, noting that its members were the only government officials required to pay postage, Congress restored full franking privileges. Since then, the franking of congressional mail has been subject to ongoing review and regulation.

The phrase franking is derived from the Latin word "francus" meaning free. Another use of that term is speaking "frankly", i.e. "freely".

Because Benjamin Franklin was an early United States Postmaster General, satirist Richard Armour referred to free congressional mailings as the "Franklin privilege".


Postal stationery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A piece of postal stationery is a stationery item, such as an envelope, letter sheet, post card, lettercard, aérogramme or newspaper wrapper, with an imprinted stamp.

The preprinted stamp, or 'indicium', is usually at the rate required for a particular postal service, e.g., at the postcard rate for postcards, the domestic letter rate for letter sheets and envelopes, the registered letter rate for registered envelopes, etc. In general, postal stationery is handled similarly to postage stamps; sold from post offices either at the face value of the printed postage or with a surcharge to cover the additional cost of the stationery.

The envelope form may also be called a stamped envelope. In the United States, private post cards (without preprinted postage) are differentiated from postal cards, which are sold by the Postal Service.

The postal services of some countries also offer a form of letter sheet called an aérogramme consisting of a blank sheet of paper with folding instructions and adhesive flaps that becomes its own envelope, and carries prepaid postage at either the international airmail letter rate or at a special lower aerogramme rate. Enclosures are not permitted in aerogrammes.

The first official postal stationery were the 1838 embossed letter sheets of New South Wales. These were followed by the Mulready stationery that was issued by Britain at the same time as the Penny Black in 1840. Since then, most postal services have issued a steady stream of stationery alongside stamps. Often the design of the stationery mimics the contemporaneous stamps, though with less variety and lower printing quality, due to the limitations of printing directly onto the envelope.

In emergency situations, postal stationery has been produced by handstamping envelopes with modified cancelling devices; many of the rare Confederate postmasters' provisionals are of this form. Postal stationery can also be overprinted publicly, or by a private overprint.

Many country-specific stamp catalogs include postal stationery in their listings and there are many books devoted to the postal stationery of individual countries, however, the principal encyclopaedic work is the nineteen volume Higgins & Gage World Postal Stationery Catalog.


Pen cancel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In philately, a pen cancel is a cancellation of a postage stamp by the use of a pen, marker or crayon.


In the early days of stamps, cancellation with a pen was common. Today stamps are almost always cancelled with an inked handstamp or a machine cancel as this is quicker to apply. Pen cancels are still sometimes seen today when a postal official needs to cancel stamps missed by the automatic cancelling machine.

There are no fixed terms for the different types of pen cancels but a cancel in the form of two crossed lines has been referred to as an X cancel. Pen cancels may also take the form of notations by the canceller, the city in which the item was posted or the initials of the local postmaster.

A pen cancel may indicate fiscal (revenue) use, however, in the early days of stamps a pen cancel was sometimes used because no handstamp was available, for instance in Nicaragua where pen cancels were used for seven years after their first stamps appeared in 1862.


A used stamp with a pen cancel is usually worth much less than a stamp cancelled using a handstamp or machine. In particular, the additional information from the handstamp is lost and the pen cancel may indicate fiscal (revenue) rather than postal use. Pen cancelling is a common method of cancelling stamps used fiscally. Stamps marked valid for both postage and revenue use are usually worth less when fiscally used.


Some people have attempted to remove pen cancels from used stamps in order to turn them into more valuable unused stamps.


Stamp hinge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stamp hinges are small, folded, rectangular pieces of paper coated with a mild gum. They are used by stamp collectors to affix postage stamps onto the pages of a stamp album. The short end is moistened and affixed to the stamp, the long end is likewise affixed to the page. The hinge keeps the stamp on the page while still allowing it to be lifted to examine the back (for instance to see the watermark or expert marks).

The best stamp hinges are also designed to be "peelable", meaning that the stamp may be removed from the page, and the hinge from the stamp, without any damage to either. Not all makes of hinge have this property, and the backs of many stamps have "hinge remnants", where the hinge has torn away rather than letting go of the stamp. This is especially common for mint stamps, where the stamp's own gum adheres tightly to the hinge. Some old stamps may actually have multiple hinge remnants layered on top of each other. Conversely, careless removal of a hinge may take away a layer of the stamp's paper, resulting in a type of stamp thin known as a "hinge thin".

Even with the use of peelable hinges and care taken to minimize the moisture used, the hinge will leave a visible disturbance in the gum of an unused stamp. While this was formerly a matter of indifference, since about the middle of the 20th century many collectors have come to prefer "unhinged stamps" showing no trace of hinging. In some cases, the price differential is 2-to-1 or more, resulting in the quip that the "gum on the back of a stamp is the most valuable substance in the world". Collectors preferring unhinged stamps typically use pocket-like or sleeve-like stamp mounts.

Since the time that unhinged stamps became popular, considerable numbers of old stamps with intact gum have appeared on the market, raising suspicion that many of these have been regummed; some experts have asserted that there are no stamps surviving from the 19th century that have not been hinged.

Nevertheless, stamp hinges remain popular as a mounting method.


Postage stamp gum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In philately, gum is the substance applied to the back of a postage stamp to enable it to adhere to a letter or other mailed item. The term is generic, and applies both to traditional types such as gum arabic and to synthetic modern formulations.


The use of gum was part of the original proposal by Rowland Hill, and has been universal from the beginning. There have been a number of stamp types that were issued ungummed, typically due to emergency situations when gum was not available, such as Italy in 1944, Kraków issue of Poland in 1919, Latvia in 1919. Other reasons have included lack of access to gum (the typewritten "Cowries" of 1895 Uganda), extreme tropical climate (1873 Curaçao and Suriname), and intent to sell only to collectors (as with the US "Farley's Follies" souvenir sheets of 1933). The manual gluing-on of postage is such an extreme consumption of time (and "time is money" to businesses with a lot of mail) that these situations are always temporary.

