I have to apologize for the long delay in posts - almost a month and a half. The reason why I have been absent is that I had to move and it took a long time to get everything sorted. But now my stamp room is back up and running and I am in a position to add regular posts.
The 1960's was an interesting time for specialists of definitive stamps. The reason was that in this decade, postal administrations were experimenting with all kinds of different ways to speed the electronic sorting of mail. The machines used for this purpose relied on fluorescence to detect the stamp on the envelope in order to place the envelope in the correct position for the cancelling device. To this end, postal administrations introduced fluorescent papers and inks in their stamps, leading to many definitive issues of the 1960's being enormously complicated to the specialist interested in identifying all of the existing combinations of papers and inks.
Nigeria's definitive issue that appeared between 1965 and 1973 was no exception in this regard. The set featured 14 values from the halfpenny to the one pound, all featuring wildlife from Nigeria. The stamps were designed by Maurice Fievet and are truly African in their aesthetic. The initial issue which appeared between 1965 and 1966 was printed by two firms: Harrison and Sons, which printed the 1d, 2d, 3d, later 4d values, and the 9d, and Delrieu, which printed all other values and the first printings of the 4d. The stamps were also overprinted for use in Biafra during the civil war and are a subject of an entirely different, future post. The designs were as follows:
1/2d Lions - issued November 1, 1965
1d Elephants - the top stamp is the regular Harrison printing, while the bottom stamp bears the F.G.N. overprint. This overprint stands for "Federal Government of Nigeria" and was used for an experimental printing of official stamps that were never officially issued. Limited quantities were put on sale in late 1968. This value was also issued November 1, 1965. This stamp was also issued in booklet panes of 4 in 1966.
1.5d Splendid Sunbird. This is one of the scarcer stamps in the set, especially in used condition. Issued May 2, 1966.
2d Weaver Birds - Issued April 1, 1966. This stamp was also issued in booklet panes of 4 in 1966.
3d Cheetah - regular and F.G.N, overprints. Issued October 17, 1966.
4d Leopards - this is one of the most common stamps in this period in Nigeria. The stamp above is the original Delrieu printing. The stamp below is a Harrison printing. Issued May 2, 1966. This was the third value in the series to also appear in booklet format, in panes of 4 stamps.
6d Saddle Bill Storks - Issued May 2, 1966. There are a seemingly infinite number of combinations of shades of the lilac and violet background colours, especially when their appearance under UV light is factored in.
9d Grey Parrots - Issued October 17, 1966.
1/- Kingfishers - Issued May 2, 1966. This stamp with F.G.N. overprint is the rarest stamp of modern Nigeria, never having been officially released.
1/3d Crown Bird - Issued May 2, 1966.
2/6d Kobs - The top stamp is the regular issue without the overprint and the bottom stamp is with the F.G.N overprint. You can see very clearly, variation in the shade of brown used to print the background. Issued May 2, 1966.
5/- Giraffes - this value exhibits quite marked variation in the background colour with the top stamp appearing with brown background colour, while the bottom two stamps are printed in a distinct brown-purple. The basic brown colour was issued May 2, 1966.
10/- Hippopotamus - issued May 2, 1966
One pound Buffaloes - Issued May 2, 1966
The above stamps represent the first issue of these stamps. They all have the designer's imprint in the stamp margins at the lower right, and the remainder of the bottom margin is blank. The stamps printed by Harrison and Sons, again being the 1d, 2d, 3d, 4d, and 9d were all issued in sheets of 60, while the remaining values were printed in sheets of 25.
Starting in 1968, stamp production in Nigeria was taken over by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSP&M). These stamps were reissued in 1969 printed by NSP&M. They all have both the designer's imprint at the bottom right and the initials NSP&M in the lower left corner. Several imprint sizes exist, with some being very scarce. The designs from these later printings follow:
1d Elephants - issued sometime in 1969
2d Weavers - the large imprint is shown on the top stamp, which was issued in 1969. The bottom stamp shows the smaller right hand imprint, and this stamp was issued January 13, 1971.
3d Cheetahs - the smaller imprint at top appeared in July 1971, while the larger imprint at bottom was issued on October 22, 1971
4d Leopards - this stamp also exists with smaller imprint. However this is a very scarce stamp. It would appear that this value in both sizes was issued in 1969.
6d Saddle Bill Stork - issued sometime in 1971
9d Grey Parrot - issued in 1970.
1/- Kingfishers - issued in August 1971.
1/3d Crown Bird - issued sometime in 1971.
2/6d - Kobs - Issued in 1972. This stamp was only available locally in Nigeria and was not placed on sale by the Crown Agents in London.
5/- Giraffes - issued in 1972. This is a very scarce stamp in used condition.
Finally, the 2d and 4d values were also printed in 1970 and 1971 by Jon Enschede, of the Netherlands, who also produced a limited number of commemorative issues at this time. The designs show some marked differences from the Harrison and NSP&M stamps: on the 2d, the "2d" is white, instead of white and yellow, while on the 4d, the "4d" is a lacks the strong coloured outlines and the inscription letterings are thicker.
2d Weavers - issued in September 1970
4d Leopards - issued in March 1971.