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Showing posts from 2013

Off to London to the West Africa Study Circle Meeting

Again, another month has just flown by with no posts. The reason for this is that I have been working frantically to get my 12 frame exhibit of postal history ready for the West Africa Study Circle Meeting in London tomorrow. I committed to give this presentation just over a year ago. Back then the plan was to go to the UK for a week. But my life turned upside down this year, and I used all my vacation time. So I'm going to London for 1 day!! I know, it sounds crazy, but I just had to make good on my commitment.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to share with you the experiencing of preparing a philatelic exhibit. I have been a philatelist for 36 years now. In that time I have only exhibited once - when I was 12. Back then I knew nothing about exhibiting, and I just threw together all my cheap Canadian stamps on to home-made album pages and sent it in. My exhibit was so bad, it got only a 'merit' for participation. In the intervening years, I have seen many exh…

Eleven More Interesting Classic Covers

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I am long overdue for another post. Gosh how time flies! It is hard for me to believe that nearly two months has flown by since I wrote my last post. I have, as I write now selected all the covers that I wish to include in my exhibit at the upcoming West Africa Study Circle meeting in London. I have selected 207 covers from Lagos, all the way through a strong showing of the 1973-1986 definitive issue. This selection  includes nearly all of the covers that I have presented in previous posts, plus all the best covers from my collection. In selecting them I have focused on exotic destinations, and multi-stamp frankings, as well as famous recipients and postage due covers. 
The covers that are the subject of this post, are a small batch that I have acquired over the past few months from various sources and with one exception, all are from Southern Nigeria. However, the first cover is from Nigeria, featuring the common 1d stamp from the 1921-1936 Script Watermark Issue:



The cover is an un…

Plate Block Collecting

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I am going to veer off the topic of the last couple of posts and show you another aspect of Nigerian philately that is particularly satisfying over the longer term: the collecting of plate blocks. Plate blocks for the colonies of the British Empire is not a prominent field largely due to the fact that the blocks are very scarce and because the standard catalogues do not list them - so collectors do not know what exists. Because of this, it is possible to obtain some very scarce material for a fraction of what they should be worth based on their scarcity.

As an example, I illustrate a 1/- orange Queen Victoria, crown CA plate block that I acquired several months ago on e-bay:


This stamp was issued in 1885 and represents the highest of what at the time were low-value definitives. So in North American terms, this would be the equivalent of a 10 cent stamp from that period. I have not seen any data on what the issue quantity was, but I do know from a German publication that the print quan…

Six More Interesting Covers...

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In this post, I will show you six interesting covers that I have recently acquired. I have not yet decided whether or not to enter all of them into my November exhibit, but I thought that I would show you all of them and see if any of you can offer any comments on them:



This first cover is my favourite. It features a complete souvenir sheet from the 1986 Insects issue, but with an added twist: the sheet is mis-perforated, with the horizontal perforations missing and the vertical perforations shifted in such a way as to bisect each stamp in the sheet. Most of the Nigerian stamps from the mid 1980's to the early 1990's exist mis-perforated and completely imperforate, from what were probably stocks of printers waste that somehow got out to the public. The backstamps indicate that the cover reached Vienna on July 8, 1992, which is just under six years after the issue came out. By western standards this is a very late usage that would almost certainly place the cover in the philate…

Technical Terms in My Posts

One reader has commented that I use a fair number of technical terms in my posts, which is true. What I had not considered, and perhaps I should have, is that many of you may be new to philately and have not had exposure to many of the technical terms.

As the next several posts are going to explore covers and postal history, I thought that it would be prudent to define some of the terms that will appear again and again in my posts:

Proud Type Such and Such:

Edward Proud is a prominent UK philatelist who has undertaken and completed a study of all known postmarks and cancellations for the entire British Empire up to Independence. This phenomenal undertaking has resulted in the publishing of a book for nearly every country in the Empire that lists, alphbetically all of the postmarks for every known post office. The listings are all fully illustrated and each mostmark is denoted by a alphanumeric type. So when I describe a postmark, I will generally refer to the type as listed in Proud…

The First Six Postal History Items For My Exhibit..

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In an earlier post, I mentioned that I wanted to depart a bit from my practice of writing about definitive sets, and take you through the process by which I am actually approaching my study of Nigerian stamps and postal history. I had decided that since I would be presenting an Exhibit at the November 2013 meeting of the West Africa Study Circle in London, that I would devote the next several posts to showing you the covers and postcards that I have selected for my exhibit. Each item has been selected either because I feel that the frankings are especially spectacular, the covers have been to unusual destinations, or there is some other feature of the cover that makes it especially interesting. When one collects postal history from this country for a while one becomes aware of how common covers to the USA or the UK are after about 1930. Prior to that, all covers are scarce. So without further ado, I present the first 6 items that I have selected, all from Lagos, during the reigns of Q…

Here They Are: The Two Rarest Stamps of Lagos...

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As promised, I am posting the pictures of the used 5/- blue and 10/- brown stamps of Lagos that arrived last week:




I have read in several sources that there were no more than 480 or so of each of these two stamps printed. Given that these were printed in panes of 60, that means there were no more than eight sheets issued. They were issued in October 1886 and were in use for less than 6 months, before being replaced by the bi-coloured stamps in March 1887. How many of these have survived since then is anyone's guess. However, I will note that the vast majority of the stamps that I have seen offered for sale are mint. Used copies seem to be very rare, and when they are found, they generally are heavily cancelled - much more so than the 10 shilling value shown above. While it may not score top marks for eye appeal, it is a very sound and presentable example of this very rare stamp. 
So there you have them: the 5/- blue and 10/- brown Vickies of Lagos. 

