King George VI had never expected to become King, but acceded to the throne upon the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, in 1936 (the ‘year of the three Kings’). He turned out to be a popular monarch, having been a staunch figurehead during the years of the Second World War, and his Queen Elizabeth was also held in high regard. [Read more…]
When General Sir Herbert Kitchener was leading the campaign that would eventually reconquer the Sudan from the brutal Mahdist regime, at the battle of Omdurman on 2 September 1898, one might think that providing new postage stamps would not have been a top priority. But that is to underestimate the thoroughness of that great soldier and administrator. [Read more…]
Although the provision of adhesive postage stamps for use in India was considered as early as 1850, and local issues for distant Scind province were introduced by its Governor Sir Bartle Frere in 1852, no serious progress was made in the capital, Calcutta, until early 1854. [Read more…]
STEP 1 – CHOOSING YOUR FIRST STAMPS
When on 6 May 1840 the world’s very first postage stamp was born, the authorities were much exercised by the possibility of fraud, either by cleaning off cancellations from previously used stamps, or by marrying up bits of used stamps that had escaped the canceller.
When describing the postmarks of the nineteenth century, the word ‘obliteration’ is synonymous with ‘cancellation’ – because, of course, that was what they were designed to do – to ‘obliterate’ the stamp in such a way as to prevent any opportunity for reuse.
The Maltese cross is an attractive cancellation, especially when applied in red or one of the ‘fancy’ colours, but many early Great Britain line-engraved adhesives are heavily cancelled by over-inked black crosses, which detract considerably from the beauty of the stamps.
A ‘fine’ cancellation should be lightly applied, if possible leaving a substantial part of the design – ideally including the Queen’s profile – clear of the cancellation. Also desirable are well centred examples displaying all, or nearly all of the cancellation on the stamp. This is particularly true where the cancellation is more significant than the stamp, such as a Wotton- under- Edge Maltese cross. Here, you would want to have as full a cancellation as possible, although it would still be preferable to have it lightly applied.
What’s the damage?
We have looked at some aspects of damage in this series, notably in relation to perforations, so let us conclude by reviewing other aspects of damage. All young collectors are advised from the outset to avoid torn stamps, and the advice obviously holds good throughout one’s philatelic life. However, that is not to say that all torn stamps are worthless, because even a torn example of a desirable stamp is still collectable and can therefore command a price. [Read more…]