Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Nice Straits Settlements Postmark Find

A New "Last-Recorded-Date"

I found this stamp online and paid 5p for it. It's Straits Settlements SG225, postmarked with Prye (Prai), Penang, Proud type D3.

Proud's "The Postal History of Malaya Vol 1" states that the recorded dates for type D3 were 6 December 1917 to 23 January 1925. Although the month is unclear, the left leg of an "A" is evident, meaning this was postmarked 27 April or 27 August 1925.

I sent an email to Proud Bailey, and received a very quick reply from Edward Proud, confirming that this is a new last-recorded-date, and stating that the next edition will be updated.

I'm fascinated that finds like this can be made 87 years after the event! 

These are the little things that make our hobby so intriguing and worthwhile.

10,000+ Visitors

Thanks for Your Patronage

I'd like to thank everyone for reading my ramblings since I started the blog in May.

I couldn't have hoped for 10,000 visitors so quickly for such a niche blog, and I'm actually taken aback. Those visitors have come from 92 countries, as far flung as Iceland, Qatar, Cuba and Madagascar, which surely justifies the name Global Philately!

The most popular post to date was in June, regarding the possible new discovery on the Silver Jubilee issue of 1935 , but every post has been well visited with many insightful comments received.

Thanks again, and happy stamping!

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Prince of Wales Camp Postmarks 1921-1922

The Future King Edward VIII on Tour

From 1919 to 1922, the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, embarked on a grand world tour. 

In 1921, the Eastern Tour commenced. The HMS Renown departed Portsmouth at sunset on October 26, with the Prince on the saluting deck. The ship called at Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Suez and Aden before arriving at Bombay on November 17. Four months later, on March 17, the Prince left India behind as the Renown sailed for Japan.

A commemorative postmark was used during the tour of the subcontinent, featuring the legend "H.R.H The Prince of Wales' Camp P.O." at the top, with the Prince of Wales feathers in the top centre, and seven bars on each side. The date and time are at the bottom centre, with a thick bar below

Although the postmark doesn't show a location, the tour itinerary makes it possible to ascertain where the postmark was used.

The itinerary was kindly provided by Kasinath Rajasekaran on the Global Philately Facebook Page, and reproduced here in full:

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day

November 11

Armistice Day, November 11 1918. The end of the "War to End All Wars", a statement of hope proved hopelessly inaccurate. 

I've posted a small album of Australian stamps on my Facebook page.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

John McCrae

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 

We will remember them.

Lest we Forget

Friday, 9 November 2012

The 1935 Silver Jubilee - A New Discovery? A Further Update

The Research Continues.......

In my blogs of 22 June and 10 August, I discussed a possible new discovery on the 1935 Silver Jubilee issue.

Experts with experience far exceeding mine are still reviewing their holdings and are coming to different conclusions. However, a tentative sheet position has been suggested, as the variety has been sighted on a sheet of Plate 4 Northern Rhodesia and Plate 2A British Solomons

This line on the tower is the variety in question

To read the latest commentary, please visit Silver Jubilee Stamps. The latest information is at the foot of the front page.

As before, I would be delighted to hear from anyone with similar copies!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Why Postal History Collectors Get Excited

Ebay Still Delivers Nice Finds

This postcard of a group of children from Assuan (Aswan), Egypt, posted in 1911, and addressed to Singapore was listed recently on Ebay Australia. 

The TPO (Travelling Post Office) postmark on the front of the card was reason enough for me to buy it

Monday, 29 October 2012

An Interesting Find on Ebay - Part 2

Is This a Wreck Cover?

I asked this question in my blog of 16 October . The item has arrived and I'm no closer to knowing the answer.

As I suspected, it is only a front, but it has a tantalising partial postmark on the remnant of flap attached. It's a partial "Liverpool" postmark in blue, which I would expect to be a "Liverpool Packet" postmark. However, there doesn't seem to be a matching date for that postmark, according to "Collect British Postmarks" (Stanley Gibbons, 8th Edition), bearing in mind that the Lochmaben sank in 1855.

Unless I can find a passenger manifest for the last voyage of the Lochmaben to see if Mrs. Hazelton was aboard, I will probably never know if this is a wreck cover!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Try Twitter - You Might Like It!

Then You Can Follow @globalphilately!

I wasn't completely sure about Twitter and the need for it, but I've been converted.

I'm now able to communicate with magazine editors and publishers, postal authorities from all over the world, a diverse group of collectors and hobbyists, and all my other favourite human beings.

There's a common misconception that Twitter is a mobile tool, but I use it almost exclusively from the Twitter web page in my browser on my laptop.

