Collecting Worldwide, Today's Mail

Today’s Mail — 6th October 2015

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Although it hasn’t felt like it, I have been on holiday for almost a week now. Because of the huge fires down in Indonesia, Phuket has been covered under thick smoke creating major health issues. They say that it is more dangerous than the worst of the L.A. smogs. It has been so bad that rhe hospitals have been distributing free facemasks. Thailand is a corrupt country and nothing is ever free (and refunds are never given), so you just know it is beyond bad.

You would think that being forced inside for a week would have led me to work on my stamps but I haven’t really been in the mood. However, the postman brought me no less than thirteen envelopes full of stamps this morning and I can feel my motivation-level moving up a few notches as I write this. Eight orders from the United States, four from the United Kingdom and one from New Zealand. They include stamps from Aden, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Russia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and the United States plus pre-stamped postal stationery from Hawaii and Mauritius. In all, just 30 philatelic items and three “new” stamp issuers (the Caribbean islands) for my A Stamp From Everywhere collection.

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First up is Aden. I’ve been putting together a nice collection of the then-British colony on the Arabian peninsula. While I previously bought used copies of several of the low values in the 1937 Dhows set, I now have the first five in Mint, lightly hinged, condition. Aren’t they beautiful?

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The first British representative is my first “Seahorse” stamp. These were first issued in 1913 with retouched values appearing in 1919 and then again in 1934. Three different printers were used during the course of these various releases. My copy is Scott #222 2sh6p brown from the 1934 series. A beautiful stamp picturing “Britannia Rules the Waves” with the portrait of King George V. I was inspired to purchase this stamp by reading about in in Nicholas Courtney’s excellent book The Queen’s Stamps: The Authorised History of the Royal Philatelic Collection.

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Another purchase inspired by Courtney’s book was that of Hong Kong’s 1946 Victory Issue picturing the Phoenix rising from the flames. Issued on 29 August 1946, Scott #174-175 was a significant departure in design from those issued by much of the rest of the British Commonwealth. Not only is the design quite striking but it was the story behind the stamps that intrigued me to purchase them. Briefly, the then Hong Kong Postmaster General, E.I. Wynne-Jones conceived the idea while he was himself a prisoner of the Japanese forces. He made a rough sketch of the design while interred at Stanley Camp.

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I have had a lifelong fascination with ships and the sea with the old transatlantic ocean liners being my favorite nautical interest. I have quite a few of the liners pictured on stamps and finally got around to purchasing Great Britain’s wonderful set issued on 15 January 1969 shortly before the maiden voyage of the Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth 2. Scott #575-580 is a lovely set; I’ve always preferred ship profiles to photographs or paintings of them at sea. However, I’ve often wondered why they chose the Mauretania over the Lusitania.

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Another “Columbian” arrived – Scott #234 5c chocolate Columbus Soliciting Aid from Isabella Mint with gum, hinged – coinciding with my resuming reading Erik Larson’s account of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, Devil In The White City after setting it aside for more than a year. I’ve long been interested in Columbus, something that may no longer be “politically correct” and is certainly at odds with my siding with Native American issues in most instances. In fact, I’ve slowly been building up a Columbus-themed collection with several items destined for that arriving today, just in time for the anniversary of his first landing in the West Indies. Most of these purchases were inspired by David Nye’s (Mr. Columbus) recent postings on several Facebook pages.

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The earliest is the stamp from Trinidad, Scott #91 2p gray violet and yellow brown. It was issued in 1898 to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ sighting of the island of Trinidad on 31 July 1498. The bicolor (green and violet) stamp from St. Kitts & Nevis is actually the first general issue – Scott #1 – for this former presidency of the Leeward Islands colony. It was issued in 1903. A solid green version was overprinted in 1916 to help fund Commonwealth involvement in the First World War. That is Scott #MR1, another of today’s arrivals.

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The Columbus issue by St. Lucia – Scott #49 – doesn’t mention him by name and pictures local landmark The Pitons. The 2p brown and green stamp was issued on 16 December 1902 to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of the island, something only indicated by the year range at top center.

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The final Columbus-themed stamp in this batch is a nice souvenir sheet issued on 18 March 1992 to mark the 500th anniversary of the so-called discovery of America. It’s catalogued as Scott #6075.

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I’m also pleased to add several more classic-era stamps from the United States starting with a nice lightly-cancelled example of Scott #11A, the 3 cent dull red, type II George Washington issued in 1851 (the difference being that the outer border frame lines were recut on both the outer and inner lines on Type II while Type I – Scott #11 – had just the outer lines recut). Next is a strip of three of Scott #182, 1c deep ultramarine George Washington, printed by the American Bank Note Company and released in 1879. Scott #306, 8c violet black Martha Washington, was released as part of a set of definitives from 1902 to 1903. This Mint, gummed and hinged, copy was obtained as a significant reduction from its 2009 catalogue value of US $45 due to its poor centering. I paid just over $3 for it and I’m happy to fill the space.

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Finally, the last of the U.S. stamps is a Mint example of Scott #324, the 2c carmine Thomas Jefferson, issued on 30 April 1904 for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis that year. Again, somewhat off-center, it was advertised as “original gum hinged” but I can find no evidence of a hinge mark. In fact, the gum looks so fresh that I suspect that it may have been regummed at some point. Time to look up how to determine if a stamp has been regummed… The value would be US $70 if it is in fact MNH; I paid $2.25.

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Last for today, we have several items of postal stationery which are unlisted in the Scott catalogues; still, I love adding these types of items to my regular stamp collection. First is a postal card from Hawaii – the three-cent preprinted stamp bears the same red Provisional Government overprint applied to regular stamps in 1893. Faulty corner and a very thick card. The two pre-stamped envelopes from Mauritius bearing Queen Victoria’s portrait are on rather thick paper and were probably issued sometime between 1882 and 1894 and the indicia are embossed, always pleasing to the eye. The final Mauritian envelope features the Coat of Arms design with 4c on 36c overprint, the same style as the overprinted stamps issued in 1925 during King George V’s reign.

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Yes, very nice stamp additions indeed.

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Happy Collecting!

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