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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Coronation Issue of 1937 and King George VI Definitives from 1938-1953

On May December 11, 1936 King Edward VIII abdicated the throne and was succeeded by his brother, King George VI. The coronation was held on May 12, 1937. To mark the occasion all member countries and territories in the commonwealth issued stamps, most of which were in a common design type. The common design featured the King and Queen beside the Orb and Royal Sceptres. The issue was the work of two printers: De La Rue and Bradbury Wilkinson. Each common design issue consisted of three denominations, which were generally used to pay local surface mail, surface empire rate and the foreign surface rates. Each territory or country used its own colour combination, and these combinations repeat several times in the set. Nigeria's stamps were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson.

1d Carmine

1.5d deep brown

3d Bright ultramarine

The King George VI Definitive issue appeared on May 1, 1938. My wife learned that she was married to an imperialist anglo when I told her that this was my favourite issue from any country, or all time. She shook her head. But seriously, the designs strike the right balance between simplicity and ornateness, and the colours are so brilliant and fresh that it is a hard set to beat aesthetically speaking. the low values up to 1/3d were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson, while the 2/6d and 5/- high values are De La Rue Productions. There were upwards of a dozen identifiable printings of each value to delight the specialist. There was a major perforation change in 1950 on the low values, from 11.9 line to 11.5 comb. On the high values there are no fewer than four different perforations. I illustrate a selection of the major varieties of each value in the set. As you examine them you will notice several subtle and not so subtle shade differences on most values.

0.5d Deep Green perf. 11.9 line from 1938

0.5d Dull green perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950

1d Carmine perf. 11.9 line from 1943

1d Rose-red perf. 11.9 line from 1938

1d Deep Mauve perf. 11.9 line from 1945

1d Bright magenta perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950

1.5d Red brown perf. 11.9 line from 1938

1.5d Red brown perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950

2d Grey Black perf. 11.9 line from 1938

2d Bright scarlet comb perf. 11.5 from 1952 or 1953

2d Dull scarlet, line perf. 11.9 from 1945 or 1946

2.5d Yellow Orange from 1941

3d Dark Blue perf. 11.9 line from 1938

3d Black perf. 11.9 line from 1944

4d Orange from 1938 - this is the key stamp in the set, as far as the basic designs go. 

4d Blue from 1944

6d Purple Brown perf. 11.9 line from 1942 or 1944


 6d Dull Purple Brown - perf. 11.5 comb. from February 1950

1/- Sage green perf. 11.9 line, from 1938

1/- Light olive green perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950

1/3d Turquoise Blue perf. 11.9 line from 1940.

1/3d Pale blue, perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950. 

2/6d Deep Blue and black, perf. 13.5 from 1946

2/6d Deep ultramarine and black, perf. 13.5 from 1942 or 1944,

2/6d Deep ultramarine and black, perf. 13 x 11.5 from 1938

2/6d Dull ultramarine and black, perf. 14 line from 1948

2/6d Bright ultramarine and black, perf. 12 comb from 1951 or 1952

5/- Bright red orange and black, perf. 12  from 1951 or 1952

5/- Deep red-orange and black, perf. 13.5 from  1942 or 1943. 

5/- Bright orange and black, perf. 14 line from 1947 or 1948

5/- Deep red-orange and black, perf. 13 x 11.5 comb, from 1938. 

The above is just scratching the surface, in terms of details. These stamps are found with different papers and different gum types as well as perforations and shades. Hopefully you can appreciate the subtle nuances that make each stamp different from the ones next to it. 

Next up will be the 1953-1960 Queen Elizabeth II pictorial definitive issue. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Commemorative and Postage Due Issues from 1946-1959

I have been struggling to keep my promise to myself to post once a week at least. Life has been so hectic lately, but I must stay connected to my hobby, I find. Otherwise I start to wonder if I even want to continue collecting at all!

I thought this time, we'd take a step back to the commemorative and postage due issues that appeared just after the Second World War and that bridge the gap between two very attractive definitive sets. I have yet to show you either of these two sets, but I expect that I will do so over the next few showings of material.

With the notable exception of the postage due stamps, all of the commemoratives that I show you are part of Omnibus commemorative issues that were produced by the entire Commonwealth, with each member country utilizing the same common design, and changing only the colour, the denomination and the unit of currency.

The first one of these is the Victory, or Peace issue, which was issued on October 21, 1946. It consisted of 2 stamps for each member country, with the low value being sufficient to pay the local surface mail rate, and the higher value being sufficient to pay the foreign surface letter rate. It was recess printed by De La Rue. The design features a view of the Houses of Parliament in London on the Thames, with a vignette of King George VI to the right.

1.5d brown - there are two distinct shades of brown in which this stamp is found. 

4d dark blue

Both stamps are readily found in mint condition, and in general, the centering is atrocious on this issue. The 1.5d is also not difficult to find in used condition. However, the 4d is a bit more challenging, and accordingly is worth considerably more than mint. 

In 1948, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and a set of stamps was issued to mark the occasion. In contrast to the other issues of the period, that had denominations only up to 1/-, this issue consisted of one low value good for paying the local circular rate, and one very high value which generally would only be used on registered letters of value and parcels. For most commonwealth countries the high value consisted of one pound or 10/-. However, Nigeria's high value was 5/- only. The set was very unpopular at the time because of the high face values and for a time there was pressure from collectors on the Crown Agents to surcharge the high values to lower denominations. Thankfully this never happened. The low values were printed by Harrison and Sons using photogravure, while the high values were engraved and typographed by Bradbury Wilkinson of New Malden in Surrey, England. The stamps appeared on sale on December 20, 1948.