You can create a personalised profile page where people can check you out, here's mine

The better your profile, the more chance you have of being followed by the people that you would like to follow-back. 

You can search by keywords, such as "stamps" or "philately", and look at the profiles of people you might like to follow. Some will follow you back, some won't. You can also look at the followers of people you might be interested in, and follow them as well!

Twitter is quite intuitive to use and another great way to communicate instantly. It's easy to manage spammers and even easier to unfollow those who Tweet every 5 seconds!

If you decide to try it, follow me @globalphilately and I'll follow you back. look forward to seeing you soon!

Friday, 26 October 2012

How to Block a Seller on Delcampe

....And Make Better Use of Your Time Online

Delcampe recently introduced a tool that allows a buyer to block a seller's listings from their searches. I've used it to block some sellers who consistently sell over-priced material, and others that insist on uploading images that are no more than a handful of blurred pixels.

At the bottom of each listing there is a "+" icon

Clicking on the icon shows the following options

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Rust on Stamps - New Testing of an Old Recipe!

Initial Results Are Staggering

All collectors face the challenge of dealing with rust (known as "rust" when a dealer buys a stamp, and "toning" when a dealer sells a stamp!) on stamps at some stage. 

The preferred, and usually recommended, method of dealing with rust is to throw the stamps away! Almost every blog, forum and dealer site has a discussion how to deal with this problem, and I don't intend to re-hash what has been said hundreds of times and can be found by Googling.

What I do want to do is to present a "teaser" of some current tests using a method described by a gentleman of very senior years. Preliminary tests conducted by a member of the Grumpy Old Men's Club forum (here), have shown remarkable results.

Further testing with modern and multicoloured stamps will be of interest to see if the process works on all issues. It is a wet process, so won't work on mint stamps unless Mint No Gum is an acceptable outcome.

This is Hyderabad SG 43, a very common stamp that is usually found in a poor state

This is the back of the stamp showing rust, and a marker pen addition, which was meant to prove, after testing, that this was the same stamp!

Here is the front of the stamp after testing

....and the back, minus the marker-pen arrow!

At this early stage, I'm wondering if a bleaching process is evident, but as I don't yet know the "recipe", I'm keeping an open mind.

I'll post updates as and when they come to hand

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

An Interesting Find on Ebay

Is This a Wreck Cover?

I was browsing through Ebay today and found saw this cover. It was so ugly, I just had to look at it

It was quite poorly listed as "UK Penny Red still on Envelope Cover" (so I assume it's a front only), with the following description:

(Khyu)lton & Wilson agents
134 Waterloo Road
Mrs Hazelton
on board the 
Lochmaster Castle

The agents name is actually Elkington & Wilson, and the name of the ship is the "Lochmaben Castle".

A quick look at Google, and I found out that the ship was wrecked in 1855:

"Lochmaben Castle, for Quebec, was ashore on the Bird Rocks, Gulf of St Lawrence, 4th June. Passengers and crew saved"

and this:

"WRECK OF A VERY CROWDED EMIGRANT SHIP - Accounts received at Lloyds by the American mail report the wreck of the English ship "Lochmaben Castle". Captain TURNER, with nearly 600 souls on board, on a formidable reef known as the Bird Rocks, in the gulf of St Lawrence. She was a first-class ship of 1,600 tons, and left Liverpool on the latter end of May, for Quebec, with 537 passengers, men, women, and children, and a cargo of rice &c. On the 14th ult., thick, hazy, weather set in, and she ran upon the Bird Rocks. Signals of distress were fired, and the greater part of the cargo thrown overboard"

Although she was a significant vessel for the time, at 1,600 tons, I haven't yet been able to find an image of her in my usual references.

The stamp is SG8, 1d red imperforate, which was in use from 1841 to 1854 when the perforated 1d red was issued, so time wise, the franking is just possible. The postmark is a London Inland Section, horizontal oval with number in diamond, that was in use from 1844. The manuscript "P4" marking requires further research, as it indicates payment of an additional 4d. The cover is water stained and the stamp appears to have moved left.

I might be barking up the wrong tree, and this is nothing more than a cover that travelled on one of the many voyages of the Lochmaben Castle, and was simply damaged.

This is a good example of learning to read old script if this era interests you.

I'll enjoy the research when it arrives, and I will have lost very little if it's just a damaged cover, as it cost me a grand $10!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Straits Settlements Postmarks of the King George V Era

Looking for the Small Post Offices

One of the endearing, and frustrating, things about our hobby is the way that it will lead you off on tangents when you least expect it to. 

