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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Work of Enschede & Sons and Israeli Printing Firms in The Production of Nigerian Stamps


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Today's post is the last in a series of posts in which I discuss the general characteristics of the printing work done by the various printing firms in the production of Nigeria's postage stamps. Although substantially all of the postage stamp production was carried out by six printing firms, there were a few other, lesser known firms that had a hand in producing some of Nigeria's stamps. I do not possess full sheets of the stamps printed by these firms, so I am not in a position to provide the same kinds of information as in the previous posts. However, I can offer some general observations about the characteristics of the papers and gums used, as well as the printing methods.

The firms and organizations involved are:

1. The Government Printer of Israel.
2. Lewin-Epstein of Bat Yam, Israel.
3. Enschede and Sons of Holland.
4. Cartor of France.
5. Kalamazoo Security Print.
6. Superflux International Ltd., of Lagos.
7. The Lisbon Mint, of Portugal.

The Government Printer Of Israel

The Government Printer of Israel was involved in the production of four commemorative stamp issues between 1963 and 1965:


  • The Republic Day Issue, which was released on September 1, 1963.
  • The 1/3d Kennedy Memorial Issue, released August 27, 1964.
  • The 3d First Anniversary of the Republic Issue, released October 1, 1964. 
  • The Quiet Sun Year Issue, released April 1, 1965. 
This printer used the photogravure process in single colour and multicolour. The printing was generally carried out on thin, smooth and white paper that had no watermark, and generally gave no fluorescent reaction under ultraviolet light (UV). The gum used was generally, a clear, smooth dextrine gum that shows extremely fine diagonal cracks. The printing is very flat, and looks more like lithography than photogravure, which may be the main reason why they did not go on to print more stamps for Nigeria. The Kennedy memorial stamps did contain a inscription in the top sheet margins describing the issue, as did the Republic Day Issue. I have not seen full sheets of the 3d First Anniversary of the Republic Issue, but I imagine that they must have been similar to the others. The Quiet Sun Year Issue was printed in little sheetlets of 12 with a very decorative border. As far as I know, they were not printed in larger sheets. I have not seen full sheets of the other stamps, but from the blocks that I have seen, it would appear that they were printed in sheets of 60 (6 x10 for horizontal format stamps and 10x6 for vertical format). The margins were generally blank, except for the top margin, which contained a title inscription matching the issue name and the sheet number stamped in the upper right corner. All stamps printed were perforated either 14 x 13 in the case of the vertical format stamps, or 13 x 14 in the case of the 1/3d Kennedy Memorial Issue. 

Lewin-Epstein of Bat Yam Israel

This firm in Israel was involved with only part of one commemorative issue: the Kennedy Memorial Issue of August 27, 1964. They produced the two high values, the 2/6d and 5/-, as well as the souvenir sheet. Their printing process was also photogravure, and in my opinion, was of better quality than the Israeli government printer. However, despite this, they were never contracted to print any Nigerian issues again. The reason for this is not clear, but I suspect it must have had to do with the cost. 

The stamps were perforated 14, and the souvenir sheet was imperforate. The paper was thin and white, but covered in a thin white chalk coating that is quite prone to rubbing and light flaking. The coating had a low sheen, not being completely matte. Under UV light, the paper generally gives a non-fluorescent reaction. The gum is clear, dextrine, with a very visible pattern of diagonal cracks. 

The large blocks of the 2/6d and 5/- that I have seen had blank selvage, except for the title inscriptions in the top selvage. 

