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Brixton Chrome

Lot 254 Nigeria SG#305, 344, 436, 450 10K Yankari Game Reserve & 1N Eko Bridge & 30k Environment Day and Commonwealth Day Issues, Combination Usage on 1983 Airmail Cover to Germany

Lot 254 Nigeria SG#305, 344, 436, 450 10K Yankari Game Reserve & 1N Eko Bridge & 30k Environment Day and Commonwealth Day Issues, Combination Usage on 1983 Airmail Cover to Germany

An airmail cover to Germany, sent in July 1983 and franked with 1N Eko Bridge and 10k Yankari Game Reserve from the 1973-1986 Nigerian Life Issue and 30k singles from the 1983 Environment Day and Commonwealth Day issues, paying the 1N 70k airmail rate to Germany. This must have been an overweight rate, as I have seen other covers from this period to Germany in which the postage was less than 1N 70K. A nice combination franking featuring 2 contemporary high value commemorative issues and the definitive issue. Very fine. Est. $10.

The 1973-1986 definitive issue of Nigeria is an extremely complicated issue that rivals the complexity and appeal of many of the world's popular modern definitive issues. Both Scott and Gibbons list three sets:

1. The original unwatermarked set, printed on thin paper by photogravure, in use during April 1973.

2. The unwatermarked lithographed set, in use from April 1973 to about 1975.

3. The watermarked lithographed set that was in use from 1975 to 1984 and again in the late 1990's.

However, what neither catalogue lists or mentions are the areas of complexity that exist with this issue that make it a fascinating issue in which to specialize:

1. The papers vary in terms of their fluorescent reactions under UV light. I have not dealt with paper fluorescence here, but you should be aware that these differences exist.

2. The paper on both the watermarked and unwatermarked lithographed issues shows very wide variations in thickness, texture and whether the paper contains visible mesh. The unwatermarked issue stamps can be found on thin paper that is the same as that used for the photogravure isues. It can also be found on a thicker, unsurfaced paper that is both smooth and another type with clear vertical mesh. The paper on the watermarked issues is usually the thicker kind, but there is also a thinner, medium thick watermarked paper. Again, the watermarked paper can be found both with and without vertical mesh.

3. The colours used to print the stamps show extreme variations. In addition the printing was done in layers, with each colour being added, sometimes with several passes through the printing presses. Little attention was paid to the order of priting, so that examples can be found where the colour is the same, but printed in a different order, as ca be seen by carefully examining the stamp and seeing which colour is on top of which colour.

4. Little attention was paid to the orientation of the watermarked paper with respect to the printing press. As a result the watermarked stamps can be found with normal, reversed, inverted, sideways and sideways-inverted watermarks.

5. On the photogravure stamps the NSP&M imprint at the bottom left can be found both with and without periods as well as with broken letters, or with parts of the imprint missing.

Adding to the appeal of this issue is the scarcity of stamps in mint conditon. The catalog values quoted in both Scott and Gibbons for mint stamps of this issue are completely absurd. In almost a decade of daily online buying for my inventory, I managed to amass no more than 20 complete sets, plus maybe a handful of singles of most values of this issue. These encompass all the varieties I discuss above, and often each value will have a dominant printing that is much more common, with the others being much, much scarcer. The stamps you see here represent most all of the NH stamps I have of this issue. While I still have examples of the more common printings, many of the stamps you see in this sale are the only examples that I had. The reason for this scarcity had to do with the cultural, political and economic conditions in Nigeria, then and in the present day. I have been to Lagos and have gone to post offices to buy stamps, and one thing I noticed was that oftentimes the post office would not have the current issue for sale. Or, they would have many sheets of just one stamp from a set. It was explained to me that post offices were supplied according to need for a particular denomination of stamp and not with collectors in mind. Also, as the country became ruled by a military dictatorship in the mid 70's and began to experience economic instability and hyperinflation, Institutions like the philatelic bureau stopped functioning the way they had in previous years. So dealers did not receive the supplies of mint stamps they had in previous years. The result was that most definitives from this issue and the subesquent issues were used up for postage, with very little being saved. So this issue is one of the best modern issues imaginable to collect if you are looking for Wapiti-level rarity. Once this material is gone it will be a long time before I am in a position to offer it again.

Covers are another interesting aspect to this issue. You will find a wide variety of rates and frankings from this period. The most common covers will be those to the UK or the US, followed by Germany. However, many scarcer destinations can be found. Unlike Canadian postal history, covers sent locally are very scarce, as are covers sent to other African countries. This is because the culture has not generally regarded preservation of this material to be important, with the result that most has been thown away.

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