I've been a King George V collector for many years, but since my first visit to Singapore a few years ago, I've kept an eye on the postmarks on the KGV Straits Settlements issues. I noticed that fully 90-95% of the postmarks are from Singapore (in all it's variations - Registered, Parcel etc), Malacca and Penang. However, there are dozens of smaller post office postmarks to find, and they are elusive. I use Proud's "The Postal History of Malaya Volume 1" as my reference.

Serangoon Road, located in Singapore. This postmark, that was in use from December 1929, is Proud type D3, and is the least common of the Serangoon Road postmarks

Friday, 21 September 2012

A Bad Case of Blogger's Block

So I Asked For Suggestions..........

After a couple of weeks of not finding time or inspiration due to work commitments, I started a competition on the Global Philately Facebook page, asking for suggestions.

What a creative group of "likers" I have!

Some of the suggestions not only created cold sweat, they would have required extensive research and a massive learning curve.  

However, as promised, I did the honest and honourable thing and put all of the suggestions in a box and pulled one out. I opened it with great trepidation and was extremely relieved to see that the subject is one that will not be too onerous! 

A word to the wise. It may be less stressful to fix the Bloggers Block yourself!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

La Semeuse - The Sower

It Might Be Worth Checking Your Stocks

Following a recent "wanted" request on the GOMC forum, for a copy of France10c red-brown La Semeuse (The Sower) with ground under her feet, the members searched through maybe 600 hundred copies of the Sower issue and found absolutely none.

A search of online auctions only located a handful as well.

These are listed in all the major catalogues (SG325/326, Scott 155), with values only marginally higher than the "no ground" issue.

I'd suggest keeping a lookout for them, they surely can't be as common as the "no ground" issue!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Changes Afoot at Delcampe

A Business Responding to its Customers! - Whatever Next?

Delcampe has announced changes to it's fee structure, in a move to remove the hordes of minimum-value stamp listings caused by their no-listing-fee policy. 

They are introducing a fixed-fee charge for each item sold of €0.15, in addition to the monthly commission. I think this is a marvellous initiative. Do a search of any basic stamp on Delcampe and you will often find hundreds listed, at €0.05. While you can exclude them from your search, these listings are costing Delcampe money in bandwidth, and slow down searches due to overloaded servers.

Delcampe listings can be set to relist, for free, almost indefinitely. This is another area that they are looking into, along with the following:
  • the possibility for a buyer to exclude the sales of a certain seller in a listing,
  • automatic closure of sales which have not received any visits for a certain period of time,
  • an automatic price reduction for items fulfilling certain conditions,
  • the insertion of at least one picture,  
  • changing unsold auctions to fixed price sales
Delcampe have created a Google doc for comments here. Why not express your opinion, as at least you know they are listening. I have suggested a minimum pixel size for pictures, to remove dross like this from their site (the seller, all of whose images are like this, had a starting bid of €2.00 on this)

I think Delcampe deserve the support of collectors the world over for responding to requests for change. 

Another global auction site would do well to respond to it's customers in a similar way!

(please note that I have no affiliation with Delcampe, other than previously selling on the site, and as a customer)

Friday, 10 August 2012

The 1935 Silver Jubilee - A New Discovery? UPDATE

Another Example of an Unlisted Variety?

In my blog of 22 June, I showed an example of a potential new discovery on Northern Rhodesia SG21, the 6d  Silver Jubilee issue. It takes the form of a "derrick" on the Round Tower, left of the flagstaff

I'm pleased to report that I've located another, very similar, example on a commercial site, which I've just purchased. However, this is on SG19, the 2d value.

I'm intrigued by this variety, which is far more visible than some of the listed varieties on the Silver Jubilee Omnibus issue

My search will continue for more, and I would appreciate any and all information for further research.

Specifically, as a sheet position would be needed to confirm this as constant, or semi-constant, it would be ideal if it showed in a positional block. If you have any holdings, please check them!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Great St Helena Rip Off - Part 2

Cancelled Remainders - Quantities

Subsequent to my blog of 24 July, I received some information about the quantities of key-plate remainders that were cancelled with the violet diamond-grill cancel in 1904.

The information was confirmed, with the following details from an article published in 1981:

  • 1½d - 49,409
  • 2d - 58,394
  • 2½d - 29,229
  • 5d - 39,588
  • 10d - 43,376
That's a staggering 219,996 stamps, with a combined face value of over £3,700!

There are two types of diamond, one with five bars and one with four, with the former being the scarcer. So, I suppose, if you really want to collect these abominations, you could focus on the scarcer ones!

