The 1973-1986 Definitive Issue

The 1973-1986 Definitive Issue

I had said in my last post that I am working on a comprehensive study of two sets from Nigeria, of which the Queen Victoria Lagos definitives was one. The second set is  the first definitive set issued after the country switched from sterling currency to the new currency of Naira and Kobo, in 1973. The standard postage stamp catalogues have not given this set a name, but I call it the Industry and National Pride Issue, as it depicts the various industries of Nigeria, and one gets a sense of the immense pride in their country that Nigerians felt a mere 13 years after independence in 1960. 

This set proved to be very popular and was in use continuously until it was replaced in 1986. There was a brief period of time during the inflationary period in the early 1990's when most of the values appeared again. Why they appeared during this time is somewhat of a mystery, since the massive inflation, had rendered the denominations unsuitable for all postage rates in effect at the time.

The images below show all of the designs and denominations in the set.

The 1k hides and skins.

2k Natural Gas Industry

3k Cement Factory

5k Cattle Ranching

7k Timber Industry

8k Oil Industry

10k Yankari Game Reserve. This national park is 870 square miles and is located in what is now Bauchi state, located in North Eastern Nigeria. It is the most popular destination for tourists in Nigeria, and was designated Nigeria's largest national park in 1991. It was first opened to the public on December 1, 1962. Some images from the park are shown below:
12k Civic Development showing city hall in Lagos. It was built in 1968 as the seat of the then Lagos City Council. The building was gutted by fire in 1997 and abandoned until 2007 when the governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Tinubu contracted a local construction company to restore and modernize it. 

15k Sugar Cane Farming

18k Palm Oil

20k Vaccine Production

25k Docks

30k Argungu Fishing Festival.  The festival is an annual four day festival in north-western Nigerian state of Kebbi. The festival usually took place in Argungu, the capital city of Argungu Emirate Council. The festival began in 1934, to mark the end of the centuries old hostility between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom.
On the final day of the festival, a competition is held in which thousands of women and men line up along the river and, spurned on by the sound of a gunshot, jump into the river, and have an hour to catch the largest fish. The winner can take home as much as $7,500 US dollars. Competitors are only allowed to use traditional fishing tools, and many prefer to catch the fish entirely by hand. 
35k Textile Industry

50k Pottery

1N Eko Bridge. Eko Bridge is the shortest of the three bridges that connect Lagos, Lagos Island to the mainland. The other two bridges are the Third Mainland and Carter Bridges

2N Lagos Teaching Hospital. Balewa, the first prime minister of Nigeria after independence was responsible for the cabinet decision that established this hospital in 1961. The finished buildings of the Surelere Hospital were adapted for the hospital, and patients were first admitted in 1962. 
The stamps of this series were designed by two prominent Nigerian artists Austin Onwudimegwu  and Erhabor Emokpae. 
Erhabor Emokpae was a famous artist from former Bendel State. He was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer and advertising director. He won many international prizes, including the 1950 Festival of Art in Lagos for his carvings. He died in 1984 at the age of 50. He designed the 8k, 25k, 50k and 1N values of this series. The image below shows one of his carvings. He was commissioned for the decorations of National Theatre in Lagos, and other parts of Nigeria for the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Art and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977. 
Carvings by the Nigerian Artist Erharbor Emokpae
I'd love to know more about who Austin Onwudimegwu was, but try as I might, I cannot find any information about him. 
This set is a real happy hunting ground for stamp collectors who love detail. This is easily one of the most complicated sets issued by any country in recent memory, for the time period it was in use. What are the points of interest in this set? Well, collectors who wish to study the stamps of this issue will find:
1. Differences in the designs of the stamps between printings. The first printings of this set were produced by photogravure, whereas the later printings were all by lithography. While the printing process differed, the actual designs differed from one another in minute details. Lets see if you can see the differences between the following two stamps:
Look at the hide on the left side of the design. On the top stamp, a later printing, the shading lines across the hide are visible, whereas the hide on the lower stamp is solid black. The tree trunk is a solid black line on the lower stamp, but segmented on the upper stamp. The shading lines at the right of the design on the upper stamp are absent on the lower stamp. 
Or how about these two?
The biggest difference on this stamp is that there is only one row of oil drums on the top stamp, whereas there are two visible on the lower stamp. 
2. Differences in colours. The array of shades that exist for each colour on every value of this set is staggering. If you look again at the above four images, you will see some of those differences on nearly all of the colours used to print these stamps. 
3. Differences in the order of printing. These stamps were produced by layering different colours and having several passes through the printing press. The order in which the colours was printed, affects the appearance of the stamps. For example, on many stamps containing black in the design, had the black printed over the colour, so it would appear black. On some stamps, the black is found printed first, with the colour printed over top of the black. 
4. Differences in the dimensions of the imprints on the bottom of the stamps.
5. Differences in the papers used to print the stamps, ranging from thin, chalky fluorescent papers, with no watermark, to thick, non-fluorescent papers with the word "Nigeria" watermarked in wavy lines. 
6. Differences in gum. The first printings had dextrine gum, also known as gum arabic, whereas the later printings had Polyvinyl Alcohol gum (PVA). 
7. Differences in the appearance of the perforations, with most printings having clean cut perforations, and others having rough perforations. 
This is just a sampling of the scope available for this issue. Add in the postal history and the original artwork for approved, and unapproved designs and you have quite a challenge indeed. I will illustrate many of these differences in more detail in future posts. 
Previous article The Printings of the 4d Lilac and Black Queen Victoria Keyplate Stamp of Lagos - Part One


Ndidi Uzo-Ojimadu - June 15, 2022


My dad was Austin Onwudimegwu; he died in 2006, what would you like to know and how can I help?

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