The Nottinghamshire Philatelic Society
In the early part of the 20th century, there were several attempts to get postage stamps for Tristan da Cunha. These were all thwarted by a variety of Postmaster Generals.
The objections were that there was no post office on the Island, the population was very small, and the Islanders conducted business by way of barter as there was no money on the Island.
In 1937, Allan Crawford went to Tristan as the meteorologist with the Norwegian Expedition. He soon returned to the Island during WWII and later realised that there was a need for some form of philatelic device that could be used on letters as a souvenir to the passengers of passing ships. He designed a set of stickers with the help of the department’s draughtsman, Sgt. Jimmy Brown.
They could not use the King’s head on their stamps, so the designs featured views around Tristan. Knowing the Islanders did not use money he devised a ‘currency’ of 1d to 4 potatoes. These values were printed on the stamps and became known as ‘potato stamps’.
Allan had 20,000 stamps printed by Hortors Ltd of Johannesburg. These were distributed widely among philatelists even though they were not official stamps.
In 1946, a petition was made for the stamps to be available on Tristan. The potato essays formed part of that petition, but again the Postmaster General turned down the request. The first postage stamps for Tristan were overprints of the St Helena stamps of 1952.
In 2015, this mini-sheet was produced with the potato essays in full colour based on the original black and white drawings by Allan Crawford and Jimmy Brown. Each of these stamps featured one of the potato stamps in a stamp-on-stamp design. Each stamp had a face value of 50p and there was one example, the ½d stamp, from the 1952 overprints.
When I wrote about FDCs in the Spring Newsletter I had not envisaged a Part 2. However, sometime later, I received from two different sources, the covers below. One I had received from a friend who was clearing out his junk, the other I had ordered by number only and was surprised to receive what I immediately thought was a duplicate.
At first glance, they look identical to those in the last newsletter, but a closer look reveals that they have numbers different from those (No. 25) and different from each other: numbers 21 and 41. No. 21(left), the first in this series, does not have inverted commas around ‘Magasin’, nor does it have ‘Copenhagen’ in the text. The postmen’s tunics are a brighter red and the main colour (buildings, hats, text etc) is a blueish grey. The date in the single-ring, special philatelic postmark- 15 October 1953- corresponds with the date the stamp was issued.
The text on No. 41 is much the same as that on No. 25, but the gap before ‘First’ is slightly smaller. The red of the tunics is the same as on No. 25. The main colour (eg hats and buildings), however, has changed to a brownish grey, most noticeable on the tower. In all three issues, except for the one on the leading postman, the hats seem to be detached from their peaks! Go far enough back, and the heads are without faces and seem to be detached from the bodies as well!
It is strange that the cover has a plain, bridge cancellation rather than the special philatelic ones that are generally used on first day covers, particularly as the cover is addressed via its official handstamp to Magasin’s Philatelic Department and the stamps were issued on 16 April 1963, the same date as shown on the postmark.
The next cover is unnumbered but shows a postman with post horn in a horse-drawn mailcart. It also supports my theory that FDCs with an illustration of a postman are produced for definitive issues and the post.
No.88 (right) shows another postman, but he is not a regular postman (not many of those wear top hats these days!); he delivers mail for the Royal Fod-post, (Foot Post) as seen on his satchel.
Royal Fod-post: A wrapper, 1811, with F & P postmark
The Fod-post was in operation from 1806-1876 in Copenhagen, the only town in Denmark to provide a local service at that time. It later merged with the Royal Danish Post.The stamp issue commemorates the 25th Anniversary of Stamp Day and shows watermarks seen on Danish stamps. Both covers bear different philatelic postmarks: the one on the left is a bridge cancellation dated 11-5.65 and has ‘POSTENS FILATELI’ below; the other is a single-ring cancellation, 10 OKT 1964, with ‘POSTENS FILATELI’/FRIMAERKETS UDGIVELSESDAG’ in two curved lines below.