The violet cancel can also be removed, and fake cancels exist.

For illustrations of genuine cancels, I would recommend The Postal History of Ascension, St Helena and Tristan de Cunha by Proud.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Great St Helena Rip-Off

Beware Cancelled Remainders!

I scanned through over 2,500 St Helena items on Delcampe today, and one of my pet peeves re-surfaced. I made mention of this on my Facebook page, so my apologies for repeating myself!

These stamps from St Helena (1896 SG51 and SG52) have catalogue values of £30 and £60 respectively

However, the cancellations make them virtually worthless. The diamond grill in violet is a remainder cancellation done in 1904, and the stamps were cancelled solely for sale to collectors. This cancel was never postally used.

There are dozens of stamps with these cancellations for sale. Catalogue prices are being quoted, and hefty prices being asked. Do NOT pay high prices on Ebay, Delcampe or anywhere else for any stamp from St Helena with this cancellation!

Self Adhesive Stamps

You Can't Soak Them, So Try This!

Personally, as a collector of classic issues, I dislike self-adhesives. I don't collect them at all, and any I receive go into the spares bin.

The adhesive is so strong that soaking in the traditional manner just doesn't work.

Here's a handy video that will show you a way to add these stamps to your collection. I haven't tried it, but I would suggest it would work.

Good luck!

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Internet and Philately - Part 3

Using Non-Philatelic Websites to Bring Your Collection to Life

Like most collectors, I have a huge bookmark folder, full of philatelic information sites, auction sites, forums and so on. I also have a bookmark folder that contains non-philatelic websites that I use to add flesh to the bare bones of my collection.

I hope you find some of these useful.

As a collector of British Empire, my favourite site for historical context is The British Empire, Where The Sun Never Sets. The site covers the period from 1497, when Newfoundland was claimed, to 1997 when Hong Kong was handed back to China. It's not an academic site, but a site that brings social context to the Empire.

In a similar vein, the British Pathé site lets you step back into history, with 90,000 historic clips online.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Specialised Catalogues

Some New Additions to the Shelf

The quest for specialised catalogues never ends if you want to delve into the minutiae of your collection. In an earlier blog I mentioned some of the fascinating books I had in my library,

A few new additions have made it to the bookshelf since that blog.

Firstly, the Philatelic Handbook of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands by D.H. Vernon. Issued in the 1970's this is an official reprint by the Pacific Islands Study Circle and can be ordered from their excellent website.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

British Field Post Office Postmarks of the Boer War

How Many Are There?

The British Field Post Office postmarks of the Boer War are a fascinating area of study, and they pop up quite frequently in mixed lots and GB collections.

I'm yet to discover which book is "the" reference for these. I also have no grasp on just how many Field PO's were used during the conflict (the highest number I've seen to date is 38), or where they were based. The information I have for these pictures came from the previous owner. UPDATE - changes made to the listings thanks to Alex Green (see comments)

I'm posting these here for reference purposes and, hopefully, comments and information.

Number 1 - Rustenberg- on GB 1d lilac SGZ1

Friday, 29 June 2012

Collecting Postal History - A Brief Introduction

Part One of an Occasional Series

I've been collecting stamps for over 40 years, and covers for almost as long. While a postmark on a stamp can give an insight into what the stamp "did", only a cover can provide the full story. A postmark might tell you the where and when of postage, but can very rarely tell you the how and why.

This is the allure of postal history. The term was coined by Robson Lowe, and can be described as the study of postal systems and how they operate. The beauty of postal history is that it is a somewhat specialised field, so bargains really are everywhere.

The covers in the blog were all picked up for a song, because the people selling them didn't know what they were.

This grubby cover was sold as "Nigeria King on envelope". It's actually a First Flight cover, for the first direct flight from Lagos, Nigeria to Croydon, England. Addressed to Government House, Antigua, the airmail sticker has two pen marks through it. This is known as a jusqu'a cover (a French word which can be translated as "as far as"). The pen marks were  added on receipt at Croydon to indicate that the cover would not be conveyed by airmail from that point onwards, as there was no airmail service from Croydon to Antigua.

Franked with a pair of 1935 Silver Jubilees SG33 and 6d SG40.

Australia opened a number of Antarctic bases in the 1950's and the first Australian Antarctic Territory stamp was issued in 1957. Before that date, Australian stamps were used.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Collecting Stamp Literature

Books, Monographs and Pamphlets

Every collector has one or more catalogues on the shelf to use as their major resource. We can't avoid this, as reference to value is a human condition. However, the catalogues only tell a small part of the story behind the stamps we collect.

