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Algerian Setif,Guelma,Kherrata stamps of 1975

Algerian Setif,Guelma,Kherrata stamps of 1975In 1975 Algeria issued seven stamps in commemoration of the the 30th anniversary of uprising against the French colons (settlers) in provinces of of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata. In addition, a surcharged version of one of the values was released in 1978. Though general catalogs don't tell much on these stamps, there's once again much more than meets the eye. ...(460 words,4 images, 2 comments)

Introduction to Belgian Precancels

Introduction to Belgian PrecancelsOne of the unsung heroes of stamp collecting are Belgian precancels or 'preos' as called locally. Just like precancelled stamps of any country, these are common low face value definitive stamps which were pre-cancelled for bulk mail usage. The minimum quantity which had to be bought from the Post Office was 1000 copies. Due to nature of  precancelled stamps, these are often times easily found and relatively cheap (though there are exceptions). The Belgian precancels are traditionally split to two types: locals and general issues. ...(989 words,15 images, 5 comments)

From crown jewel to pariah: a postage stamp filled history lesson from Aden to Yemen

From crown jewel to pariah: a postage stamp filled history lesson from Aden to YemenIf you have been following the changes in My Collection, you might have recently noted how I simplified the historical roadmap from Aden to Yemen. The reason is not so much that I would have changed anything with the way I physically store stamps, I've just been reading and thinking more about the history of this area, and I feel the current (more simplified) structure works best for this highly complex area. ...(2185 words,13 images, 2 comments)

Type Duval postage due stamps of France

Type Duval postage due stamps of FranceFor the past week I've been trying to make heads and tales out of French postage due stamps of 1881/1892 (aka. 'type Duval noir') and their colored successors of 1884/1941 (just 'type Duval'). The main problem lies with the unfortunate fact that though many of the issues are somewhat common and low value,  about 25% of the issues catalog more than 100€. Needless to say this has attracted stamp forgers such Fournier to try their luck with these. ...(1590 words,11 images, 2 comments)

German ATM stamps (aka. Klüssendorf) - rethinking how to organize

German ATM stamps (aka. Klüssendorf) - rethinking how to organizeThough many might not agree with me, I consider ATM-stamps (which the Americans call Variable Rate Stamps or Variable Value stamps) as one of the best innovations in modern postage stamp production. Although stamp catalogs have got varying policies with inclusion of ATM-stamps (with Michel giving them full recognition, Scott listing only the US based stamps), they are real postage stamps. Whereas meters and labels are valid only by the licensed user from the specified location and on the date imprinted, the ATM-stamps behave just like postage stamps - buy once from any vending machine, use whenever and where-ever. With this entry I'll be providing a simplified overview with one of the most common and popular area of them all - the German ATM-stamps. ...(1011 words,15 images, 9 comments)

New Zealand KGV definitives - how different catalogs approach the stamps and what you can learn from it

New Zealand KGV definitives - how different catalogs approach the stamps and what you can learn from itJack of all trades, master of none holds very true with us worldwide collectors.  I got reminded on this when sorting up with small batch of New Zealand King George V stamps recently. Though I believed I had pretty good working knowledge on the stamps, I decided to re-read various catalogs at my disposal before digging any further, and I actually learned quite a lot new stuff while at it. The fun part is that all catalogs provided a slightly different angle for these stamps. ...(1196 words,4 images, 10 comments)

Agency stamps - the good, the bad, and the ugly

Agency stamps - the good, the bad, and the uglyIn my opinion one of the greatest wrongs in stamp world is to say stamps of specific country are junk. A more true version would be to say that stamps of specific agency are "junk". And this is basically the topic of this post. Giving you an overview of the various stamp agencies out there, their histories and impact from collector point of view. The good and bad, who did what, where and when. This is by no means a precise history lesson, but more of a collection of tidbits, observations and opinions that thirty years of active stamp collecting have taught me. ...(2567 words,11 images, 10 comments)

How common are forgeries of classic stamps? And why are they so plenty? 

How common are forgeries of classic stamps? And why are they so plenty? Carl Sagan, famous astronomer once said 'You have to know the past to understand the present'. These words hold very true for philatelic fakes, forgeries, facsimiles, reprints and the whole shady she-bang territory that comes along of collecting classic postage stamps. In order to understand the size and complexity of the problem, one has to understand the backgrounds that made stamp forgeries possible and common in the first place. ...(1124 words,2 images, 5 comments)

Is collecting a complete worldwide stamp collection possible? Take III - the final word - money and catalog values

Is collecting a complete worldwide stamp collection possible? Take III - the final word -  money and catalog valuesOut there are surprisingly many brave souls who like me like to chase the impossible, and dream of completing a worldwide stamp collection some day. When I started to get semi-serious with my goal, there was very little (if any) true information about the true requirements and boundaries of collecting the world. Everybody said it cannot be done as it would require purchase of millions of stamps, putting tons of money in storage, and cost of acquiring all those stamps would be astronomical. In short, it would be task bigger than life. Since those days I've been somewhat systematically unravelling the true challenges, true limits and true costs of completing the world, and the image that I have learned is very different. ...(2781 words,8 images, 26 comments)

Lebanese stamp forgeries

Lebanese stamp forgeriesConsidering how much catalogs and advanced worldwide collectors warn about forgeries of Lebanese stamps, I have been amazed by their lack within my collection. This status changed recently, and I am now able to re-tell a remarkable campfire story with some details and images of the commonly found counterfeits. ...(515 words,5 images, 2 comments)

Varieties of Latvian flower definitive stamps of 2014/2016

Varieties of Latvian flower definitive stamps of 2014/2016I don't usually write about ultra modern definitive stamps as the series are still under production, and new varieties and reprints can come up any time. But the Latvian flower definitive stamps (or ' sēriju Ziedi' as called locally) have definitely caught my interest. They are not just pretty looking topical stamps, but also provide a challenge for technical flyspecker like me.  So far the simplified overview of the series is as follows:...(674 words,5 images, 2 comments)

The Red and Black postage due stamps of Hungary

The Red and Black postage due stamps of HungaryOne of my all time favorite stamp series is the iconic 1958 Hungarian postage dues which the Hungarians call very descriptively as 'Vörös Fekete Porto' - meaning  'red and black postage dues'. The design and implementation of these stamps have got all the aspects of a classic: a simple yet elegant bi-colored design repeated with 16 different face values in two different perforations. Sadly a lot of advanced collectors show no love for these stamps as they, like most Hungarian stamps, are usually found as CTOs in stamp mixtures aimed for the new collector. What I am about to show will hopefully change your mind. ...(1062 words,9 images, 13 comments)

Indore stamps of 1904/08 - engraved, litho, or both?