Originally, gumming took place after printing and before perforation, usually because the paper had to be damp for printing to work well, but in modern times most stamp printing is done dry on pregummed paper. There have been a couple of historical instances where stamps were regummed after being perforated, but these were unusual situations.

On early issues, gum was applied by hand, using a brush or roller, but in 1880 De La Rue came up with a machine gumming process using a printing press, and gum is now always applied by machine. The gum is universally spread as uniformly as possible, but a 1946 local issue by the town of Finsterwalde in Germany used an economy process where the back of the stamp had a regular pattern of circular bare patches.

The greatest manufacturing problem of the gumming process is its tendency to make the stamps curl, due to the different reaction of paper and gum to varying moisture levels. In the most extreme cases, the stamp will spontaneously roll up into a small tube. Various schemes have been tried, but the problem persists to this day. In Swiss stamps of the 1930s, Courvoisier used a gum-breaking machine that pressed a pattern of small squares into the gum, resulting in so-called grilled gum. Another scheme has been to slice the gum with knives after it has been applied. In some cases the gum solves the problem itself by becoming "crackly" when it dries.

The appearance of the gum varies with the type and method of application, and may range from nearly invisible to dark brown globs. Types of gum used on stamps include:

  • dextrin, produced by heating starch
  • gum arabic or acacia gum, derived from the acacia plant
  • glue, from gelatin, rarely seen on stamps
  • polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)

In recent years, the use of self-adhesive stamps has become widespread. The first use was by Sierra Leone in 1964, and the United States tried it on a Christmas stamp of 1974, although the experiment was judged a failure and not repeated for many years. Traditional gums remain in use, although differentiated by calling them water-activated. All Israli postage stamps feature a 'water-activated" adhesive that is certified Kosher.


For collectors, gum is mostly a problem. It is rarely of use in differentiating between common and rare stamps, and being on the back of the stamp it is not usually visible. Nevertheless, many collectors of unused stamps want copies that are "mint" or "post office fresh", which means that the gum must be pristine and intact, and they will pay a premium for these. While not so much of a problem for modern issues, the traditional way of mounting stamps in an album was with the use of stamp hinges, and some experts claim that very few unused stamps from the 19th century have not been hinged at some point in their existence. This means that old mint stamps are inevitably under suspicion of having been regummed, and a subfield of forensic philately is the detection of regummed stamps.


Postage stamps and postal history of Germany

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Germany and philatelically related areas. The main modern providers of service were the Reichspost (1871-1945), the Deutsche Post under Allied control (1945 - 1949), the Deutsche Post of the GDR (1949-1990), the Deutsche Bundespost (1949-1995), along with the Deutsche Bundespost Berlin (1949-1990), and are now the Deutsche Post AG (since 1995).

Metzger Post

The Metzger Post is credited to be perhaps the first international post of the Middle Ages The guild of butchers (German: Metzger) organized courier mail services with horses; when the mail arrived they used a horn to announce it and thus created a commonly recognized emblem for postal services. The Metzger Post was established in the twelfth century and survived until 1637, when Thurn and Taxis's monopoly took over.

Thurn and Taxis

In 1497, on behalf of Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, Franz von Taxis established a postal service that replaced the ad-hoc courier for official mail. A horse relay system was created that shortened the transit time for mail and made its arrival predictable. Thereafter, the house of Thurn and Taxis using the imperial yellow and black livery maintained the postal privilege for many centuries. Thurn and Taxis employed the first horse-drawn mail coaches in Europe since Roman times in 1650, - they started in the town of Kocs giving rise to the term "coach".

Thurn and Taxis lost its monopoly when Napoleon granted the Rhine Confederation the right to conduct postal services. The agency continued to operate and even issued some stamps (v.i.) but when Prussia created the North German Confederancy Thurn and Taxis had to sell its privileges in 1867.

German states

Main articles: Postage stamps and postal history of Baden, Postage stamps and postal history of Bergedorf, Postage stamps and postal history of Hamburg, Postal history of Heligoland, Postage stamps and postal history of Lübeck, Postage stamps and postal history of Mecklenburg, and Postage stamps and postal history of the North German Confederation

Prior to the German unification of 1871, individual German states and entities started to release their own stamps, Bavaria first on November 1, 1849 with the one kreuzer black. States or entities that issued stamps subsequently were Baden (1851), Bergedorf (1861), Braunschweig (1852), Bremen (1855), Hamburg (1859), Hannover (1850), Heligoland (1867), Lubeck (1859), Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1856), Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1864), Oldenburg (1852), Prussia (1850), Saxony (1850), Schleswig-Holstein (1850), and Wurttemberg (1851). Also Thurn and Taxis while not a state had the authority to issue stamps and transport mail and released stamps (1852). The northern German states joined in the North German Confederation in 1868 and united their postal services in the "North German Postal District" (Norddeutscher Postbezirk). After the unification, Bavaria and Wurttemberg retained their postal authority to continue producing stamps until March 31, 1920.

Imperial Germany, 1871-1918



The Deutsche Reichspost started officially on May 4, 1871 using initially stamps of the North German Confederation until it issued its first stamps on January 1, 1872.  Heinrich von Stephan, inventor of the postcard and founder of the Universal Postal Union, was the first Postmaster-General. The most common stamps of the Reichspost were the Germania stamps. Germania stamps were issued from 1900 until 1922 making it the longest running series in German philately with the change in the inscription from Reichspost to Deutsche Post being the major modification during this period.

German colonies

Stamps were issued by the German authorities for all colonies:German South West Africa, German New Guinea, Kiatschou, Togo, Samoa, Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands, Caroline Islands, German East Africa and Kamerun. These stamps had a uniform appearance depicting the imperial yacht SMY Hohenzollern. Regular German stamps with overprint were used prior to the inroduction of the yacht issue.

