Click here to return to the home page
Back to the home page Contact the magazine staff Stamp Auctions Stamp Dealers All the news Great British Stamps Magazine features about stamps Thematics Subscribe and save money today Subscribe and save money
Queen Elizabeth II rarities
In Jamaica a King George VI £1 definitive – in a design of ‘Tobacco Growing & Cigar Making’ – had been put on sale on August 15, 1949. Then in 1954 the basic design was repeated for a new £1, but incorporating the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Once printed these stamps were placed in storage, and Jamaica continued using the KGVI version. Soon it was decided to issue a completely new QEII definitive, complete with £1 value showing the Arms of Jamaica (issued in August 1956). As collectors might object to two different £1 definitives being issued in quick succession, the QEII Tobacco Growing stamps were incinerated.

A startling invert occurred with the Canada stamp of 1959 to mark the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The central part of the design, featuring the Maple Leaf and American Eagle, was found inverted – worth recording even though this stamp does not include the Royal portrait.

But the best error is the Falkland Islands 1964 Battle of the Falkland Islands 6d value which should feature HMS Kent, but a sheet in error was printed with the design of the 2 1/2d value, HMS Glasgow. The sheet was sent to a new issue dealer in the USA, who didn’t notice the error and distributed the stamps as normals.

In 1976 Royal Mail issued four stamps for the centenary of the Royal National Rose Society. On one position on the cylinder of the highest value, the denomination of 13p was omitted. This was noticed, and corrected, with the intention that all examples of the error had been removed, but clearly not all were.

Volcano relief issue
In 1961 a volcano erupted on Tristan da Cunha, and the inhabitants had to flee. The Governor of St. Helena, on which stocks of Tristan stamps were held, decided to overprint and surcharge four values, to go towards a Tristan Relief Fund. With endearing naivety, the Governor sent a postcard to Reginald Maudling, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, on which he affixed three of the stamps (not the 3d + 21/2 cents), posted on the day of issue, October 12, 1961.

The overprinting was inspired by the fact that a ship had called at St. Helena, and the ‘relief’ stamps could be sold to the passengers. However, the Colonial Office was not happy that prior permission had not been sought to produce the stamps, and instructed the Governor to withdraw and destroy them. The Colonial Office later relented, but the remaining stocks had been destroyed, with just 434 complete sets sold.

Local objections
A set of three was required by Jamaica in 1968 to mark Human Rights Year, and designs were prepared by Jennifer Toombs. The designs went through the usual approval procedures, which included the Jamaican postal administration, but it was not until the printed stamps reached the island that objections were raised locally about the stark nature of the black and white hands on designs. After several weeks’ debate, it was decided not to release the Toombs’ designs, but for new designs to be prepared locally withy brown hands. Samples of the original designs had already been distributed to philatelic journalists, and weren’t recalled, so the unissued stamps can be found.
Also in 1968 Ceylon was to release two stamps for the Golden Jubilee of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress. There were objections to the proposed 50c stamp showing a footprint, so, the day before intended release, it was withdrawn. Some examples of the stamp were, however, sold by rural post offices.

In 1956 Swaziland issued a new pictorial definitive, with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, in values for postage/revenue up to £1. However, the set also included a £5 revenue stamp in the design that had been used for the King George V and King George VI definitives. The Crown Agents Archives reveal that 12,000 of the stamps were printed: remaining stocks were surcharged on the introduction of decimal currency in 1961. But no examples have been seen, except for one stamp perforated Specimen from the Bradbury Wilkinson archives, and one mint example, now in the British Library in London.

Back to the index of World's rarest stamps>>