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...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Serbia's Death Mask Stamps, a Tale for the Eve of All Hallows

King Alexander's Death Mask: A Murder Most Foul
An Eve of All Hallows Tale

On this Eve of All Hallows, gather around boys and girls, and let me tell you a tale....

On this certain dark night of June 10, 1903 of the Gregorian calendar, King Alexander I and Queen Draga of Serbia were ruthlessly assassinated by a group of Army Officers.

Would you like to see what the young King Alexander looked like?

King Alexander 1894-96 Scott 41 10p carmine rose

Opening the gates at 2:00 AM, they searched the palace where they discovered the royal couple hiding inside a wardrobe cupboard. They shot them in the early morning hours of June 11,1903, then threw their bodies out the second story window of the palace.

The king was 26 years old, and this was the end of the House of Obrenovic, which had ruled Serbia for 50 years.

After the deed was done, the stamp issue about to be released was overprinted with the Arms of Serbia on the ill fated Head of King Alexander.

1903-04 Scott 70 10p carmine & black

Now you ask boys and girls why this conspiracy was carried out?

Because the throne now passed to the rival House of Karageorgevich.
Peter Karageorgevich ascended the throne as Peter I.

Stamps were issued with the image of Karageorge 1752-1817  (The founder of modern Serbia), and King Peter I.

Would you like to see the stamp?

1904 Scott 81 15p red violet "Karageorge and Peter I"

They celebrated wildly the coronation of King Peter, and the Centenary of the House of Karageorgevich.

But would there be a cry from beyond?

Would the deed most foul go unpunished?

1904 25p blue

Wait!... an image-.. if the stamps are turned on their head. Look attentively without focusing on details, boys and girls, at the two noses, the chin, and the hair on the right side of the upside-down double portrait.

Do you see what I see?

Perhaps you need to have it marked?

Is there no justice?...

You want a closer look?

An image- a face! - a cry from the grave...

The very likeness of King Alexander...

May He rest in Peace.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Classic 1840-1940 Blog Arrives!

There is a new exceptionally fine blog for the 1840-1940 era. 

It is called Philaclassic


It is published from Brazil, and in Portuguese. (Google Translator makes short work of any language differences, though.)

Rubens has started with Aden, and at this time appears to be adding a country a day. As of Sunday, he is already up to Algeria.

And Rubens includes a list of stamp spaces in the Steiner (Deep Blue) album, with those that he has in his collection marked in red.

It does remind me a bit of my own blog which covers the same era, and in somewhat similar format. So naturally I like it. ;-)

And Rubens illustrates some nice stamps. I've been unable to find any stamps from La Aguera - and the "La Aguera" post shows a whole set. ;-)

And we have similar organizational choices- collecting with the Scott catalogue, and using the Steiner album (Deep Blue).

I will be following the blog with much anticipation.

Check it out!


Update (January 9,2013): Sadly, the Philaclassic blog appears to have gone private, with no public access.  If the situation changes, I will update further.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hungary 1871-1916

1871-72 Hungary Scott 9 5K rose "Franz Josef I"
Quick History
A central European country, Hungary had a population of 14 million in 1940, and the Capital was and is Budapest.

Hungary was an integral part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 until  the end of WWI in 1918.
The House of Habsburg shared power with the separate Hungarian government, and there was a dual constitutional monarchy. Franz Josef I was both the Emperor of Austria, and the King of Hungary.

Austria-Hungary 1914
The two capitals of the Monarchy were Vienna in Austria, and Buda (joining adjacent Pest - 1870) in Hungary.

Important to note that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was much more than present day Austria and Hungary. Included was Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and parts of Serbia, Romania, Italy, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine.

The Kingdom of Hungary (Ungarn) 
An 1899 Map of the  Austro-Hungarian Empire
During 1850-1871, the stamps of Austria were also used in Hungary. A Hungarian cancellation on the Austrian stamps of the era can then be found: and indeed is quite desirable.