German offices abroad

Imperial Germany maintained post offices in certain towns in Marocco, Turkey, and China. Issued stamps can be recognized by the cancellation stamp or the overprint may show local denomination and the name of the country.

German WWI occupations

During world war I, German authorities issued stamps in occupied countries, namely Belgium, Poland, Romania, and areas of the western and eastern front.

Weimar Republic, 1918-1933


The Reichspost continued to function as a governmental entity after Germany became a republic. In 1919 the Reichspost issued its first commemorative, airmail, and semipostal stamps.[10] The first semipostal stamp in 1919 carried a surcharge for the benefit of war invalids (Scott #B1). In 1923 during hyperinflation, the Reichspost issued stamps up to 50 billion marks. The main common stamp series then was the "famous German people" series, followed by the Hindenburg stamps. The first of the valuable German Zeppelin stamps appeared in 1928, Scott # C35-37.

Plebiscite areas

After the Treaty of Versailles a number of areas underwent plebiscites in 1920 to determine their future fate. These areas briefly issued stamps: Allenstein and Marienwerder, Schleswig, and Upper Silesia.


After the Treaty of Versailles the Free City of Danzig was established as an independent entity in 1920. At first German stamps were still used, after a while overprinted with "Danzig". Thereafter Danzig introduced its own stamps until 1939. In addition, the Polish Post maintained a presence in Danzig and issued Port Gdansk overprinted Polish stamps.

Memel territory

After the Treaty of Versailles, the Memel Territory (Memelland, Klaipėda) was established. Initially German then French and Lithuanian overprinted stamps were used. Memel issued stamps between 1920 and 1923 when is was annexed by Lithuania.


After the Treaty of Versailles the Saar territory was administered by the League of Nations. It issued its own stamps from 1920 to 1935 when it returned to Germany after a plebiscite. The first stamps were overprinted German and Bavarian stamps. After WWII the Saar territory came under French administration and issued its own stamps from 1947-1956. Following a referendum it was returned to Germany in 1956, and continued its stamps series until 1959.

"Third Reich", 1933-1945


During the "Third Reich" the Reichspost continued to function as a monopoly of the government under the auspices of the Reichspostministerium, and Nazi propaganda took hold and influenced stamp design and policy. The Hitler head stamp became the stamp for common usage, and a large number of semipostal stamps were issued. In the last year before the end of the war the stamp inscription "Deutsches Reich" was changed to "Grossdeutsches Reich" (Greater German Empire). Field post stamps were issued for the military forces starting in 1942. The world's first postal code system was introduced on July 25, 1941 with a two-digit number system. This system was initially used for the packet service and later applied to all mail deliveries.

Sudeten/Bohemia and Moravia

After the Munich agreement the Sudetenland became German territory in 1938 and initially, Czech stamps were used locally with an overprint, before German stamps became available. In 1939 Nazi Germany occupied part of Czechoslovakia, overprinted initially Czecholovakian stamps, and then issued stamps for Bohemia and Moravia until 1945.

German WWII occupations

During the course of WWII German authorities issues stamps in Albania, Alsace, Belgium, Channel Islands, Estland, parts of France, Kotor, Kurland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland (General Government), parts of Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Zante, and Zara.

Divided Germany, 1945-1990

Local issues

In the process of the collapse of Nazi Germany, mail services became disrupted or ceased. Various communities established services locally during the void often using defaced Hitler stamps.

Allied occupation

With the occupation of Germany by the Allied powers postal services returned but were administered under different authorities. AM Post (AM = Allied Military) stamps were provided by the American and British occupation services during 1945 as the first step to restore mail service in their jurisdictions. By December 1945, the French authorities issued stamps for the "zone française", later to be supplemented by stamps for Baden, Rheinland-Pfalz, and Württemberg. In addition, separate stamps were provided for the Saar. In the Soviet zone, initially in 1945, various provinces released different stamps, namely Berlin-Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxonia (Ost Sachsen, West Sachsen, Provinz Sachsen), and Thuringia. In 1946, German stamps were issued as Deutsche Post for the American, British, and Soviet zones but not the French zone. The typical yellow color to signify post service was decreed by the Allied Control Council in 1946. With the development of the cold war, however, attempts to unify the postal system failed, - the common stamps were replaced by 1948 by definitives for the Soviet zone, and different sets of stamps for the bizone, already prior to the establishment of the two German republics.

Deutsche Bundespost Berlin

West Berlin under the jurisdiction of the three western powers started to release its own stamps on September 3, 1948. It continued to emit stamps under the Deutsche Bundespost Berlin label for 42 years, a total of over 800 different stamps, until the reunification in 1990. Many Berlin stamps were similar to the stamps of West Germany. West German and Berlin stamps could be used in either jurisdiction.

Deutsche Post of the GDR

With the formation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the Deutsche Post of the GDR service was established as the governmental agency to provide mail services. Its first stamp was released on October 9, 1949. The production of these often beautiful stamps was prolific, about 3,000 different stamps were produced during the life of the existence of the DP, relatively low, however, was the number of semipostals. Stamps were to some degree used to gain currency abroad, that is some stamps were not produced for circulation but sold directly to stamp dealers. Also, for some sets a specific stamp was produced at an intentionally low number - called a "Sperrwert" (lit. blocked stamp value, or stamp with limited release) - to artificially increase the value and sell it for more money to stamp dealers. With the 1990 reunification, the Deutsche Post became part of the ’’Deutsche Bundespost’’.

Deutsche Bundespost

When the Federal Republic of Germany was formed the Deutsche Bundespost (German federal post office) became the governmental agency with the monopoly for postal services; the name was adopted in 1950, prior it was called "Deutsche Post". The issue of the FRG was released on September 7, 1949(Scott #665-666). In 1961 the two-digit postal code was replaced with a four-digit code, this was replaced after the reunification. By the time of the reunification about 1,400 different stamps had been issued. The process of converting the governmental agency into a public company was initiated in 1989 by separating postal services from post bank and communication services.

