Monday, 24 April 2017

I Muse...On Premiums

Purchasing a sheet or a part-sheet of your favourite stamp can make a excellent addition to your collection. But what price does one pay for such an item? Should there be a premium paid on a sheet or part-sheet of stamps? And if so, what premium percentage is reasonable to ask for, and for that matter, to pay?

The other day while partaking of my daily ebay and Delcampe search for bargains, I spotted this stunning part-sheet of the France 1936 SG 526a Normandie issue on Delcampe. When I spotted the price it made me think - what is this worth? So I thought it might be fun to churn some numbers and consider potential prices...

So just what should one realistically expect to pay for such a lovely piece? Do we simply tally the numbers of stamps in the sheet - in this case 25 - and then multiply it by the current catalogue value, £80? Or do we pay a premium on top of this? Time for some maths.

Let's work out pure catalogue value first:
  • 25 (stamps) x £80 = £625 
So is £625 what I should reasonably expect to pay? Or do we add more to this value because: 
  1. It is on a sheet.
  2. The sheet includes the printing date.
  3. Because it is a rare stamp (certainly more rare than its 1935 counterpart SG 526).
If yes to any or all of those options, how does one attach a price to such arbitrary and somewhat biased parameters? Ten percent? Twenty percent? Perhaps as high as fifty percent? Here are some numbers to consider:
  • £625 + 10% premium = £687.50
  • £625 + 20% premium = £750.00
  • £625 + 30% premium = £812.50
  • £625 + 50% premium = £935.50
For myself, I wouldn't go any higher than a 50% premium, and I feel like that is maybe pushing it. To consider the price of the above example, there are creases in the borders which would have to reduce the value a bit. Perhaps now a premium of 30-40%. The centring seems good, so no reduction there. And according to the description there are no hinge marks to be found. Purely for argument's sake, I'll choose 30%. This gives us a rough price of £812.50. A good price? 

Well, before we answer that, let's consider the item's actual minimum bid. What do you think it is? Surely it would be below catalogue value in order to promote a bidding war. Let's say £500-550. Reasonable? Perhaps. But in this case, WAY off the mark. The minimum bid for this item is a staggering £1522!!

This is a massive 240% premium!! Now, I know that people can choose whatever prices they like for their goods, but in this case is the price simply outrageous or am I missing something in the calculation? What do you think? Is a 240% premium reasonable to ask for a stamp of this era? Would you pay such an amount?

Until next time...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Gabon 1969 - Philex-Afrique

In 1969 the city of Abidjan hosted the 2nd Philex-Afrique. Abidjan is the capital of Ivory Coast. The construction of a new wharf in 1931 gave the city a huge kickstart. So much so that by 1933 it was designated the capital of the then French colony. Incidentally, Abidjan is considered one of the most populous French speaking cities in Africa.

On 14 February 1969 Philex-Afrique was officially opened. To celebrate the event an omnibus series of stamps was issued in 14 African countries with a continued affiliation with France as either an colony or former colony. Unlike most omnibus issues which exhibit the same design, this issue had a different design for each country. And the format was an interesting stamp on stamp design. Each country's design features a fresh new stamp design complimented by a reproduction of of an old stamp placed in one of its four corners. 


One of these countries was Gabon. Gabon can be found on the west coast of Central Africa. Gabon gained independence from France in 1960. The Gabon stamp was designed and engraved by Albert Decaris.

This stunning stamp design pays homage to Gabon's primary economies over time. The 1933 stamp at bottom left illustrates Gabon's first primary industry of logging. Decaris has beautifully reproduced this lovely classic stamp. See below for an example of the original stamp along with an enlarged version of Decaris' reproduction.


The main portion of the stamp illustrates Gabon's current primary industry. Oil. Oil represents 43% of Gabon's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Decaris has done a superb job here making modern machinery eye-caching and appealing.

Until next time...

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Saarland 1948 - Airmail stamps

Nearly 250 km long, the Saar River meanders through the breathtaking countryside of France and Germany. Travelling along this river one would expect to see stunning forest landscapes, canals, old bridges, and the occasional village. The Saar River also boasts.the UNESCO World Heritage Site Völklinger Hütte, and the famous Saar Loop at Mettlach. Over time the river has played a vital role for industry in Saarland, being used to ship raw materials for the coal, iron and steel industries. And the fertile banks of the Saar were perfect for wine growing, which continued up till the early 20th Century. For more on Saarland check out THIS blog post. 


On 1 April 1948 a set of three airmail stamps were issued for Saarland (Saar Protectorate). One design was used for all three values. The designer was Albert Decaris. René Cottet engraved the design. It is a stunning design, featuring the silhouette of a plane flying over the Saar River.


I love this design, and while studying it I grew curious as to what type of plane the silhouette might be representing. The main problem I faced was, does the silhouette accurately represent the plane it is supposed to be depicting? And for that matter is it an actual plane being represented? Assuming the silhouette is accurate, and that the plane has two engines, one on each wing, I didn't have much luck finding a match. But if we perhaps extend artistic license a bit and go with the possibility of the plane having two engines per wing, then I may have found a possible match. The plane could possibly be a SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc. 

As I say, this is merely a possibility. I have found no definitive evidence either way. If anyone out there can shed any light on what type of plane the silhouette might represent, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

I Study...Decaris' Marianne

Marianne is a national symbol of the Republic of France. She is the personification of liberty and reason, and she is often portrayed as the Goddess of Liberty. From the mid 1940's the face of Marianne began adorning postage stamps on a regular basis. Several distinguished stamp designers have applied their talents to creating their own unique versions of the iconic Marianne stamp design. Names like Dulac, Fernez, Muller, Bequet, and of course the stunning classic design by Gandon.

In 1960 Albert Decaris was given his turn. Unfortunately the chosen development of this stamp did not produce the best results. One wonders what the stamp would have looked like if Decaris had also engraved his design and if it were printed in Recess instead of Typography. But alas this was not the case.


On 17 June 1960 France  issued the Marianne de Decaris stamp. The stamp was designed by Albert Decaris and engraved by Jules Piel. The issue was printed in Typography.

The design of this stamp was potentially really nice, but the method of printing, in my opinion, let the composition down somewhat. Having said that, it is still an appealing design and it is quite collectible, especially considering the numerous booklets available. 

But there is another major appeal to this design - for me, at least. It has two main variations or "Types". A bit of net searching revealed there are also many minor variations to look out for. For now, let's just focus on the two main types. How do we distinguish one from the other? Well, it's actually fairly simple, and if you have descent eyes, it can be done without any aids. Otherwise, a magnifying glass will be more than adequate. I have created a diagram - see below - to help us along. Looking at the diagram you can see immediately the different shading between the chin and the lower lip.

It is important to note at this point that I found some discrepancies between websites as to which variation is Type 1 and which is Type 2. One site I consulted had the types listed the opposite way around to what I have shown above. But I found two other reference sites that list them this way. So I have gone with the odds. If anyone has further information I'd love to hear from you - and if need be alter my diagram.

There is also another difference between Types 1 and 2, but I haven't been able to work it out clearly yet. All I know is that Type 2 has "trimmed vertical sides". Whether this refers to perforations or the stamp frame, I don't know. Again, if anyone can clear this up it would be great.

Until next time...