But in 1867, the Hungarian Post became independent. The King of Hungary, Franz Josef I, naturally, was featured on the first 1871 Hungarian stamp issue.

This Post will feature, philatelically speaking, the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen from 1871 until the death of Franz Josef I in 1916.

We will save for the next post the philatelic results of WWI, the unleashing of nationalism, and the near dismantling of Hungary as a nation.

1881 Hungary Scott 19h 3k blue green 
"Crown of St. Stephen"
Into the Deep Blue
The Scott 2011 Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1871-1916, 103 major numbers for regular issues. There are, however, 135 minor numbers, mostly different perforations, although differences in watermark are also found. These minor numbers are fully as important for Hungarian philately as the major numbers, and will be treated as such here. In fact, the Deep Blue (Steiner) album provides spaces for most of these "minor" numbers. In addition, there are 52 semi-postals during this era that will also be included in the survey.

Altogether, from 1871-1916, there are 290 catalogue number possibilities. Of those, 173 (60%) are CV <$1-$1+. Hungarian stamps, especially after 1881, are modestly priced for the WW classical collector.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1871-72 Hungary Scott 7 2k orange "Franz Josef I"
The first issue, with the design as illustrated above, was lithographed in 1871. The six stamp set has a CV of $20-$500+, and I don't have any. ;-)  But this was quickly followed with an engraved 1871-72 production. Shown above is the 2 Kreuzer orange. The CV for these six stamps ranges from $1+-$40, a relatively modest price for a very classic issue.

1871-72 Scott 10 10k deep blue "Franz Josef I"
Here is the 10k deep blue, and the 5k rose is found at the post header. Handsome stamps, aren't they?

1874-76 Scott 16 10k blue, perforation 13
"Crown of St. Stephen"
Note the colored numeral, and the lack of dot burelage
The "Crown of St. Stephen" design was introduced in 1874, and continued until 1899.

The initial issue, shown above, consisted of five stamps with a CV of <$1-$10+. This issue is unwatermarked, has colored numerals, and none of the stamps show a " burelage". (The " burelage" examples will be seen shortly.)

The issue can also be found in five different perforations with minor numbers, and higher CV.

1881 Scott 22 20k gray , perforation 11 1/2
watermark 132 "Kr in Oval"
The five stamp 1881 issue had the same design, with slightly different shades (CV <$1-$1+). Also, the issue can be found in five different perforations, some less expensive than the major number. Therefore attention to perforation is important, as perforation varieties are not infrequently found.

The issue also has a watermark, the "Kr in Oval". The entire watermark is rather large, so no stamp has the entire design.

Left upper stamp: "K" is sideways, with arrow
pointing to the upper part of the "K" 
Lower stamp: arrow points to overlapping ovals
forming a "square"
The "Kr in Oval" watermark (wmk 132) will have a "K", shown in whole or part, and reads either up or down. The red arrow points to a "K" reading up. There is also an "L" next to the "K" that can be seen.

One will see parts of the oval, often overlapping another oval. "Loops" can be seen between two ovals. Where four ovals intersect, a "square" will be seen (lower red arrow).

This watermarked was used through 1898.

Now let's look at more stamps....

1881 Scott 20d 5k rose perforation 12 X 11 1/2, wmk "Kr in Oval"
As mentioned the 1881 issue has five different perforation varieties. The 5k rose variety shown above is actually as common ,and slightly less expensive, than the major number perforation 11 1/2.

1888-98 Scott 25 5k rose perforation 12 X 11 1/2
Note the black numeral; wmk "Kr in Oval"
A new issue was produced beginning in 1888, this time with black numerals through 50k. The fourteen stamp set has a CV ranging from <$1-$2+ for all stamps save one.

The lower values, the 1k,2k,3k,and 5k, are printed without " burelage".