After the unification 1990

Deutsche Post AG

With the German reunification, the Bundespost with the incorporated Deutsche Post of the GDR provided postal services for the whole territory of the Federal Republic, and German stamps regardless of origin were postally valid until their date of expiration: for the stamps of the GDR Mi # 1004-3343 this was October 1, 1990, and for GDR Mi 3344-3365 December 12, 1991, the latter was the same date for the expiration of the West Berlin stamps Mi #326-879. By 1993 a new five-digit postal code had been introduced. In 1995 the Bundespost was converted into a stock company, the ’’Deutsche Post AG’’ the shares of which became available in 2000. The company with its subsidiaries operates in logistics on a global scale.


Postage stamps and postal history of Russia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Russia. Traditionally, philatelists include the Soviet Union period in this category also.

Early postal history

Records mention a system of messengers in the 10th century. Early letters were carried in the form of a roll, with a wax or lead seal; the earliest known of these seals dates from 1079, and mentions a governor Ratibor of Tmutarakan. The earliest surviving cover was sent in 1391 from La Tana (now Azov) to Venice.

By the 16th century, the postal system included 1,600 locations, and mail took 3 days to travel from Moscow to Novgorod. In 1634, a peace treaty between Russia and Poland established a route to Warsaw, becoming Russia's first regular international service. Peter the Great enacted reforms making the postal system more uniform in its operations, and in 1716 the first post offices opened, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

The earliest known Russian postmark dates from July 1765; it is a single line reading "ST.PETERSBOVRG" (in Latin letters), but the first official recommendation to use postmarks did not come until 1781.

Postal stationery made its first appearance in 1845, in the form of envelopes that paid the 5-kopeck fee for local mail in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The idea worked well, and was extended throughout Russia on December 1, 1848.

Local postal systems used stamps referred to as Zemstvos, from the term for local governments begun under Alexander II in 1864.


Postage stamps

The postage stamp idea had already swept much of the world when, in September 1856, the Russian authorities decided to follow suit. The first stamps went on sale 10 December 1857, but were not valid for use until 1 January 1858. The first value was a 10-kopeck to be used for letters weighing up to one lot (about 12.8 grams). It was an imperforate stamp depicting the coat of arms of Russia, and printed using typography in brown and blue. This was followed on 10 January by 20-kopeck and 30-kopeck perforated stamps using the same design but in different pairs of colors, along with a perforated version of the 10-kopeck stamp. The paper was originally watermarked with the numeral, but this was soon abandoned, and later printings in 1858 are on regular wove paper.

A 5k stamp for local postage was introduced in 1863, and in the following year a new common design, with the arms in an oval, was introduced for 1k, 3k, and 5k values. These were used to make up complicated rates for international mail, which had previously required cash payments at the post office. After 1866 the stamps were printed on laid paper watermarked with a pattern of wavy lines and "EZGB" in Cyrillic. The "grain" of the laid paper was usually horizontal, but for a minority of each value the grain is vertical.

In September 1865, the Shlisselburg district became the first of the zemstvo offices to issue stamps; the system was officially organized by a decree of 27 August 1870.

In 1874, Russia became one of the original 22 countries forming the General Postal Union (later the Universal Postal Union).

The coat of arms design was changed in 1875, and used for 2k and 8k values, and a 7k in 1879. The 7k was also printed on revenue stamp paper watermarked with a hexagon pattern; these are quite rare.

A new issue of 14 December 1883 featured an updated design, lower values printed in a single color, and new high values - 14k, 35k, and 70k. January 1884 saw the introduction of 3.50-ruble and 7-ruble stamps, physically much larger than existing stamps.

In 1889 the designs were changed again, this time to introduce thunderbolts across the posthorns underneath the double-headed eagle, and in printings after 1902 the usual grain of the paper was changed to be vertical.

At the end of 1904 Russia issued its first semi-postal stamps. The four values were each sold at 3k over face to provide for orphans of casualties in the Russo-Japanese War.

In 1909 a new series came out, using a mix of old and new designs, all printed on unwatermarked wove paper, and with lozenges on the face to discourage postage stamp reuse.

Russia's first series of commemorative stamps appeared 2 January 1913 to mark the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The 17 stamps featured portraits of the various Tsars, as well as views of the Kremlin, Winter Palace, and Romanov Castle. But in 1915 and 1916, as the government disintegrated under the pressures of World War I, several of the designs were printed on cardboard and used as paper money. 7k and 14k stamps were also surcharged 10k and 20k due to shortages.


The period of the Russian Revolution is complicated philatelically; post offices across the country were thrown on their own devices, and a number of the factions and breakaway republics issued new kinds of stamps, although in some cases they seem to have been as much for publicity purposes, few genuine uses having been recorded.

Entities issuing their own stamps include:

  • Armenia
  • Army of the Northwest
  • Batum
  • Far Eastern Republic
  • Georgia
  • Latvia
  • Siberia
  • South Russia
  • Transcaucasian SFSR

In 1917 the Provisional Government reprinted the old Tsarist designs, but sold them imperforate. The first stamps of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic appeared in 1918, as two values depicting a sword cutting a chain. While great quantities of these stamps survive, they saw little use, and used copies are worth more than mint.

The next stamps appeared in 1921, after inflation had taken hold. The set's values range from 1 to 1,000 rubles. By the next year these stamps were being surcharged in various ways, with face values of up to 100,000 rubles.

A currency reform in 1922 that exchanged money at a 10,000-to-1 rate enabled new stamps in the 5r to 200r range, including a set marking the 5th anniversary of the October Revolution, Tsarist stamps surcharged with a five-pointed star containing a hammer and sickle. Stamps with portraits of a worker, peasant and soldier also appeared this year; variations on these portrait designs would continue to be issued throughout the 1920s.

