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British Guiana

The 1852 Waterlow Stamps

British Guiana was the fourth British Colony to issue stamps, her primitive “Cotton Reels” of 1850 being amongst the most famous stamps in the world, but her first ‘proper’ attempt at a postage stamp was issued in the colony less than 18 months later on 1st January 1852. These were two values both printed in black, the 1c on magenta surface- coloured paper and the 4c value on deep blue surface- coloured paper.

These stamps were rather grand in scale with large tall designs in very strong colours depicting the colony coat of arms (probably the first stamps to depict a sailing ship). They were printed in London by Waterlow and in the quality of production and intricacy of design they left a lot to be desired by comparison with the rather well- engraved Canadian and New Brunswick issues of 1851.

The surface - coloured paper appears to have been a problem, the reasons behind its use are lost to us but it was probably a measure against fraudulent re-use as the stamps easily show surface wear and will crack with even the slightest bend or pressure. This of course frustrates novice collectors but such ‘damage’ on these stamps is their normal state and a cause for much closer inspection should none be visible!

We have an example of each value in our next sale. The 1c is a particularly attractive and was postmarked at Berbice; the 4c is lightly cancelled at Demerara and has minor faults – in fact the nine examples of the 4c black / deep blue in the famous Du Pont collection were acknowledged to be in exceptional condition yet ALL showed surface damage and/or repainting! Our two examples of these classics are valued at several times less than the Du Pont examples sold for just last year in Geneva!

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