The Nottinghamshire Philatelic Society
On the final leg of their 1956-7 world tour, Prince Philip went on to visit the Islands of the south Atlantic on his own. The Queen returned to England without him. To celebrate the anniversary in 1977, Ascension issued a series of three stamps. The 8p stamp featured the Duke of Edinburgh during his state visit back in 1957.
As can be seen on the 8p stamp, the Duke of Edinburgh is sporting a full beard and moustache. The story is that on the homeward journey, for reasons best known to the Prince, he decided to issue a challenge to the group travelling with him to see who could grow the best beard before they got home. On his visits to Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena and finally Ascension Island, he is shown on local photographs with a ‘full set’. There is no record of who was judged to have won the challenge, but all taking part were clean-shaven when they reached Great Britain.
In the Summer 2018 Newsletter, I mentioned that key plate stamps went through the printing press twice. The first pass printed the head plate used for more than one country and where the monarch’s head could be changed. The second pass, which completed the printing of the stamp, was the duty plate which consisted only of the country name and of the monetary value. Fig.1 shows die proofs of the King’s head, the head plate and a duty plate.
Duty plate flaws, which can only appear on the stamps of one country, are most likely to be the stamp flaws still to be discovered and which will have a chance to appear in a stamp catalogue subject to the three conditions that the flaw is constant, is visible to the naked eye and, most importantly, the position number on the sheet must be known. Remember that there is a separate duty plate for each monetary value. If there is a flaw in the country name, it is futile to look for the same flaw in a different monetary value. Fig. 2 shows a page of Leeward Islands unlisted duty plate flaws which I have prepared from George V stamps in the late Ken Benham’s collection.
The 5/- stamp showing a thin L in LEEWARD is only known on King George V stamps at position 9/1 in the right pane of the stamp sheet. The three conditions for catalogue status are passed. This stamp variety will undoubtedly appear in the Gibbons catalogue in due course. The 5/- stamp showing the frame break over VE of FIVE also appears on a George V 3/- stamp for sale in the Universal Philatelic auction No. 68, Lot 12766. This flaw appears to be constant, but the sheet position is unknown. The three conditions for catalogue status are not yet met. The 1/- stamp shows a broken first E in LEEWARD: the three conditions are not met. Whilst the flaw is visible to the naked eye, it is not known whether the flaw is constant and the sheet position is unknown. The 6d stamp showing the tiny break in the outer shading line to the left of 6 in 6d is at position 9/3 of the left sheet pane and is only known on King George V stamps. The three conditions for catalogue status are present. The stamp is not in in the Gibbons catalogue, possibly because the flaw is only just visible to the naked eye. Flaws less visible have appeared in the catalogue. The left stamp of the 5/- pair showing a weak line at the right side of the value tablet is at position 1 / 2 on the right sheet pane. Note also that the L in LEEWARD slopes slightly. This is not an early edition of the King George V1 five-shilling stamp flaw SG.112ab, which is in a different sheet position. The three conditions are met. It is only a matter of time before this variety appears in the Gibbons catalogue.
Tourist Post: I mentioned City Post in the Winter 2016-17 Newsletter. I haven’t seen a used copy of its stamps, but I now have a sheet of the ten international stamps it issued for the Bilbao area of Spain. The sheets are torn from a pad, the cover of which is shown below. The stamps may also be purchased individually.
Velopost: I first wrote about Velopost, a delivery service operating in Bristol, Bath and Edinburgh, in the Winter 2016 Newsletter. When I was recently in Bristol, I took a photo, left, of the collection box at the Information Office and bought the only type of stamp that it had, a pink national one, even though it is an official outlet for stamp sales. The one on the right is for local delivery (by bicycle), but unlike the one I showed before, this has a yellow band and ‘mms’ added. As I stated last time, the collection box was installed to make it easier for the small trader and non-business user to take advantage of the service. Hopefully, next time I visit, there will more stamps available. If you google ‘Velopost stamps’, you will see a few, including a cover I featured in our newsletter!
In the Summer Newsletter, I wrote about a K4 box in relation to an item bearing the words ‘Posted in the K4 telephone kiosk in Frodsham.’ Since then, I have not just visited the one there, but two others at Warrington and Whitley Bay. I posted a letter to myself in the one at Frodsham, obviously not expecting the cachet, but hoping for a Frodsham postmark. It arrived the next day- UNFRANKED! Here are some pictures- the kiosks are rare.
The standard Michel catalogue lists only 26 Prussian stamps, the first issued in 1850 and the last in 1867. There was a very early change from recess printing to typography in the course of their production but what really surprised me, when I came to write up my collection, was the number of different techniques that had been employed to combat forgery and fraud.
Prussia’s first issue, in 1850–51, was of four stamps with denominations from 6 pfennigs to 3 silbergroschen. A fifth, of 4pf, was added to this set in 1856 to serve a new ‘printed matter’ rate. These stamps show the head of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in profile, set against a background of crossed lines as a challenge to forgers, and they were printed recess on paper with a laurel wreath watermark. With the exception of one 6pf stamp, printed recess from the original plate and issued (without watermark) in 1859, all later stamps were printed by typography.
For the issue of 1857, the king’s head was redrawn with stronger features on a solid background but the crossed lines were reintroduced for the next issue only 15 months later. No use was made of watermarking with the 1857 issue or any that followed. In its place, for the remainder of King Friedrich’s reign, stamps were underprinted with a fine ‘net’ of lead carbonate before the design was added. Underprinting on stamps was used to deter forgers or to guard against the removal of postmarks. Lead carbonate is white and so was invisible against the white paper on which these stamps were printed. In this case, therefore, the under-printing could not have been employed against forgery but would, presumably, have made it virtually impossible for anyone to remove a postmark without defacing the stamp. (So far, I have resisted the temptation to check this by experiment.) The net underprint can be revealed if one of these stamps is exposed to hydrogen sulphide gas, which reacts with the white lead carbonate to form black lead sulphide.