Indore stamps of 1904/08 - engraved, litho, or both?I'm not the easiest kind of collector to get confused but the below Indore stamps with portrait of young Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar III have got me perplexed. In 1904 Perkins Bacon won the contract for printing of Indore stamps from Waterlow, and from there onwards all Indore stamps were printed in recess by Perkins Bacon until 1940. Simple and sweet, except when going through my recent acquisition I noted that a couple of these stamps did not feel engraved to tweezer tip, but they had the appearance of genuine stamp. This marked the beginning of another trip down the rabbit hole. ...(961 words,6 images, 7 comments)

Charkhari stamps

Charkhari stampsRecently I've been bugging my head with a lot job of 300+ stamps of  various Indian feudatory states.  The stamps were ripped down from a number of vintage Big Blue remainders and other 'junior' stamp albums of the yesteryear, so I don't have huge expectations to find any rarities or as such, but who knows what lurks in an oddball lot like this.  Needless to say the challenges of this lot are numerous. Some stamps of Indian native states are simply difficult to identify because they lack any comprehensible western characters.  Few stamps are in condition far worse than what I wish/desire to include into my collection, but as I've got no clue on what's the 'average condition' for these is, I  don't like to throw them out neither (at least yet). And then there's the question of forgeries - for many Indian native states the forgeries are said to outnumber the genuine, especially with mint/unused. So all in all I'm having one fun summer project that will hopefully educate me a lot about this complex area in weeks to come.  As my first stop I've chosen Charkhari, a small (population ~120,000) princely state in Central India. ...(1824 words,10 images, 2 comments)

Postal forgeries of modern Chinese stamps

Postal forgeries of modern Chinese stampsNot so long ago I was adding some modern Chinese stamps to my collection, when I observed one of the newcomers having a different perforation than the one already in my collection. I quickly double-checked all my catalogs and came up with nothing special: the stamp should have no varieties.  Followed by a bit of frustration I got in touch with a Chinese collector who I knew was into fakes, and learned that I had found of one of the many postal forgeries of modern Chinese stamps. ...(404 words,2 images, 6 comments)

Dutch Armenwet stamps

Dutch Armenwet stampsI displayed the below Dutch Armenwet stamps first time almost six years back. Back then I didn't know whether or not the stamps I had were forgeries, though I suspected so. Well, now I have some facts to share. On my recent work trip I came across with a library copy of the “De vervalsingen van Nederland en OG” (roughly translates as ‘Forgeries of Dutch stamps’) by P.F.A. van de Loo, 1979), and I took some some photos of it with my phone so that I could study and compare them back home. ...(628 words,4 images, 4 comments)

French Marianne by Decaris - types I and II

French Marianne by Decaris - types I and IIToday's post is about one of the chameleons of stamp world, namely the French Marianne de Decaris (aka. Marianne by Decaris) issued in 1960. It is one of those stamps that most worldwide stamp collectors have seen in large quantities over the years,  and very likely most own a copy or more. Yet, not so long ago I was browsing Delcampe, and came upon a (auction) listing of this stamp with types I and II on sale. To me they both seemed somewhat identical, and since I didn't recall any variants of the stamp to exist I headed out to my catalogs to see what the difference was all about.  To my amazement there was nothing; even my Yvert France (very ancient edition, but still useful specialized resource) provided me with no details.  So I started digging information from various online resources and learned not just some useful tidbits but also that stamp collecting/philately unanswered questions sometimes for a reason. ...(790 words,7 images, 15 comments)

New Zealand 1960 flower pictorials - mystery after mystery unravelled

New Zealand 1960 flower pictorials - mystery after mystery unravelledThis story began during the Boxing day when I started sorting a small pile of duplicates of 1960s NZ definitive stamps. As regular readers of the blog know, one of my habits is to compare copies of common stamps lined up side by side as it's one of the fastest ways to notice abnormal specimens. And whilst doing so I noted that few 3d and 8d stamps had 'weird' vertical perforations that didn't seem to match with the other specimens. Since these stamps should not have any perforation variants (besides the coil version of 1d and 3d - which these weren't) I knew something weird was going on. So I started digging up a bit further, and found a pretty interesting story to share. ...(565 words,3 images, 13 comments)

Philippine flowers - definitive stamp series of 1991 and what the major catalogs don't tell you about it

Philippine flowers -  definitive stamp series of 1991 and what the major catalogs don't tell you about itHere's a genuinely fun, versatile and complex modern stamp series that I'm sure most stamp collectors are blissfully unaware of. In 1991 Philippine Postal Service launched a new definitive series that was made out of very small sized stamps (about a third of regular commemorative stamp size in order to save on production costs) repeating floral topics in varying colors (again, to save on production costs). All major catalogs state there's nothing more than 42 face different stamps in varying colors and values issued within 1991 and 1992 . But when one starts piling up copies and comparing duplicates against each other, it becomes evident that major catalogs are likely telling a partial truth. And when looking into more specialized resources, the genie comes out of the bottle: instead of 42 stamps there are at least 98 major varieties in this series. ...(697 words,6 images, 7 comments)