Comments Settings Changed

I had kept wondering why no comments were appearing on my posts. My very astute girlfriend and I were discussing this the other day and she told me that my settings restrict people from posting comments, because she had tried on several occasions. I was surprised, because this was not my intention. So I have now changed my settings and you are all free to comment.

Total Shock - I did not Succeed in Purchasing the Mint 5/- and 10/- Lagos Stamps

The old adage, "don't count your chickens before they hatch" is such a tried, tested and true piece of wisdom, that I am amazed that I don't follow it more often. A few days ago, I proudly proclaimed that I had acquired both the mint and used examples of the 5/- and 10/- Lagos first issues. While it is true that I have actually bought the used stamps, I jumped the gun on the mint ones.

You see, a seller on e-bay had them listed for opening bids of $450 and $900 respectively. This is about 60% of their Scott value. Knowing their true rarity, I placed a bid of $1,000 on the 5/- and $2,000 on the 10/-. I was so sure that I would succeed in purchasing these at significantly less than these amounts, that I went ahead and announced that I had acquired them.

Up until an hour before closing I was indeed the high bidder. I went to the gym for my weekly workout, came back and to my shock, the 5/- sold for $1,025 and the 10/- for $2,025. Both stamps were purchased by a buyer,…

Comments Please...

Before I publish my next post I would like to call upon all of you to comment on my posts. This is a vast and complicated area of philately. While there is a considerable body of knowledge that exists, much if it resides either between the ears of many established philatelists, or has been published in newsletters or journals that are either out of print, or not widely available. If you go to any seller of philatelic handbooks, you will find very few reference sources for Nigeria. Those publications that do exist tend to focus on pre-1914 issues. Except for articles written by King George VI specialists, articles dealing with the King George V Keyplates and articles written by my esteemed colleagues Rob May and Jeremy Martin dealing with modern definitives, there are very few sources dealing with the issues of post 1914 Nigeria.

Therefore in the interests of increasing the existing body of knowledge, I think it is important to share our knowledge with one another. Commenting is one of…

The Hiatus in Posts

I keep starting all my posts of late with the same apology, where I mention how few posts I have been writing along with a renewed commitment to post more often, one or two posts, and then nothing. This has weighed heavily on my mind since my last post. The truth is, I have been struggling with the issue of how to go about presenting the fascinating topic of Nigerian philately to all of you interested collectors. I have been trying to avoid going into the level of detail that excites me, largely because I am afraid that to do so, without first properly introducing my subject, would bore too many of you. So with that in mind I have tried to stick to introducing you to the many stamp issues that this fascinating country has to offer. There are still so many more though, and it will take me many posts to show them all to you.  I must point out that I am studying the stamps of this country one issue at a time, going into as much detail as I can before I get tired of it and move on to som…

My First Post of May - Exciting Acquisitions of Late: One Shilling Vickies and A Stunning Biafra Cover!

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First of all, I would like to express my sincere apologies for taking so long to post. I had said I would be posting prolifically this month and we are already at the 10th. I am about to leave on vacation for a week, so I thought I had better post something before I go.

March and April were very exciting months for acqusitions, as I was able to secure several very rare items for my collection. One of the things I have been able to let go of over the years as a philatelist is my insistence on perfection. This has stood me in good stead, as Nigeria is a country that is very challenging from a condition point of view. Many of the rarest stamps are simply not available in the condition that many North American collectors are used to insisting on.

The first of these key purchases were all three of the crown CC one shilling orange Lagos Queen Victoria Issues shown below:



These stamps were issued between February 1875 and 1879 and were printed by De La Rue. The two stamps on the left are bot…

Tax Season is Almost Over

It has been over a month since my last post. As some of you are aware, I am an accountant. April in Canada is the month for the filing of personal income tax returns. So I have been working very long days and have not had time to put up more posts.

However, it has been an exciting month for acqusitions. Among other things that I have acquired are the 1935 Silver Jubilee Issue in complete sheets of 60 and the first shipment of a stock of covers from a penpal agency in Finland. This stock consists of approximately 27,000 (!) covers covering the period from 1973 to 1996. I purchased the first 2,700 this month, and those arrived this week.

The next few posts will veer off showing you the basic issues of Nigeria and will feature a few of my exciting finds from the cover stock and the sheets, if I can get them to scan properly.

Watch this space for posts in May.

The Issues of Niger Coast Protectorate - Part One - 1892-1894

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Switching gears completely from the modern flavour of the last several posts, I felt it was time to take a large step back in time to the 1890's, before Federation, to show you the first issues of the Oil Rivers Protectorate, which changed its name to the Niger Coast Protectorate on May 12, 1893. The Protectorate came into being on June 5, 1885, when the Brisish proclaimed its existence. It extended over the entire southern coast of what is now Nigeria, and excluded only the then colony of Lagos, and the centre of the Niger Delta. The main port areas included Benin, Bonny, Brass River, Forcados River, Old Calabar River and Opobo River.

There are only a handful of territories whose stamps differed in design from the standard Perkins Bacon Britannias and Chalons, or the De La Rue Queen Victoria Keyplates. One of these was the Oil Rivers Protectorate, which started off with Great Britain Jubilee issues that were overprinted, and then went on to feature beautiful Widow's Weeds des…