Enschede and Sons of Holland

This fine firm, which has printed many of the Machin head stamps of Great Britain, was involved in Nigerian postage stamp production from 1967 until the end of 1971. In all, they were responsible for the production of five stamp issues:

  • The fourth Anniversary of the Republic Issue, which was released on October 1, 1967.
  • The re-drawn 2d and 4d definitives released in September 1970 and March 1971. 
  • The Stamp of Destiny Issue marking the end of the civil war, released May 28, 1970.
  • The tenth Anniversary of Independence Issue, released September 30, 1970.
  • The Racial Equality Year Issue, released March 21, 1971. 
Enschede used high quality photogravure for all its stamps, except for the Tenth Anniversary of Independence Issue, which was lithographed. The printing is of a very high quality and I suspect that it was very expensive, which is why the tenure of this firm was short. The paper used to print the stamps is a medium, white, unwatermarked paper, which has a medium chalky coating. Under UV light the paper generally gives a very bright bluish white fluorescent reaction. The gum on all issues except the first one was a clear, colourless polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gum that has a very low sheen. The gum on the first issue above, like the other issues before it, is a colourless dextrine gum with very fine diagonal cracks. 

Three perforation gauges were used for the stamps. 11.5 x 11, or 11 x 11.5 was used for the stamps of the stamps of the first and third issues above. 11 x 11.5 was the measurement for the horizontal format stamps, while the vertical format stamps were perforated 11.5 x 11. The definitives were perforated 14.5 x 13, and finally, the last two issues were perforated 13.5 x 13, or 13 x 13.5, depending on whether they were horizontal format stamps (13 x 13.5), or vertical format stamps (13.5 x 13). 

From the blocks that I have seen of these issues, it appears that the selvage is completely blank, except for the name of the printer inscribed in the bottom margin. 

Cartor of France

This French printing firm was involved in printing only three definitive stamps in December 2004. They were re-issues of an issue of wildlife definitives that had first appeared in 2001. They were printed by high quality lithography that is so good that it looks completely like photogravure. The stamps are printed on high quality, white wove paper with no watermark. The gum is an extremely shiny colourless dextrine gum. I have never seen multiples of these stamps, so unfortunately I cannot speculate on what the appearance of the sheets are, nor the nature and appearance of the inscriptions that appear in the sheet margins. The three stamps involved were the 20N, 50N and 100N definitives and all were perforated 13 x 13.5. 

Kalamazoo Security Print Ltd. 

This local Lagos printing firm was involved in printing a portion of the definitives issued between 2010 and 2012. They are printed in high quality lithography and are the first stamps of Nigeria to incorporate a hologram in the corner of the design. The hologram used is circular in shape, and in addition to this, Kalamazoo utilized fluorescent inks for both the country name and the face value. Horizontal format stamps were perforated 12.5 x 12, while the vertical ones were perforated 12 x 12.5. The paper used to print these was a thicker wove, without watermark, and with white, matte PVA gum. I have not seen complete sheets of these, so I cannot comment specifically on their layout, or what inscriptions, if any are present in the margins. 

Superflux International Ltd., Lagos

This is another local Nigerian printing firm that was involved in printing some of the 2010-2012 definitive issues. Like Kalamazoo, they also printed using high quality lithography and incorporated square holograms into the design. In addition, they overprinted their stamps with a fluorescent design consisting of the words "Nipost" and a dove flying in a repetitive pattern. This overprint can only be seen under UV light. Like the Kalamazoo printings, the paper used to print these was a thicker wove, without watermark, and with white, matte PVA gum. Again, I have not seen complete sheets of these, so I cannot comment specifically on their layout, or what inscriptions, if any are present in the margins. 

Lisbon Mint

The Lisbon Mint of Portugal was responsible for printing most of the commemoratives of the newly declared state of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War. They printed most all of the commemoratives issued in 1968, being the first Independence Issue that appeared on February 5, 1968, and the First Anniversary of Indepence Issue, that was released on May 30, 1968. The mint used a somewhat crude lithography to produce these stamps on a poorer quality, white wove paper, with no watermark, and having a chalk-surfacing that is very prone to flaking and rubbing. The paper is not generally reactive under UV light, and all stamps produced in this manner have a shiny yellowish dextrine gum and are perforated 12.5. 

The quality of the overall printing was poor, which may have been the reason why an Italian firm took over the printing of all issues of Biafra after 1968.

This concludes my discussion of the work done by different printing firms in relation to Nigerian stamps. I hope you enjoyed reading these articles as much as I enjoyed writing them. 

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