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Madame Joseph Forged More than Just Cancels?

I am on a short trip to British Columbia to attend a funeral. But I decided to bring my album of Northern and Southern Nigeria with me in order to begin the process of looking for plate flaws in the De La Rue Keyplate stamps of both colonies.

While examining the Queen Victoria keyplate issues of Northern Nigeria, I came across something very interesting that is also very mysterious.

Many philatelists who collect British Commonwealth have heard of Madame Joseph. She was a British Stamp dealer in London, who was famous for forging cancellations on many stamps that are worth much more used than mint. She was known to operate between the First World War and the end of the Second World War, and the period covered by her work is the late Victorian period through to the early Elizabethan period. She is also known to have offered a service in repairing stamps. However, no mention has been made in the literature of her altering the stamps themselves to create more collectible varieties.

I foun…

The Scarcity of Nigerian Stamps and Postal History Part 3

In my last post, I discussed how I came to decide to collect Nigeria. Now I want to talk a little bit about how several factors influence the scarcity of Nigerian stamps and postal history.

In addition to the numbers printed, there are other factors that greatly contribute to the scarcity of a particular stamp issue, or item of postal history. Such factors include:

1. Whether or not a strong local collector base exists for the material at the time of issue.
2. What the climactic and other conditions are affecting the storage and preservation of the material are.
3. What local attitudes towards the preservation of historic artifacts are, at the time of issue.
4. What the retention habits are for commercial documents and correspondence.

I will discuss how each of these factors appears to play out and affect the scarcity of Nigerian Stamps and postal history and contrast it to the manner in which those factors affect the scarcity of material in North American and European countries.

The …

The Scarcity of Nigerian Stamps Part 2

In my last post I discussed the relative scarcity of selected Nigerian stamps from the pre-1914 period. But I did not discuss the scarcity of Nigerian stamps and postal history in general. What I would like to do now is to address the general scarcity of Nigeria and then to talk about overall trends affecting the scarcity of certain issues or collecting fields.

To illustrate the relative scarcity of Nigerian stamps, I would like to tell the story of how I came to choose this country. It was 2008 and I had just sold my Canada collection. I had been yearning to find an area which was rich in varieties and could offer lots of scope for the specialist, but not be so overwhelming as to be unmanageable. I wanted the material from the area to be genuinely scarce, and not merely expensive due to popularity, and yet affordable. Above all, I wanted to choose an area that had future growth potential - one in which the possibility of expansion in demand was possible, but by no means certain. I w…

The Scarcity of Nigerian Stamps

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It feels like it has been months since my last post. I have been taking a break from posting in order to concentrate on sorting out my stamps and organizing them into some kind of order. I have been trying to sort the multiple copies that I have of most issues into different printings, papers, shades, perforation types, and so on. As part of my study, I have sought out and acquired the only literature that I can find on the subject, which has turned out to be a few journal articles, written by my fellow study circle members. In the process of reading these articles, I have come across data regarding the issue quantities of many of Nigeria's classic stamps that illustrates why this country has so much upward potential to philatelists looking to get into a collecting area that simultaneously offers breadth, depth and scarcity.

For example, most of the stamps issued prior to 1914 were printed in quantities of less than 50,000 for each stamp, with the 10/- purple brown Queen Victoria …

London Postal History Exhibit Part 1

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After almost 2 months spent moving house again and doing everything but working on my stamps, I have finally found the time to begin posting the first part of my London postal history exhibit. 
Group 1 – Covers 1-6 Lagos Covers – Universal Postal Union Rates – 1888-1903 The first six covers in the exhibit are examples of single rate letters, sent when the postal rates were regulated by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). The UPU rates came into effect on April 1, 1879. For just over 13 years, the single letter rate was 4d per half ounce. The first two covers both illustrate this rate, and were sent from Lagos to Germany on March 5, 1888 and from Lagos to Berne, Switzerland March 18, 1891. These covers also illustrate representative cross section of nearly all of the Lagos markings that were in use during the period from 1888 to 1903: from Proud type K3, K4, and K5 barred ovals, to D8, D10 and D13 CDS cancels, to R5 Registration markings. 

11.Sent from Lagos to Munich on March 5, 1888. The…