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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Commemorative Issues of 1956-1961

At the end of my last post, I stated that I would show you some more of the commemorative issues of the 1960's. There are so many issues from this period that I had a hard time deciding which ones to show you. In the end though, I thought it best to go back to the early issues that came out just before Independence, the Independence issue itself, and the first issues after Independence.

These issues give a real sense of how much anticipation and hope there was around the time of Independence. It was the culmination of a long and patient struggle that many prominent Nigerians were engaged in. The stamp designs show the collective pride that most Nigerians felt, once they had accomplished their goal.

The issues were printed by two firms: Waterlow and Sons, who produced the engraved pre-Independence issues and the Independence issue itself, and Harrison and Sons, who printed all of the issues after Independence.

The first of these is the Royal Visit Issue, which appeared on January 28, 1956 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's Visit to Africa:

The issue consisted of the regular 2d definitive, overprinted in black, in two lines "Royal Visit 1956". Presumably, there was not sufficient time to produce an entirely original design for this stamp, although what is interesting is that an entirely new printing was used for the issue, made from plate 5, which is not found unoverprinted. A rare inverted overprint exists, and is eagerly sought after by specialists. I have yet to see one. 

On December 1, 1958, Waterlow printed a centennial commemorative stamp for Victoria, which was settled in 1858:

Victoria is now part of Cameroun and is now known by the name Limbe. It is one of two seaports that formed part of the Southern Cameroons, the other one being Tikko. The southern Cameroons became part of Cameroun after a national Plebiscite that was held in 1961. 

The next issue, also printed by Waterlow, appeared on March 14, 1959 and marked the attainment of Self Government for the Northern Administrative Region, which has held firm to this day. Indeed many of the current political problems in Nigeria today stem from very fundamental religious and philosophical differences  between the Hausa and Fulani peoples of the North, and the Yoruba and Igbo peoples of the South. The stamps issued were a 3d value depicting Lugard Hall, and a Kano Mosque as follows:

Nigeria obtained its independence on October 1, 1960. In my opinion, the set of stamps that was released to mark this very monumental occasion was very lackluster. Indeed, when one looks at the many rejected designs that were produced for this issue, it is very difficult to understand why the designs that were issued were chosen. Be that as it may, it is the issue that was released, and a certain amount of respect must be accorded to it, I think. The issue was produced by Waterlow and was one of the few issues that they printed using the photogravure process. The stamps in the set included a 1d value to pay the local drop rate, a 6d for  local registered mail, a 3d for surface mail to the UK and a 1/3d value for foreign airmail. 

1d Federal Legislature - designed by L.J. Whittington

3d Nigerian Paddling Canoe - designed by R. Crawford

6d Federal Supreme Court - designed by R.D Baxter

1/3d Dove, Torch and Map of Africa, showing Nigeria - Designed by J. White

As you can see from the designers names, all the stamps of this issue were designed by Brits, which is surprising, given that one would have expected submissions by many Nigerians. But then again, this may have been the reason for their selection: one last attempt to have the stamps designed by British designers. 

Nigeria was very late in joining the Universal Postal Union. Many collectors would be surprised to learn that Nigeria did not join until 1961, given that many of the colours of the definitives prior to this conformed to the UPU standard colours. This was the first commemorative issue that was printed by Harrison and Sons, and appeared on July 25, 1961. The entire set was designed by the prominent British stamp designer, M. Goaman. The set consisted of a 1d value for local drop letters, a 3d value for foreign surface mail and registration, a 1/3d for foreign single weight airmail and a 2/6d value for the double airmail rate:

1d Globe and Diesel Electric Locomotive

3d Globe and Mail Van

1/3d Globe and Bristol 175 Britannia Aircraft

2/6d Globe and Ocean Liner

On October 1, 1961, Nigeria celebrated its first anniversary of independence. On this day a set of stamps appeared to commemorate the anniversary. In fact, for the next seven years, Nigeria released a set of stamps to commemorate the anniversary, although from 1963 onwards, the anniversary was the attainment of Republic status, rather than just independence. Fittingly, this set was designed by a number of Nigerian, British and Israeli stamp desingers and was printed by Harrison & Sons. The designs included a 3d for foreign surface mail, a 6d for local registered mail, and a 1/3d and 2/6 for the foreign single and double weight airmail rates. 

3d Coat of Arms - Designed by S. Bodo

4d Natural Resources, Torch and Map - Designed by R. Hopeman

6d Nigerian Eagle - Designed by C. Adesina

1/3d Eagles Flying as Nigerian Flag Formation - Designed by M. Shamir

2/6d Nigerian couple, Local Legislature and Nigerian Flag -Designed by B. Enweonwu 

There you have it, the first commemorative issues both before, and immediately after Nigerian Independence.  My next post is going to go back in time and look at the earlier Colonial definitive issues prior to 1935. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Herbert Macaulay Cover - 1920

As I had promised in my last post, I am going to show you a most extraordinary find that I came upon, entirely by chance in the spring of 2012: The Herbert Macaulay cover, as I call it. The cover is shown in all its glory below:

European size Montgomery Ward order envelope sent from Lagos on February 7, 1920

Almost every philatelist who has been around long enough, has either experienced, or heard about the thrill of making a significant philatelic find. These finds can either be very rare examples of otherwise common stamps, or they can be world famous rarities. Usually, there will only be one or two such stories in an entire lifetime of collecting. In this case, this was the third time in my life that I had made such a find.