1888-98 Scott 31 24k brown violet & red
Scott 33 50k red & orange: Note the "burelage"
The 8k-3fo (Forint) denominations have a vertical line burelage printed first- in different colors. On top of this "burelage" printed paper sheet, the stamp image is then printed.

1888-98 Scott 34 1fo gray blue & silver
Numeral in Red
Although the 1k-50k denominations for this issue have black numerals, the two higher denominations (1fo, 3fo) have red numerals. The 1 Forint gray blue and silver is shown above.

1898-99 Scott 42 15k rose & blue
Issue with new watermark: wmk 135
Crown (sideways) in Oval (or Circle)
In 1898, a new watermark was introduced, and hence a new issue. This 12 stamp set has a CV of <$1-$4+ for 10 stamps. The set can also be found in either Perforation 12 X 11 1/2 or Perforation 11 1/2: the latter with higher CV.

The colors basically match the preceding issue, with a couple of (minor) exceptions.

The new watermark is described as a Crown in Oval (or Circle), Sideways. The Crown watermark is too large for one stamp, so only partial crown images are found. To complicate matters, the surrounding "Oval" can also be found as a "Circle" for a higher CV.

All of these variations have their own catalogue number.

Watermark 135 Crown in Oval, Sideways
Partial Crowns and overlapping Ovals are seen
Note: Stamps turned sideways to view crown upright.
In practice, it is fairly easy to tell the "Kr in Oval" wmk from the "Crown in Oval, sideways" wmk. 

I don't have examples, but I imagine it would take experience to determine if the wmk is an oval or a circle. Since the circle variation is rarer for this issue, it may not be of large concern to the general WW classical collector.

To summarize for the "Crown of St. Stephen" issues....
• Check watermark: unwatermarked vs wmk 132 vs wmk 135 (oval or circle)
• Are the numerals colored like the stamp, or are they black (or red)?
( The higher denominations will also have burelage in the black/red numerals varieties.)
• Check perforation (Many possibilities)
• Color shade might be helpful in some cases.

1900-04 Scott 50 4f violet "Turul and Crown of St. Stephen"
In 1900, a new design was introduced featuring the "Turul", and the Crown of St. Stephen.

What is a "Turul"?

The "Turul" ( Hawk ,or large Falcon),  is a bird found in the origin myth of the Magyars (Hungarian people). It is a divine messenger, and perches on the Tree of Life, where other birds represent the spirit of unborn children.

It is a symbol of power and strength, and even today is on the coat of arms of the Hungarian Army.

Turul Bird, ninth century
Hungarian origin myth
The "Turul" image appeared on 47 major and 54 minor number stamps from 1900-1916.

The 2011 Scott Classic catalogue for Hungary 1900-16
The seven major and minor issues for the "Turul" design
Tools: Perforation gauge and watermarking tray and fluid 
In fact, the "Turul and Crown of St. Stephen", and the "Franz Josef wearing Hungarian Crown" designs are found, from 1990-16 on:
• Seven issues as parsed by the Scott catalogue.
• Five different watermarks
• Three different perforations

And they are mostly quite inexpensive! Fun!

The first 1900-04 set (shown above) has 20 stamps, with a CV of <$1-$1+ for 17 stamps.  The watermark is Crown in Circle, sideways (wmk 135). (Note this issue does not have the "Crown in Oval" type.) The major numbers are perforation 12 X 11 1/2, while there is also a minor number perforation 11 1/2 for a higher CV.

1908-13 Scott 70 5f emerald 
This issue is found with perforation 15
 and wmk 136 (Crown of St. Stephen)
In 1908, a new watermark was introduced (wmk 136 Crown of St. Stephen) on a seventeen stamp issue. The CV is <$1, mostly the minimum 20 cents, for 16 stamps.

What does the watermark look like?

wmk 136- Crown of St. Stephen
The watermark, unlike the previous "large" Crown watermark, is small, and can fit on one stamp. Or, as illustrated, two partial crowns are noted on one stamp. An identifying feature are the circles (jewels?) that hang down from the crown, and the drawing of the crown itself. It is important to note these features, as there is another watermark (wmk 136a -soon to introduced) that will need to be differentiated.

