Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The 1973-1986 Definitives - The Devil is in the Details!

In my first post dealing with this issue, I talked about how some of the printings could be distinguished by some differences in the designs, and went on to show those differences on the 1k and 18k values. However, differences exist on more than half of  the values in the set.

The reasons for the existence of the photogravure and lithographed stamps is somewhat conjectural, as the official first day cover issued in 1973 contains many of the lithographed printings. One possibility is that the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company was unable to obtain satisfactory results with the photogravure process, and only attempted to produce stamps using this method from January 1973 until the lithographed stamps appeared in April 1973. It is curious though that used examples of the photogravure printings can be found used as late as 1980, although this may simply reflect the fact that small Nigerian post offices simply kept their stocks on hand until sold.

The following images show the differences for all values in the set:



1. On the top stamp, the hide at the extreme left is solid dark brown, whereas on the bottom stamp, the hide is ochre with brown shading.
2. The tree trunk onto which the leftmost hide has been tied is a solid line. On the bottom stamp, it is broken in sections. 
3. The appearance of the shading at the right hand portion of the design is completely different on both stamps. 
4. The strings attaching the hides to the frames in the middle of the design are much clearer on the bottom stamp. 
5. On the bottom stamp, there is a tree trunk visible in the back foliage. On the top stamp, this tree trunk is missing. 
6. The imprint at the base of the design is narrower on the top stamp, and is printed in the same dark brown colour as the rest of the design. On the bottom stamp, the imprint is wider and printed in the lighter background colour. 



1. The border at the top of the design on the top stamp is much narrower than on the bottom stamp. 
2. The black shading on the gas storage tanks ends in jagged lines on the top stamp, whereas on the bottom stamp, the lines are smooth. 
3. The imprint at the base of the bottom stamp is much wider than on the top stamp. 



1. The right front leg of the calf that the herdsman is holding, is shaded in solid black on the top stamp, whereas the shading on the bottom stamp is an even brown. 
2. The imprint at the base of the bottom stamp is much wider than the imprint on the top stamp. 



1. On the top stamp, there are black splotches in the background behind the cheetahs, whereas on the bottom stamp there are fine black diagonal shading lines.
2. The detailing of the shading on the log is much clearer on the bottom stamp than on the top. Now this characteristic shows a lot of variation on the lithographed stamps. On early printings, the detail is sharp and visible, but as the printing stones wore, the detail got coarser and coarser, so that the log shading is not a good guide to distinguishing lithographed from photogravure issues.
3. The imprint at the base of the bottom stamp is wider than the one on the top stamp.





1. The lines of the windows are clearer on the bottom stamp.
2. The leaves are more clearly visible on the bottom stamp. 
3. The imprint at the base of the top stamp is printed in the blue background colour, whereas it is black on the bottom stamp, and wider. 



1. There is an extra row of oil drums on the bottom stamp.
2. The imprint on the bottom stamp is narrower and smaller lettering than the top stamp. 



1. The horizontal lines of the blinds are solid on the top stamp, but broken in places on the bottom stamp. 
2. The technologist's hand on the top stamp is brown, and the fingers of both hands are visible. On the bottom stamps, the hands are a solid black mass. 
3. The collar of the shirt and the lapels are clearer on the top stamp. 
4. The liquid in the flasks on the top stamp is a grey violet, whereas it is black on the bottom stamp. 
5. The wire basket appears more complete in the top stamp. 
6. The imprint at the base of the top stamp is wider than at the bottom. 



1. The leaves in the foliage on the bottom stamp are clear, whereas on the top stamp, they appear as solid black detail.
2. The coloured border at the bottom of the lower stamp is wider than the top stamp. 
3. The scales of the fish are more clearly visible on the bottom stamp.
4. The imprint at the base of the bottom stamp is wider than on the top stamp. 




1. The background colour on the bottom stamp is black, although another photogravure printing is found in dark brown.
2. The turban, the face, the hand and arm, the shirt and the pot all show more detail on the bottom stamp.
3. The imprint on the top stamp is wider than on the bottom stamp, and is printed in the yellow-green colour of the background, whereas on the lithograph it is either black or dark brown.



1. The traffic on the bottom stamp is driving on the left, and the freeway sign is narrow. On the top stamp, the traffic is driving on the right, and the freeway sign to Apapa is wider.
2. The left lane of the top stamp shows horizontal black lines across the pavement, which are missing on the bottom stamp.
3. The imprint on the top stamp is wider than the bottom stamp.

Here you have the main differences between the printings of these fascinating stamps.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The 1973-1986 Definitives - Shades of Colour

As promised, I am going to dive right into this fascinating set. One of the most amazing aspects to collecting this issue is the vast array of different colour combinations that are found on each printing of each value. For a modern set such as this, this is highly unusual because modern stamps, especially those that have been printed using modern techniques like lithography and photogravure, are know for their uniformity of colour.

The stamps in this set were printed using a combination of 4 colours ore more, with each colour being used for a different part of the design. The colours were each printed separately by passing the sheets through the presses multiple times. Most of the time the colours are pure colours, but occasionally the colour you see results from the mixing of two or more colours. I have found variations in each component colour, and often the variations will be found in many permutations and combinations. Some differences are so dramatic, it is hard to believe that Scott or Gibbons does not list them separately.

Below are some images of the variation found on each value:







The top four stamps are all later printings produced by lithography, while the bottom two are the original photogravure printings. The bottom two stamps are night and day - the dark colour in the first one is brown, while in the bottom stamp it is black. This is not a simple shade variety, but rather an entirely different colour. The other major difference is in the foliage, which on the last stamp is very dark green and on the second last stamp, an emerald green. The background colour on these two stamps is a pale flesh colour. 

On the lithographed stamps the background colour becomes darker and more tan. The dark colour on all of them is a dark brown and the main difference is the folliage, which is a dark green that varies considerably in its intensity and tone. 

Now lets look at the 2k value, as it also exhibits some fairly dramatic variations in colour.








Again, the top 4 stamps are lithographed, while the last one is the original 1973 printing. The most marked differences are in the violet and magenta, but if you look closely you can also see variations in the black and the blue. 

Now for the two values that show, hands down the most variation: the 5k Cattle Ranching and the 10k Yankari Game Reserve. 








 Here the top 5 stamps are lithographed, and show the most variety in the background colour and the colour of the field. But again, the herdsman and the cattle show subtle variation as well. The last two stamps are the original 1973 photogravure printing and these two are as different as night and day, once again.




 













The first three and last 10 stamps are all printed by lithography. The fourth stamp is the original 1973 printing. The colour of the cheetahs and the log differ slightly on all stamps, but the biggest difference is the background colour. Some of the inks on this stamp glow bright fluorescent under long wave ultraviolet light. 



Some slight variation between the lithographed and photogravure printings of the 12k. 







The first three stamps are the lithographed printings, as is the last, while the fourth is the original photogravure printing. The most marked difference is the colour of the liquid in the flasks, which changes from black, to grey-violet to blue. The colour of the windows and table also shows a lot of variety. 




Again, some subtle difference in the green and yellow colours on the 2N. The top stamp is lithographed for sure. The catalogues suggest that all of the 2N's were lithographed, but I think the bottom stamp is photogravure.

I have not illustrated the 7k, 8k, 15k, 18k, 25k, 30k, 35k, 50k or 1N values, but these exhibit many shades as well, although they tend to be more subtle than say the 5k or 10k values.