By Janet Klug
Every once in a while it is fun to buy a big stamp mixture or even an entire collection. And, having done so, you may find that the most fun is in finding mysterious stamps you may have never seen before, and then spending time with a catalog to unravel the mysteries.
Of course, sometimes that is easier said than done.
A good example of a tricky mystery is shown here in the first illustration: a stamp originally issued by Belgian Congo. Look carefully, and you will see the words “Belgisch Congo Belge” at the bottom of the stamp.
Just above these words are two black bars that were intended to obliterate the former country name, but the bars are shifted upward, leaving the original words still visible.
The overprinted words say “Etat Autonome Du Sud-Kasai,” and a surcharge at the top changes the denomination of the stamp from 40 centimes to 6.50 francs.
Every stamp has a story, but the stories are not always easy to read, especially if the stamp is not listed in a stamp catalog. This is where the Internet can help.
A search for “Etat Autonome du Sud Kasai” turned up a number of websites, but few of them had the information needed to determine if this is a real postage stamp or a bogus one.
In the world of stamp collecting, “bogus” generally refers to something that looks like a stamp but was neither issued by a country generally recognized as legitimate nor valid for postal purposes.
Sud Kasai (South Kasai) was a part of the Kasai province in the Congo. In August 1960, Sud Kasai separated from the rest of the Congo under the leadership of Albert Kalonji.
Squeezed between Katanga and the rest of the Congo, Sud Kasai had no chance of survival. After several months of government military intervention in the secessionist region, Kalonji was arrested in December 1961 and the autonomy of Sud Kasai ceased.
Quite a number of stamps bearing similar overprints were sold exclusively by the “Philatelic Agency of Sud Kasai Autonomous State,” based in Brussels. Covers are known to exist franked with one or more of these stamps, but are they legitimate?
Conclusions: Sud Kasai overprinted stamps are not listed in any of the Scott standard or specialized catalogs. Sud Kasai was not internationally recognized as a state. These stamps are probably bogus.
While pawing through a mixture, one is likely to find showy stamps from “Republik Maluku Selatan.” Pictured here is an adhesive depicting a cute Asian palm civet; the denomination says “15k.”
This self-proclaimed republic was founded April 25, 1950, by a group of Christians living in the South Moluccan Islands. They declared Maluku Selatan (comprising the islands of Seram, Ambon and Buru) to be independent from the Republic of Indonesia.
The Indonesian army eventually put an end to the uprising, but the battle lasted for several years. Maluku Selatan never had official postage stamps, and yet many purported Maluku Selatan stamps were sold to collectors by New York stamp dealer Henry Stolow.
Conclusions: Maluku Selatan stamps are not listed in any of the Scott standard or specialized catalogs. Maluku Selatan was not recognized as a legitimate state. The stamps are bogus.
If you are lucky, you might find a stamp from Lundy in a mixture. Lundy is an island in the Bristol Channel near Devon, Great Britain. The Lundy stamp shown here bears the image of the small island and a puffin seabird, and the denomination also is valued in “puffins.”
Lundy’s name is thought to have come from the Norse word “lundi,” which refers to the puffin bird.
In 1928 the British General Post Office closed its sub-post office on the island and abandoned service to and from Lundy. A boat sponsored by the private family that owned the island carried supplies and mail between Lundy and the mainland, first without charge for the mail service and later with a required payment.
On Nov. 1, 1929, the Lundy owners began producing postage stamps with denominations denoted in puffins rather than pence. The stamps were not officially recognized by Great Britain, but British postal officials eventually gave in and permitted the use of Lundy issues on mail.
At first there was a requirement that the Lundy stamps had to be placed on the left side of the envelope, leaving room for British stamps or meters to be applied for onward delivery when the mail reached the mainland.
Lundy continues to issue its own stamps, and they now incorporate United Kingdom postage charges so that British stamps are not needed.
Conclusions: Not listed in Scott catalogs, but Lundy stamps do carry mail, are recognized by the British post office and are considered to be local post stamps.
Tanna Tuva, once officially the Tuvan People’s Republic and now the Tyva Republic of the Russian Federation, is nestled between Russia and Mongolia in Central Asia. The independent republic issued postage stamps between 1926 and 1942.
The issue pictured here (Scott 49) is a 5-kopeck Tanna Tuva stamp showing a yak being milked.
Flashy, exotic and differing wildly from how most of us think a stamp should look, Tannu Tuva issues raise the question of whether they are legitimate postage stamps.
As you may have guessed from the fact that the stamp pictured here has a Scott number, the answer to that question is yes, they are real stamps.
Conclusions: Listed by Scott; the stamps did carry mail, but Tannu Tuva was not recognized as a state until 1944. Genuine uses are rare and should be authenticated. Stamps from Tanna Tuva are legitimate postage stamps.
Rumburk is a town in the northern Czech Republic, part of the former Czechoslovakia. The town issued overprinted German stamps beginning in April 1945 during the Allied occupation. By the following month, Czechoslovakia had been completely liberated.
Conclusions: Not listed by Scott; the Rumburk overprinted stamps are undocumented, but are known on cover. At best, they are considered local post stamps.
Not every stamp you find in a mixture or collection may be a valid postage stamp, but even the “illegitimate” issues may have interesting stories.
It’s your choice: You can cull them from your collection or you can make them a part of the collection.
However, use care when buying them. Remember that bogus stamps are not legitimate postage stamps, and consider your decision to purchase (or not) accordingly.
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