1970 Bulgaria 4 Stotinki Boats at Albena - unlisted variety and other tidbits

1970 Bulgaria 4 Stotinki Boats at Albena  - unlisted variety and other tidbitsSince I've been lately writing about color variations, the 1970 Bulgarian 4 Stotinki "Boats at Albena" makes an interesting chapter about the topic. Though this middle value of the Holiday Resorts definitive series is likely one of the most common Bulgarian stamps, a lot of confusion exists about it in catalogs. And I think I may have stumbled across with an unlisted color variety that should deserve some level of recognition in major catalogs. ...(716 words,4 images, 2 comments)

A more scientific view on color variations and changelings

A more scientific view on color variations and changelingsEach time any of stamp collectors comes up with a color variation, there's a pretty good chance that at least one or few 'nay-sayers' will immediately stand up and say that it's not genuine, but a color changeling caused by exposure to light, heat, humidity, chemical or whatever. Though I agree that certain level of skepticism is only for the good, I do feel that labeling all color variations as environmental changelings (at least without proper explanation) is not a working option either. Though it would require a high-end science lab to prove what's actually happened, there's somewhat 'basic' and logical science behind the everyday phenomena that causes colors to fade and vary. ...(928 words,6 images, 6 comments)

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine, lesson 3 - North Korea 1967 postal forgery

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine, lesson 3 - North Korea 1967 postal forgeryIn my recent blog entry I half-jokingly remarked that likely nobody's fool enough to make a forgery of North Korean stamps. Well, let me stand corrected, because one of those oddball items that I considered as color changeling for good number of years turned out to be a (postal) forgery upon closer inspection.  ...(454 words,3 images, 4 comments)

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine, lesson 2 - a case of 1870 Spanish Allegory of Hispania

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine, lesson 2 - a case of 1870 Spanish Allegory of HispaniaHere's yet another stamp that I think a lot of worldwide collectors recognize. The 1870 50 Milesimas ultramarin is likely one of the most common 19th century Spanish stamps, and I encountered my first copy of it almost thirty years ago as a young collector. But this is the first time I've seen a specimen like this. ...(558 words,3 images, 3 comments)

Making sense of plates, dies and watermarks of KGV stamps of Ceylon

Making sense of plates, dies and watermarks of KGV stamps of CeylonOne of those 'thumb rules' that most worldwide collectors learn over time is that British Commonwealth KGV definitive stamps come in two different engravings, namely Die I and Die II. The easiest identifier between stamps made from different dies is a small 'bud' on the curlicue arabesque at the extreme outer lower right and left corners. With Die I stamps the bud is there, and with Die II stamps it's not. The benefit of knowing the stamps die is that it helps you to know the watermark at the same. Die I stamps have got Multiple CA watermark, and the Die II stamps have got Script CA watermark. Simple and sweet. ...(472 words,2 images, 0 comments)

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine - a case study of Spanish 1854 Una Unza official stamp

How to check if a stamp is a forgery or genuine - a case study of Spanish 1854 Una Unza official stampClassic Spain is said to be a minefield of forgeries, but the problem I've got is the same that just about every worldwide collector faces: How to find out if stamp is genuine or not, especially when there's no more than one or two specimens under my nose. With this post I'll uncover some of my methods. ...(765 words,3 images, 2 comments)

Forgeries of Spanish State 1936 definitives

Forgeries of Spanish State 1936 definitivesWhen I spotted one of these forgeries several years ago, little did I know that I would be covering them time and again. But I guess that is the nature of stamp collecting, because collections mature as new information and items are gathered. I re-visited these stamps before the summer for my monthly forgeries column in Stamp & Coin Mart magazine, but since space is always limited on the print, I thought I’d do a longer and more visual overview of these stamps and their interesting historical aspect on later date for my blog. ...(875 words,6 images, 0 comments)

Puzzled by size difference in pair of 1906 Liberian OS (Official) stamps

Puzzled by size difference in pair of 1906 Liberian OS (Official) stampsRecently I've been working with backlog of African stamps, and there I've found few stamps that have made me puzzled. For recent stamps I can understand the lacking and contradicting catalog information, but with items of 100 years of age not so much. Surely somebody else must have noticed the same differences that I'm seeing; so why isn't there anything in the catalog pages. Let's take a look for the brain-buzzler of the day: a pair of Liberian OS (official) stamps from the 1906 series. ...(538 words,2 images, 0 comments)

Men who changed stamp design forever

Men who changed stamp design foreverDynamic duo, designer Koloman Moser and engraver Ferdinand Schirnböck revolutionized stamp design in the early 20th century. One of their most recognizable works is the 1906/1912 pictorial landscapes series for the Condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These stamps are big, bold and beautiful in every sense (and of course there are forgeries involved as well). ...(740 words,18 images, 2 comments)

From British Southeast Asia to Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia

From British Southeast Asia to Brunei, Singapore and MalaysiaOne of those reasons that I love stamp collecting is the fact that it teaches me historical and geographical tidbits time and again. When I started working up with the stamps and history Malayan peninsula way back in late April, little did I know that I'd be spending the following month digging in deeper and deeper with the topic. The story of how British Southeast Asia evolved into Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia is a story full of historical twists and complexity that easily rivals with what many associate with history of Germany or Indian states.  So get yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back and prepare to be amazed. ...(2342 words,31 images, 5 comments)

How to identify litho from photogravure - reprints of Singapore 1994/97 Marine Life definitive stamps

How to identify litho from photogravure - reprints of Singapore 1994/97 Marine Life definitive stampsLately I've been doing some Singapore stamps, and the various reprints of it's definitive series have caught my radar. They seem like an daunting area where general stamp catalogs provide very little details. Take for example the 1994/97 Marine life definitive series. ...(630 words,7 images, 2 comments)

Cancellation forgeries on Finnish stamps

Cancellation forgeries on Finnish stampsPossibly the most dangerous forgery type involves fake postmarks. With them you’ve got 100% legit stamp, but the postmark on top of it is either complete fake or fraudulently used genuine canceller. Many of you readers may know that for example the German inflation era stamps are a minefield for cancellation forgeries, but how many of you did know that the same applies for classical stamps of independent Finland as well? ...(819 words,3 images, 0 comments)

