A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Great Britain 1840-1900

1840 Scott 1 1p black with red Maltese Cross cancel
Quick History
The Penny Black, illustrated above, is considered the world's first postage stamp.

Classic. Iconic. Perfect.

The archetype for classic designs in general, and Great Britain in particular for the next 100 years. Although it  is the classic, the color proved to not be good for cancellations (especially black cancellations), and the color was changed in 1841 to red. Then the "Penny Red" ruled the British mail for 40 years.

One will note that nowhere is the name of the country on the stamp. That is because it was initially thought these stamps would only circulate in the United Kingdom. But with the agreement of overseas post offices, Great Britain was able to continue this privilege, provided the monarch's effigy was designed on the stamp. So began the tradition of featuring the reigning monarch on British stamps.

Under Rowland Hill , the Uniform Penny Post, charging only 1d for prepaid letters, was wildly successful.

The second major accomplishment was the development of efficient postal routes throughout the United Kingdom. ( Anthony Trollope by the way, the famous Victorian novelist, whose "day job" was working for the Post Office, was responsible for developing the postal routes in Ireland.)

Map of England and Wales to 1892
Before we look closer at the stamps from Great Britain, a few comments about collecting their 19th century stamps.

First; 19th century British stamps tend to be rather expensive; generally CV $20+ to $100-$300+, and higher.

Second; the perforated varieties are difficult to find well centered.

Third; many stamps are very heavily cancelled.

Fourth; many stamps in collections seem faded, and there are some issues where fugitive inks were used.

So for the world wide classic era collector, the situation is a bit frustrating. Finding attractive stamps that are affordable can be a challenge. ;-)

But Great Britain and Her Empire were at the center of much of the classical philatelic world. And rightfully, the collector should want to form a representative collection of these classically designed Victorian stamps.

1900 Scott 125 1/2p blue green
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue for the regular issues of Great Britain from 1840-1900, have 120 major stamp descriptions. Stamps that have a CV of <$20 number 18. "Affordability" Index is 15%.  Clearly, Victorian Great Britain is an expensive area.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
We will  take a good look at the Penny Black/Red and Two Pence Blue lined engraved issues of 1840-1864. There are many variables to consider when attempting to identify these issues, and we will present a basic outline for the world wide classic era collector.

Scott recognizes one major Penny Black, ten major Penny Reds, and ten major Two Pence Blues. Five of the Penny Reds and two of the Two Pence Blues are CV $2-$30+, and so a small representative collection can be put together economically.

The Penny Black has a CV of $320+. 

So what are the collecting variables?
Imperforate/ perforate
Perforate 14 or 16
Watermark Small Crown or Large Crown
Blue paper or Cream/White paper
Original (Die I) or re-engraved (Die II) on the Penny Red
Two letters in the lower corners or Four letters: one for each corner.
Thinner Lines on the Two Pence Blue
Major colors or shades

Let's jump in....

 1840 Scott 1 One Penny Black (SG 2)
I already featured the One Penny Black on the blog header, but we need to take another look. The recess printed stamp was issued imperforate by Perkins, Bacon & Petch on May 6, 1840. The lower numbers follow a sequence that gives away the position of each stamp on the plate. This was to help prevent forgeries. There are 20 horizontal rows of 12.  Numbered thus:
Row one: AA,AB,AC,......AL
Row two: BA,BB,BC,.......BL
Row 20:   TA,TB,TC,        TL

The "Maltese Cross" cancel design was common from 1840 to 1844. Red ink was often applied on the One Penny Black.

The "small crown" watermark is found on this stamp, and white paper was used.

1841 Scott 3 1p red brown (SG 8)
The classic One Penny Black did not last long. Complaints about dark cancellations not being visible led to a switch to a red brown color. Beginning on February 10, 1841, imperforate red-brown stamps were printed from "black" plates ( From the first eleven plates). Then in late February, Plate 12 and higher were used to print stamps such as the above example. The paper is more or less "blued". The watermarked remained the "small crown". This is still the "original" engraving as found with the One Penny Black. Note the quite visible black "Maltese Cross" cancellation.

Comparison of the imperforate One Penny Black and Red
The engraving should be identical
Really lovely, aren't they? ;-) This might be a propitious time to examine closely the original engraving on these sharp early printings. Enlarge the image for a good look. Compared to the re-engraved (Die II) stamps, the original engraving does not have extra shading around the eye, the lips are not as full, the fillet (headband) behind the ear is not as distinct, and the general lines are only lightly shaded. Still, what an absolute classic design.