If a catalogue was meant to be an educational tool, the SG Commonwealth & Empire catalogue may run to 20 volumes, and none of us could afford either the cost or the shelf space. If we want to find more depth, detail and interest, accumulating specialised literature is a very rewarding and worthwhile sideline to constantly hunting down our next piece of coloured paper. 

Much of this literature is out of print, but can often be found at very low prices. I'm going to show a small selection of my favourite items, and none of them cost me more than $5!

Didn't we all have a basic stamp book when we were young? The one that was given to us by our parents or our favourite uncle, when they realised that we were doomed to a life of hunching over a desk with a glass to our eye......

This is one of the best primers I've ever seen. Published by the Philosophical Library, this is the 6th edition (1966) of a book first published in 1951, and it contains over 3,000 A-Z entries. If you're looking for illustrations of cork cancels, details of where Wolmaransstad is, or what P.K.W.N is an ebbrevaition for, this is the book to have

Friday, 22 June 2012

The 1935 Silver Jubilee - A New Discovery?

An Unrecorded De La Rue Variety?

The 1935 Silver Jubilee of the reign of King George V (whose Coronation was held on this day in 1911), was commemorated by a series of stamps with common design. My earlier blog regarding the series can be found here.

The stamps were printed in a two-part process (except for Newfoundland), with a frame plate and a vignette. Unique varieties exist for all three printers. There are superb reference sites here and here that show all of the major, and many of the minor varieties.

I recently found three stamps printed by De La Rue that seem to show a common variety, in three different stages, for which I've found no other reference.

The stamp that shows the flaw most prominently is the Northern Rhodesia 6d (SG21). The flaw takes the form of a large bird, or a reversed tick-mark, on the left edge of the Round Tower

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Birds of Papua New Guinea

The Weird and the Wonderful

Starting a thematic, or topical, collection is, for me at least, an impulsive thing. A few years ago, I only collected KGV-era British Empire. I was adamant that I wasn't going to allow any thematic collections to take up space on my shelf.

I now have at least half a dozen thematic collections that I go back to when my main collection gets too heavy or, as happens frequently, too expensive! The thematic collections all started as a result of my non-philatelic pursuits. As I'm also a very unskilled birdwatcher, logic dictated that I start a thematic collection of birds.

My album is now bulging. Who knew there were so many issues?

However, it's possible to start a thematic collection from one country, as these issues from Papua New Guinea illustrate

This is the Muruk, or double-wattled or Southern Cassowary (SG271 issued 1974). This huge bird can stand 2 metres tall. This may be the only way to see one soon. Although they range from PNG to northern Australia, it's estimated that there are less than 2,500 remaining

The best-known birds of PNG are, perhaps, the birds of paradise. The postal authorities of PNG have spoiled us with choice for glorious images of wonderful birds.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Are You on Facebook?

Global Philately is!

My new Facebook page is where special offers will be made, where occasional give-aways will be thrown around and general chit-chat will take place.

I'd like it, if you'd like us! Visit here

Friday, 15 June 2012

Shameless Self-Promotion!

Falkland Islands Gems on Ebay

I'm breaking down a life-long collection of Falklands Islands and have a lot of Postal Stationery listed at the moment, like this

This is Higgins & Gage (H&G) 4, Queen Victoria reply card, overprinted Specimen, one of only 750 produced. Starting at 99p here

Over the next few days, I'll be listing a range of early Falklands stamps and more covers. Please drop in and add me to your favourite sellers if these items appeal to you!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Stamps Are Holding Their Own

Auction Realisations Still Strong

I can only comment on this at a personal level, but philatelic auctions appear to be going strong, despite the financial issues faced by the globe.

I recently consigned 43 items to Grosvenor Auctions in London. The auction was held yesterday, and only four lots were unsold, making a clearance rate of 90%. The total hammer price was a very pleasing 20% above estimate. 

It would seem that good quality philatelic material is proving to be resilient.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Internet and Philately - Part 2

My Ten Favourite Online Resources

One of the joys of the internet is finding out that someone else has done the research and put it online for all to see. I especially enjoy websites that go beyond the standard references and broaden a subject.

My list of bookmarks runs into the hundreds, but these are my Top 10. Needless to say, but I will anyway, my collecting habits are reflected in the sites I've selected

1. King George V Silver Jubilee - without doubt the best online reference for the 1935 Jubilee issues. It includes the omnibus series issued by 44 colonies and territories, and the separate issues of 10 that didn't hop aboard. The listings, and illustrations, of the multitude of varieties is superb. To aid the postal historian, there are also details of the postal rates for each territory.