Microprinting varieties on Ukrainian definitive postage stamps

Microprinting varieties on Ukrainian definitive postage stampsIf I had to pick and choose one modern specialty area to research and study, then I would likely go with modern Ukrainian definitive stamps. They are beautiful, cheap, plenty (but at the same oh so elusive), and above all loaded with microprinting differences. This article tries to provide a somewhat detailed overview on the topic. ...(924 words,5 images, 0 comments)

Unlisted perforation varieties on Ecuador Timbre Escolar stamp by Sanchez Toda

Unlisted perforation varieties on Ecuador Timbre Escolar stamp by Sanchez TodaIf you're a worldwide collector, then you have likely heard or noticed the name Sanchez-Toda before. In reality this name masks two world class stamp professionals, brothers José Luis López Sánchez Toda and Alfonso López Sánchez Toda. They both worked on Spanish mint (FNMT) from the 1920s to their retirement in the 1960s, and designed and engraved on their own and together well over one hundred designs including the world famous Spanish 'Nude Maja' stamp. What's less know is that brothers occasionally worked outside FNMT as well, such as this 1954 postal tax stamp of Ecuador for Heraclio Fournier S.A. ...(554 words,3 images, 2 comments)

Confusion over Peru overprints during the War of the Pacific

Confusion over Peru overprints during the War of the PacificYou know the feeling when you think you've found something unusual to your collection? Then moments later you start to doubt it. And then, when you start digging in further, you end up with contradicting information and even more confused than in between. Well, that's what has been happening with me lately, and I must say I was very tempted to title this post as 'when stamp catalogs get it wrong - the sequel. But I think the current working title, confusion over Peru overprints during the War of the Pacific, describes the content even more accurately. ...(1224 words,7 images, 2 comments)

Some observations about Serbian 1905 King Peter stamps and it's forgeries

Some observations about Serbian 1905 King Peter stamps and it's forgeriesRecently I acquired a small bulk lot of Serbian stamps, and I had a ball with it, especially the 1905 King Peter stamps. This series has got eleven stamps, with face values from 1 para up to 5 dinars, all with identical design featuring portrait of King Peter the First of Serbia. ...(545 words,7 images, 3 comments)

Common but generally unrecognized varieties on Polish definitive stamps

Common but generally unrecognized varieties on Polish definitive stampsThis year Poland is one of my attractions. Though Poland is one of the largest countries in Europe, there doesn't seem to be as widespread philatelic interest towards its stamps. Possibly the most worrying result of this are the contradicting and lacking details of major variants in general catalogs such as Michel and Scott. Fortunately I've got a specialized Polish stamp catalog to rely on, and with this entry I'll share tidbits about some of the common varieties that are either missing or falsely listed on major general catalogs. On large parts this entry is about perforation varieties, but I'll share  few others constant variants as well. ...(1217 words,9 images, 2 comments)

The low values of Greek Landscapes series of 1927 - separating different (re-engraved) prints from each other

The low values of Greek Landscapes series of 1927 - separating different (re-engraved) prints from each otherMany of the most common Greek postage stamps of all time come from the 1927/1935 definitives series commonly known as "Landscapes". In total, the series is made of 14 face different stamps with face values from 5 lepta up to 25 drachmas in addition of which there's one never issued design. Additionally, some values were overprinted for postal tax usage (to raise funds for Social Welfare Fund or for Postal Workers Anti-Tuberculosis fund). What makes this series philatelically challenging is the fact that six values were re-engraved/re-issued between 1931/35, some not just once but twice by various parties. This entry focuses on the the low values, and how to separate re-issues from the original release. ...(1142 words,7 images, 9 comments)

Greek tragedy in perf thirteen and one quarter

Greek tragedy in perf thirteen and one quarterThis story began a good number of years ago when I noted that some Greek definitive stamps from the 1990s had different perforations, yet the catalogs failed to mention nothing about the difference. Since then I've been checking just about every modern Greek definitive stamp I receive in detail, and boy, have I found out the hard way that something is seriously amiss with catalog listings. ...(721 words,5 images, 3 comments)

Montenegro 1896 Cetanje monestry forgery by Fournier

Montenegro 1896 Cetanje monestry forgery by FournierMoving on with topic of stamp forgeries, I recently acquired a small accumulation of classic stamps of Montenegro. As I knew the stamps of Montenegro had been heavily forged at the early days of philately, I was prepared to come up with at least one or two forged specimens. And I was not disappointed. ...(318 words,5 images, 7 comments)

Indian Capital of Asoka Pillar official stamps

Indian Capital of Asoka Pillar official stampsWithout a doubt, one of my favorite Indian stamps are the officials depicting the Lion Capital of Asoka. My love/hate relationship with these stamps goes back to my childhood, as back in the 1980s these stamps were substantial part of every 'kiddie stamp mixtures'. A bit surprisingly, these seem to have become much less common since. ...(979 words,8 images, 8 comments)

Difficulty of collecting Chinese stamps

Difficulty of collecting Chinese stampsI'm about half-way through on working my stamp collection (or in this case, accumulation could be a more proper term) for China, and I got to confess, that I understand why many struggle with Chinese stamps. Collecting Chinese stamps is demanding, and if you have limited knowledge about the history and culture behind, some parts can easily become overwhelming. I'm by no means an expert of topic, but here's how I approach Chinese stamps. ...(1619 words,10 images, 30 comments)

Japan - Animal, plant and national treasure definitive series

Japan - Animal, plant and national treasure definitive seriesJapanese postage stamps provide plenty of eye candy for the casual worldwide collector, and one of my personal favorites is "Animal, plant and national treasure" definitive series run from 1950 to date. As the name implies, the series doesn't have a strict topic; instead it offers a broader view of Japanese heritage. Philatelically speaking the series looks easy, but as usual there's a lot more to it. ...(1040 words,13 images, 15 comments)

Stamps of Caribbean (commonwealth) - part II

Stamps of Caribbean (commonwealth)  - part IIMoving on with previous blog entry, here's the second part about the stamps of British Caribbean. ...(632 words,7 images, 4 comments)