1841 Scott 4 2p blue (SG 14)
This rather heavily cancelled example is an imperforate Two Pence Blue issued in 1841 as was the One Penny Red above. The paper is more or less "blued", and the watermark remains the small crown. These were printed from Plates 3 & 4, and the engraving should be identical to the imperforated One Penny Black and Red. There was a Two Pence Blue issued in 1840 (Scott 2 /SG 5) that does not have the horizontal white lines below "postage" and above the "two pence".

Now we will look at perforation varieties, watermarking varieties, and re-engraved (Die II) stamps.

1854-55 Scott 8 1p red brown perforated 16 (SG 17)
Although there were trial perforation experiments between 1848-1853, the first actual perforation stamp intended for distribution was issued beginning on February 24, 1854 with perforation 16. The above stamp is an example. It had the original engraving (Die I), small crown watermark, and paper more or less blued.

By the way, the paper "bluing" was caused by prussiate of potash in the ink or in the paper that would tend to color the paper.

It was found that perforation 16 stamps separated too easily from fellow stamp members in the sheet, so a perforation 14 Penny Red (Scott 11 SG 22) was introduced in January,1855. This was identical to the above example, except for the change in perforation. Actually, both perforation types were issued over the next several years, creating different  varieties.

Then in February, 1855 a re-engraved version of the Penny Red was issued, both in perforation 16 (Scott 9 SG 21), and perforation 14 (Scott 12 SG 24). They are identical, save for the perforation. Since I have the perforation 16 variety, I will show that now.

1855 Scott 9 1p red brown, re-engraved (Die II) (SG 21)
This Scott 9 is identical in other respects (perforation 16, watermarking small crown, paper more or less blued) to Scott 8 except it is re-engraved!

By the way, this particular example is in the "less blued" part of the spectrum as I noticed this stamp was really more a cream tone rather than blue. The "bluing" of these stamps is not hard and fast, and some stamps have more, and in this case, less.

Getting back to the re-engraving topic, let's take a look at both stamps together. 

Scott 8 and Scott 9: Original (Die I) and re-engraved (Die II)
 Both stamps perforation 16, small crown wmk, bluing more or less
You may want to enlarge the image to compare the original and the re-engraved versions.

The differences are the re-engraved stamp has:
A) Face feature lines that are deeper and more prominent.
B) More shading around the eye
C)  Lips that are fuller
D) A nostril that is more defined
E) An indentation of color that is more prominent between the lip and chin.
F) A fillet (headband) behind the ear that is more defined.
G) The "Williams" lines", an especially prominent 1-2 horizontal squigly lines in the hair below AG of "Postage" seen prominently with the re-engraved 1p reds. (Thanks to pennystars.com for the tip)

After a little experience, one can recognize the differences quickly. 

So far, we have only seen examples of Penny Reds /Two Pence Blues that have the Small Crown watermark.

Let's take a look at the two watermarks found with these stamps.....

Small Crown (wmk 18) & Large Crown (wmk 20)
All you need to know about the different watermarks found with these stamps is illustrated above. There should be little confusion. These watermarks ( in my experience) are fairly prominent, and about half the time do not require watermarking fluid. A side note: the Large Crown wmk exists with some minor differences between them, but should not pose a problem with recognition.

1855 Scott 16 1p red brown, re-engraved (Die II)  (SG 29)
Perforation 14, wmk Large Crown, Bluish paper
In May, 1855 ( Perforation 16 Scott 14 SG 26) and June, 1855 (Perforation 14 Scott 16 SG 29), bluish paper varieties with Large Crown watermarks were issued. The Scott 16 with perforation 14 is illustrated above. All of the Large Crown watermarked Penny Reds are of the re-engraved (Die II) type. It is important to note that these were issued on bluish paper, as that is one of the distinguishing features to differentiate these issues from the white paper Penny Red varieties to come later. 

Let's look at the difference in paper coloring with the Large Crown watermarked Penny Red issues...

Both stamps have Large Crown watermarks (State I)
Bluish paper: 1855 Scott 16 1p perforation 14
White Paper: 1857 Scott 20 perforation 14
The color of the paper-Bluish- should alert us that the left stamp is a 1855 issue, not the 1857 white paper issue. Otherwise, both stamps have the Large Crown watermark and perforation 14. 

By the way, the Large Crown watermark illustrated here for both stamps is considered by SG to be State I.  The two short vertical lines in the middle part of the crown watermark was removed after 1861, and is known as State II.

I mentioned that paper color was one of distinguishing features between the issues. What is the other one? Let's take a look.

