Cinderellas add more fun to your collection

Apr 27, 2021, 12 PM

By Michael Baadke

Last week's Refresher Course column began an overview of cinderellas: labels, stickers and other items that may resemble postage stamps. Cinderella collecting often appeals to the stamp collector.

Many of these fun collectibles are not listed in any general stamp-hobby catalog. Some are, however, particularly revenue stamps, postal savings issues and some charity labels, for example Christmas seals.

Local stamps also may be listed in specialized catalogs.

Some cinderellas were created specifically to fool collectors or postal authorities, while others were manufactured for amusement or promotional purposes.

Last week's column described bogus and phantom issues, charity labels, customs and inspection labels, essays and proofs, and etiquettes.

Here are some more popular cinderella categories.

Exhibition promotional labels. In years past, stamp exhibitions would generate publicity by distributing handsome engraved and perforated labels that rivaled many postage stamps for style and quality.

Many shows continue to create promotional labels, but most are now plain self-adhesive stickers printed by less-expensive methods.

In other words, the exhibition label has followed the same basic evolutionary pattern as the postage stamp.

Forgeries and counterfeits. There are two important types of stamp forgeries: those created to deceive stamp collectors, and those created to deceive postal authorities. The latter are also known as counterfeit stamps.

Forgeries of older stamps are extremely widespread, and their existence is often noted in stamp catalogs.

Some collectors watch for forgeries and collect them along with an example of the genuine stamp they attempt to replicate.

In Cinderella Stamps by L.N. and M. Williams, forgeries of phantom stamps from Azerbaijan and other areas are described.

Every other week in Linn's Stamp News, forgery expert Varro E. Tyler presents Focus on Forgeries, comparing a single example of a forged stamp to the genuine item.

Last week's feature described a forgery of the 13¢ John F. Kennedy Prominent Americans stamp of 1967.

Facsimiles. Facsimiles differ from forgeries in that they are clearly marked reproductions of genuine postage stamps. The sale of facsimiles to collectors is done without deception, so the collector may possess and study a likeness of a stamp that may be very difficult to obtain.

The facsimile shown front and back in Figure 1 reproduces a 2¢ 1863 issue from the Confederate States of America.

Local stamps (private local posts). Though they are usually considered cinderella items, stamps from private local post companies are often genuinely used to deliver mail, though within a limited area and under regulations.

Local stamps from many countries are listed in various specialized catalogs.

Stamps from Herm Island in Great Britain, shown in Figure 2, are used to pay for the carriage of mail from the island to Guernsey, where the mail is then deposited into the British mail system (properly franked with British postage stamps).

Propaganda labels. Labels and stickers promoting causes that are usually political in nature are sometimes found on mailed covers. Propaganda labels resembling postage stamps have been created by many organizations, thereby increasing the appeal of the label to the cinderella collector.

Revenue stamps, fiscals. One of the more popular cinderella collecting areas is that of revenue stamps, also known as fiscals or tax stamps. The last term is probably the most accurate, for these are stamps created to indicate a tax has been paid.

Because revenue stamps are often created, printed and distributed by a governmental body, they enjoy the same air of legitimacy as postage stamps. Many are documented in postage stamp catalogs and in separate revenue catalogs.

Figure 3 shows a 24¢ Wines revenue stamp, series of 1916, from the United States.

Savings stamps. Postal savings stamps encouraged personal savings by establishing a regular method to set aside money. In the United States, stamps were issued as receipts for funds saved toward the purchase of war bonds, savings bonds and other similar savings programs.

Specimens. Though most specimen stamps begin life as actual postage stamps, the postal use of the stamp is voided with the application of the "SPECIMEN" overprint.

Specimens are distributed to publications for illustrative purposes, and they are sometimes used to demonstrate printing quality.

Figure 4 shows two specimens. The example at left from Nevis bears a "SPECIMEN" overprint. The stamp at right from Paraguay is marked "MUESTRA," the Spanish-language equivalent of "specimen."

Telegraph stamps. Labels issued to denote payment for a telegraph service were issued by private companies in the United States beginning around 1870.

Similar services in other countries were often offered by the federal post office. In some cases, special telegraph stamps were issued, while in others, postage stamps paid the necessary fees.

Test or dummy stamps. To test the printing, perforating and coiling machinery used to make postage stamps, postal authorities and private security printers have made different varieties of test or dummy stamps.

Because tight security is needed when working with genuine stamps, printers use test stamps to avoid security problems.

Often these labels are not available to the public, but many U.S. test stamps have appeared on the market and are listed in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps.

The example shown in Figure 5 is a self-adhesive test stamp depicting a parrot. It was manufactured by Banknote Corporation of America, a private security printer of United States stamps.

Unauthorized issues. There have been a number of cases where stamps purporting to be issues from genuine postal services have appeared on the market, only to be disputed by authorities as unauthorized stamps.

A well-known example is a set with the inscription "Republique d'Haiti" featuring illustrations of bird paintings by John J. Audubon.

According to the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, "In 1975 or later various sets of bird paintings by Audubon were produced by government employees without official authorization. They were not sold by the Haiti post office and were not valid for postage."

A 5-centime value from this unauthorized set is shown in Figure 6.

The categories of cinderella issues provided over these past two columns only begin to cover the enormous range of items that may be considered cinderellas.

Almost anyone who has been a stamp collector for any length of time probably has one or more of these cinderella items. For some collectors, the addition of cinderellas makes the standard stamp collection more interesting.

Topical or thematic collectors often like cinderellas for the way the labels broaden the scope of the collection. Certainly the Parrot label in Figure 5 would add a nice touch to a collection featuring birds or parrots.

Though in most cases they are not valid for postage, cinderellas make up a substantial and varied collecting field that many of us enjoy.