1d Magenta 

5/- Brown orange

In mint condition the set is relatively common, and the 1d very common used, but nice used 5/- stamps are difficult to locate. 

Next, in 1949 the Universal Postal Union marked its 75th anniversary, and a very nice set was issued to mark the anniversary. Nigeria's set was the work of De La Rue, who printed the 1d and 1/- values, and Bradbury Wilkinson who printed the 3d and 6d values. All countries issued 4 stamps and the denominations were intended to pay the local circular rate, the foreign surface rate, and the 1/- was a make up stamp used in combination with other values to pay airmail rates. The stamps were issued on October 10, 1949.

1d - Magenta - Mercury, the globe and silhouettes of a plane, ship and train.

3d Indigo - Plane above two globes flanked by a steamship

6d Purple - Mercury seated on the globe handling mail

1/- Olive - Universal Postal Union Emblem

Like all of the previous commemorative issues, the set is readily found mint, and the low value is common used, but the 3 higher values used in period are much more difficult to find. 

Upon the death of King George VI on February 6, 1952, a 26 year old Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II. It would be over a year before her coronation on June 2, 1953. A very beautiful set of single stamps was issued by the Commonwealth, in the denominations sufficient to pay the local surface mail rate. Bradbury Wilkinson was the printer of these very attractive stamps. This set appeared on Coronation day on June 2, 1953. 

1.5d Emerald Green and black.

This issue is common mint and used, although nice town cancels are more of a challenge, and would make a nice collecting topic, for not a lot of money. 

As far as postage due stamps go, Nigeria got into issuing them really late in the game by world standards. The first set, shown below was issued on January 4, 1959 and was lithographed by Bradbury Wilkinson. 

There were four values. The 1d, 2d, 3d and 6d were printed in orange and the 1/- was printed in black. The general rule with these issues was that whatever the shortage was in the affixed postage, the postal clerk would double it and affix that amount of postage due stamps. The deficiency then had to be paid by the recipient when they picked up the letter. They were not that popular, as evidenced by the fact that used examples are as scarce as hens teeth. The catalogue values suggest this scarcity, but in reality they are much harder to find than you might think. I would happily buy used examples all day long at full Gibbons prices!

Next up - the King George VI Definitive Issue from 1938-1953. Stay tuned. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Lay of the Land - Commemorative Issues from 1962 and 1963

Continuing on with our tour around the stamps of Nigeria, today I bring you a small selection of some of the commemorative issues that were released in the later part of 1962 and early 1963, all within 2-3 years of independence. All of these issues were printed by Harrison and Sons in  London. Harrison had perfected the art of modern photogravure printing, and it was they who produced almost all of Nigeria's stamps between 1961 and 1968, when the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company assumed responsibility for producing most of Nigeria's stamps.

The first set that I present was issued on November 5, 1962 to commemorate the 8th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.

2.5d showing the symbolic arrival of the delegates to Lagos, Nigeria. Designed by S. Akosile. 

4d Mace and the National Hall  - This theatre hall was the country's national theatre until it was replaced by the now famous National Theatre, in the shape of a military cap, that was built during the Festival of African Arts and Culture celebrations in 1977. The scan below shows a contemporary 1960's image of the national hall. 

and below, and image of the hall that replaced it:

1/3d Mace and Palm Tree showing doves that symbolize Nigeria's freedom and independence. Both this and the 4d value above were designed by the well known British stamp designer at the time, M. Goaman. 

This issue showed Nigeria's status as a major world nation that was hosting conferences with delegates coming from around the world to attend. The next set was issued on March 21, 1963 and was part of an international omnibus issue to draw attention to the growing problem of world hunger. It was called the "Freedom From Hunger Issue". and most of the commonwealth countries had made a contribution of one form or another to it. The scans below show the designs from Nigeria.

3d Cattle heardsman, most likely of the Fulani tribe. 

6d Tractor and maize ear. Both these stamps were designed by M. Goaman.

Next, is the Malaria Eradication Issue, which was released on April 7, 1962. This issue was a major international omnibus issue, with most countries in the world issuing stamps for this, or at least every country in Africa. All of the stamps in this set were the design work of M. Shamir of Israel. 

3d Malaria eradication emblem and the life cycle of the mosquito. 

6d DDT spraying

1/3d Aerial DDT spraying

2/6d Mother, child and microscope

Lastly, there is the set below, that was issued on October 27, 1962 to commemorate the Lagos International trade fair. M Goaman designed all of the stamps except for the 1/-, which was designed by R. Hegeman, and the 6d, which M. Goaman designed with J.O. Gbagbeolu.

1d Hand carrying a torch which was the emblem of the fair, and is actually the delta formed by the two major rivers in Nigeria: the Niger, and Benue

6d cogwheels of industry

1/- cornucopia of industry

2/6d Oilwells and tanker

These stamps all show the country in a very non-colonial light, as an emerging nation, with all the hope for the future prosperity and presence on the world stage. This is a sentiment that many Nigerians under 30 today will not have grown up with, sadly. But, with the improvement of the political situation, the current generation hopefully will.