Design Type Differences on the 1949 UPU Issue Common Designs

Design Type Differences on the 1949 UPU Issue Common Designs

In my study of the common design stamps of this issue, I began to notice several differences in the design details of the low value first designs and the third, mid-value designs for many of the colonies. The differences are so consistent, and for several colonies I found more than one type. Because of this, I have reached the conclusion that these differences are different types, and these types may correspond to separate printings, or plates. I have not yet studied the second or fourth designs sufficiently yet to tell if there are type differences on these as well. However, if I find any, I will discuss them here as I find them. 

The differences on the first design all revolve around the appearance of the button that fastens together Mercury's cape or tunic. The differences on the third design centre on the appearance of the letters - how complete the outlines are, and whether or not the knives on the envelopes are complete or not. 

First Design - Mercury, Globe and Stylized Airplane 

On this design, I found very few differences in the stamps from one colony to the next, but one difference I did find was in the button fastening Mercury's tunic together at the neck. The button is oval in shape and contains a smaller oval. I have so far found three types of button:

  • Type 1 - The button is complete and the outer edge of then button is outlined with a thick solid oval for 3/4 of the perimeter, and then a thinner arc for the remaining quarter. 
  • Type 2 - The button is complete, but the thick outline only covers 3/4 of the perimeter of the button. The top left 1/4 of the button is not outlined. 
  • Type 3 - the button is only half complete. 

The pictures below show the three types:


Type 2

Type 1 medallion 1949 UPU Issue

Type 1

Type 3 medallion 1949 UPU issue

Type 3

Third Design - Mercury Above the Globe Dropping Letters

On this design, the first detail I noticed has to do with the envelope in Mercury's hand, and specifically the appearance of the corner of the envelope that is in the palm of Mercury's hand. There are three types: one that shows the corner complete and having an outline of the same thickness along the perimeter of the entire envelope. Another type shows the corner complete, but with a much thinner and weaker line than on the remainder of the envelope. The third type shows a definite break in the upper right corner of the envelope with either no trace of the line that completes the corner, or only the barest trace. 

The scans below show these three types:

Complete envelope - 1949 UPU Issue

Type 1

Type 2 letter 1949 UPU

Type 2

Type 3 letter 1949 UPU

Type 3

However, this is not the only detail that differs between the stamps. The last and second last envelopes also exhibit some clear differences. These differences have to do with how complete and clear the knife is on each envelope. The knife is otherwise known as the backflap that seals the back of the envelope up. Both the second last envelope and last envelope can be found with one of three types of knife: complete, with clear lines; complete, but with weak lines in places, and incomplete with clear breaks. 

The scans below show some of these types on the last and second last envelopes:

Complete but weak knife on both second last and last envelopes

Complete, but weak knife on second last envelope, and incomplete knife on last envelope


Thus there are three characteristics that can each be found in three states, for a total of 27 possible types. Fortunately for us, I haven't found 27 different types, but only a few combinations. In an updated version of this post, I will detail the combinations found, as well as add more scans of the types found on the last two envelopes of the third common design. But I wanted to post this now, so that you can see that there are indeed discernable differences in the finer details of these designs. I haven't looked closely at the second and fourth designs yet, but expect to find some differences on those as well. 


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