In 1861, the accession of a new monarch, King Wilhelm I, saw the introduction of a new stamp design with the Prussian eagle emblem set in either an octagonal or oval frame. Underprinting had been abandoned at this point and embossing introduced as the security measure for these and all but two of the remaining Prussian stamps.
Those two were the high value stamps, of 10 and 30sgr, issued at the end of 1866, which were destined to be used principally in the prepayment of postage on heavy parcels. Their framed numeral designs are very simple but in all other respects they are really quite extraordinary. They were printed on a highly transparent paper known as “gold-beaters’ skin”, one side of which was coated with a solution of gelatine and collodium (more commonly known as ‘plastic skin’). When dry, it was that surface that was printed (in reverse) and then gummed. The stamp was therefore stuck to the package with the printed side down, though still clearly legible through the transparent paper, and any attempt to remove it resulted in serious damage to the printed surface (as was the case, unfortunately, with my current copies!). As a further precaution against reuse these high value stamps could only be purchased and affixed at a post office. Anyone turning up with a parcel already franked would therefore have been suspected of fraud immediately.
All of these changes, then, took place in the production of just 26 stamps! Prussia, as the driving force behind the creation of the North German Confederation, ceased to issue its own stamps after 31 December 1867.
I received this photo from our son and daughter-in-law, who were holidaying in Iceland at the time, at the beginning of October, nearly three months before Christmas. It is reserved for letters to the Santa specific to Iceland. (In my day, there was just one Santa and he had just one night to travel round the whole world!) The box will be emptied on 1 December and it already looks pretty full. The children are promised letters and a present from one of 13 Christmas ‘lads’. Photo- J. Poole When our children were very young, they received a card from Father Christmas in Snowland. Another year, a letter or card arrived with the envelope bearing a special Reindeerland postmark. In Britain, replies to letters addressed to Reindeerland, Toyland and the like were sent from the Philatelic Bureau in Edinburgh. The Reindeerland slogan was in use from 1963 to 1985, but was then replaced with a Postage Paid mark.
Don’t ask why I still kept it, but in a Guardian news item (23 Dec 1995) it was stated that Santa Claus had received 750,000 letters, 4,000 in Welsh, at his Reindeerland address. All had been answered with the help of Royal Mail staff. Many of the letters promised Santa a non-alcoholic drink, as he would be driving! One child even sent a £50 note and Royal Mail was trying to track down its parents. Royal Mail has been delivering Santa letters for over 50 years.
I recently read of two mathematicians, Rick Mabry and Paul Deiermann at Louisiana State University, who regularly went for coffee and pizza after a day’s work. As they always split the bill, it occurred to them that they had to be able to cut the pizza fairly. This piece of light-hearted thinking led to an eleven-year study on how to cut pizza into a different number of slices and ensure each person got the same amount. They ended up winning a prestigious mathematical award for their life’s work.
This got me thinking of a problem I had noticed with my collection.
When we display our material, we have the problem of storage. Stamps take up little room when a complete set of 12 is stored in a glassine envelope. Similarly, if we store our covers in shoe boxes or comparable containers they can take up little room. When we display, our A4 sheets need to be stored somewhere for safety and ease of access when we take them to a display. Like most people I use A4 acid-free plastic wallets in folders to hold my mounted covers and stamps. Mine are also in a slipcase to keep out the UV rays and the dust, both of which can damage our material. The folders I use were advertised as taking 60 to 80 sheets. Typically, I can only get 50 to 60 sheets per folder.
Recently I noticed that the sheets are thicker at the top than the bottom in each folder. On examination, it became obvious that as I had mounted each cover at the top of each sheet, this end was thicker than the bottom of the sheet, which typically contains the description.
This left me with a conundrum. Could I have got more sheets in each folder if I had staggered the arrangement of the covers. Would I get more sheets in a folder if the covers were mounted one at the top and the next at the bottom? Or would this just add up to the same thickness? It is too late to start printing out my sheets again to find out; anyway, I could not afford the time or the finances to repeat every other sheet.
I am sure there are mathematicians out there that could provide me with an answer to this conundrum without the need for me to reprint at least half my collection. If you are one of them, answers on a postcard to the usual address please.
Industry, apparently, has far more uses for their work, especially when it comes to packaging items in the least space available to cut down on packaging costs and transportation.
Rapid Transit: My August 2018 copy of Germania, the magazine of the Germany and Colonies Philatelic Society, contains a lovely account of a display of mail within the Woldenberg Prisoner-of-War camp in Germany. This camp for Polish POWs occupied around 62 acres and held over 7,000 prisoners. In 1942, they were given permission to introduce a camp postal service and stamps were produced for this, as were postal stationery cards and postage dues. They even made provision for registered mail which, basically, amounted to an express delivery service. For this the postman ran faster. (David Shipstone).
You shall go to the Ball!
Chris Tennant showing ‘Cinderella’ to the Cinderella Stamp Club at the Royal Philatelic Society, London, in July. (Caption Chris Tennant, photo Sandra Poole).
Royal Mail Slogan:
The Battle of Amiens was launched by the Allies in August 1918 and played a significant part in bringing an end to WWI. Royal Mail has marked the occasion 100 years on. Sold for £110 to a lucky buyer at a recent club auction was a large stamp collection rescued from a skip!
This stamp of a royal barge, issued by Thailand in 1997, is 12cm long. In 2017, it was surpassed by another Thai Post issue, of King Rama IX, measuring 17cm!
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