World Stamps

By Thomas P. Myers

Varieties of Venezuelan stamps on Winchester security paper

July 16, 2014 07:00 AM

  • Figure 1. Two series of stamps first issued in 1932 were printed on Winchester security paper with a blue underprinting.

  • Figure 2. The security underprinting is more visible on the margin paper. Most examples show at least some of a shield that is part of the underprinted design.

  • Figure 3. The underprinting is sometimes particularly heavy and can overwhelm the printed stamp design.

Hideous! That is the only way to describe the Venezuelan stamps printed on Winchester security paper.

The paper is manufactured with an ugly blue underprinting that obscures the stamp design.

In late 1930 or 1931, Venezuelan officials apparently decided that the security risk of their current stamps was too great. To solve the problem, they changed printers from a local Caracas firm to Waterlow and Sons, the well-known London security printers.

The Venezuelan officials were already familiar with Waterlow, since the country’s 1924-28 definitive series had been printed by that firm.

To increase the security of the stamped paper (or perhaps to avoid offending the current printers), Venezuelan officials decided to have the stamps printed on Winchester security paper.

This paper is distinguished by blue concentric arcs interspersed with a shield bearing the words, “WINCHESTER SECURITY PAPER” preprinted on the paper.

Regular postage (Scott 293-304) and airmail stamps (C17-C40) were printed on the security paper.

The security underprinting is best seen in the margins, as shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2. The example in Figure 1 is the 5-centimo brown airmail stamp, and Figure 2 shows the 70c rose airmail issue.

A fragment of the shield appears on most, or maybe all, stamps.

In some instances, the security print is so heavy that it is difficult to discern the design or value of the stamp, as shown on the 15c gray lilac stamp in Figure 3.

There were many values issued, but the quantities printed of the airmails are surprisingly small: fewer than 100,000 for most airmails, and just 300,000 of the 5c airmail. There were 1.45 million of the 70c airmail printed, nearly three times the next highest quantity of 500,000 for the 1.80-bolivar value. There were just 35,000 of the 10b value and 16,000 of the 20b value.

It is a challenge to find all of the values, especially in used condition. Some collectors might like to expand the collection by getting a complete set of both heavy and light security printings. It would be quite difficult to find them all on cover, and perhaps impossible to collect a complete set of non-philatelic solo usages.

In 1938, definitive and airmail stamps were again printed on ordinary wove paper even though Waterlow and Sons continued as the printer. During the six-year period from 1932 to 1938, commemorative series had been printed on wove paper, but mostly by Italian firms or American Bank Note Co.

Yes, they are hideous. But there is something about them ...