1857 Scott 20 1p rose red, re-engraved (Die II) (SG 40)
Perforation 14, Large Crown wmk. white paper
In 1857, white paper varieties with both perforation 16 (Scott 18 SG 36) and perforation 14 ( Scott 20 SG 40) were issued. As mentioned, they share the Large Crown and re-engraved design characteristics as the 1855 bluish paper varieties.

But they generally had one more distinguishing characteristic.

Rose red color versus the red brown color.
( Yes it is true that some early 1857 stamps were issued in red brown (Scott 20b  SG37).  Then the only distinguishing difference is the white paper. But generally, most all the 1857 issues had a rose red color)

Comparison of re-engraved large crown wmk  perforation 14 varieties
1855 Scott 16 1p red brown on bluish paper
1857 Scott 20 1p rose red on white paper
The good news then is, not only is there a blue/white paper difference, but also a color difference as one can observe. Nice!

I should mention that the letters punched into the plate on the lower corners come in different recognizable "Alphabets". Alphabet I with small letters was used from 1840 through 1851. Alphabet II with larger broader letters was used from 1852 to mid-1855. Alphabet III with taller, thinner numbers was used from mid-1855. And Alphabet IV had letters hand engraved on Die II, plates 50 & 51 only. Obviously, a specialist can have a lot of fun with these differences.

But the world wide classic era generalist can have some fun too....(See next image)

My own personalized "penny stars" initialed stamp!
1857 Scott 20 1p rose red, re-engraved
If the initial letter of your first name is between A-T, and the initial letter of your last name is between A-L, then the Penny Reds/Two Pence Blues stamps illustrated above will have your initials on one of the members of the sheet. ;-) An interesting pastime is to search for one's own personalized initialed Penny Red!

Now let's take a look at the last Penny Red issued....

1864 Scott 33 1p rose red, re-engraved (Die II) (SG 43)
Note the letters in all corners
The 1864 Penny Red is unmistakable because of the letters placed in all four corners. The letters in the lower corners are placed as they would be for the preceding Penny Reds, then the letters are reversed for the upper row. 

The Plate number (71-225) is actually engraved in the scroll work on either side of the Queen for this issue. This particular example was picked to illustrate a badly perforated stamp common for the Penny Reds, and the plate number is hard to determine.

1858 Scott 29a 2p blue (SG 45) "Thick Lines"
We haven't said much about the Two Pence Blue, but it follows the same wmk small crown/ large crown, perforation 16/ 14, and bluish/ white paper varieties as the One Penny Red. The six varieties (that have not been specifically discussed) of the Two Pence Blues should be determined by checking the above variables.
The CV for these six Two Pence Blues (Scott 10,13,15,17,19,21) range from $65+-$400+. And I don't have any. ;-)

But illustrated above is the four corner letter variety of 1858, with perforation 14 and watermark Large Crown. A careful look will reveal "9" for the plate number engraved in the middle of either side scroll. Also the horizontal bars (Which have been on the design since 1841-Scott 4 illustrated earlier) below "Postage" and above "Two pence" are still there. These are now known as "Thick Lines", which will make more sense when you see the next image.

Thick Lines and Thin Lines
1858 Scott 29a blue "Thick Lines" (SG 45), plate 9
1869 Scott 30 deep blue "Thin Lines" (SG 47), plate 14, white paper
A "Thin Lines" variety of the Two Pence Blue is illustrated above on the right. (And the 1858 Scott 19 & 1857 Scott 21 Two Pence Blues are also thin lines varieties.)

The plate number "14" is easily seen in the side scroll work. And the "thin lines" variety is on white paper, which initially led to some confusion for me.

I have another example of Scott 30 "thin lines" which looks like this...

1869 Scott 30 2p deep blue (SG 47), plate 15 on bluish paper!
This apparently identical Scott 30 was on bluish paper, while my first example is on white paper.

Two examples of Scott 30 "Thin Lines", plate 14 & 15 respectively
One on white paper (left), one on bluish paper (right)
It was quite clear (to me) they are on different colored paper. Let's look at the back of the stamps....

Two Scott 30 "Thin Lines" Two Pence Blues with different colored paper
The Large Crown watermark (State I) is seen nicely
I was a bit confused until I found an explanation in Stanley Gibbons: "Although the paper is normally white, some printings showed bluing". ;-)  Thank goodness for Stanley Gibbons.

This is the end of the Penny Black/ Red/ Two Pence Blue section. I learned a lot. :-)

1865 Scott 43 4p vermilion 
wmk 23-" Large Garter"
The next stamp in my collection is a 1865 Scott 43 4p vermilion, heavily cancelled, but "fresh". ;-) This is surface printed (typography), as are many of the remaining 19th century issues.The Four Pence had a somewhat similar design issued in 1862, also with the "Large Garter" watermark.