Stamps of Anglophone Caribbean

Stamps of Anglophone CaribbeanOne of the reasons I love stamp collecting are the historic and geographical tidbits I learn when cataloging my collection. Without a doubt one of the hardest areas for me to get under grasp have been the Commonwealth Caribbean islands; there's simply so many of them and besides random pirate related movies/books I know very little of them. ...(856 words,7 images, 5 comments)

Reprints or forgeries of Haitian issue of 1904

Reprints or forgeries of Haitian issue of 1904As I recently received a copy of Tyler Varro's excellent Focus on forgeries, I think it's only fair that I put it into to good use and extend the knowledge it provides by sharing some real world examples. The book describes two different forgeries of Haitian series of 1904 (namely 1 and 50c), but leaves other values without examples. Tyler does state that in addition of genuine stamps all values exists as reprints (from original plates) and forgeries, and they can be very hard to distinguish apart from perforations. ...(447 words,3 images, 5 comments)

Forgeries (or reprints) of Ajman stamps

Forgeries (or reprints) of Ajman stampsIt's the last day of my summer holidays, and I've spent it with one of my favorite topics: the stamps of Sand Dunes. I know, I know... They're 'wallpaper' stamps. But trust me, they do have their appeal. If yesterday's topic of unlisted perforation varieties on stamps of Dubai, stamps didn't get You measuring some perforations, then hopefully this post about Ajman stamps does. I assume the following stamps are either forgeries or reprints (by issuing agency). The common characteristics for all is that they are of perforation other than stated on the catalogs. ...(547 words,5 images, 7 comments)

Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76 pt.4: other designs with double border frames

Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76 pt.4: other designs with double border framesMoving on to with Argentinian definitive stamps of 1954/76, this time I focus on stamps having double border frames around the design. ...(439 words,6 images, 6 comments)

Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76 pt.3: portraits

Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76 pt.3: portraitsMoving on with the Argentinian definitive series of 1954/76 (see pt.1 and pt.2), this entry focuses on stamps having portrait of persons other than Jose de San Martin. These introduce only 14 face different stamps, but the varieties double the number of items to collect. To make things easier to approach, I've split these into three different subseries. ...(291 words,6 images, 8 comments)

Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76 pt2: Jose de San Martin

Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76 pt2: Jose de San MartinMoving on with the Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76, this entry focuses on stamps having portrait of general Jose de San Martin. All in all, there are 3 major designs, 16 face different stamps, and 34 variations to collect. ...(795 words,10 images, 10 comments)

Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76 pt1: introduction

Argentinian definitive stamp series of 1954/76 pt1: introductionSometimes stamp catalogs make the life of ordinary stamp collector a lot harder than necessary. One of these cases are the Argentinian definitive postage stamps of 1954 (up to 1976/78 depending on catalog used). IMHO trying to follow catalog listings for these leads nowhere but one hell of a mess (pardon the expression, but it fits here) , whereas if you step aside and use common sense, this series become a lot easier to organize and handle. ...(834 words,6 images, 16 comments)

Yugoslavia Tourism (city views) stamp series of 1971/1989

Yugoslavia Tourism (city views) stamp series of 1971/1989For the last few weeks my primary focus with stamps has been in soaking a batch of Yugoslav stamps and re-organizing my collection of that area. I confess that in the past I haven't given much value the aesthetics of Yugoslavian stamps, mostly because my collection has been very limited. But now I think I'm starting to fall in love with these. One of my absolute favorites is the Tourism (or as Scott calls it City views) series issued from 1971 onwards. ...(493 words,4 images, 12 comments)

Hotels, lodges and resorts of Romania definitive stamp series of 1991

Hotels, lodges and resorts of Romania definitive stamp series of 1991Modern Romanian stamps are likely to cause shivers for most stamp collectors, but personally I'm quite fond of them. As the title says the topic of this post is Romanian 'Hotels, lodges and resorts' definitives series issued in 1991, and the varieties within. This is a a very common stamp series, likely just about every worldwide collector has got some stamps from the series in their collection. So it's surprising how poorly documented the series is: major stamp catalogs simply by-pass the varieties with very short footnote (Michel) or completely ignore them (Scott). ...(856 words,10 images, 25 comments)

Forgeries of classic Ecuador stamps

Forgeries of classic Ecuador stampsMoving on with topic of classic Ecuador stamps, I can not overpass the topic of forgeries. They are said to be very plenty, especially for the first three issues there are likely more forgeries than real stamps. Despite my collection of classic Ecuador is just one page, I can still come up with few interesting items to share. ...(285 words,3 images, 11 comments)

A primer on organizing US Washington-Franklin stamps of 1908/1922

A primer on organizing US Washington-Franklin stamps of 1908/1922The Washington-Franklin series of 1908-1922, also known as the Third Bureau Issues, are said to be one of the most difficult US stamps to identify correctly. To sum up the essentials, there are only 29 face different stamps in 5 different designs. Sounds simple, but when You add up the different watermarks, print methods, perforations, paper types etc, the total runs to well over 200 collectible items. And as all these come happily mixed, the series seems like a daunting challenge. ...(633 words,3 images, 27 comments)

Keeping track of long and complex stamp series pt.2 - case of South African definitives of 1926/1954

Keeping track of long and complex stamp series pt.2 - case of South African definitives of 1926/1954It's been roughly two years since I shared some of my practices about keeping long and complex stamp series in order. As my techniques have matured a bit further, I think an update to the topic is well deserved. As a case example, I'm using the South African definitives of 1926/1954 that gave me hours of fun during the rainy summer days of June. ...(503 words,9 images, 3 comments)

Equatorial Guinea - a country with lost reputation

Equatorial Guinea - a country with lost reputationWhen stamp collectors are asked to name stamp issuing countries they consider offensive, the name of tiny middle-African Equatorial Guinea is abound to come up sooner or later. So what's the story behind bad reputation? ...(775 words,4 images, 33 comments)