And now we come to an incongruity with two other covers:
The cover on the left is No.86, the one on the right No. 87. So, where’s the problem? The problem is that No. 86 is correctly postmarked 12 NOV 1964, date of issue of the stamps, but this is actually two months AFTER No. 87 (7 SEP 1964) and, in fact, one month after No.88! A pity if you are mounting the collection chronologically!
I didn’t actually set out to collect these FDCs, In fact, when I bought the first one, commemorating the centenary of Danish Railways, I hadn’t even noticed it was issued by Magasin du Nord! But somehow the collection has grown and I keep on making new discoveries.
Europa stamps are not just for EU countries. All members of the CEPT in Europe, including the EU countries, GB, Eastern Europe and Russia are invited to take part in an annual Europa issue of commemorative stamps. This started back in 1958 with a design incorporating the logo of the year. Britain joined the party in 1960 with stamps showing the CEPT year logo in their designs. In 1974 a change occurred, with each postal authority being asked to do their own design work to suit a common thematic subject, the first of which was Sculpture. The relevant stamps all show the word ‘Europa’. GB joined in with Theatre in 1982 and continued for many years with Europa thematic issues.
The Europa theme for 2014 was Musical Instruments. GB responded with Eastbourne Bandstand. An unusual musical instrument! I am a church organist and I have been asked, ‘What is the largest organ you have played?’ My answer is ‘Loughborough Carillon’. I haven’t yet played Eastbourne bandstand.
But since Eastbourne, we have only had one issue- Windsor Castle in 2017. Could it be that RM was defeated by the chosen thematic designs? Hardly likely- Toys, Birds, Bridges- we have them all, even if Vatican City and Monaco are a bit short. And for 2020? The subject is Ancient Postal Routes. We had the Roman Wall stamps in June, and that wasn’t Europa. It looks as if we are having no Europa this year again and that’s not because of Brexit.
Eastbourne Bandstand (2014) and Windsor Castle (2017)
It is commonly said, ‘Well you learn something new every day’. Today, I did- whilst writing up some stamps issued in 1934 to mark the centenary of the Australian State of Victoria. The stamp above shows an Aboriginal standing on the bank of the River Yarro (representing 1834) and looking at the city of Melbourne as it was in 1934.
What I discovered during my research was that in 1834 two families settled in the area that became Melbourne and one family’s surname was Batman. The father obviously intended to give the area a good start as he settled there with his wife and SEVEN daughters.
Did you know that Batman was one of the founding fathers of Melbourne?
This cover has a SG193 5d, Dull Green DH. It was posted at Hove BO, Brighton, 132 Duplex Postmark, on 23 April 1885. It is to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Crawley, The Kings Liverpool Regiment, Fortwilliam, Calcutta, from his father.
In 1756, Fort William was where, following an Indian uprising, the British were imprisoned in a cramped cell where most of them died and it became known as ‘The Black Hole of Calcutta’. Vengeance was swift. however. With an army of 3,000, the fort was recaptured and Siraj’s army of 50,000 was routed at Plassey.
There are three definitions of rare in the Oxford Concise Dictionary. 1) occurring very infrequently. 2) remarkable: a player of rare skill and 3) of red meat, lightly cooked, so the inside is still red. Scarce has but one definition (of a resource) insufficient for the demand.
I would add the eBay definition, which applies to both words as, ‘Buy it Now, 99p and it’s been on offer for two years.’ The scan above shows an unusual First Day Cover from Tristan da Cunha. The Coronation was 12 May 1937, but the Simons Town cancel is dated 24 Jan 38. These covers were made up on the Island with the purple four-line cachet and received a Type VI Tristan cachet on 12 May.
The first ship to arrive after this date was the Anatolia on 7 December 1937, but it did not pick up any mail. On 6 January 1938, the Sandefjord, a ketch chartered by the Norwegian Scientific Expedition to the Island, arrived and took off the mail. This item is therefore unusual, but not uncommon. It is thought that Willie Repetto signed several hundred covers. I have several of them in my collection.