Besides the Penny Reds, there were stamps issued in 1856 ( 2 stamps), 1860 ( 1 stamp), and 1862 (4 stamps). The CV ranges from $90+-$350+, so it may be awhile before I fill in the spaces. ;-)

Let's look at the "Large Garter" watermark....

Wmk 23 "Large Garter"
Be aware there are also "Small Garter" (wmk 20) and "Medium Garter (wmk 22), largely differentiated by the size of the watermark.

Here are the watermarks we will encounter here with the remaining issues of the 19th century....

Upper left: wmk 25 Spray of Rose
Upper Right: wmk 28 (small) Anchor
Lower Left: wmk 29 Orb
Lower right: wmk 30 Imperial Crown
The only one a bit hard to see is "Spray of Rose" which looks like a flower on a stem with two leaves. Observe the 4-5 small circles on the upper portion of the stamp? That is the flower with the stem vertically below. Also I call the "Anchor" watermark "small", as there is another larger Anchor watermark (wmk 31).

There was a 1865 four stamp issue which I am not illustrating. The CV for these stamps range between $80+-$500+ . It might be awhile before I obtain them. ;-)

1867-80 Scott 49 3p rose & Scott 49a 3p deep rose
Watermark "Spray of rose"
With the 1867-80 stamp series (Eight stamps CV $50+-$300+, and one (Scott 546) @ $3000+) we will begin our review.

The 3p rose illustrated above demonstrates several truths. Naturally, many classic stamps come in shades. But take a look at the heavy cancellations. Quite typical. And also note how the perforations cut into the design? Common for these issues.

One has to adjust one's condition and appearance criteria for these well used stamps- and enjoy them for what they are. :-)

And the numbers on the cancel can be researched to find what town the stamp came from.

This 1p rose is also found as a 1865 issue, but with the "Heraldic Emblems" watermark (wmk 24).

1867-80  Scott 51 6p red violet : wmk Spray of Rose 
No hyphen between SIX and PENCE
This 6p  comes in two types: with or without a hyphen between the SIX and PENCE on the lower inscription. The "Spray of the Rose" watermark (which this stamp has) doesn't narrow the choice, as both types can be found with it. Rather than Scott 50 (with the hyphen), this is Scott 51 6p red violet no hyphen. Both choices catalogue for $85. There is also a  hyphenated type in the 1865 issue (Scott 45), but that has the "Heraldic Emblems" watermark.

Despite what I said about 19th century British stamp condition states, this stamp has a nice rich color.

1867-80 Scott 54 1sh green, wmk  Spray of Rose 
This stamp is likewise found as a 1865 issue with the  "Heraldic Emblems"  watermark. It is important to watermark all the early classic British stamps. Again, this is quite a spectacular stamp.

1873-80 Scott 61 3p rose, wmk spray of rose
The 3p rose, illustrated above, was the low denomination in five stamps issued between 1873-80. All of them had the "spray of rose" watermark. This same stamp was reissued in 1881 (Scott 83), except it had the Imperial Crown watermark.

1873-80 Scott 62 2p gray ,wmk  Spray of Rose 
Note the letters in the corners are on a white background
The second stamp in the 1873-80 issue is Scott 62 2p "gray".  But there is the same design- Scott 63 in "buff"- which catalogues for $20,000+!

Also, the 1880-81 Scott 81 "gray" differs only in that it has the "the Imperial Crown" watermark.

Finally, two stamps (Scott 59,60) were issued in 1872 with a similar design, except the corner numbers are on a colored background.

1875 Scott 66 2 1/2p claret "(small) Anchor" wmk
1876-80 Scott 67 2 1/2p claret " Orb" wmk
This 2 1/2p claret can be found with two watermarks as outlined above. The CV is listed as $80+ and $50+ respectively. However, because of heavy cancellations and fading, I would be frankly resistant to paying anywhere close to that for these examples.

1880 Scott 68 2 1/2p ultramarine " Orb" wmk
The color of the design was changed in 1880 to ultramarine as shown above. Not a very "fresh" copy. ;-)

1880-81 Scott 70 1/2p deep green & Scott 70c 1/2p green
Wmk "Imperial Crown"
A ten stamp issue was introduced in 1880 with CV ranging from $10+-$140+.  The halfpenny green (with two shades) is shown above.

