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Africa/All : British Somaliland 1903 overprints on stamps of India

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keesindy
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23 Nov 2017
10:39:33am
Somaliland Protectorate

Stanley Gibbons and Scott both have listings for the overprint spelling varieties. SG also includes notes identifying Type A and Type B overprints where the "B" of BRITISH is either over the "M" of SOMALILAND (Type A) or over the "OM" of SOMALILAND (Type B).

However, this week I noticed variations in the sizes of overprint letters and their relative positioning. I've only got 16 of the overprinted stamps (10 QV and 6 KEVII). That's clearly not enough to draw any conclusions, but I was curious. So I searched online for additional info and have so far found none. I also looked at sale listings for these overprinted stamps to see how they were being described. My search wasn't thorough and I found only one sale listing (on eBay) where an unusual lettering variation was mentioned in the stamp's description. I encountered no sale listings that mentioned the Type A or Type B variety.

I suppose these lettering variations are getting into the flyspecking realm. If so, that would explain my not finding any information about them so far. Either that or my online search techniques are inadequate!

My SG Commonwealth & British Empire catalog is from 2005. Can someone with a recent version of the SG catalog check and see if SG has added information about these more obscure lettering variations?

Is anyone here aware of information about these additional variations that is available online?

I'll create and upload a JPG showing some of the lettering variations later today or tomorrow. In the meantime, we've got Thanksgiving to celebrate here in the states. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Benque
23 Nov 2017
11:52:49am
re: British Somaliland 1903 overprints on stamps of India

Interesting post keesindy. Prompted me to see what I had, and this is the only one. Not quite over the "OM", but squarely over the "M".
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keesindy
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24 Nov 2017
08:45:04am
re: British Somaliland 1903 overprints on stamps of India

Yes, Benque, definitely the SG Type A. From my limited experience, the "B" can be centered above the "OM" or be positioned anywhere between that location and the position shown on your copy.

Tom

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keesindy
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24 Nov 2017
08:57:34am
re: British Somaliland 1903 overprints on stamps of India

This image shows six examples of the 1903 BRITISH SOMALILAND overprints on India QV and KEVII stamps.

My 2005 Stanley Gibbons (SG) catalog includes notes identifying Type A and Type B overprint varieties, but there are clearly examples that fall between the two identified types. For my purposes in this image, I assumed that any overprint where the "B" of BRITISH is directly over the "M" of SOMALILAND is Type A and others positioned farther to the left, even if they aren't directly over the "OM," are Type B. SG says that both types were included on each printed sheet of stamps. Scott doesn’t mention the two types in the 2016 Classic Specialized Catalog.

Beyond those two types, there are clearly differences in the size (or at least the height) and positioning of the overprint letters. This variation appears to be more typical of the SOMALILAND letters than the BRITISH letters. Both SG and Scott list the varieties with missing letters and incorrect spelling. However, my SG 2005 catalog doesn’t mention letter positioning or size while Scott says the overprints, “vary in length and also in the relative positions of the letters.”

All of the overprinted stamps were scanned together. I used Photoshop to extract the overprints from the scanned stamp images. To compare the relative positions and sizes of the letters, I created a set of four horizontal guidelines in Photoshop. I then placed the guidelines with each example and adjusted the scanned overprint so that BRITISH was vertically centered between the top two guidelines. I later realized that this also conveniently aligned all letter "As" between the two lower guidelines. Of all the letters, the "As" are clearly the most consistent in terms of their height and their alignment between the third and fourth guidelines.

The vertical spacing between BRITISH and SOMALILAND is very consistent in this small sample. More of the SOMALILAND letters seem to be aligned at the top (third guideline) than the bottom (fourth guideline).

Generally speaking, only the "S," "O" and "D" of SOMALILAND were printed high and therefore appear above the third guideline in some of these examples. That "S" in four (or five?) of the examples is taller than all other overprint letters and the "S" in the first example (Scott #5) is positioned lower than any other letter in the six examples. The size of the letter "Os" seems to be consistent, but their vertical positioning varies. The "Ls," "Is" and "Ns" seem to be present in two different heights.

The Scott catalog mentions the overall overprint lengths, but I haven’t tried to measure and compare overprint lengths.

My initial impression is that a large number of combinations of letter positioning and size variations exist. SG says the high values were printed in sheets of 96 (8 panes) each while the 6a was printed in sheets of 320 (4 panes) and the others in sheets of 240 (2 panes).

I suspect most collectors would avoid dealing with this added level of detail, and that probably explains why I found no information about this topic in my online search this week and why online sellers, with one exception that I found, don’t mention this aspect of the Somaliland Protectorate overprint sets. In fact, in a less than thorough search, I didn’t even see any online sales of these overprinted stamps that mentioned SG’s Type A or Type B. My 2005 SG catalog doesn’t assign different values to the types. So there is little incentive for sellers (and collectors?) to pay attention to the types.


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malcolm197
24 Nov 2017
09:37:08am
re: British Somaliland 1903 overprints on stamps of India

Very interesting. Either no-one did deep research at the time or shortly after ( when copies would have been quite common ) or the results of such research has been lost subsequently.

It would be an interesting project for someone, although how you would locate a large enough sample today to be meaningful is problematical.

There must be hundreds or maybe thousands of issued stamps which have never been subjected to a proper study.

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Winedrinker
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24 Nov 2017
03:41:04pm
re: British Somaliland 1903 overprints on stamps of India

Interesting indeed, thanks for posting.. I have QV stamps with overprint on top (pictured), and unless my eyes deceive there are some differences. Very nice set -- almost makes me want to collect India.

Wine

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keesindy
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26 Nov 2017
04:58:35pm
re: British Somaliland 1903 overprints on stamps of India

Malcolm197 said:

Quote:

"It would be an interesting project for someone"



I agree, but it will have to be someone ELSE. Happy

I don't have the resources, primarily that all-important resource we call "time." Hopefully, my little introduction here will someday prompt someone to take a closer look at these overprint variations.

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keesindy
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26 Nov 2017
05:12:13pm
re: British Somaliland 1903 overprints on stamps of India

Wine, I agree. That's a very nice set—and your album page looks great!

When I bought a 1950s era mint Somaliland collection back in the 1980s, it provided a very nice starting point and included eight of the ten lowest QV values. Unfortunately, I never found the time to fill any of the voids in that collection. I moved the stamps from the original collection pages to my Leuchtturn stock pages I was using for album sheets and there they stayed for 25-30 years.


Tom

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