2. The Philatelic Database - definitely the place to go when you don't know where to start, the Philatelic Database contains a host of articles on all things philatelic, and they're archived

3. Philatelics.Org - a brilliant site for collectors of Great Britain. It has numerous downloadable PDF's on a range of subjects, and an excellent postmark database

4. The TPO and Seapost Society - another fantastic site for postal historians, covering Travelling Post Offices and maritime mail

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Trans-Atlantic Mail in the Age of Steam

The SS Bremen

The SS Bremen,  a German ocean liner launched in August 1928, undertook her maiden voyage from Bremerhaven to New York on July 16 1929. She was of 51,656 tons and 286.1 metres in length, and carried over 2,100 passengers and 966 crew. 

She arrived in New York in 4 days, 17 hours, 42 minutes, taking the west-bound Blue Riband speed record from the “Mauretania”. On her return voyage, she took the east-bound Blue Riband in 4 days, 14 hours, 13 minutes. She was the only ocean liner to achieve two speed records on her first two voyages. She completed 190 transatlantic voyages, and was the first ocean liner of her size to traverse the Panama Canal. 

A variety of postmarks are known, but manuscript and stamped cachets were applied for mail posted outside Germany. A Catapult Mail service, using a Heinkel He 12 seaplane mounted between the funnels (the catapult is just visible in the photo above), was in use from 1929 to 1936, when the speed of the Zeppelin “Hindenburg” made the service redundant. Catapult covers don't form part of my collection, as they are quite gaudy and usually covered in an abundance of cachets (reminiscent of the Tonga "Tin Can" covers).  An excellent site on the catapult process and catapult mail can be found here 

My preference lies with non-philatelic trans-atlantic mail.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Once Upon a Time in the Good Old Days - Part 1

The Way Philately USED To Be

I'm a sad traditionalist and far too sentimental. I embrace change (see me blogging?), but I yearn for the past and what I perceive to be the better and less hectic life it offered. Of course, anyone who lived through the "better" times knows that they actually weren't better, but it's how sentimental people like me like to think.

So much has changed in our hobby, especially in the internet era, that it might be fun to time travel back to a more genteel time for our hobby. 

It was a time when there used to be strange places called Stamp Shops, where collectors could see the wares in albums, windows and wall displays, and were served by men in suits. 

Shops like this one. The premises of W.S. Lincoln of Oxford Street, London. The picture was found in an old Lincoln album. Note the caption - "The Largest Stamp Shop in the World". That's the kind of advertising that wouldn't be allowed today without proof!

The inside of the shop was a veritable Aladdin's cave. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Are You Interested in Cape Triangles?

If So, You Must Have This Handy Reference!

The Cape of Good Hope triangulars are one of the truly iconic issues of classic British Empire stamps. 

Issued from 1853 to 1864, they were revolutionary in design and were produced in four stages, by three printers on four papers with numerous shades

Stanley Gibbons famously purchased a sack-full of Cape Triangulars from two merchant seamen in 1863. He reputedly paid them £5! 

They are a little more valuable now, with catalogue values ranging from £190 - £100,000 for mint stamps, and £80 to £30,000 for used stamps. The major colour varieties can range from £40,000 used to £160,000 mint.

These catalogue values provide enough incentive for fraudsters to ply their trade, and with today's internet auctions, they have found a ready outlet for their fakes.

What can you do to minimise the possibility of losing your money by paying for fakes? 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Christmas Island Local Stamps 1916-1938

Where on Earth is Kiritimati?

There are two Christmas Islands, or at least there used to be. One, an Australian Territory in the Indian Ocean, still issues stamps. The other, in the Pacific Ocean, issued local stamps from 1916 to 1938, when the stamps of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands came into use.

The Pacific Christmas Island is a member of the Line Islands and, according to Wikipedia, is to be found 6,700 kms from Sydney, and 5,360 kms from San Francisco.

In 1913, the island was leased by Great Britain to the Central Pacific Cocoanut Plantations Ltd. In 1919, the island became part of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands, but no post office was opened. To defray the cost of transporting mail, the Central Pacific Cocoanut Plantations Ltd issued a 5c stamp in 1916, featuring one of their boats, Ysabel May.

