There are some remarkable stamps out there; printed on wood, cork, plastic and even stamps made from foil! However, there is one special stamp that many GB collectors aspire to have – the £5 Orange. Along with the Penny Black, £1 Seahorse and £1 PUC, the £5 Orange is a stamp that is a true emblem of Great Britain philately. [Read more…]
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…]
COLLECTING PENNY REDS – THE PROBLEM WITH THE PENNY BLACK
The status of the Penny Black as ‘the stamp which changed the world’ is beyond doubt – but it did have one serious failing. Prior to its issue, Rowland Hill and his colleagues at the Post Office and at the printers, Perkins Bacon, had built a substantial number of features into the stamp, specifically to prevent forgery. However, one potential difficulty seems to have been ignored until a late stage in the run-up to the issue of the first stamps; the possibility that the red cancellation might be cleaned off the black stamp, allowing it to be reused – on the face of it a much easier way of defrauding the Post Office than going to the trouble of printing our own stamps!
Accordingly, in the same month that the Penny Black was issued, trials began to determine how easy it might be to clean stamps which had already been used and whether there was a better combination of stamp and cancellation colours than black stamps cancelled by a red postmark. The end result of these trials was the decision to swap the colours round and introduce a red stamp which would be cancelled in black. So, in February 1841, just nine months after the issue of the Penny Black, it was replaced by the Penny Red.
The imperforate Penny Red then covered the standard letter rate in the United Kingdom until the arrival of the first officially perforated stamps in 1854 and is the subject of this article.
The first revenue stamps of 1765 were mostly used in what’s now the province of Quebec. They were in use only briefly to 1 May 1766. These first stamps were actually colourless British embossed revenue stamps with the word ‘AMERICA’ added to the design. All are very rare. In 1864 The Federal Government of Canada introduced the First Issue Bill stamps, featuring a central design with Queen Victoria, for use on promissory notes and other financial instruments. In 1865 this issue was replaced with a second attractive issue featuring Queen Victoria, followed in 1868 by the Third Bill issue featuring the Widow Queen. [Read more…]
A book – such as a dictionary – that is in constant use soon begins to show signs of wear. The edges of the pages gradually lose their crisp, fresh looks, and the same thing happens to your stamps with excessive handling. Thus your first essential item of equipment should be a pair of stamp tweezers – these are made of light, plated metal with slender, flattened tips or ‘spade’ ends enabling stamps to be picked up and sorted quickly and surely. With a little practice, tweezers are easy to handle (held with the hilt in the palm of your hand), and they are usually supplied in a plastic case so that you can carry them around in your pocket. [Read more…]
For modern stamps, an intact sheet margin should not add to the value, although one might expect to pay a small premium for a plate block or imprint block over the price for a plain block of four. For most of the earlier twentieth century stamps, also, a plain margin will do little for a stamp’s value, but if that piece of margin includes a control number, plate number or printer’s imprint then the difference can be very significant indeed! [Read more…]
All stamp collectors aspire to own a Penny Black, it is the world’s first and undoubtedly the most famous stamp of them all, but it is also one of the most beautiful stamps with its classic simplicity and fine engraving, and one of the most interesting, providing an opportunity to build up a substantial collection based on just this one stamp.
So, how do you collect Penny Blacks? Well, like most things in philately, the choice is yours, there is no right and wrong way, you can do as you please or as your pocket will allow, but this article aims to give you a few ideas. [Read more…]