1908-13 Scott 81 1k brown red 
"Franz Josef wearing Hungarian Crown"
Perforation 15, wmk 136
The higher denominations issues have a depiction of Franz Josef as shown above. He is of course wearing the Crown of St. Stephen.  Of interest, the Hungarians transferred the Crown to U.S. Officials to prevent it from falling into the hands of the approaching Soviet Army at the end of WW II.
It was stored in Fort Knox. With improving relations, it was returned in 1978, even though Hungary was under communist rule.

Crown of St. Stephen today
As one can imagine, the Crown holds a special place for Hungarians. More than 50 Kings have been crowned with it since the 14th century. In fact, it is said that the Kingdom of Hungary never needed to find a crown for a King. But rather they look for a King to wear the crown. Since 2000, the Holy Crown is on display at the Hungarian Parliament Building.

1904-05 Scott 71a 6f olive green
Perf. 12 X 11 1/2; wmk 136a
In 1904-05, there was a sixteen stamp issue with the 136a watermark. CV for the issue is <$1-$1+ for twelve stamps.

This watermark can be found on stamps with two different perforations: This issue has perforation 12 X 11 1/2.

Although the set is listed with minor numbers, there is no reason why this issue should not have "major" status.

Wmk 136a "Crown of St. Stephen- viewed at an angle"
Note the "gold chains" that hang down from the crown do not show any circles (jewels)?  And the drawing of the crown is different than wmk 136: please compare. I found it quite easy to differentiate the two watermarks. I have no idea why Scott has these as a minor number issue.

1906 Scott 77b 30f orange brown
Perf. 15; wmk 136a
In 1906, the 136a watermarked paper was also brought out as a perforation 15 issue. The set had fifteen stamps with a CV of <$1 for fourteen stamps. Again, Scott has these as minor numbers for no apparent reason.

1913-16 Scott 96 50f lake/blue
Perf. 15; wmk 137-Vertical
In 1913, the watermarked was changed to a "Double Cross". The 1913-16 issue had 20 stamps with 17 stamps at minimum catalogue value. Here, the only perforation found is 15. Scott has this set as major numbers.

Left: Wmk 137 "Double Crosses" -Vertical
Right: Wmk 137 "Double Crosses"- Horizontal
The "Double Cross" watermark is illustrated. The base is not closed, but splays out (See top of left stamp), with another "Double Cross" watermark below it, and so on. The watermark can either be found vertical or horizontal. The vertical orientation has the major numbers, while the horizontal orientation have minor numbers.

1913-16 Scott 98a 60f green/salmon
Perf. 15; wmk 137- Horizontal
There are fourteen stamps during the 1913-16 era that have the "Double Cross" watermarks oriented horizontally. CV is <$1 for 10 stamps. Scott gives these minor numbers.

In summary for the "Turul and Crown of St. Stephen" issues.....
• Check Perforation -usually Perf. 12 X 11 1/2 or Perf. 15; uncommonly Perf. 11 1/2
• Then one can check watermark...135,136,136a,137,Vert., or 137 Horiz.

One should then know the stamp's Scott number out of 112  possibilities. ;-)

Semi-postal 1913 Scott B10 25f ultramarine
The first semi-postals for Hungary were issued in 1913, and consisted of seventeen stamps. They have a CV of <$1 for fourteen stamps. The 2f surtax was to aid flood victims.

Semi-postal 1914 Scott B23 10f carmine with green surcharge
In 1914, a set based on the regular 1913 issue was surcharged in red, green, or brown. The CV for the seventeen stamp set is <$1 for fourteen stamps.

Semi-postal 1915 Scott B37 3f orange
In 1915, another set of the regular 1913 issue was surcharged in red or green. The set had eighteen stamps with a CV of <$1 for fourteen stamps. This 1915 set, and the preceding 1914 set were sold at 2f over face value. The surplus was intended for aid to war widows and orphans.