Finnish occupation of Aunus

At 1919–1921 there was Aunus expedition where a group of Finnish volunteers occupied parts of East Karelia (Aunus in Finnish, Olonets Karelia in Russian). There were stamps issued for Aunus troops by local authorities. They were Finnish definitives from 1917 with overprint Aunus.


Postage stamps and postal history of China

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The story of the postage stamps and postal history of China is complicated by the gradual decay of imperial China and the years of civil war and Japanese occupation in the 1930s and 1940s.


Imperial China


Regular government postal service is known from the Zhou Dynasty in the 1st millennium BC. During the

Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan in the 12th century, China was integrated into the much larger Mongolian

Örtöö system. Marco Polo reported that there were 10,000 post stages during that time. In addition, private

letters were carried by the Min Hsin Chu, a system of letter guilds (hongs). Later the 1727 Treaty of

Kyakhta with Russia provided for the first regular exchange of mail.


A policy of isolation was forcibly ended in the 19th century by the Opium War and the subsequent opening

of treaty ports; several nations opened foreign post offices from 1844 on. This expanded to involve dozens

of cities, mostly on the coast, along the Yangtze River, and in the far south. Shanghai organized its own Shanghai local post in 1865. In the same year, the Englishman Robert Hart developed a mail service for the Imperial Maritime Customs, initially to carry consular mail to and from treaty ports. This service was opened to the public on 1 May 1878, and China's first postage stamps, the "Large Dragons", were issued to handle payment. The stamps were inscribed "CHINA" in both Latin and Chinese characters, and denominated in candareens.

Initially, all mail to foreign destinations went through Shanghai, but by 1882 there were twelve post offices. On 20 March 1896, an edict directed that the Customs Post become the Imperial Postal Service effective 1 January 1897; the Min Hsin Chu was shut down, as well as the Shanghai local post, and postal system adopted cents and dollars as the units of currency.

Through the first half of 1897, new stamps were unavailable, and so the existing stock was surcharged in cents, with several variants distinguished by philatelists. Revenue stamps were surcharged as well.

The first new stamps, inscribed "IMPERIAL CHINESE POST" went on sale 16 August 1897. The twelve values, ranging from 1/2c to $5, were lithographed in Japan. The low values depicted a dragon, the middle values a carp, and the dollar values a wild goose. This paper used for these stamps had a watermark in the form of a yin-yang symbol.

In 1898, these were superseded by similar designs produced by engraving in London, and inscribed "CHINESE IMPERIAL POST" on a Chinese supplied watermarked paper of varying thickness. The watermark can be difficult to detect on the thicker paper. New printings of the stamp, beginning in 1899 were on unwatermarked paper, but there are no recorded usages of this variety until 1901. These stamps continued in use until the end of the empire. During that time some colours were changed to comply with Universal Postal Union regulations, and three new values were added.

The first commemorative stamps of China were issued in 1909 to mark the 1st year of the reign of the Xuantong Emperor. The set of three (2c, 3c, 7c), all depicted the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Revolution and republic

The 1910s

The revolution of 1911 resulted in overprints on the imperial stamps in 1912; at Foochow to indicate that the post office was effectively a neutral area available to both sides, and at Nanking and Shanghai reading "Republic of China". An additional set of overprints were produced by Waterlow and Sons in London, and postmasters throughout the country made their own unofficial overprints using the same characters.

The first new designs of the Republic were two commemorative sets of 12 each, the first set depicting Sun Yat-sen and second Yuan Shikai, both issued on 14 December, 1912.

The definitives of the "Junk issue" went on sale 5 May 1913, and continued in use into the 1930s. The low values featured a junk, while values from 15c to 50c showed a farmer reaping rice, while the dollar values depicted the three-part gateway to the Hall of Classics in Beijing. The series was first printed in London, then in Beijing from 1915; they can be distinguished by close examination. The designs were re-engraved in 1923, and a number of design features were changed; for instance, the whitecaps in the water underneath the junk were removed, and the water darkened.

The 1920s

China produced five new commemorative issues, of four stamps each, during the 1920s. The first, issued on 1921-10-10 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Chinese Post Office featured then president Xu Shichang in the centre, flanked by Premier Jing Yongbeng and Minister of Communication Ye Gongzuo. On 1923-10-17 a set showing the Temple of Heaven commemorated the new constitution. On 1928-03-01 a set depicting Marshal of the Army and Navy Zhang Zuolin marked his assumption of that role. On 1929-04-18 Chiang Kai-shek makes a first appearance, commemorating the unification of China. Finally on 1929-05-30, two days before the event, four stamps showing Sun Yat Sen's mausoleum were issued to commemorate his state funeral.

The 1930s

New definitives in 1931 depicted Sun Yat-sen. These stamps, along with the Martyrs issue of 1932 honoring six martyrs of the Kuomintang, would see much overprinting in the next several years. 1931 also saw the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese and the formation of Manchukuo, which issued its own stamps.

Japanese occupation



Adoption of a gold yuan standard delayed inflation only for a short time. This $1000 stamp was issued in early 1949.

The end of the conflict brought little respite to the Nationalist government, which continued to struggle with Communist forces. But they were able to issue commemoratives to remember President Lin Sen, who had died in 1943, to mark the October inauguration of Chiang, and to celebrate the Allied victory.

Inflation had been creating a need for ever-higher values throughout 1945, but in 1946 things went out of control; stocks of stamps, some dating back to 1931, were surcharged with values up to $2000, and a new design (still featuring a portrait of Sun Yat-sen) went up to $5000.

1947 saw a number of commemorative issues, and further inflation, a Sun Yat-sen with plum blossoms issue reaching $50,000 that year, then surpassed in 1948 with reissues topping out with a $5,000,000 stamp.

In 1948, a gold yuan standard was adopted, and an assortment of existing stamps were surcharged with values from 1/2c and up. This was a short-lived stopgap, and by early 1949 it became necessary to stamps and overprints with a range of values, again going up to $5,000,000.