1880-81 Scott 79 1p red brown wmk "Imperial Crown"
The 1p red brown of the series is shown above- SG calls the color "Venetian red", which does sound more attractive. This stamp was surface printed, as were many of the issues between 1880-1900.  The CV for the halfpenny green and 1p red brown is $10+, relatively affordable. Note the circular town cancelling devices are now being used frequently, so used copies are attractive.

A pair of Venetian Reds
This mint pair of Scott 79 red browns "Venetian Reds" demonstrate the numbering system on British stamps. These stamps come from the "J" row, and adjacent column "E" and "F".

1881 Scott 82 2 1/2p ultramarine wmk "Imperial Crown"
A 2 1/2p ultramarine, already issued in 1880 with an "Orb" watermark, was produced in 1881 with the "Imperial Crown" watermark.

1880-81 Scott 84 4p gray brown wmk "Imperial Crown"
A 4p gray brown with "Imperial Crown" watermark was issued in the series. This design was used before from 1876-80 for the 4p vermilion (Scott 69), 4p pale olive green (Scott 70), and the 4p gray brown (Scott 71); all with the "Large Garter" wmk (wmk 23).

1881 Scott 85 5p indigo wmk "Imperial Crown"
The 5p indigo design was new for this issue, and, in fact, was not used again. CV is $110+.

This rather attractive 1880-81 issue was replaced by...

1884 Scott 100 2p lilac, Scott 102 3p lilac, Scott 101 2 1/2p lilac
The next series (ten stamps) issued in 1883-84 are quite possibly the ugliest stamps ever produced by the British. Because of (excessive) counterfeiting concerns, the stamps were produced in "Double fugitive" ink. Caution! These stamps will lose their color with soaking. The "double fugitive" ink could only be produced in two colors: lilac and green. Therefore all the stamps looked alike to busy postal clerks. These stamps were quite unpopular with the public. Perhaps because they had a short life, or perhaps because it is difficult to obtain a stamp in fresh condition, the CV for the higher denominations range from $200-$250 used.

July, 1881 Scott 88 1p lilac ( 14 dots in each angle)
December,1881 Scott 89 1p lilac (16 dots in each angle)
Actually a year or so before the "lilac and green" issue came out, there was the "Penny Lilac" stamp issue that was the workhorse of the mail throughout the rest of Victorian era. Note the corner numbers are gone!

It comes in two interesting types. The initial stamp has 14 dots on the angle, while the subsequent stamp has 16 dots. It might be worthwhile checking the "Penny Lilac" inventory for the rarer 14 dot design (CV $30+).

If you are collecting with Big Blue, be aware that the image cut excludes the common 16 dot "Penny Lilac". More about that in the "Big Blue" section. ;-)

1883 Scott 96 2sh 6p lilac wmk  31 (large) Anchor
The higher denominations since 1867 were printed with a larger size. Here is an example with the 2sh6p lilac. The watermark is a large Anchor- wmk 31-, appropriate for this greater area stamp. I will show this watermark with the next blog installment. All the "large format" higher denomination 19th century British stamps have a rather high catalogue value: here $150.

The very attractive twelve stamp 1887-92 Jubilee issue
Deep Blue has all the spaces, but Big Blue does also
As if to make amends for the "lilac and green" issue fiasco, the next major production, the twelve stamp Queen Victoria Jubilee Issue, is highly attractive with a number of bi-colored stamps or on colored paper. Six stamps have a CV of $1-$15.

By the way, be on the lookout for the much rarer Scott 118a 5p lilac & blue Type I ($80+), which has squarish dots rather than vertical dashes to the right of the "d" inscription.

1887-92 Scott 120 9p blue & lilac
Here is a close-up of the 9p blue & lilac. They are quite striking stamps. I suppose one could quibble that the Queen has hardly aged at all. ;-) In the meantime, Canada was producing a more realistic portrait on their 1897 Diamond Jubilee stamps.

1890 Scott 121 carmine rose & lilac
I call this the "candy cane" stamp, it looks good enough to give out as confectionery. ;-)

1887-92 Scott 122 1sh green
The most subdued stamp to my eyes is the highest value. Go figure. ;-)

This ends the wild ride through the Victorian stamp era.

Deep Blue
The Deep Blue album (Steiner) has seven pages for the regular issue Victorian stamps.It follows straight up the regular major numbers of Scott. If one was collecting using the Stanley Gibbons catalogue, one might find the layout limiting.