Even today, these sets are remarkably inexpensive, and in my opinion, quite attractive.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has one page for the Franz Josef I stamps, four pages for the "Crown of St. Stephen" stamps, and seven pages for the "Turul" stamps. Coverage is remarkably good with the three major and four minor "Turul" issues all with spaces.

1913-16 "Turul" issue in Deep Blue
Watermarked Double Cross- Vertical, Perforation 15
One can appreciate the scope of the Deep Blue pages here when one considers that Big Blue provides 27 spaces for the "Turul" issues, while the Steiner has 112 spaces, including  65 spaces for Scott minor numbers. A Tour-de-Force. Bravo!

1908-13 Scott 82 2k gray blue
"Franz Josef wearing Hungarian Crown"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one page and two lines for the regular issues covered here, has 50 spaces. In addition, Big Blue has, for the semi-postals covered here, 42 spaces on slightly more than one page.

Coverage is 49% for regular issues (major numbers only), and 85% for the semi-postals.

If one adds the minor numbers in Scott for the regular issues (Steiner includes them in his album, and I argue that they are really "major" numbers), then coverage by Big Blue for the regular 1871-1916 issues drops to 21%.. Clearly, if one wishes to split out the issues based on perforation and watermark, then supplementary pages are in order here for the Big Blue collector.

I have only included major numbers in the checklist. But the minor numbers are definitely "eligible". They include perforation and/or watermark differences. Refer to "Into the Deep Blue" section of the post for details. The "minor" numbers should be included as choices- but the checklist simply would get too messy here.

As one would expect, BB excludes some stamps by color criteria. I comment on the specific examples at the end of the checklist.


1 or 7, 3 or 9, 4 or 10*, (11),

13 or 18, 14a* or 14 or 19, 15c or 15 or 20, 16 or 21, 17a* or 17 or 22,

22A or 35A,36*,24 or 37,25 or 38,26 or 39,27 or 40,31 or 41,
29*,30 or 43,31 or 44,32 or 45,33*,34,35,

1900* (Actually 1900-16)
47 or 67 or 84, 48 or 68 or 85, 49 or 69 or 86, 50, 51 or 70 or 87,52,55 or 72 or 89, 58 or 76,
59 or 77 or 94, 61 or 79,62 or 80 or 97, 63 or 81 or 101,65,
Two blank spaces: suggest colors not covered by BB: Choose 93 25f ultra, 90 12f violet/yellow, 85 or 92 20f dark brown, 102 2k dull blue.

Next Page

53, 54 or 77 or 88, 56 or 73, 74 or 91, 57, 60 or 78 or 95, 96, 98,
99,100,64 or 82,66 or 83 or 103,

End of 1871-1916 regular issues




B42,B43,B44,B45,B46,B47, B48 or B52,

Next Page


End of checklist for 1871-1916

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1871-72 Scott 10 10k deep blue ($10)
1871-72 (Scott 11) 15k brown ($10+)
1888-98 Scott 35 3fo lilac brown & gold ($10+)

B) 10*- actually "deep blue", rather than BB's "blue".  But this is a $10 stamp, rather than the other choice, a $90 stamp (Scott 4 "blue"), so I included it. If you would rather use strict criteria, put the $90 stamp in.

C) 14a*- BB's color is "blue green", which agrees with 14a, but I also then included the major number 14 (yellow green). The same circumstance applies to 15c/15.

D) 17a- Here BB asks for "slate", but this color no longer is found in the 2011 Scott, although it is the description in the '47 catalogue. So "gray" was substituted as the equivalent color today. And 17c is "gray". while the major number 17 is "greenish gray", so that is also included.

E) 1888-99*-For the 1888-99 issues, I am only including the major numbers here for this issue on the checklist. But the minor numbers Scott 35Ab-46a, 35Ac-46b, 35Ad-46c are "eligible" also. See Scott.