On 1 May 1949, the government took a desperate step, which was to print undenominated stamps, sold at the daily rate of the yuan. They then adopted a silver yuan standard, and overprinted still more stamps as well as reissuing the Sun Yat-sen design valued in 1-500 cents. By August, the deteriorating political situation had caught up with the postal system, and the Nationalists' last issues on the mainland were two of a planned series of pictorial designs denominated in silver yuan.


Postage stamps and postal history of Korea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Korea.

Long a closed kingdom, Korea began to open up in the second half of the 19th century; letters bearing Chinese and Japanese stamps are known from 1877.

Korea issued its own first stamps on 18 November, 1884. While five values were printed - 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 mon, only the 5m and 10m values were issued, and even these saw little use, as the post office was burned down during a revolt in December 1884.

The next series of stamps did not appear until 1895, and consisted of four values: 5, 10, 25, and 50 poon, all of the same design featuring a yin yang symbol. They were overprinted "Tae Han" in 1897, and surcharged to 1 poon in 1900.

A currency change in 1900, to rin, cheun, and weun, necessitated new stamps, and accordingly a series of 13 was issued, with values ranging from 2 rin to 2 weun. While all the designs have a common theme of the yin yang symbol, the frames are different for each value, and the three highest values are printed in two colors each. In 1902 five of these were surcharged using black handstamps.

Korea issued its first commemorative stamp on 18 October, 1902, marking the 40th anniversary of

the reign of Emperor Gojong. The orange stamp depicted the emperor's crown.


The last stamps of the Empire were another series of 13 issued in 1903, with all stamps of a

common depicting a falcon.


In 1905, Japan assumed administrative control of Korea, and subsequently all mail used Japanese

stamps. This state of affairs continued until early 1946. On 1 February 1946, the US military

administration in south Korea overprinted Japanese stamps, supplanting them on 1 May with

designs commemorating liberation from Japan. In the north, the Soviet occupation forces issued

stamps from 12 March 1946.


Postage stamps and postal history of the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of the United States of America (USA).

Early postal history

In the American colonies, informal independently-run postal routes began in Boston as early as 1639, with Boston to New York City service starting in 1672.

Officially-sanctioned mail service began in 1692 when King William III granted to an English nobleman a delivery "patent" that included the exclusive right to establish and collect a formal postal tax on official documents of all kinds. (Years later, taxation implemented through the mandatory purchase of stamps was an issue that helped to spark the American Revolution.) The tax was repealed a year later, and very few were ever actually used in the thirteen colonies, but they saw service in Canada and the British Caribbean islands.


The introduction of postage stamps in the UK in May 1840 was received with great interest in the United States (and around the world). A private carrier, Alexander M. Greig of New York City, established a "City Despatch Post" on February 1, 1842 which covered New York City as far north as 23rd St. He issued stamps, bearing a portrait of Washington, printed from line engraved plates.

A few months after founding the City Despatch Post, Greig sold it to the U.S. Government and the post became known as the "United States City Despatch Post." The government began operation of this local post on August 16, 1842 under an Act of Congress of some years earlier which had authorized such local delivery.

The Act of Congress of March 3, 1845, (effective July 1, 1845), established uniform (and reduced) postal rates throughout the nation, with a uniform rate of five cents for distances under 300 miles (500 km). However, Congress did not authorize the production of stamps until 1847, so postmasters made provisional issues. These included both prepaid envelopes and stamps, mostly of crude design, the New York Postmaster's Provisional being the only one of quality comparable to later stamps. The provisionals of Baltimore were notable for the reproduced signature of the city's postmaster—James Buchanan. All of the provisionals are rare, and several command prices above US$100,000. These cities issued provisionals in 1845 and 1846:

First stamps

Congress finally provided for the issuance of stamps by passing an act on March 3, 1847, and the Postmaster-General immediately let a contract to the New York City engraving firm of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, and Edson. The first stamp issue of the U.S. was offered for sale on July 1, 1847, in NYC, with Boston receiving stamps the following day and other cities thereafter. They consisted of an engraved 5-cent red brown stamp depicting Benjamin Franklin (the first postmaster of the US), and a 10-cent value in black with George Washington. As for all U.S. stamps until 1857, they were imperforate.

The 5 cent stamp paid for a letter weighing less than 1 oz and travelling less than 300 miles, the 10 cent stamp for deliveries to locations greater than 300 miles, or, twice the weight deliverable for the 5 cent stamp. Each stamp was hand engraved in what is believed to be steel, and laid out in sheets of 200 stamps. The 5 cent stamp is often found today with very poor impressions because the type of ink used contained small pieces of quartz, and wore down the steel plates to which the stamp was printed. On the other hand, most 10 cent stamps are of strong impressions. A fresh and brilliantly printed 5 cent stamp is prized by collectors.

The stamps were an immediate success; about 3,700,000 of the 5¢ and about 865,000 of the 10¢ were sold, and enough of those have survived to ensure a ready supply for collectors, although the demand is such that a very fine 5¢ sells for around US$500 as of 2003, and the 10¢ in very fine condition sells for around $1,400 in used form. Unused stamps are much scarcer, fetching around $6,000 and $28,000 respectively, if in very fine condition. One can pay as little as 5 to 10% of these figures if the stamps are in poor condition.

The post office had become so efficient by 1851 that Congress was able to reduce the common rate to three cents (which remained unchanged for over a century), necessitating a new issue of stamps. Values included a 1¢ profile of Franklin in blue, a 3¢ profile of Washington in red brown, a 5¢ portrait of Thomas Jefferson, and portraits of Washington for 10¢ green and 12¢ black values. The 1c stamp achieved notoriety, at least among philatelists, because production problems led to substantial plate modifications, and there are no less than seven major varieties, ranging in price from $100 to $200,000, and sharp-eyed collectors periodically find the rare types going unrecognized.

