A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

French Guinea - Bud's Big Blue

Republic of Guinea Stamps
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Almost due east across the Atlantic from French Guiana is French Guinea which, unlike French Guiana, did follow the path toward independence from mother France; the Republic of Guinea dates from 1958. 

As expected, the new Republic’s stamps feature splashy colors and Islamic resisters of imperialism (see above) verses classical era’s staid French officials and happy natives, all in muted colors.

The 1913 design for which BB provides many spaces is titled “Ford at Kitim” in Scott’s Catalog. In it, three men ford a stream. Kitim, however, appears to have dropped off the map, or maybe never was. The stony mountain in the background looks very much like Mount Loura. If it is, then the river could be the headwaters of the Gambia (Gambra) near Kinita. Who knows?

General Louis Faidherbé and Dr. Noel Eugene Bally, both colonial officials the latter being recruited by Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, repeat their appearances on the 1906 issues of several west African nations, as do the oil palms. Higher values are expensive and rarely cancelled.

Sadly, no raucous guinea fowl turn up during the classical era (well, maybe abstractly on the “Kitim” stamps). They have to wait for the Republic to honor them properly.

Census: 139 in BB spaces, 45 on supplement pages.

Jim's Observations
In 1894, Dahomey, Cote-d'Ivoire, and the Colony of French Guinea (former name Rivieres du Sud) became "independent" colonies, although French Guinea was actually formed in 1891. In 1904, the Afrique Occidentale Française association was formed under the Governor General in Dakar with lieutenant governors for French Guinea, Dahomey, Senegal, Cote-d'Ivoire, and Upper Senegal and Niger.

French Guinea was a colonial possession of France until 1958, when it became independent as "Guinea".

The largest issue was monstrous, consisting of 42 stamps, all with the "Ford at Kitim" central vignette design. As is typical for the colonial French stamps of the era, they had one color for the border, and the other for the scene. The French seemed to use every color of the rainbow for their stamps. These stamps were issued in waves from 1913-1933.

French Guinea Blog Post and BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Closeup study of Stamp surfaces using a Digital Microscope Part II

1903 USA Scott 302 3c bright violet "Jackson"
Close-up using a Digital Microscope
Into the Deep Blue
This part (Part II) will overview lithographic and photogravure stamps under the digital microscope. As a bonus, we will show several genuine-forgery lithographic comparisons.

Part I (last post) had an introduction to the Digital Microscope for stamp collectors, and an overview of engraved, embossed, and typographic stamps with the digital microscope.

Part III ( next post) will review..
Varnish Bars on paper

Part III will then include a comparison demonstration  of a scanner's capabilities versus a digital microscope's capabilities on stamp surface details.

Oil and water do not mix, and that is the basis of lithography. Lithography results in a ink-paper surface that is flat, not like the engraved surface (raised) or the typographic surface (depressed). I think of lithography during the classical era as a cheaper and cruder way (but not always) to produce a stamp. Also lithography was the usual method for forgers.

I picked out some stamps from Haiti. Let the fun begin...

1935 Haiti Scott 335 10c rose pink & chocolate
"Alexandre Dumas, Father, Son", Scanned @ 1200
Pretty crude looking, No? Not all lithographic stamps look this way, but I had to prove my comment. ;-) Note the frame lines, though, are fairly smooth appearing, with no squeezing or concentration  of ink around the edges, as can be seen with typographic stamps.

1935 Haiti Scott 335 10c rose pink & chocolate
Digital Microscope (enlarge for examination)
Note how the ink is flat with the paper. The script appears hand-drawn ( which it probably is, not that unusual for lithographic specimens). Note the edges of the colored ink sections are fairly smooth, with no ink-squeezed effect.

1896 Haiti Scott 41 5c slate green
"Coat of Arms" (Leaves Drooping)
Engraved, Scanned @ 1200
Well, lets put the DM to the test. ;-)

Here is a supposedly Haiti 1896 engraved 5c slate green

Let's look closer...
1896 Haiti Scott 41 5c slate green
Close-up on "5"
Digital Microscope (Click to enlarge)
Examination will show the "5" is raised. (It is for me.)

1896 Haiti Scott 41 5c slate green
Close-up on script - Digital Microscope
Note tail of the "Q" - in two parts
The letters here also appear raised. 

= Engraved

Note the tail of the "Q" (looks like the bottom part of a "Z"). 

This is a genuine printing.

I should mention that digital microscopes. at least the affordable ones, use chromatic lenses (one lens) to let the light pass through. Not all light frequencies (colors) are bent at the same angle (think of a rainbow). This causes chromatic aberration. Therefore, one might see, for example, a blue or pink fringe of color at color junctions (colored area vs white area). This can be quite subtle, but is present in the above digital microscope scan, along the edge of the letters. The solution is to use achromatic lenses (actually two or three lenses with different properties cemented together), but that raises the expense considerably. I have refractor telescopes that have that feature, but one is talking four figures! 
"1886 Haiti Scott 41 5c slate green" ??
What to make of this? Yes, it is imperforate, but the genuine can be found that way also.

"1886 Haiti Scott 41 5c slate green" ??
Digital Microscope (Click to enlarge)
The "5" is flat as a pancake, flush with the paper. This is a lithographic specimen.