F) 36*-BB's color "violet" excludes Scott 23 "red violet"

G) 29*- BB's color "claret and blue" excludes Scott 42 "rose & blue"

H) 33*- BB's color "red and orange" excludes Scott 46 "dull red and orange"

I) *1900- BB has "1900" as the date, but turning the page, and continuing the series, it is listed as "1901-16". So I am including all the major number choices here through 1916. That means the minor number series Scott 47b-66a, 67a-83a, 67b-82b, 84a-102a are not listed, but still "eligible". See Scott.

Semi-Postal 1915 Scott B58 5f emerald 
Regular issue surcharged for the aid to war widows and orphans
Out of the Blue
I find that I really get into the stamps of the country I am working on at the moment.

That might explain why Hungry is currently my favorite.  ;-)

Note: Maps of Hungary, Photos of the "Turul" and the Crown appear to be in the public domain.

Comments?  Would love to hear from you!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


1892-93 Scott 5 25r deep green "King Carlos"
Quick History
Horta was a Portuguese administrative district in the Azores, including the islands of Pico, Faial, Flores and Corvo. The City and Capital was Horta, located on the island of Faial. The population of Faial was 22,000 in 1900.

Horta and Faial
Horta has existed a long time, with 2500 inhabitants noted in 1643. With the construction of a commercial port in 1876, and telegraph cables linking Lisbon, Horta became a more common transatlantic shipping stop.

Horta in 1842
Under Portuguese administration, Stamps were issued for Horta in 1892, and continued through 1905. Thereafter, stamps of Portugal were used.

1897-1905 Scott 13 2 1/2r gray "King Carlos"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic specialized catalogue has, from 1892-1905, 34 major stamp descriptions for Horta. Twenty-Four of the stamps are CV <$1-$3.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1892-93 Scott 7 75r carmine "King Carlos"
The issue of 1892-93 had 12 stamps on chalk surfaced paper.  The image was of King Carlos, and is similar to other Portuguese colonies stamps. CV for 10 stamps is $1+-$10.

1892-93 Scott 6 50r blue "King Carlos"
Shown above is another stamp in the series, badly faded. Colors, blue particularly, I have found also in this condition on other Portuguese colony stamps. From soaking, or natural decomposition?

1897-1905 Scott 14 5r orange "King Carlos"
"Flamengos" settlement postmark almost SON
The second issue was of the familiar design ( to Portuguese colony collectors) shown above. The issue had 22 stamps, and has a CV of <$1-$1+ for sixteen stamps.

Of interest, the stamp has a fine postmark of "Flamengos", which one can locate on the illustrated map near Horta.

1897-05 Scott 221 50r blue
This series illustrated the Portuguese Empire's frugality, with the name of the colony and denomination applied to the basic design. I must say I don't find the stamps themselves very interesting, but the stamps are sometimes saved by an exotic Portuguese colony postmark. In other words, I generally prefer used to mint  for Portuguese colony stamps.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has two pages for Horta, one page for each series, and follows the Scott catalogue exactly.

1897-05 Scott 15 10r light green
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one line of one page (The page also includes Hejaz and Hatay), has seven stamp spaces. There are two spaces are for the 1892-93 issue, and five spaces are for the 1897 issue. I note that the '41/'47 editions have the same coverage.

Horta in Big Blue
Big Blue's coverage is 21%. Since 24 stamps (71% of  Horta) in the Scott catalogue are CV <$1-$3, BB could definitely have been more generous with their coverage. 



A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): none
B) (   ) around a number is a selected blank space choice.

1897-1905 Scott 24 75r rose "King Carlos"
Out of the Blue
I enjoy delving into the Portuguese colonies or administrative districts; not so much for the stamps themselves, but for the out of the way places they represent.

Note: Maps, images and pics appear to be in the public domain.

Comments? Would like to hear from you!

Horta on Faial