I was amazed to find on an American philatelic website that two of these covers were being offered for sale by 2 separate dealers. Both described the cover as ‘Rare’ and ‘little seen’ and were asking $195 plus postage at $22.99 in the Buy it Now category. Grossly over-priced and still available after several weeks.
I am watching both dealers. If they sell their covers, I will put some of mine up for sale to the same mugs that bought theirs!
…and no, I am not trying to insult you by saying that you need to be taught how to write…but it may have attracted your attention? This article follows some of the stages in creating a philatelic book from scratch by three, farthing-stamp collectors.
I have collected farthing stamps for a number of years, as singles, blocks, sheets and used on cover. My collection covers about 80 sheets, plus a number of whole sheets of stamps. One of my co-authors, Bill Gibb, has 100+ pages or so he says!
There are fewer than 60 different farthing stamps that were ever produced, but Gibbons recognises various shades and plates to treble that number. Most are obtainable quite easily and a collector of quite modest means can complete a collection with mounted and mint examples. When postal history of the farthing is included then some are common, but a scattering is extremely rare. A search through numerous auction catalogues and discussions with several erudite philatelists have never exposed a Montserrat farthing stamp used on cover.
Next, one can include Farthing wrappers, postal stationery postcards and the like. There are only a few of these, but a used example of a Fiji farthing wrapper with the original sunburst cancellation is very rare. There are only nine known farthing newspaper wrappers of South Africa, and only Pretoria has more than one example known! Australian railway stamps are also rare and so it goes on. What was once common and ordinary has become rare and collectable.
We delved into Cinderella items because the book is intended to appeal to a larger audience than just members of august societies like ours. Who would have thought New Zealand ice cream farthing tax stamps would become very rare, or that the farthing stamp stuck on the cardboard lids of individual pots of honey, also in New Zealand, would achieve a rarity far greater than a penny black?
Next came the farthing values of the Circular Delivery Companies, but so many are late reprints that they are best avoided. Farthing newspaper delivery stamps for Scottish railways vary from the relatively common to very rare, and there is one example from England as well. A mounted mint example of all the Scottish farthing newspaper stamps would cost something north of £1000!
The bigger questions come when the rare and very rare are included. The hand-entered F on Bermuda Farthing over one shilling costs in the region of £1000 if you are lucky, but catalogues at ten times that amount. First issue, commercially-used, Cayman Island postal stationery postcards are very elusive, and we only know of three of Dominica’s three-farthing rate that has a ½d delivery charge for printed matter to the USA, and a farthing war tax. (See above).
During my Presidential year starting next April, Bill Gibb and I intend to do a double act of our collections of farthing stamps and postal history, and perhaps our book will be available by then if we manage to get it published! That evening will be perhaps in October next year.
Writing the book has been a pleasure, whether it eventually ‘sees the light of day’ or not. It has helped both Bill and me through the darker days of the Covid outbreak; George Stewart in South Island, New Zealand has had a rather easier time of it! The book is intended to be for a general audience, printed on glossy paper with as many illustrations as text, really a coffee table book to entertain as much as to inform. We hope it may encourage a few more people to come to enjoy our hobby.
Whether it is a matter of writing an article for one of the many philatelic magazines or a book to share some aspect of our hobby with others, it is worth having a go. This has been my third book. Each has been a pleasure to complete and I already have an idea for number four!
Stay Alert- The cover below, just before lockdown, was returned to me, unsold, by the Packet Manager. It could well have been thrown into a glory box at the next auction, had I not decided to take a second look and discovered the US World War 2 War Bond label, used as a seal on the reverse! Boris is right- we must stay alert!
Warning on a letter box (in Ford, West Sussex): WASPS! TAKE CARE. POST CAN BE LEFT AT POST OFFICE BEHIND YOU. (Photo: J.Poole).
Recent Slogans: (1) Captain Sir Thomas Moore, 100th Birthday, 30th April 2020; (2) Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives (Covid 19 instruction) and 75 years Anniversary of VE day; (3) Dog Awareness Week, July 2020.
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