"1896 Haiti Scott 41 5c slate green" ??
Close-up on script - Digital Microscope
Note tail of the "Q" - a crude inverted "v"
The printing is flat with the paper. The "Q" tail is an inverted "v" - sign of a forgery.

Many of these lithographic forgeries were made for the packet trade. These were from Genoa, Italy (N. Imperato).
1903 Haiti Scott 85 7c plum & black
"Emperor Jean Jacques Dessalines"
Center Engraved; Frame Lithography
Note the relative position of the 7's, Scanned @ 1200
The bi-colored 1903 Haiti issue of six stamps was forged extensively. The genuine stamp has a lithographic frame and an engraved vignette. The more common forged specimen (there were at least two) has a forged lithographic frame, and a forged central lithographic vignette.

1903 Haiti Scott 85 7c plum & black
Digital Microscope (Click and enlarge)
An examination of the vignette under the DM reveals fine line drawing, and an elevation of the image seen best over the hatched hat portion.

= Engraved

Here, genuine.
1903 Haiti Scott 85 7c plum & black
Digital Microscope (Click and enlarge)
Here is a close-up of the lithographic frame section of the genuine stamp. The ink does look flush with the paper. Note the top bar of the last "E" in "Centenaire" is horizontal.

"1903 Haiti Scott 85 7c plum & black" ??
Scanned @ 1200
Here is one of the many forgeries I have for this issue, which outnumber the genuines in my collection. Of course the central vignette looks crude, which already suggests it is lithographic, rather than engraved.

A quick way to tell that this lithographic frame is also forged is to look at the position of the "7's" within the white tablets. The "7's" here are in the same position (both left and right tablet) from the top of the tablet.

The genuine lithographic frame shows the "7" of the right frame lower within the tablet compared to the "7" of the left frame.

"1903 Haiti Scott 85 7c plum & black" ??
Digital Microscope - Forgery
Well, this crude vignette isn't going to fool anyone. ;-) Note the ink is flat with the paper (lithographic).

= Forgery
"1903 Haiti Scott 85 7c plum & black" ??
Digital Microscope - Forgery
The forged lithographic frame shows the top bar of the last "E" in "Centenaire" flaring upwards.

Clearly, the DM should be a valuable adjunct in documenting the many lithographic forgeries during the classical era.

Photogravure printing techniques weren't used until later in the classical era (Example: Bavaria 1914-20). But Photogravure increased in popularity, especially with the capability of publishing stamps in multiple colors during the 1960s.

Think dots, dot matrix, and screened (giving little squares arranged in straight diagonal lines) when thinking of photogravure. The pigment appears blotchy, like dots, and not well filled in.

The stamp often looks like a photo, or a 'screened" photo.

Detail dissolves into dots, shades, blotches on close-up, unlike the exquisite line detail of an engraved stamp (I'm showing my prejudice here ;-).

I did a through review of the typographic/photogravure issues of 1926-1954 South Africa, if one wants to explore further.
1939 Belgium Scott B260 1fr + 25c rose carmine "Furnes"
Scanned @ 1200
Photogravure can produce impressive results (as long as you don't look too closely ;-), and this 1939 Belgium Belfries is certainly one. The hazy cloud like background on this stamp looks very much what a photogravure design can do.

1939 Belgium Scott B260 1fr + 25c rose carmine "Furnes"
Digital Microscope
I didn't notice until I was processing the microscope photo that there were two stamps together. !!

1939 Belgium Scott B260 1fr + 25c rose carmine  close-up
Digital Microscope (Click and enlarge for examination.)
I'm still learning my way around photogravure, but there does seem to be a lot of connected dots here. I swear "Furnes" looks elevated compared to the paper. !!

1935 Belgium Scott B171 25c + 15c brown
"Queen Astrid Memorial Issue"
Scanned @ 1200
This stamp has a known flaw below the lip that shows up on some stamps.

The image is one that reminds me of a screened photo.

1935 Belgium Scott B171 25c + 15c brown
Digital Microscope
I'm not sure the digital  microscope offers anything more for evaluation than a good scan will for photogravure stamps.

Note however the nervous little dots along the vertical left frame edge = Photogravure

1935 Belgium Scott B171 25c + 15c brown close-up
Digital Microscope (Enlarge for examination)
One can see the diagonal matrix rows of squares. 

1940 Belgium Scott B276 1.75fr + 1.75fr ultramarine
"Bust of Prince Albert of Liege"
Scanned @ 1200
This filled in photogravure stamp has a flat slightly screened background.

1940 Belgium Scott B276 1.75fr + 1.75fr ultramarine
Digital Microscope
On closer inspection the solid area is white, blue, and dark blue dot blotchy.

1940 Belgium Scott B276 1.75fr + 1.75fr ultramarine close-up
Digital Microscope
Amazing how highlighting the white letters with dark blue "shadows", make the letters appear to be embossed. After I looked at this pic, I went back and assured myself that the stamp surface was completely flat. !!

So ends the brief look at photogravure stamps. I would like to spend more time with photogravure specimens under the DM.

1928 USA Scott 645 2c carmine
"Washington at Prayer at Valley Forge"
Close-up under the DM
Out of the Blue
The DM should have particular usefulness separating out engraved/typographic originals from lithographic forgeries.

Comments appreciated!