I had briefly outlined in my last post who Herbert Macaulay was, but to recapitulate, he was basically the Nigerian equivalent of Gandhi, or Sir John A Macdonald, for those that want an example closer to home. On June 24, 1923 he formed the Nigerian National Democratic Party. During these years he was resident in Lagos, living in a residence called Kirsten Hall.

 For those not familiar with Nigerian postal history, I would draw attention to the fact that nearly all of the covers that one comes across from Nigeria are from World War II and onward. I don't quite know why this is, but covers from the 1930's and before are generally all scarce. This seems to hold true even for the most common destinations and rates, such as single rate surface mail to the U.S, or the U.K. The upshot of this is that any registered commercial cover from 1920 is a pretty good item on its own. Couple that with the fact that Nigeria has only recently become a society that seeks to preserve items of historical significance, and the odds of finding any cover of a historically significant figure are very low.

How did I find this cover? On the auction site Delcampe, that's where. It was listed by a seller in France as a basic registered cover to the US. The image on the listing was too small to make out the sender, but because of what I said earlier about how scarce covers in general are from this period, I bid eagerly on it. When it arrived, a few weeks later, the first thing I noticed was this:

My heart literally jumped out of my chest. I thought: No, it can't possibly be! Then I saw the embossed "Kirsten Hall" underneath the handwritten name. I went on Google and looked up Kirsten Hall. Low and behold the first hits that came up mentioned that Kirsten Hall was Herbert Macaulay's residence in Lagos during this time. 

So I had in my hands, an envelope addressed by the key father of Nigerian independence. His DNA is on the back of those stamps. He would have sent this three years before he formed his famed political party. He was however still very active in Nigerian politics at this point in his life. 

Now why was he sending it? You have to know who Montgomery Ward is to know the answer. Montgomery Ward was a mail order department store that was established in 1872 in Chicago, Illinois, that went bankrupt in 2001. It did a lot of business in West Africa from the late 1910's all the way into the 1950's, and probably later. Its just that all the many covers that I have addressed to it seem to fall within that time period. At the beginning of the 1900's  Montgomery Ward was the main competitor to Sears Roebuck & Co. Reading many of the letters written by Nigerians during this time would lead one to conclude that many Western clothing items and personal items like toothbrushes, combs, toothpaste, socks, matches, underwear, shoes etc., were not widely available in Nigeria. So, in all likelihood Macaulay was probably ordering a suit, or a pair of shoes, or something similar. 

It is amazing what can be found in postal history when you possess historical knowledge, and you are familiar with names of people. I have hundreds of covers that I have not even looked at yet, that I have bought over the years. I can't wait to find covers addressed by other famous Nigerians, such as Azikiwe, Wole Soyinka, Fela and others. I know they must exist. I also have covers from Nigeria addressed to famous non-nigerians, such as Nelson Rockefeller, Dean Acheson and John Foster Dulles; the last two men being US Secretaries of State. 

My next post will likely get into some more of the commemoratives of the 1960's. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Commemorative Issues of 1964 and 1965 Part 1

The past few posts have concentrated on the definitive issues since World War II, so I thought it was time to show you some of the commemorative issues that appeared in the early years after independence. The issues in this post all appeared between March 8, 1964 and January 1, 1965. All of them, except for the Kennedy memorial issue, and the 3d of the First Anniversary of Republic issue were printed by Harrison and Sons, while the former issue was printed in Israel by two firms: the government printer, which produced the 2/6d and 5/- values, and Lewin-Epstein, which printed the 1/3d value of the Kennedy issue and the 3d of the First Anniversary of the Republic Issue.

The first of these was the Nubian Monuments Preservation Issue, designed by M. Shamir, which appeared on March 8, 1964:

6d Yellow olive and emerald - Queen Nefertari

2/6d Brown, deep olive and emerald - Rameses II

The Nubian Monuments are part of two large rock temples, called the Abu Simbel temples, which were carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Ramses II. They were carved over a 20 year period that began in 1264 BC and were completed in 1244 BC. Over the centuries, the temples fell into disuse and eventually they were almost entirely lost to sandstorms, which almost completely submerged them. They were re-discovered by Archaeologists in the 19th century. When the Aswan Dam was constructed on the Nile in the early 1960's, Lake Nasser was created, and the waters from this lake threatened to submerge the monuments. So in 1964, under the direction of UNESCO, a massive campaign was launched to raise funding to save the monuments by relocating them to an artificial mountain that was 65 metres higher and 200 metres back from the water. It cost $40 million at the time to carefully cut the monuments into large blocks weighing 30 tons each and reassembling them. It was at the time the largest and most challenging feat of Archaeological engineering that had ever been undertaken. The entire project took 4 years and was completed in 1968. These two stamps were issued to publicize the fundraising campaign. 