There are four printings of the stamps, two for each value, all on unwatermarked paper according to Bill Hornadge's "Cinderella Stamps of Australasia":

First Printing  (probably 1916) - 5c value perf 12½
Second Printing (1924) - 5c value perf 11½
Third Printing (1926) - 10c value perf 11½, corner figures and value in red
Fourth Printing (1934) - 10c value perf 11½, corner figures and value in greenish blue

The stamp covered local delivery, but additional stamps were required for any delivery beyond the local area.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Marcophily - The Study of Postmarks - Part 2

When The Postmark Makes ALL The Difference - GB Used Abroad

The postmark on a stamp usually indicates where the mail originated from, and is typically found on a stamp of the relevant country.

When the stamp and the postmark don't originate from the same country, the stamp is known as a "used abroad".

British colonialisation presented a multitude of reasons why stamps were used abroad, including the establishment of British postal agencies in foreign countries by means of a commercial treaty, satisfying the postal needs of colonies with no local stamps yet produced, and carrying military mail during foreign military campaigns.

These stamps are in my collection, and, again, all were found in bulk lots and not purchased for what they are.

This stamp is Great Britain SG94 4d vermilion Plate 12, issued in 1870. It bears a part duplex A25 of Malta. Although Malta issued stamps in 1860, Great Britain was responsible for the external posts until 1884, hence the use of British stamps until that time

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Letter From 1842 Brought To Life

A Property Dispute Involving an Earl, an Admiral and a Mystery Claimant

This entire (meaning a folded letter-sheet) was sent in April 1842 from solicitor James Burn of Edinburgh to solicitors Russel & Aitken of Falkirk.

The address reads Messrs Russel & Aitken, Writers, Falkirk. “Writers” is an abbreviation for “Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet”, a private society of Scottish solicitors formed in 1594 that still exists. The abbreviation “WS” can be seen after solicitor’s names in the letter, and members of the Society still use the letters today.

The stamp is SG8, 1d red-brown imperforate, issued in late 1841. It is cancelled with an Edinburgh Maltese Cross (this stamp was illustrated in my Marcophily blog)

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The German South Polar Expedition of 1911

Brave Men in a Very Small Boat

In early May 1911, the bark "Deutschland" set sail from Bremerhaven en route to Antarctica.

The goal of the second German South Polar Expedition was to map the continent via an overland route from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea, and confirm that it was one piece of land.

The leader, and organiser, of the expedition was Wilhelm Filchner (1877-1957) who, at the age of 34, had already been involved in expeditions to Russia, Central Asia and Tibet.

Wilhelm Filchner
By any measure, the expedition was a failure. After visiting South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, they were beset by pack ice for nine months. The only real success of the expedition was disproving the existence of South Greenland, which had been included in maps since 1823.

During their visit to Grytviken in South Georgia, the crew were busy posting postcards home.

Although many cards have been on the market in recent years, and have achieved five-figure sums, this may be the ultimate postcard from the expedition.

The picture side, showing the "Deutschland", is autographed by ten members of the expedition. A total of thirty-five crew and scientists were on board. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Specialised Catalogues

Every Home Should Have One (at least!)

My primary collecting area is the King George V period, so my preferred catalogue is the Stanley Gibbons British Empire & Commonwealth 1840-1970 catalogue. Widely respected, and considered the best resource for Commonwealth issues, the SG is, however, not the only catalogue required if you want to delve even further into a particular country or period.

This is not news, but it did come into focus for me when browsing The Gibbons Stamp Monthly archive on CD (available at . The archive includes every article from the Gibbons Monthly Journal, Gibbons Stamp Weekly and Gibbons Stamp Monthly from 1890 to 2009, and it’s a mind-boggling resource that I heartily recommend.

My favourite column in the archive is “Under the Magnifying Glass”, where reader-submitted errors and varieties are scrutinised and discussed. What I noticed was that many varieties, including naked-eye varieties, are identified with sheet positions, confirmed as constant, yet they have never seen the light of day in the catalogue.

This intrigues me, but I assume that the catalogue would need to become a multi-volume tome if all of the accepted, recognised varieties were to be included.

So how do you become aware of what other varieties exist that should sit side-by-side with the SG-listed varieties in your collection? There’s really only one answer. Specialised catalogues, especially those issued in the relevant country, should be your next port of call.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Marcophily - The Study of Postmarks - Part 1

Sometimes, You Don't Notice The Stamp!