Nigeria 1973 definitive postage stamps – pt. III

Nigeria 1973 definitive postage stamps – pt. IIIAnd moving forth with Nigerian definitive stamps of 1973, here are the most commonly met values of 5 and 10 kip. Based on my limited experience, these seem to be also the ones with most varieties. ...(493 words,8 images, 10 comments)

Nigeria 1973 definitive postage stamps - pt. II

Nigeria 1973 definitive postage stamps - pt. IIAbout two years ago I wrote a post about Nigerian definitive stamp series of 1973. As I've lately gone through a batch of Nigerian stamps, it's about time I carry on with this topic and display some additional values and varieties from the series. ...(297 words,5 images, 0 comments)

Stamps of colonial Nigeria

Stamps of colonial NigeriaOne of the reason I like worldwide stamp collecting so much is the fact how it makes the world history physically concrete and tangible. Take for example Nigeria, one of my favorite countries to collect. I think most worldwide stamp collectors know that from 19th up to mid-of-20th century Nigeria was colonized by British. But how many know that the (postal) history of colonial Nigeria involves places such as Lagos Colony, Oil Rivers, or Niger Coast Protectorate? And what's their connection with each other? ...(790 words,6 images, 19 comments)

Italia Turrita – Syracuse coin definitive stamps of Italy

Italia Turrita – Syracuse coin definitive stamps of Italy    I think most stamp collectors of my generation are familiar with the looks of Syracuse coin definitive stamps series of Italy. The design, a woman's head with a turreted crown, is a masterpiece of modern stamp design in miniature size. As these stamps were widely used for several decades, pretty much every worldwide stamp collector I know considers their quota for these stamps full. Well, I dare to try such assumptions wrong. ...(973 words,6 images, 25 comments)

Austria 1908 jubilee stamp series - perforation woes

Austria 1908 jubilee stamp series - perforation woesRecently I've been soaking and sorting a batch of early Austrian definitive stamps. I kicked off with some stamps from the 1908 Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary of Franz Josef accessions to throne) definitive series assuming they would be easy. Boy I was wrong, as I'm now more confused than ever. ...(732 words,5 images, 12 comments)

Portuguese Landscapes and Monuments stamp series of 1972/74

Portuguese Landscapes and Monuments stamp series of 1972/74Moving onwards with Portuguese stamps and long definitive stamp series (yes, I've got a thing with these right now)...In 1972 Portuguese post CTT started another new definitive series with topic of landscapes and monuments. A complete series consists of 20 different values/designs, but with all major varieties included the number of collectible stamps grows into 61 items. ...(357 words,4 images, 12 comments)

Portuguese Cavalinho stamps

Portuguese Cavalinho stamps For past few nights I've been sorting a batch of Portuguese stamps. Instead of picking the the hugely popular Ceres-series to write about, I decided to go deeper with less known Cavalinho ("little horse") series. Like the Spanish Franco stamps, I believe most worldwide collectors are familiar with these on some level. On the surface this series is very common and pretty dull looking. But again, these stamps provide some surprises. ...(498 words,3 images, 18 comments)

Środkowa Litwa - stamps of Central Lithunia

Środkowa Litwa - stamps of Central LithuniaI believe I'm not much mistaken if I say that stamps of "Środkowa Litwa" have puzzled many worldwide collectors at first sight. They are from the Republic of Central Lithuania, a small buffer state that existed between Poland and Lithuania in the aftermaths of first world war from 1918 to 1922. As some might recall, I purchased a bulk lot of Central Lithuanian stamps (for 25 Euro) way back last year. Well, I've finally had the time to go through the batch and pick up what I need for my collection. And what an interesting and educational few hours I had. ...(1240 words,12 images, 20 comments)

1955 General Franco stamp series of Spain

1955 General Franco stamp series of SpainThe orange red Spanish 1 peseta stamp with portrait of general Francisco Franco was without a doubt one of the most common stamps of my childhood. I recall finding it (as well as some other values from the same series) almost on every worldwide stamp mixture I got my hands on. So I was quite surprised to learn some new tidbits about these stamps when I worked my Spanish collection during the weekend. ...(693 words,5 images, 35 comments)

Security features of Canadian high value mammal definitive stamps

Security features of Canadian high value mammal definitive stampsRecently I received a copy of the $10 Canadian whale definitive stamp on my incoming mail, and I decided to show it as well as other stamps (in my collection) from the high value wildlife mammals series it belongs to. This definitive series started in 1997, and it's going on strongly with new additions coming out every few years. These make a very attractive display as they all feature a stunning design, and every stamp contain several more or less hidden security features to seek. ...(684 words,12 images, 10 comments)

Série vovó: Brazilian definitive stamps of 1920-1941

Série vovó: Brazilian definitive stamps of 1920-1941As long as I remember, I've been afraid of sorting Brazilian definitive series of 1920-1941 (also known as 'Série vovó'). The facts for the series are quite frightening: 11 designs, 44 face different stamps (incl.overprints), 13 different papers. Depending on catalog used, there are 145-168 major numbers to collect. And that's just the big picture. These stamps have a mountain of different perforations, color variations etc. These make a daunting identification challenge indeed! Anyway, I made myself a new years promise to get all the duplicates (as well as those already in my collection) properly organized. ...(1299 words,9 images, 93 comments)

Hermes and Iris definitive series of Greece

Hermes and Iris definitive series of GreeceDuring Christmas I worked my way through a small collection of Greece I had acquired earlier. At the same I put the specialized Hellas stamp catalog I have into proper use for the first time. All in all it was a very enlightening experience, as the specialized catalog had somewhat different view and lots more details than general catalogs. So let's begin a journey into stamps of Greece with attractive 'Hermes and Iris' definitive postage stamps of 1911-1927. ...(846 words,6 images, 8 comments)

Japanese hometown (Furusato / prefecture) stamps

Japanese hometown (Furusato / prefecture) stampsCarrying on with the topic of Japanese postage stamps, I'm heading towards the prefecture stamps (also known as as Furusato or hometown stamps). These are best described as kind of local governement stamps. Depending on the catalog these are listed either as separate section (Scott), in appendix (Stanley Gibbons catalogs pre-2010) or on separate section (Stanley Gibbons catalogs 2010 onwards), or mixed with regular national stamp issues (Michel). ...(431 words,3 images, 24 comments)

