1937 Coronation Stamps

I only had a few 1937 Coronation stamps in my collection before I chanced upon and won a very low priced auction of a large lot of these stamps.

In anticipation of that large lot, I started accumalating missing stamps from the collection. I have also started collecting FDCs/Covers of this set.

There are 202 stamps in the series issued by 58 colonies of the British Empire. Interestingly, no stamp was issued in India even though India was a British colony at that time.

Finally my large lot arrived. My collection of 1937 Coronation stamps is now respectable though still far from complete.

Each colony issued three stamps in the set in the list below. There were some exceptions of course, those are listed in parenthesis against the country name in the list below:

  • Aden
  • Antigua
  • Ascension
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Basutoland
  • Bechuanaland
  • Bermuda
  • British Guiana
  • British Honduras
  • British Solomon islands
  • Canada (1)
  • Cayman islands
  • Ceylon
  • Cook islands
  • Cyprus
  • Dominica
  • Falkland islands
  • Fiji
  • Gambia
  • Gibraltar
  • Gilbert and Ellice islands
  • Gold coast
  • Great Britain (1)
  • Grenada
  • Hong kong
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya Uganda and Tanganika
  • Leeward Islands
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Monserrat
  • Morocco Agencies (3) French Spanish and Tangier)
  • Nauru (4)
  • Newfoundland
  • Newfoundland (11 in extended) 
  • New guinea (4)
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Niue
  • Northern Rhodesia
  • Nyasaland
  • Papua (4)
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somaliland
  • South Africa (5 pairs)
  • South West Africa (8 Bilingual pairs)
  • Southern Rhodesia (4)
  • St Christopher and Nevis(St Kitts)
  • St Helena
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent
  • Straits Settlements
  • Swaziland
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Virgin islands

How to Recognize Self-Adhesive Stamps

As you may know from my previous posts, I have been struggling with removing self-adhesive stamps from paper. I finally figured that hot water seems to work the best for me in removing self-adhesive stamps from paper. Having tried my hand at many many Australian stamps, I share with you a way to recognize these self-adhesive stamps on paper so you can be better prepared for them before you soak them in hot water.

Australia releases many variations of stamps. Typically stamps released in miniature sheets seem to be on gum paper, while others are on self-adhesive paper. The perforation of these stamps is an easy way to recognize them.

  • Gum stamps usually have finer perforation (14) while self-adhesive stamps have more spread-out wavy perforation (11 or 11½). 
  • Check the corners of the stamps. Gum stamps have regular corner perforation while self-adhesive stamps have a more rounded corner with missing perforation in the corner.
  • Gum stamps also have pulled effect to perforations, while self-adhesive stamps have neater separation. 

I have noticed the above differences only in Australian stamps. My guess is these might be similar for other countries too like USA, Great Britain etc.

My First Penny Reds

So the Penny Red bug bit me and I outbid others in an eBay auction to acquire my first Penny Reds. I probably ended up paying a little higher than normal price but it didn’t feel so bad since these were the first ones I got for my collection. I now have three imperforated 1849 Penny Reds.

The Penny Red was Great Britain’s longest running stamp, from February 1841 to the end of November 1879. It was used for the standard letter postage rate of 1d and approximately 21 billion were issued.  Until 1854 the 1d red was imperforate.

The Penny Reds are identified by “plates” and their position on the plate. The bottom row has two characters (top rows have these characters reversed in perforated stamps). The character in left corner represents the row of the stamp on the plate and the right corner character represents the column of the stamp on the plate. So in my stamps shown above, the first stamp was on 19th row and 10th column on the plate. Plate numbers on perforated stamps can be identified with the help of a magnifying glass. The plate number is printed in the side bar design of the stamp. See image below for an example of a stamp from plate number 148 (this is not one of my stamps).

Penny Reds can be as interesting to collect as Machins though probably harder to collect since they are not as easily available as machins.