The hobby of collecting postmarks is known as Marcophily. It's a fascinating area, with specialist areas within the hobby. Avid postmark collectors are quite willing and able to look past deficiencies in the quality of the stamp if the postmark is scarce enough!
Postage stamps were introduced in 1840, and the first postmarks were designed to obliterate the stamp to ensure that it couldn't be re-used. The first postmark in wide use was this one, a Maltese Cross. Many different types exist, and this one can be identified as an Edinburgh Maltese Cross

Postal History - A 1943 Cover Tells It's Story

The Reason That I Love Postal History

The term "Postal History" was coined by the great Robson Lowe:

"Postal history is the study of postal systems and how they operate and, or, the study of postage stamps and covers and associated material illustrating historical episodes of postal systems"

That's quite a mouthful, that can be abbreviated to "what can this cover tell me?"

There is a belief that Postal History relates to very old material. I'd like to show that a relatively common cover from WWII can tell a fascinating story of it's travels and it's times

This is the cover. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

GB Wattses Underprints - New Discovery?

Protective underprints, the printing of a company name on the reverse of the stamps, were used to prevent theft in the same manner as perfins.

Although predominantly a Victorian fad, two firms used underprints in Great Britain from 1904 to 1915.  The underprints were done over the gum, so excessive soaking of used stamps obliterates the underprint. Accordingly, they are scarce.

S&J Watts, a drapery firm from Manchester, used an underprint on the stamps of both King Edward VII and King George V. These underprints are listed in the Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Specialised Catalogue Volume 2.

Whilst soaking a batch of KGV on paper, I found these, somewhat poor, KGV definitives

Ready to consign them to the seconds bin, I turned them over and saw this

The Internet and Philately - Part 1

If you became involved in philately before the advent of the internet (and I guess that's most of us), the reinvention of our hobby is comparable to the change from gas-lamps to electricity.

The accessibility of information, the ability to view and purchase millions of stamps without leaving your home and the development of online "stamp clubs" (better known as forums), has lead to a sea-change in how we enjoy our hobby.

Forums are a subject dear to my heart. Having never been a member of a stamp club, apart from a couple of visits to a suburban club in Melbourne when I was a young teenager, I was delighted to "meet" so many like-minded people when I joined my first forum in 2007.

Like most things in life, I spread myself thinly for a while, and joined more online communities than my time could deal with, meaning I became overwhelmed with information that actually stopped me from my collecting!

GB Victorian Perfin - Can You Help?

I recently came across these two GB SG71 ½d vermilions, which were obviously a separated pair.

They are perfinned with the word "INVENTION" in an arc similar to the perforated Specimens. 

Can anyone assist with identification of this perfin? Was it a test (if so, they were postally used), or was there a business with this unusual name?

The GB Perfin Society website hasn't shed any light on this one, so any help would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Are You On Twitter?

If you are, why not follow me @globalphilately and I'll reciprocate!

A Fantastic Idea For All Collectors

I was put onto this fantastic album the other day, and had to buy one.

It's a Single Stamp Gazetteer Album. It's really easy, all you need to do is to collect one stamp from every stamp issuing country/entity. 

Easy? Not really, as it includes all the "dead" ones as well. Whilst it may be easy to collect the current countries (under 200) there are spaces for 612 stamps in this album! When was the last time a stamp from Romagna (Italian state, with one issue in 1859), Tete (Portuguese African colony with issues from 1913-14) or Ile Rouad (French Mandate in Syria issued in 1916) turned up in your spares?

This is, perhaps, a lifelong quest that may get expensive. Do you choose a "pretty" stamp from each one (or the prettiest they ever issued!), or the oldest, or something representative that makes you think of the source?

Here's a sample page. A short bio, a map and space for a single stamp. "Live" countries are headed in black, "dead" in grey

This is the type of thing that will invigorate flagging philatelists and act as a learning tool for any child or group. If I had my way, it would be a compulsory part of the Social Science curriculum!

I have NO affiliation with the publishers of this fantastic album, Terranova Publishing, other than being their customer.

Visit their website and check it out. US$65 + postage, or bid for one one Ebay

Highly recommended

1935 Silver Jubilee Omnibus Issue

The stamps and postal history of King George V (1910-1936) are my major areas of interest. The classic designs have never been matched in my view.

The 1935 Silver Jubilee series, and the numerous varieties to be found, are my favourite issues and a particular focus of study.

A total of 44 colonies subscribed to this issue, (creating the first Empire/Commonwealth Omnibus issue) with all except Newfoundland printing in two colours with a central vignette.

Three printers were employed for the task, Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co, De la Rue & Co and Waterlow & Sons. The stamps were recess-printed, and although a common design was used, the varieties are particular to the relevant printer's plates


Welcome to the Global Philately blog. Although my preference is for British Empire and Commonwealth stamps and postal history, I hope that the blog can touch on philately worldwide.

I may not blog daily, or even weekly, but I hope that what I do blog is interesting and informative!