The Overprinted Great Britain Issues Of Niger Coast Protectorate 1892-1894 Part Five
These surcharges together constitute one of the most elusive and expensive areas in all of British Commonwealth Philately. A staggering 38 basic provisional surcharges were produced, and some of these list in Gibbons for up to £140,000 each. In addition to the basic Gibbons listed numbers, most of these surcharges exist in different orientations from the normal setting, so vertical, inverted, diagonal etc., as well as doubled. Most of these are insanely rare, with fewer than a dozen examples known in most cases. The main reason for the immense rarity of these surcharges is that each stamp in a typical sheet of 60 received a slightly different surcharge, and this accounts for the staggering number of listed varieties. Because of this rarity, it is advisable to only buy them with certificates. That being said, once you know what the inks used for the genuine overprints look like, it will be fairly easy to spot the originals and distinguish them from the many fakes that are out there. I have a small number of genuine examples, which I will show here as well as some high quality fakes that have been produced using, what appears to be, a laser printer.
The provisional surcharges can be subdivided into five groups as follows:
- The Old Calabar Half Penny Provisional
- The Old Calabar "Half Penny" Surcharges.
- The Old Calabar "One Shilling" Surcharges.
- The Old Calabar 5/- and 10/- Surcharges.
- The Opobo Provisionals
If you look carefully at the above, you will see that the dividing line is generally well aligned with the corners and that the red ink is not fully saturated. It has a somewhat vermilion quality to it and you can still see the underlying stamp design through it. This is important, as these characteristics will help distinguish it from the common forgeries that are so often found, as we shall see.
The next scan shows a close up of the surcharge:
Note how the 2 and the d are broken in places. This is another important characteristic of the genuine overprint.
Here is another genuine example. This time the dividing line does not exactly meet the top right corner of the stamp. However, the surcharge possesses all the characteristics of a genuine overprint.
The letters and numerals are too thick and not broken or thin in any place the way that they are with the genuine surcharge.
Here is a forgery of the violet surcharge:
- The first two of these show the words in straight sans-serif capitals of equal height. The only difference between the two has to do with the width of the word "Half", the space between the words, and the length of the bar. In the first type the word half is wide, being 9.5 mm wide. The space between the words is a narrow 1.5 mm, and the bar ends below the stop. In the second type, the word half is narrower, being 8.5 mm wide. The space between the words is 2.5 mm and the bar extends beyond the stop. In practice, not all of these characteristics are visible, as the letters and bars of the genuine overprint are often broken.
- The second two types also employ sans-serif lettering, but the P and Y of "Penny" are both raised, relative to the other letters. In type 3, there is a period after the second "N" of "Penny", while the type 4 lacks this period.
- The next two types employ curved, serifed letters that are upper and lower case and are italicized. In the fifth type, the serifs of "nny" are curved, the "a" of "half" and "e" of "penny" are narrow and the distance between the words is 5.5 mm. In the sixth type the serifs of "nny" are straight, the "a" and "e" are wider, and the distance between the words is 4.25 mm.
- The seventh type uses straight sans serif letters that have elongated strokes.
- The last type consists of italicized serifed roman capitals.
- Type 1 is found with violet, vermilion and carmine colours. Vermilion exists inverted, vertical or diagonal.
- Type 2 is found in vermilion, green, carmine, blue, black and blue black. The green exists doubled. Black exists inverted, carmine exists omitted in a pair and green and black both exist diagonal inverted.
- Type 3 is only known in vermilion and can be found doubled or vertical reading up.
- Type 4 can be found in violet or vermilion. The vermilion can be found inverted, double, diagonal, omitted in a strip, vertical or diagonal inverted.
- Type 5 can be found in violet, vermilion, blue or carmine. Both the 2d violet and 2.5d vermilion can be found double, vertical, diagonal, inverted or diagonal inverted.
- Type 6 can be found in vermilion, blue, green and carmine. The vermilion exists diagonal while the green exists doubled.
- Type 7 can be found in violet, blue and vermilion. The 2d blue and 2.5d vermilion exist doubled, while the 2.5d green exists doubled and doubled, with the second impression being vermilion.
- Type 8 can be found only in green and vermilion.
- The 2d is found only with types 1, 4, 5 and type 7. It is always violet.
As you can see the green is a basic green colour - not yellowish and not bluish. The letters are also somewhat broken, as was the case with the Old Calabar surcharge that I first looked at here.
Here is the blue overprint:
Here is another obvious forgery, this time of the red surcharge:
If you look in the white space around the Queen you can see dozens of tiny blue dots.
Here is the facsimile:
- The first type has a thick "1" that is 12 mm high in vermilion. This can be found double or inverted and in an unsevered pair.
- The second type is a smaller "1" that is only 4.75 mm high.
- The third type is a small "1" that is 3.75 mm high.