Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Saturday, April 21, 2018

George V St Helena Colony Badge
Scotts # 79 doesn’t list flaws
SG # SG 97c

St Helena is a tiny speck in the Pacific Ocean, best known for it’s infamous exile, Napoleon. It’s also home to some beautiful stamps.

The particular issue today is the St. Helena Colony Badge series from 1922-1937.   The badge shows a 3 masted ship sailing by two rocks. The stamps were printed on both chalk-surface and regular paper with two different watermarks – either Multiple Crown CA or Multiple Script Ca. These lovelies were designed by Mr. T. Bruce. I’ve tried to find information on the mysterious T. Bruce, but so far I’ve dead ended. I think it’ll take a long trip to the library to source the information.


The series is collectable on it’s own. There are 15 stamps in one set – ½ p through to 15 shillings and 5 stamps in the second set. The higher values were printed in smaller numbers because there really wasn’t a big demand for them. The 5 schilling stamp wmk script, for instance, fetches $1300 (Cdn) and higher. Postally used stamps are worth more, but beware forged cancels. If you are thinking of a higher valued stamp, stick with reputable sellers and avoid the once in a lifetime bargains often found at eBay.

The catalogue numbers run from SG 97 – 112 or Sc 79 – 93 all bearing the Multiple Script Ca watermark (image on left side of screen) wmk mult script ca Wm4and a second set, with 5 stamps, SG 113-117 or Sc 95-99 with Multiple Crown Ca watermark (image on right). wmk mult crown ca Wm4

What makes this series exciting are the plate flaws- torn flag, cleft in rock, broken mast. If you want to explore the flaws, you need to invest in a Stanley Gibbons catalogue. They are far better with British Commonwealth and Empire stamps than Scotts. The Scotts regular catalogue fails to list any of the major flaws. Gibbons Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1952 is my go to catalogue, although I wish they’d issue it in digital format.

Although I normally collect airmail and Canadian, I do enjoy wandering through British Empire stamps. I picked up a small lot of British Empire stamps years ago. I read an article on the plate flaws and became frisky thinking “Oh maybe I have one”. Imagine my shock to find I had this one:
St Helena 1/2p colony badge issue with cleft rock 

Yes, the cleft rock in my lowly mint, unhinged ½ p issue was sitting there in all it’s glory. It catapulted the price from a couple of bucks (on a good day) to about $60 Cdn in the current market. The catalogue price is wildly over priced, you’ll never get what’s listed there.

Here’s a close up of the flaw – it’s easy to spot if you scan your stamp in and blow the size up to full screen.  St Helena Cleft Rock flaw closeup

If you’re interested in St Helena stamps, check out the St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Philatelic Society .They have a fine Sales & Wants page.

Don’t forget to use online resources to help you figure out what’s in your collection. Stanley Gibbons website is one of the better. It’s chock a block full of information. Go to their site and do a search for Cleft Rock, Torn Flag or Broken Mast. Any search will pull up good quality scans you can examine to see what the flaws look like. You’ll also get a good idea about the current going price for quality issues.

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Catpaw with a pint & a typical bad haircutTime for a new look - the venerable cat on a postage stamp is now retired. As much as I loved him, it was time for a face lift - bad haircut & all. 

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- Albert Camus

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