A pair of the 1881 Penny Lilacs 
The workhorse stamp for the latter Victorian era
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on 1 page and two lines, has 46 stamp spaces. Coverage is 38%. Big Blue does a good job of providing spaces for the early Victorian era. But it is going to cost you. ;-)

My "mark-up" album for Big Blue- all marked up. ;-)
Some comments....
A) Surprising ( at least to me) is that Big Blue does not require the Penny Black (CV $320+). Since the spaces are labeled "1840-41", the Penny Red (Scott 3) can be used (CV $20+).
Nevertheless, the Penny Black is so iconic, the BB collector might want to consider  filling the space with this stamp. And even though the Penny Black is not absolutely "required", I might include it as a sentimental option choice on the BB "most expensive" stamp list.

B) The Two Pence Blue image shows Scott 4 (Has the horizontal white lines), the 1841 issue, so that will "only" be CV $80+ to fill the space.

C) Surprisingly ( There's that word again), the most expensive required stamp comes from the disliked (by the public and postal workers) 1884 "lilac and green" issue: namely the 6p green (Scott 105) @ CV $225.
The second most expensive space to fill appears to be the jumbo sized 1883 Scott 96 2sh 6p lilac @ CV$150. There are three more stamps @ $95 CV.

D) In fact, of the 46 stamp spaces for the Victorian era in Big Blue, only seven spaces can be filled by stamps with a CV of <$10! Fully 39 spaces require a stamp with a CV of $10+. In fact, the "Most Expensive" list for Big Blue ($35 threshold CV) has added 27 members!!!! No wonder my inventory for Victorian Great Britain is "spotty". ;-)

E) BB only provides one space for the 1p red brown (six major numbers), even though there are original (Die I) and re-engraved (Die II) types. Even if one is not particularly interested in the Penny Reds, one should at least have a space for the two types.

The Penny Lilac- BB has the 14 dot Scott 88
F) Among the more absurd choices in BB: The 1881 Scott 88 1p lilac (14 dots in each angle) ($32+)- the earlier and rarer Penny Lilac is the one illustrated in Big Blue.!! That means the much more common (and much cheaper -$2!) 16 dot Penny Lilac is ruled out! ;-)  Far be it from me to tell you what you should do if you put the much cheaper variety in instead. ;-)  (I'm confident that 99% of the Penny Lilacs in Big Blues are the 16 dot variety anyway.)

G) Are there any classic Victorian era stamps (other than the "16 dot" Penny Lilac, or the Penny Reds that has already been reviewed) that Big Blue has missed? If we look at a generous $30 cap, then we find only one: 1881 Scott 82 2 1/2p ultra ($30) that was  ruled out for a space by BB's date requirements.

H) Speaking of "ruled out", there were three instances were BB  eliminated a stamp possibility by the date requirements. I have placed a double asterisk ** by these stamp numbers in the checklist  to alert the BB collector, and explain more fully in the comment section that follows the checklist.

I) I also placed an asterisk * by a stamp number in the checklist to indicate that number is the least expensive choice if there is a group of choices for the space.

J) Most expensive stamps for the Victorian era in Big Blue include ($35 threshold):
1841 Scott 4 2p blue ($85)
1855 Scott 17 2p blue ($67+)
1857 Scott 21 2p blue (thin lines)/white paper ($67+)
1870 Scott 32 1 1/2p dull rose ($52+)
1862 Scott 34 4p vermilion ($95)
1865 Scott 43 4p vermilion ($60)
1865 Scott (45) 6p lilac (Hyphen after SIX) ($85)
1867 Scott 49 3p rose ($60)
1869 Scott 51 6p red violet (No hyphen after SIX) ($85)
1867-80 Scott 54 1sh green ($52+)
1876-80 Scott 67 2 1/2p claret ($52+)
1880 Scott 68 2 1/2p ultramarine ($42+)
1873-80 Scott 61 3p rose ($47+)
1873-80 Scott 62 6p gray ($65)
1881 Scott 88 1p lilac (14 dots in each angle) ($32+)
1880-81 Scott 80 1 1/2p red brown ($47+)
1880-81 Scott 81 2p lilac rose ($95)
1883 Scott 96 2sh 6p lilac ($150)
1884 Scott 99 1 1/2p lilac ($40)
1884 Scott 102 3p lilac ($95)
1884 Scott 100 2p lilac ($75)
1884 Scott 105 6p green ($250) !
1892 Scott 117 4 1/2p carmine rose & green ($42+)
1887-92 Scott 120 9p blue & lilac ($42+)
1890 Scott 121 10p carmine rose & lilac ($40)
1887-92 Scott 122 1sh green ($65)
1900 Scott 126 1sh carmine rose & green ($52+ mint)

Simple Checklist
1 or 3*, 4

1p red brown: 8 or 9 or 11 or 12 or 14 or 16*,
2p blue: 10 or 13 or 15 or 17*,
1p rose red/white paper: 18 or 20*,
2p blue/white paper(thin lines): 19 or 21*,

29* or 30, 31 or 32*, 33

34, 43, (45),


44 or 49*, 51, 48 or 54*,

66 or 67*, 68**, 61**, 62**,

88**, 78,79, 80,81,



Next Page



A) An single asterisk * indicates the least expensive stamp for the space.