Some useful links for collecting Penny Reds:

Removing Stamps from Paper

I recently asked a question on Facebook: What’s the best way to peel off the paper from the stamps cleanly and completely? Can you share some tips of what works and what doesn’t work? Will the paper simply come off by itself if I am patient enough? Should the stamps be dipped in completely or just float on the water? What about drying stamps, any tips on drying them without curling or sticking to what’s being used to dry them?

I asked this because while sorting my Australian kiloware I figured that new Australian stamps were very hard to take off paper. The old stamps would come off paper after just a few minutes of soaking in water, but these new stamps just wouldn’t budge, refusing to peel off paper easily. In Hindi, we would call them ziddi or dheet (stubborn). It seems many modern stamps, especially from USA, UK, Australia and few other countries are “self-adhesive” stamps, like stickers. I am not surprised that philatelists don’t like these stamps.

Most collectors recommended soaking stamps in lukewarm water and taking them out after some time. Dry them on blotting paper or an old newspaper, and then putting them in or under a heavy book to flatten them completely. It is useful to change water after a few soaks if you have many stamps to soak.

It is best to segregate stamps of colored paper and soak them separately. Colored paper sometimes runs color and is likely to spoil other stamps in the water.

If you don’t want to soak your stamps, you could also use a sponge. Wet the sponge thoroughly and leave your stamp on it, paper side.

Some suggested using a little talc powder to help reduce the stickiness after you remove the paper from self adhesive stamps. However this is debatable as many other collectors indicated that talc is more likely to ruin the stamps than help them.

All the above are good suggestions for most stamps that are not “self-adhesive” stamps. But what about self-adhesive stamps? It seems these require special material to remove from paper. Few videos below help you with methods of removing these self-adhesive stamps. I haven’t tried these methods. However what I have discovered that for self-adhesive stamps, you need to soak them in water for a much longer time. I have managed to peel these stamps off paper after leaving them in water for three to four hours. Even then, there is a possibility that you will damage the stamps, so you have to be very careful. Also after peeling off the paper,  some glue may still remain on the stamp. Simply dip them in water again and wash off the glue gently with your thumb while the stamps is in water.

It is best to try to peel off self-adhesive stamps from paper only if you have duplicates. Else it is best to just leave them on paper with the postmark intact.

Stamp Stock Books: Black or White

Recently I asked in a Facebook group whether other collectors preferred black or white stamp stock books.

I got an overwhelming response favouring Black stock books. Most collectors preferred black stock books because the details of the stamps show up better and the colours are more distinct. Some felt perforations are clearly visible on black stock sheets. Some felt white is more susceptible to insects, dust and stains.

Ray Petersen explained in detail

I have always preferred black (also for individual mounts). But when I was preparing a few pages for an exhibit recently – my first attempt ever at making exhibit pages – and I asked for advice, a suggestion was made that I use clear mounts because the black backgrounds on black mounts distract the viewer’s eye from the image on the stamp.

Ultimately I went with clear, and was happy with the result. I have to say, that because I was exhibiting (and also collect) cinderella stamps – the image is far more important than the actual piece of paper. Things that make black a more attractive choice, such as showing off the borders, perforations, etc., are better suited to a study or research project. But when it comes to displaying the stamps – the image is the thing and nothing should compete with that.

This advice totally changed my perspective on the black vs clear (or white), at least for display purposes.

Margins / Selvages

Margins / selvages : To keep or not to keep, that is the question.

Are stamps with margins necessarily better to retain than ones without? If I remove the side bar will it lose significant value? I asked this question on Facebook as I found them terrible for displays in albums.

As always, it was great to get some good responses.

If it wasn’t for them, some stamps couldn’t be properly identified or verified, especially Imperf stamps. It probably is not an issue with more modern stamps – but older stamps can have specific plate flaws or printing flaws. If you have an example with the margins you know exactly which position in the sheet this stamp had.

While they probably make no difference in value in common stamps, the general consensus seemed to be to not tear them off. One good suggestion was ‘If it really bothers you how they display, just carefully fold over the selvage but don’t tear it off.’ which seemed to make sense.