Saint Vincent, with notes and publishers' prices
Stanley Gibbons Philatelic Handbooks.
NOTES AND PUBLISHERS’ PRICES.
FRANCIS H. NAPIER
E. D. BACON.
STANLEY GIBBONS, LIMITED,
391, Strand, London.
The large number of collectors, not only in this country, but alsoon the other side of the Atlantic, who now make the postal issuesof the various West Indian Colonies of Great Britain the objectof their quest, justifies us in believing that the present volume (thefourth of the series) will be received with as much interest as thatwhich has been evinced for the preceding volumes.
The authors of this Handbook, Lieut. F. H. Napier, R.N.,and Mr. E. D. Bacon, have in preparation a Handbook onthe Stamps of Barbados, which we hope will be ready forpublication in the course of the present year.
The prices quoted will in some cases be found higher than theprices given in our General Catalogue and Price List, but it mustbe borne in mind that those in these Handbooks are specimensof more than average quality, for it is a fact now generally recognizedby all philatelists that a specimen in exceptional conditioncommands a higher price than that which rules for an averagespecimen.
We have priced only those varieties which we have in stock incertain quantities, but it must not be concluded from this that allthose unpriced are of such rarity or value that we are unable tosupply them.
STANLEY GIBBONS, Limited.
The prehistoric times of Philately may be said tohave ceased in 1863, when the publication of theStamp Collector’s Magazine and the Timbre-Postecommenced. The few and meagre catalogueswhich preceded them in 1862—such as those ofMount Brown and Dr. Gray in England, Moens inBelgium, and Potiquet in France—can only be looked uponas archaic productions, interesting certainly because of theirassociations, but of no appreciable utility now-a-days to thestudent of stamps. It is, however, worthy of remark thatthe difference between imperforate and perforated stampswas then recognized, as they are distinguished from eachother in the catalogues both of Moens and Potiquet; thisshows that even at that early date the true philatelic spiritwas already abroad.
When studying countries of which the philatelic historiesbegin prior to 1862 or 1863, we are dependent entirely onpublic notices emanating from postal authorities, officialrecords, and information derived from the books of firmswho manufactured the stamps, or supplied the plates, paper&c. for printing them, sources of knowledge not always easyof access. Luckily for our present purpose, seeing thatpostage stamps were not adopted in St. Vincent until 1861,we are not so dependent on these official or commercialrecords, having a great number of philatelic works, such ascatalogues and periodicals, to rely upon, all of which we havecarefully searched and collated; at the same time we havereceived great assistance from Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co.,Limited, the printers of the stamps included under the headof Section I. This Company have been good enough tofurnish us with a complete list of every stamp sent out bythem to the Island, a copy of which we give in Appendix D,and we acknowledge with thanks our indebtedness to theManaging Director and Secretary, for the valuable materialthey have so considerately placed at our disposal, whichhas enabled us to satisfactorily clear up several points thatbefore were more or less obscure. It will also be seen thatthe list helps in no small degree to form what we hopemay be considered a fairly complete history of the stampsof this Island.
Our method of designating and arranging the perforationsof the stamps supplied to the Colony by Messrs. Perkins,Bacon & Co. from 1861 to 1882 is a novel one, but wethink it will remove the difficulty that has hitherto beenfelt in classifying the perforations, as it has always seemedimpossible to assign any limit to the number of so-calledcompounds, which, if we are to believe some recently-publishedcatalogues, must indeed be infinite, and incapableof any classification whatsoever. For instance, in one ofthese catalogues, five simple and seven compound perforationsare given to the stamps of 1861; to those of 1866seven simple and five compound; to those of 1869 foursimple and five compound; and so on through later issues.On the other hand, another catalogue, also of recent date, iscontent to make the general statement that the issues up to1880 are perforated 11½ to 15, simple and compound. Thisis at first sight an apparently innocent statement, but inreality it opens up an appalling perspective of interminablelists. We think we shall have justly earned the gratitude ofthe many philatelists who (as far as it is compatible withstrict accuracy) desire above all things simplicity ofarrangement, in having banished from the lists all mentionof these fanciful perforations, whether simple or compound.The fact is that in the St. Vincent stamps printed byMessrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co., with the exception of one(that is the yellow-green Six Pence of 1862), there are onlytwo simple perforations and one compound, and althoughthis last makes its appearance very frequently, it is alwaysexactly the same in every issue in which it occurs. Nodoubt the confusion which has arisen has been causedby the too zealous and indiscriminate use of a perforationgauge limited to two centimetres, and applied to singlespecimens of stamps, which has led true compounds to beconfounded with those apparent deviations from the normalgauge arising from irregularities in the spacing of the holes,irregularities existing in both of the two machines used forthese stamps by Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co., but in a verymuch greater degree in one of them than in the other.
