Thursday, February 26, 2009

Overrun countries: ideal series for specialists

In March 2009 issue of Scott Stamp Monthly, James E. Kloetzel, editor of the Scott catalogue, completed a study begun in September 2005, October 2005 and April 2006 of the same magazine.

What is the series of stamps that needed all this returns and merited the adding of seven new variations in the reference catalogue of the United States? The overrun countries series honoring by their flags thirteen countries conquered and occupied by Nazy Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperialist Japan during World War Two. The stamps were issued by the United States Postal Services between June and December 1943.

The article full of details and a diagram of the rotative press used by the American Banknote Company explained why this series' specialists are eager to cut their hair in fourth when they are facing each one of these stamps.

What I will try to summarize despite my known incompetence in the matter. Sorry if the words are not the correct ones.

To succeed in printing many colors needed for the flags and the ornament in only one passing of the paper sheet, a offset report cylinder received the inks from four plate cylinders. Each cylinder can receive two different inks. The accumulated inks on the report cylinder are printed on the paper thank to a press roll. The possibilities of so many different colors was necessary for some stamp sheets printed with two types of stamps (one in the upper part, one in the lower one).

The ink are very thick and do not mix with each other. That explains the first variation knew on many of the stamps and by many collectors: the black dots that give the wind effect on the flags can be on top of another color (previewed effect) or under another color (non wished effet), depending on the order of arrival of the ink on the report cylinder.

Thank to a recensing in a vast collection of this series, the author wondered if the non appearance of the black colors was not due to other causes than inversed order of printing. That can be a lack of black ink at some point of the printing operations. Is the black under the colors or was it never printed?

Or, for the last cutting of thin hair, in some case, the black ink or another ink had been heavier than anticipated and move up or down another inks. The stamps are not of the first variation, but are difficult to recognize too if you don't know precisely how the printing was done.

Kloetzel admitted that to discern these variations is not possible for the common collector, even with a large collection and a microscop. That only a small group of specialists will be able and willing to do this operation.

Last Sunday, reading this article, I was made conscious of how our passion is useless compared to what happen in the rest of the world, but how it develops an intellectual reasoning that lacks to the rest of the world.

To take a break after so much reflexions, let's play a little game inspired by these stamps, on website.

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