About early Japanese postmarks

About early Japanese postmarksOne of the greatest challenges every stamp collector faces is identifying stamps and postmarks that use foreign writing system. Like most western people, I'm most familiar with Latin alphabets and numbers. So when I last week reworked my collection of Japanese stamps, I was ahead of some serious challenge. Fortunately the years have thought me few handy tricks / cheats worth sharing. ...(621 words,5 images, 18 comments)

Czechoslovakian 1945/47 Portraits definitive series: US Civil Censorship postmark and other oddities

Czechoslovakian 1945/47 Portraits definitive series: US Civil Censorship postmark and other odditiesIn the past weeks I've been digging my way through the gigantic lot of of Czechoslovakian stamps I bought on start of the year. One of the most common designs in this mixture has been the 1945/47 definitive series displaying portraits of Czechoslovak independence movement key figures: Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Edvard Beneš and Milan Rastislav Štefánik. ...(555 words,4 images, 17 comments)

Czechoslovakian Masaryk stamps of 1925 -1927

Czechoslovakian Masaryk stamps of 1925 -1927When speaking of Czechoslovakian stamps, the focus is usually on one of the early designs. Instead I'm going to tackle something that is showcased not so often - the definitive series of 1925/27 displaying portrait of President Masaryk. These contain pretty much all a stamp collector / philatelists can dream of: a reasonable number of different face values, small progressive changes in designs, multiple perforations, different paper types (unwatermarked and watermarked paper, watermark positions, thin and thick paper), multiple re-engravings etc. And the stamps are plenty and cheap. The Masaryk series has all the best bits. ...(1371 words,12 images, 22 comments)

Stamps of Azerbaijan

Stamps of AzerbaijanAs my family's gone to a graduation party for entire afternoon and left me home to rest, I've got some good time to write a bit about stamps I like. So let's dig in with stamps and history of Azerbaijan. ...(685 words,6 images, 21 comments)

Poland 1950 Rebuilding of Warsaw Stamps

Poland 1950 Rebuilding of Warsaw StampsAfter World War II, Poland issued several stamps commemorating rebuilding of Warsaw. After the currency reform of 1950, the "Bricklayers by King Sigismund's column" stamp was re-issued in new color & face value. Though Michel states this stamp exists in varying perforations and two color varieties, it never goes into more detail about these. Thus I was first quite amazed when I saw examples of both color varieties side by side. They appear somewhat different on parts of printing. ...(193 words,1 images, 11 comments)

Persian mystery - 1906 Provisoire stamps with unlisted overprint

Persian mystery - 1906 Provisoire stamps with unlisted overprintNot so long ago I purchased a small accumulation of Persian 1906 Provisoire stamps from local auction. To my surprise, the auctioneer had misidentified the items. True, the stamps I received appear to be 1906 Provisoire issue stamps. But they have some additional unlisted overprint, and this has got me lost too. ...(230 words,1 images, 13 comments)

Argentina 1862 Coat of Arms - a common counterfeit stamp

Argentina  1862 Coat of Arms - a common counterfeit stampThe 1862 Argentina Coat of Arms, also known as "small shields" type, were the first stamps of Argentina after the unification. They were printed by Roberto Lange in lithography, containing 3 different values of 5c rose,10c green and 15c blue. Catalogs state these stamps were printed in 1862,1863 and 1864; and number of forgeries is plenty. As the real things have somewhat high catalog values, I've got a (somewhat common) counterfeit of 10 centavos green to display. ...(236 words,2 images, 3 comments)

Collecting stamps of Trucial states (1973-) – United Arab Emirates

Collecting stamps of Trucial states (1973-) – United Arab EmiratesThe final era in collecting stamps of Trucial States is UAE, United Arab Emirates. Unlike its preceders, UAE has been highly conservative stamp publisher. Topics of stamps are usually national, and only approx.1,000 face different stamps have been issued from 1973 to date. As my collection of UAE stamps is highly limited, I'll focus on what I have - meaning mainly various definitive stamp series. ...(151 words,4 images, 6 comments)

Collecting stamps of Trucial states (1963-1973) - the independent sheikdoms

Collecting stamps of Trucial states (1963-1973) - the independent sheikdomsOn early 1960s the political treaties between UK and sheikdoms were about to expire. Amongst other things, this lead to situation where the sheikdoms took over the local postal operations and began their own stamp production. Below is a short summary of what each Trucial state issued (please note, the figures are based on my personal counts/notes based on Michel. There is likely some level of errata involved): ...(794 words,6 images, 4 comments)

Collecting stamps of Trucial states (1892- 1963) - British PAs in Eastern Arabia & issues of Trucial States

Collecting stamps of Trucial states (1892- 1963) - British PAs in Eastern Arabia & issues of Trucial StatesThe Trucial States were a group of sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf on so called "pirate coast" of eastern Arabia (between Oman and Qatar). The location of sheikdoms is displayed on below world map: ...(251 words,2 images, 6 comments)

Hungarian 1986/1991 definitive series stamps - Castles I

Hungarian 1986/1991 definitive series stamps - Castles IWhen I wrote shortly about these stamps last week, I had no idea what kind of thrilling research adventure I'd be taken into. I thought I had picked a somewhat simple series to play with for upcoming weekend (as well as for blog topic), but boy I was wrong. I did have a superb weekend when digging up resources and researching stamps from the series. This post contains updated bits and pieces, as well as more detailed information about the series. And then there are plenty of scans from my collection. ...(774 words,17 images, 12 comments)

1977 South African protea definitive stamp series

1977 South African protea definitive stamp seriesIf I had to choose between commemorative and definitive stamps, then my choice would be definitive stamps. Take for example the 1977 South African Republic definitive stamp series displaying protea plants. I got hooked with these in late 1990's. ...(357 words,4 images, 22 comments)