B) A (  ) around a number indicates a suggested blank space choice

C) **1880 Scott 68 2 1/2p ultramarine ($42+) is the only choice. 1881 Scott 82 2 1/2p ultra ($30) is ruled out by BB's date requirements.

D) **1873-80 Scott 61 3p rose ($47+) is the only choice. 1881 Scott 83 3p rose ($80+) is ruled out by BB's date requirements.

E) **1873-80 Scott 62 6p gray ($65) is the logical choice. In  the interest of pragmatism, I did not include Scott 63 6p buff ($21,000)! Also 1881 Scott 86 6p gray ($60+) is not included as a choice because of BB's date requirements.

F)**1881 Scott 88 1p lilac (14 dots in each angle) ($32+)- the earlier and rarer Penny Lilac is the one illustrated in Big Blue.!! That means the much more common ( and much cheaper -$2!) 16 dot Penny Lilac is ruled out! ;-) Far be it from me to tell you what you should do if you put the much cheaper variety in anyway. ;-)

D) Most expensive stamps ($10 threshold) :
1841 Scott 3 1p red brown ($20+)
1841 Scott 4 2p blue ($85)
1855 Scott 16 1p red brown, re-engraved ($20+)
1855 Scott 17 2p blue ($67+)
1857 Scott 20 1p rose red, re-engraved/white paper ($10+)
1857 Scott 21 2p blue (thin lines)/white paper ($67+)
1858-69 Scott 29 2p deep blue ($10+)
1870 Scott 32 1 1/2p dull rose ($52+)
1862 Scott 34 4p vermilion ($95)
1865 Scott 43 4p vermilion ($60)
1865 Scott (45) 6p lilac (Hyphen after SIX) ($85)
1870 Scott 58 1/2p rose ($10+)
1867 Scott 49 3p rose ($60)
1869 Scott 51 6p red violet (No hyphen after SIX) ($85)
1867-80 Scott 54 1sh green ($52+)
1876-80 Scott 67 2 1/2p claret ($52+)
1880 Scott 68 2 1/2p ultramarine ($42+)
1873-80 Scott 61 3p rose ($47+)
1873-80 Scott 62 6p gray ($65)
1881 Scott 88 1p lilac (14 dots in each angle) ($32+)
1880-81 Scott 78 1/2p deep green ($10+)
1880-81 Scott 79 1p red brown ($10+)

1880-81 Scott 80 1 1/2p red brown ($47+)
1880-81 Scott 81 2p lilac rose ($95)
1883 Scott 96 2sh 6p lilac ($150)
1884 Scott 99 1 1/2p lilac ($40)
1884 Scott 102 3p lilac ($95)
1884 Scott 100 2p lilac ($75)
1884 Scott 101 2 1/2p lilac ($10+)
1884 Scott 105 6p green ($250) !
1887-92 Scott 113 2p green & carmine rose ($10+)
1887-92 Scott 116 4p brown & green ($10+)
1892 Scott 117 4 1/2p carmine rose & green ($42+)
1887-92 Scott 118 5p lilac & blue Type II ($10+)
1887-92 Scott 119 6p violet/rose ($10+)
1887-92 Scott 120 9p blue & lilac ($42+)
1890 Scott 121 10p carmine rose & lilac ($40)
1887-92 Scott 122 1sh green ($65)
1900 Scott 126 1sh carmine rose & green ($52+ mint)

1884 Scott 98 1/2p slate blue
Out of the Blue
What I learned the past three days while writing this blog.
1) Expensive
2) One needs to be picky about condition, as there are many more bad than good stamps in the Victorian era.
3) The Penny Reds are really interesting.
4) Big Blue's usual meek requirements for most countries turned into a Raging Lion here. Twenty-seven new members are added to the "Most Expensive" list. !
5) The Stanley Gibbons 2012 Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970 catalogue was a big help.
6) Free the common 16 dot Penny Lilac and put it in Big Blue! ;-)

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain.

