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A Week In My Life of Stamps

Pam had a great idea, she’s fed up with chasing me for an article for our twice monthly newsletters so suggested I do a ‘blog style’ report on my week of “playing with stamps” (which is what our administration team think we do in our untidy Stamp Room)!!

I’ll give it a try, please let me know what you think…

Monday: A collection of Spanish Colonial stamps is on my desk, chiefly Rio de Oro, La Aguera, Sahara and West Africa. These are some of my favourite non- British colonial issues, the Spanish did some lovely designs and I really like the Sahara stamps depicting Tuaregs and camels. Like the Spanish stamps of the same period there are digits printed on the back, if they read “A.000,000” then they are Specimen (“Muestra” in Spanish) stamps and generally worth a premium. I need the Gibbons and Edifil catalogues to properly do the work and for a change I find them both without raiding my colleague’s desks.

Tuesday: I finish- off describing Japanese Occupation of Burma stamps. Buried in our library we have some useful books on the subject and I enjoy finding interesting bits and bobs to offer as individual lots, however I do decide to keep the main accumulation in three stock books as one lot. It catalogues in excess of £15,000 in Gibbons and must be a goldmine for someone with patience and knowledge to dig through, I place a lower estimate of £1400 on it.

Wednesday: Some German WWII Propaganda forgeries, the purpose of these was to spread disenchantment with the war primarily amongst British citizens. Well- known British stamps of the time, the 1935 Jubilee, 1937 Coronation and the small King George VI definitive stamps were altered to include symbols such as Jewish stars & Russian hammer & sickles and messages “This is a Jewish War”. The smaller definitive also had additional “Liquidation of the Empire” overprints incorporating various colonial names such as Jamaica & Barbados, always fun these stamps. I also get time to look through a collection of Leeward Islands stamps and postal stationery.

Thursday: I finish the Leeward Islands. There was a number of postal stationery envelopes and post cards overprinted “Specimen” by De La Rue and I’ve offered them up in several logical (I hope) groups to allow collectors of the different reigns a chance to buy only what suits their collections. I also get to work on a fascinating collection of overprinted issues from Congo / Zaire issued during the 1967-77 period of Mobutism. It’s difficult to recall those days when Africa was a battleground of political ideologies, it was April 1967 when ‘the party being the emancipation of the state' was officially redefined as 'the state being the emancipation of the party'. You would need a very poor grasp of history to want to revisit such ideals but those difficult times did give us some great stamps! The work involved in this large collection should not be lost so it remains intact with an estimate range of £2500 - £3000.

Friday (today!): I’ve got my eye on a collection of Sudan early issues. A book on Sudan was one of the first specialised philatelic works I ever read, I was probably 16 or 17 and remember being enchanted by the vastness of the place and it’s colonial history (General Gordan and all that…) so I’m a sucker for those overprinted Egyptian Pyramid stamps and the ‘Camel Postman’ design (I clearly like camels.) Sudan was a challenging place for the British Empire and it’s remained a firm favourite of philatelists since the 1890’s, there appears to be some excellent Official stamps in there…

The week in general: Of course stamps are what I really love! I try to work with some every day and this week was great as often many days pass without the opportunity to pick up my tweezers. With a sale (including a printed catalogue) every week we are probably the most complex of stamp firms and we will shortly be launching our new website, so this week whenever I wasn’t ‘stamping’ I was thinking and having meetings about that. It really has taken my time but it must be done, the technology changes and the platforms and software a website relies on become inflexible and finally defunct, so if we want to stay high on the Google rankings and offer a secure and useable platform then every few years a new site has to be launched. This week one of our big technical challenges is that like our current site we want you to be able to input your credit card number just once and then in the future you can instruct us to charge it without typing all the numbers again. It’s important for your security that we don’t actually store your entire credit card number on our computers, so it’s really complicated and has taken up a lot of time but it gives me real confidence to know that such efforts elsewhere allow me to shop online safely.

Always too much administration and never enough time for stamps…

Vincent Green

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