1857 saw the introduction of perforation, and in 1860 24¢, 30¢, and 90¢ values (with still more images of Washington and Franklin) were issued for the first time.

Civil War

The outbreak of the American Civil War threw the postal system into turmoil. On April 13, 1861 (the day after the firing on Fort Sumter) John H. Reagan, postmaster-general of the Confederate States of America, ordered local postmasters to return their US stamps to Washington DC (although it is unlikely that many did so), while in May the Union decided to withdraw and invalidate all existing US stamps, and to issue new stamps. Confederate post offices were left without legitimate stamps for several months, and while many reverted to the old system of cash payment at the post office, over one hundred post offices across the South came up with their own provisional issues. Many of these are quite rare, with only single examples surviving of some types. Eventually the Confederate government issued its own stamps; see stamps and postal history of the Confederate States.

In the North, the new stamp designs became available in August, and old stamps were accepted in exchange until the end of the year. The whole process was very confusing to the public, and there are number of covers from 1862 and later with 1857 stamps and bearing the marking "OLD STAMPS NOT RECOGNIZED".

The 1861 stamps had in common the letters "U S" in their design. The original issue included 1¢, 3¢, 5¢, 10¢, 12¢, 24¢, 30¢, and 90¢ stamps. Several are superficially similar to their earlier counterparts, differing primarily in the design of the frame.

A 2¢ stamp in black featuring Andrew Jackson was issued in 1863 and is now known to collectors as the "Black Jack". A black 15¢ stamp depicting the recently-assassinated Abraham Lincoln was issued in 1866, and is generally considered part of the same series. Although it was not officially described as such, and the 15¢ value was chosen to cover newly-established fee for registered letters, many philatelists consider this to be the first memorial stamp ever issued.

The war greatly increased the amount of mail in the North; ultimately about 1,750,000,000 copies of the 3¢ stamp were printed, and a great many have survived to the present day, typically selling for 2-3 dollars apiece. Most are rose-colored; pink versions are much rarer and quite expensive, especially the "pigeon blood pink" which goes for $3,000 and up.


During the 1860s, the postal authorities became concerned about postage stamp reuse. Although there is little evidence that this occurred frequently, many post offices had never received any cancelling devices. Instead, they improvised a canceling process by scribbling on the stamp with an ink pen ("pen cancellation"), or whittling designs in pieces of cork, sometimes very creatively ("fancy cancels"), to mark the stamps. However, since poor-quality ink could be washed from the stamp, this method would only have been moderately successful. A number of inventors patented various ideas to attempt to solve the problem.

The Post Office eventually adopted the grill, a device consisting of a pattern of tiny pyramidal bumps that would emboss the stamp, breaking up the fibers so that the ink would soak in more deeply, and thus be harder to clean off. While the patent survives (No. 70,147), much of the actual process of grilling was not well-documented, and there has been considerable research trying to recreate what happened and when. Study of the stamps shows that there were ten types in use, distinguished by size and shape (philatelists have labelled them with letters A-I and Z), and that the practice started some time in 1867 and was abandoned around 1871. A number of grilled stamps are among the great rarities of US philately; the United States 1¢ Z grill is the rarest of all US stamps, with only two known to exist. (See grilled stamp for more details.)


In 1868 the Post Office contracted with the National Bank Note Company to produce new stamps with a variety of designs. These came out in 1869, and were notable for the variety of their subjects; the 2¢ depicted a Pony Express rider, the 3¢ a locomotive, the 12¢ the steamship Adriatic, the 15¢ the landing of Christopher Columbus, and the 24¢ the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Other innovations included the first use of two-color printing on U.S. stamps, and as a consequence the first invert errors. Although popular with collectors today, the unconventional stamps were the targets of much scorn when they came out, and were superseded by a new issue just a year later.

Bank Notes

The stamps of the 1870s and 1880s are collectively known as the "Bank Notes" because they were produced by the Continental Bank Note Company, the National Bank Note Company, then the American Bank Note Company. After the 1869 fiasco, the new Postmaster-General decided to base a series of stamps on the "heads, in profile, of distinguished deceased Americans" using "marble busts of acknowledged excellence" as models. The various subjects included both presidents and other notables, such as Henry Clay and Oliver Hazard Perry. National first printed these, then in 1873 Continental received the contract—and the plates that National used. Continental added secret marks to the plates of the lower values, distinguishing them from the previous issues. The American Bank Note Company acquired Continental in 1879, and took over the contract printing similar designs on softer papers and with some color changes.

Columbian Issue

The World Columbian Exposition of 1893 commemorated the 400th anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. The Post Office got in on the act, issuing a series of 16 stamps depicting Columbus and episodes in his career, ranging in value from 1¢ to $5 (a princely sum in those days). They are often considered the first commemorative stamps issued by any country. The stamps were interesting and attractive, designed to appeal to both collectors and the general public. They were quite successful (a great contrast to the pictorials of 1869), with lines spilling out of the nation's post offices to buy the stamps. They are prized by collectors today with the $5.00 denomination, for example, selling for between $1,500 to $12,500.00 or more depending upon the condition of the stamp being sold.

Bureau issues

Also during 1893, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing competed for the stamp printing contract, and won it on the first try. The stamps of the 1894 series were generally similar to those of 1890, but with triangles in the upper corners. In 1895 counterfeits of the 2¢ value were discovered, which prompted the BEP to begin issuing stamps printed on watermarked paper for the first time in US history; a practice that would be abandoned in 1917.

Turn of the century

In 1898, the Trans-Mississippi Exposition opened in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Post Office was ready with the Trans-Mississippi Issue. Originally to be bi-colored, the needs of the Spanish-American War consumed too much of the BEP's ability, and the stamps came out in single colors. They were received favorably, though with less excitement than the Columbians; but like the Columbians, they are today prized by collectors, and many consider that the $1 "Western Cattle in Storm" " is the most attractive of all U.S. stamps.