Just over 9 months after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963, most countries around the world issued stamps in his memory. Kennedy was celebrated as a humanitarian and champion of world peace, and Nigeria was one of the countries to issue stamps in his honour. The issue that appeared was released on August 27, 1964. It consisted of three stamps and one souvenir sheet. The souvenir sheet is not shown as yet, but will be shown either in an update to this post, or in a future post. However, it contains four imperforate examples of the 5/- value, which is shown below:

1/3d light violet and black - Kennedy and the United Nations Emblem - designed by M. Shamir

2/6d Black, red, blue and green - Kennedy and U.S. and Nigerian flags - Designed by M. Goaman

5/- Black, deep blue, red and green - Kennedy and flags - designed by Mr. Bottiau.

When Nigeria first attained independence on October 1, 1960, it was known as the Federation of Nigeria. However on October 1, 1963, it became a republic. For five years after this, each year, Nigeria issued a set of stamps to commemorate the anniversary. The first of these appeared on October 1, 1964 and featured three prominent men who were champions of independence.

3d red-brown - President Azikiwe - designed by S. Apostolou. 

Nnamdi Azikiwe was born November 16, 1904 and died May 11, 1996. He was the first president of Nigeria from October 1, 1963 until January 16, 1966. He was born in Northern Nigeria, but his parents were Igbo. He attended university in the US, obtaining his bachelor's degree in 1930, and a master's degree in 1933. His political career started early, and like many revolutionaries, it began as a writer for a newspaper: The African Morning Post. In this paper he wrote many nationalist articles that denounced the existing colonial order. He had a long and distinguished political career in Nigeria prior to becoming the president in 1963. He was ousted from power by the military coup on January 16, 1966 and during the Biafran war of Independence he served as a spokesman for the breakaway republic, as Biafra was the Igbo region of the country. He made several unsuccessful bids to re-run for president in later years, for the last time in 1983. 

1/3d Green - Herbert Macaulay - designed by W.H Irvine

Herbert Macaulay was one of the earliest proponents of Nigerian nationalism. Born on November 14, 1864 he adopted his position of opposition to British rule from a very early age. In June 1923, he founded the Nigerian National Democratic Party, which was the first Nigerian political party. This party won all the seats in the elections of 1923, 1928 and 1933. The dominance of his party ended in 1938, when The more radical Nigerian Youth Movement won the elections for the Lagos Town Council. In 1944 he co-founded with Azikiwe the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons, which was established to bring all Nigerian peoples together to fight for independence. He died on May 7, 1946. 

As an interesting aside, and a subject of my next post, I have a registered letter sent to Montgomery Ward in the US, in 1920, for an order of merchandise, what is addressed by Herbert Macaulay himself, while he was living at Kirsten Hall in Lagos, but before he established the Nigerian National Democratic Party. 

2/6d  Deep grey-green King Jaja of Opobo - also designed by W.H. Irvine

Jaja was one of the most powerful men in the Niger Delta in the 1880's. He was born in 1821 and sold into slavery when he was twelve, in Bonny. He proved to be very astute in business, managing to earn his way out of slavery. He went on to become the King of the Opobo region, which was a breakaway region within the Niger Delta. The British had fairly tight control over trade in this area, but Jaja had attempted to restrict the access of many trade routes to local Nigerians only and had tried to shut the British out. He was eventually arrested and taken to London, where he stayed in Buckingham Palace with the Queen. He was later exiled to Saint Vincent and then Barbados. He was given permission to return to Opobo in 1891, but died en-route. Some say he was poisoned. 

Next, on October 10, 1964 a set of stamps was issued to commemorate the 1964 Olympic games, which were held in Tokyo. This set featured the second triangular stamp of Nigeria and also a souvenir sheet, also not yet illustrated, that featured an imperforate block of 4 of this triangular stamp. The denominations and designs were:

3d Sepia and olive-green - boxing gloves - designed by A. Adalade

6d Emerald and indigo - high jump - designed by S. Medahunsi 

1/3d Sepia and yellow olive - running - designed by M. Shamir

2/6d Sepia and chestnut - hurdles - designed by M. Goaman

The last issue featured in this post was issued on January 1, 1965 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian Scout movement. In common with other issues discussed above, this set also has a souvenir sheet, which consists of an imperforate block of 4 of the 1/3d value. 

1d Brown - scouts on a hilltop designed by S. Apostolou. 

3d Red, black and emerald - scout badge on a shield - designed by H.N.G. Cowham and Eagle Scout N.A. Lasisi

6d - Red, sepia and yellow-green - scout badges - designed by W.H. Irvine

1/3d Bistre-brown, greenish yellow and black-green - Baden Powell and Nigerian scout. - designed by S. Apostoulou

That's it for a run-down of the commemortive issues from 1964 and early 1965. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Update on Temporary Hiatus

Well February is now upon us and I still haven't posted. The good news is I have started drafting my next post, which from my mouth to God's ears will be posted this weekend. I am working on the 1965-1973 wildlife definitive issue, which is a marvellous set, which rivals many Western definitive sets of the 1960's in terms of its complexity.

So please bear with me, and thank you for your continued interest and support.