The whole point of our argument lies in this, that toseparate perforations, it is only necessary to differentiatebetween those produced by distinct machines, and thatthere is no object in collecting the same stamp over andover again merely because the perforation varies within aspace of 2 centimetres, if it can be shewn that the stampswere all perforated by one and the same machine. Hithertoit has been the great aim of collectors and writers to tryand gather together every variety of perforation that can befound on a stamp of any one particular issue—this quiteregardless of the cause from which these varieties arise.Our method obviously removes many difficulties, and greatlysimplifies the arrangement of all stamps that have been perforatedby machines in which the pins were irregularlyspaced. We further claim that our system is based uponstrictly scientific lines, and that it is applicable, not only toSt. Vincent, but to the other British Colonies whose stampswere printed and perforated by Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co.,although it must be borne in mind that in some of thesethere were other machines used, besides those we describefor St. Vincent.
As in the Notes we go fully into all details of perforation,it is not now necessary to dwell further upon this point; weonly wish to insist on the importance of the subject, as it wasthe uncertainty hitherto regarding it that first induced us toparticularly examine the stamps of St. Vincent, and thatnow leads us to make public the results of our investigations.
In order to make the list of the varieties of perforation ascomplete as possible, we have during the last three yearsexamined a very large number of St. Vincent stamps, somany that we think it is highly unlikely there still remainsanything to be added to the tables of perforations(Appendices B and C), and this in spite of the gaps thatwill be seen to exist in them.
The history of the use of distinctive postage stamps inSt. Vincent dates from May 1st, 1860, when the ColonialAuthorities took over from the Imperial Government theentire management of the Post Office of the Island, which,like the posts of many of the other British West Indies,had up to that date been administered by the Postmaster-Generalof the United Kingdom. The Local Legislature ofthe Island thereupon passed an Ordinance, known as the“Post Office Act,” which became law on June 14th, 1860.This Act, amongst other things, provided for the appointmentof a Colonial Postmaster, a General Post Office forthe Island, rates of postage, and the issue of postage stamps.As many of the clauses of the Ordinance possess a gooddeal of interest for Philatelists, we give, in Appendix A, acopy of those which, from a collector’s point of view, maybe considered the more important ones. After the passingof the Act postage stamps were ordered from England, and,as we shall afterwards see, a supply was despatched to theIsland on March 27th, 1861. The stamps were no doubtput into use immediately on their arrival, as a statementin the Blue Book of the Colony for 1861 gives the amountreceived for postage during that year as £158 16s. 5d., asagainst £78 5s. 4d. for 1860, and the increase is accountedfor by the “Sale of Postage Stamps which were obtained in1861.” This fixes with certainty the date of the first issue,but when we commenced to study those of the later issues,and attempted to make a proper chronological list, we foundthere were many discrepancies in the published catalogues weconsulted; from them we turned to contemporary notices inthe pages of the Timbre-Poste, the Stamp Collector’s Magazine,the Philatelist, the Philatelic Record, and other less celebratedperiodicals, in hopes of removing our difficulties.Unfortunately Philately was decidedly under a cloud fromthe middle to near the end of the seventies, and this isjust the time during which a number of issues took placein St. Vincent. The Stamp Collectors Magazine ceased with1874, the Philatelist, never a good source of original information,stopped in 1876, and after that the Timbre-Postealone filled the breach until the Philatelic Record made itsappearance in 1879. It is with regard to this importantsubject of dates that Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co.’s list hasbeen so extremely useful, as we have thereby been enabledto check the notices scattered through the pages of thevarious philatelic works we have mentioned. We thereforebelieve that the dates of issue given by us will befound to be more accurate than those in any previouspublication.
With regard to describing the colours of the stamps, wehave met with the usual difficulty of at once satisfying ourown opinions, and those of various friends whom we haveoccasionally questioned as to what they would call thecolour of such or such a stamp, and we do not think we havegot out of the difficulty either better or worse than othercompilers of catalogues usually do, the differences of opinionwe have met with, as to the proper names by which to callcertain shades, being generally hopelessly irreconcilable. Noreference to other works is of much use; for instance, wefind the one shilling of 1874 called “dirty rose colour” inthe Stamp Collector’s Magazine, “dull rose-pink” in thePhilatelist, “lilac-rose” in the London Society’s list, “pink”by Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co., “rose sale” in Moens’Catalogue, and “lake” in Messrs. Stanley Gibbons & Co.’sprice list. It must be confessed that all this is veryconfusing, and we are afraid that collectors will always findthe task of distinguishing between the earlier red shillingsof St. Vincent rather a difficult one. Fortunately there arenot many cases in this Colony where the identification of aparticular stamp depends on the description of its colouralone, as we are generally helped to the desired conclusioneither by the watermark or the perforation.
We think that the two plates of autotype illustrationsaccompanying this work will be found something more thanmere embellishments, and will be of real use to our readersas a means of discriminating between genuine and false surcharges,and also of distinguishing the various perforationsalluded to in our text.
There are many interesting questions connected with theperforating machines used by Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co.,as well as with the papers, unwatermarked and watermarked,employed by them for the numerous British Colonies towhich they supplied stamps; but in