I need some secondary gain. How about some comments? ;-)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grand Comoro

1897-1907  Scott 7 15c blue "Navigation & Commerce"
Quick History
Grand Comoro (Grande Comore-now Ngazidja) is an island off the coast of Africa in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and Mozambique. It is the largest (443 sq mi) of the Comoro islands: others being Anjouan and Mayotte, also French colonies.

The population was 50,000, and the Capital is Moroni.

Grand Comoro and the other Comoro Islands

In 1886, Sultan Said Ali united the sultanates of Grand Comoro, the same year France established a protectorate. In 1893 the Sultan was exiled to Réunion.

The familiar French colony "Navigation and Commerce" stamps for "Grande Comore" were issued in 1897, and continued until 1907.

France took full control of the island in 1908, and the sultanates were abolished.

A surcharged issue was produced over Grand Comoro stamps in 1912, but accepted throughout the newly expanded colony until the stamp issue was exhausted.

That is because in 1912 the Comoro archipelago was administratively united with the French Madagascar colony, and thereafter the stamps of Madagascar were used.

Then, in 1950, "Archipel des Comores" stamps were issued from time to time until 1974.

Independence was declared in 1975 as the Nation of Comoros (Grand Comore, Anjouan, and Mohéli were members).

In 1997, the union fell apart, and Anjouan and Mohéli seceded.

But a new constitution was developed, and the parts were re-united in 2002.

Harbor Bay in Grand Comoro
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has 29 major stamp descriptions for the years 1897-1912.
Twelve stamps are CV $1+-$4+. "Affordability" index is 41%.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1897-1907 Scott 1 1c black/lilac blue "Navigation and Commerce"
Familiar to French colony collectors, the "Navigation and Commerce" design, inscribed "Grande Comore", was issued in 1897.  This nineteen stamp issue has only five stamps with CV $1+-$6+, with the rest between $10+-$60+. Not inexpensive.

The back of the Scott 7 15c blue- with quadrille paper
Of interest, the 15c blue ( Shown at the beginning of the blog) comes with quadrille paper. I was aware the French 1892 "Peace and Commerce" 15c blue is found on quadrille paper, having reviewed that issue for the France blog. But I did not know the "Navigation and Commerce" issue also has it.

 Why would the 15c blue have this feature?  Readers?

The second (and final) stamp issue are the issues of 1897-1907 surcharged with large numbers in black or carmine in 1912. I don't have an example here, but this surcharged design was issued by many other French colonies, and can be seen in the Gabon and  French Guinea blogs.

The major Scott descriptions, with spacing of 1.5 mm (5c), or 2 mm (10c) between figures of surcharge, number ten stamps. CV for all the stamps range a very modest $1+-$2+. 

Also Scott lists ten (bolded) minor number stamps with spacing of 2.25mm (5c), and 2.75mm (10c) between figures of surcharge. The CV for these range from $7+-$140+. Check your spacing if you have some: you might find a pleasant surprise. ;-)

This surcharged issue was available for use throughout the Comoro archipelago and Madagascar. In fact, Madagascar then assumed stamp production duties.

Deep Blue
The Deep Blue (Steiner) album has all the major numbers included in spaces on one page. I've complained about this before, but I would have preferred spaces also for the 1912 bolded minor number stamps as well.

1897-1907 Scott 5 10c black/lavender
The inscriptions are found in blue or carmine
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one page, has seven spaces for the 1897-1907 issue, and ten spaces for the 1912 surcharged issue. Coverage is 59%. 

Big Blue has a great selection here, as all ten surcharges are given a space for the 1912 issue.  And the rapidly more expensive 1897-1907 "Navigation and commerce" issue is given a generous seven spaces.

If BB did this for every country, there would be no need to look elsewhere by the "frugal" classic era collector. ;-)

BTW, the Grand Comoro entry is found in the '69 BB just before German East Africa.



20 or c, 21 or b, 22 or a, 23 or a, 24 or a,
25 or a, 26 or a, 27 or a, 28 or a, 29 or a,

A) Most expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1900 Scott 6 10c red "Navigation and Commerce" $10+
1900 Scott 8 15c gray/light gray $10+

B) (  ) around a number is a blank space suggested choice. The most expensive stamps for Grand Comoro fall into this category.

C) The 1912 issues: "20 or c", for example, indicates ( Scott 20 or Scott 20c) as choices.

1897-1917 Scott 2 2c brown/buff
Out of the Blue
What I like particularly is knowing nothing about a country in Big Blue or Deep Blue, and then finding out something. More often, like Grand Comoro, there are then linkages with other countries (Anjouan) that have been reviewed. 

Is this fun or what? ;-)

Note: Map and Photo appear to be in the public domain.

Comment? I like comments!