Nigeria 1973 definitive postage stamps

Nigeria 1973 definitive postage stampsThough Nigeria is sadly famous as the country of various scams, Nigeria also IMHO stands as one of the most interesting stamp producers in Africa. They have never published excessive number of new issues (only about 800 stamps after 1914); and most of their stamps have very clear and valid messages (like Pay your taxes, Don't be late at work etc). Not so surprisingly, also one of my all-time favorite definitive stamp sets comes from Nigeria. ...(454 words,5 images, 8 comments)

The US 4c Dag Hammarskjold invert stamp error

The US 4c Dag Hammarskjold invert stamp errorThough errors on stamps are usually rare and expensive, there are luckily few exceptions. The United States "Dag Hammarskjold invert" error of 1962 was the first invert error to occur on any United States stamp since 1918 Inverted Jenny. And AFAIK, it is the second deliberately mass-produced error stamp worldwide (the first one I believe is DDR 5-year plan 20/24pfg definitive stamp). ...(452 words,2 images, 17 comments)

1877 3d red Samoa Times Express stamp

1877 3d red Samoa Times Express stampThe Samoa Times Express stamps are one of the most valued items in classical philately. So I was quite surprised to find the following stamp in 25€ mixture of old stamps I bought some time ago. As these stamps are much more common as reprints and forgeries than the real thing, I had very low hopes. But to my joy, it seems to have all the characteristics of a real stamp. ...(707 words,3 images, 10 comments)

UK 1971 strike mail letter from Malawi

UK 1971 strike mail letter from MalawiThough I normally don't collect "entire items" (covers, cards etc), here's something I've included to my collection. It's a 1971 cover from Malawi, addressed to United Kingdom during the 1971 postal strike. It features the 1st commonwealth approved "strike mail stamp" as well as a UK local mail delivery vignette. ...(252 words,1 images, 4 comments)

Evolution of a classic - The Camel Postman stamps of Sudan

Evolution of a classic - The Camel Postman stamps of SudanImagine a country that has issued less than 800 different postage stamps during the past 120 years. In addition of that, it is the 10th largest country of the world by total area with a population of 42 million people. And with history dating back to Kingdoms of Nubia, it is one of oldest standing points of civilization. That is Sudan. ...(777 words,6 images, 8 comments)

Goddess of plenty - more about Seebeck reprints

Goddess of plenty - more about Seebeck reprintsIn early January I wrote a short introduction about Seebeck reprints on some Nicaraguan stamps. Well, it's time for a short revisit on the topic as I've received few more Nicaraguan stamps from various stamp exchanges. The following examples are from the 1891 "Goddess of plenty" / "Allegorical figure with cornucopia" series (with very attractive design). ...(275 words,3 images, 4 comments)

Seebeck reprints

Seebeck reprintsThe name of Seebeck is something that many stamp collectors and philatelist recognize at some level. He was a stamp dealer and printer, best known for his stamp-printing contracts with several Latin American countries in the late 19th century producing loads of stamps to collector markets. ...(408 words,6 images, 3 comments)

Five-year plan stamp series of GDR (aka.DDR)

Five-year plan stamp series of GDR (aka.DDR)During the Christmas season and New Year I did have a blast with German definitive stamps. Very likely one of the most notorious of these is the Five-year-plan (“5-J-Pl.”) issues of German Democratic Republic (more commonly know as East Germany or DDR) which shows “the common men and woman at work”. Despite of rather short lifespan it is without a doubt one of the most dreaded and complex definitive stamp series ever. The first issue came out in August 1953, the last seventh issue in 1959; and the stamps became invalid in 1962. ...(1481 words,9 images, 38 comments)

My Stamp collection

[WPMyCollection]...( 20 comments).

Stamp trading should be equally beneficial

Stamp trading should be equally beneficialOne of the "popular topics" on my inbox (email, facebook etc.) involves trading/exchanging recent Finnish mint stamps to recent non-European (usually Indian, Malaysian or Vietnamese) issues. I can say that not a week goes by without at least couple such request landing on my inbox. ...(411 words,1 images, 3 comments)

Damn unsoakable stamps (or if you can't soak them... )

Damn unsoakable stamps (or if you can't soak them... )I felt somewhat sad after reading the latest "Editors Forum" column at Scotts Stamp Monthly. The topic of post was non-soakable stamps, or more precisely what do to with them. I acknowledge the column was written mainly US stamp collectors in mind, but the suggested solution (collect non-soakable issues on covers) is IMHO the "wrong" one. ...(350 words,1 images, 83 comments)

Lundy Puffin postage stamps

Lundy Puffin postage stampsLundy puffin postage stamps are widely known amongst the stamp collectors. The history behind the stamps of Lundy is similar to stamps of Herm Island. ...(526 words,6 images, 47 comments)

Introduction to US Precancels

Introduction to US PrecancelsAccording to dictionary definition a precancel is any postage stamp, stamped stationery, or revenue stamp cancelled prior to affixing on mail matter or before being deposited at the post office which allows the item to bypass the usual canceling process. Precancels are used to expedite the large bulk mailings of permit holders.  Classic US precancels can be put to two basic categories: Bureau precancels, which were printed and precancelled by Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC, and local (or City-type) precancels, which were (usually) precancelled in the town they were used. ...(858 words,8 images, 20 comments)

Swedish Landstormen semipostal stamps

Swedish Landstormen semipostal stampsOne of the most valued Swedish stamp issues are so called Landstormen surcharges.  These are semipostal stamps used to collect funds to equip soldiers during World War I. ...(250 words,2 images, 0 comments)

Classic Austrian / Austro-Hungarian postage stamps

Classic Austrian / Austro-Hungarian postage stampsEarly Austrian stamps (1850-1918, aka the Austro-Hungarian Empire) are very likely one of the most common causes of headache for most worldwide stamp collectors.  I confess it took me years to get a somewhat decent grip of issued main types, and I'm still far away from being an expert with these stamps. But here's some tidbits I've learned over the years. ...(1205 words,12 images, 40 comments)

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