Another high spot in stamp design came with the definitive series of 1902, although some of the philatelic press criticized the florid designs.

The Washington-Franklin era

1908 saw the beginning of the long-running Washington-Franklin series of stamps. Although there were just two basic designs, a profile of Washington and one of Franklin, the Post Office was going through a period of experimentation. The result was several variations on the design, a half-dozen different perforations, three kinds of watermarking, three printing methods, and large numbers of values, all adding to several hundred distinct types identified by collectors. Some are quite rare, but many are extremely common; this was the era of the postcard craze, and almost every antique shop in the U.S. will have some postcards with green 1¢ or 2¢ stamps from this series.

This era started to see the regular issue of individual commemorative stamps instead of the large sets of the 1890s, at a rate of about one or two stamps each year.

The 1920s and 1930s

The stamps of the 1920s were dominated by the Series of 1922, the first new design of stamps to appear in a generation. The lower values depicted various Presidents, with the 5c particularly intended as a memorial of the recently-deceased Theodore Roosevelt, while the higher values included an "American Indian" (Hollow Horn Bear), the Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate (sans bridge, which had yet to be built), Niagara Falls, a buffalo, the Lincoln Memorial and so forth. Stamp printing was switching from a flat plate press to a rotary press while these stamps were in use, and most come in two perforations as a result; 11 for flat plate, and 11x10.5 for rotary.

The 1920s saw a number of 150th anniversaries connected with the American Revolutionary War, and a number of stamps were issued in connection with those. These included the first US souvenir sheet, for the Battle of White Plains sesquicentenary, and the first overprint, reading "MOLLY / PITCHER", the heroine of the Battle of Monmouth.

In 1929, theft problems in the Midwest led to the Kansas-Nebraska overprints on the regular stamps.

The German zeppelins were of much interest during this period, and in 1930 the Department issued special stamps to be used on the Pan-American flight of Graf Zeppelin.

Although the stamps are today highly prized by collectors as masterpieces of the engraver's art, in 1930 the recent stock market crash meant that few were able to afford these stamps (the $4.55 value for the set represented a week's food allowance for a family of four). Less than 10% of the 1,000,000 of each denomination issued were sold and the remainders were incinerated (the stamps were only available for sale to the public from April 19, 1930 to June 30, 1930). It is estimated that less than 8 percent of the stamps produced survive today and they remain the smallest U.S. issue of the 20th century (only 229,260 of these stamps were ever purchased, and only 61,296 of the $2.60 stamp were sold).

In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt became President. He was notable not only as an avid collector in his own right (with a collection estimated at around 1 million stamps), but also for taking an interest in the stamp issues of the Department; many designs of the 1930s were inspired or altered according to his advice.


The famous Presidential Issue, known as "Prexies" for short, came out in 1938. The series featured all 29 U.S. presidents through Calvin Coolidge, as small busts printed on solid-color designs through 50¢, then black on white with colored lettering for $1, $2, and $5 values. Additional stamps depicted Franklin (1/2¢), Martha Washington (1 1/2¢), and the White House (4 1/2¢). Many of the values were just included so that all presidents were on a stamp and did not necessarily correspond to a postal rate, and one of the (difficult) games for Prexie collectors is to find a cover with, for instance, a single 16¢ stamp that pays a combination of rate and fees valid during the Prexies' period of usage. Many such covers remain to be discovered; some sellers on eBay have been surprised to discover an ordinary-seeming cover bid up to several hundred dollars because it was one of the sought-after solo usages.

Post-World War II

The post-World War II stamp program followed a consistent pattern for many years; a steady stream of commemoratives issued as single stamps priced at the first-class letter rate. Beginning in 1948, the Congress of the United States began to push the Post Office for stamps proposed by constituents, leading to a relative flood of obscure stamps that was not well-regulated until the formation of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) in 1957.

The Liberty issue of 1954, deep in the Cold War, took a much more political slant than previous issues. The common first-class stamp was a 3¢ Statue of Liberty in purple, and included the inscription "In God We Trust", the first explicit religious reference on a U.S. stamp. The other stamps included liberty-related subjects and themes, such as Patrick Henry, although other subjects, such as Benjamin Harrison, are harder to explain.

The 3¢ rate for first-class had been unchanged since 1933, but by 1958 there were no more efficiency gains to keep the lid on prices, and the rate went to 4¢, beginning a steady series of rate increases that reached 42¢ as of May 12, 2008.

The Prominent Americans series superseded the "Liberties" in the 1960s, and were themselves replaced by the Americana series in the 1970s.

In 1971 the Post Office was reorganized, becoming the United States Postal Service (USPS). However, it is still heavily regulated, with, for instance, the CSAC continuing to decide which commemorative stamps to issue.

Modern U.S. stamps

The first self-adhesive stamp was a Christmas issue of 1974. It was not considered successful, and the surviving stamps, though not rare, are all gradually becoming discolored due to the adhesive used. Self-adhesives were not issued again until 1989, gradually becoming so popular that as of 2004[update], only a handful of types are offered with the traditional gum (now affectionately called "manual stamps" by postal employees.)

The Great Americans series and the Transportation coils began appearing in 1980 and 1981, respectively. The transportation coils were used steadily for some 20 years, while Great Americans still appear regularly as of 2004[update].

The increasing use of email and other technologies during the 1990s led to a decline in the amount of first-class mail, while bulk mail increased. A large variety of commemorative stamps continue to appear, but more and more of them just go to collectors, while the stamps of the average person's daily mail are nondenominated types issued specifically for businesses.

On April 12, 2007, the Forever stamp went on sale for 41 cents, and is good for mailing one-ounce First-Class letters anytime in the future — regardless of price changes. The postage on such letters is currently 44 cents (as of May 11, 2009).


Postage stamps and postal history of Italy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Since Italy was not unified until 1861, its early postal history is tied to the various kingdoms and smaller realms that ruled in the peninsula.