On Tuesday April 5th, two Parisian experts and two specialised philatelists proclaimed that phosphorescence error collection is in need of strong, unquestionable definitions.
The experts are Messrs Calves and Jacquart who already made the news in Autumn 2015 by providing compulsory digital certificate with every of their expertises and letting future buyers and auction houses check their certificate database. The 2015 French expert offensive's still on the move ; one of their competitors, Jean-François Brun - a philatelic telephone and internet bulletins pioneer in the previous decades - and his fellowship, launched a blog to explain expertise and to recognize falsification by the next Christmas.
The specialists are masters of their domain and works with the two main catalogue of France. Olivier Gervais, webmaster of an exhaustive site on phosphorescence and an uptodate blog, contributes to the Spink catalogue whose many of us are impatient to see its future first completely refurbished edition. Dominique Sellier, maintained a blog entitles The Museum of Sans Phosphore, participates to the Yvert et Tellier catalogue.
Reading regularly Mr. Gervais' blog, you will discover that the study of phosphorescence bands let you understand that a "phosphor"less stamp is difficult to determine. He then praised the experts who do it conscientiously in his last article this very Friday 8th: Mr Marziano (based in Cap-d'Ail, right next to Monaco) and Mr Calves.
The proclamation precises the different states of a phosphorescent problem on stamps. The French post experiment automating mail sorting in the sixties with some trial on fluorescent paper, before switching to phosphorescent bands printed on the design. In 1970 the Mariannes by Cheffer and Béquet became the first issued with one band for second class mail and two for first class. These bands have been printed on a majority of French definitive and commemorative stamps.
First, the four signatories reminds that never phosphorus was an ingredient of the phosphorescent ink, hence the vocabulary be precise in French language: "phosphor band" or "phosphorless" mean nothing there. "Phosphorescent" and "pho" are to be used in all descriptions and communications.
Secondly, the errors, the heart of the matter. Three cases are explained.
Are considered ordinary stamps the ones that bear insufficient phosphorescent ink on the normal location. With a powerful ultra violet lamp any little points of ink would proove these cases... if the collector and the expert take the time to check.
On the contrary, if the stamp is spotless of any of this ink, an eventual error at the printing plant, they will be entitled "phosphorescent bar less stamps".
Interesting too are the other kind of printing errors: stains of phosphorescent ink on the design, misplaced bars, etc.
Let's not forget that the study of plate blocks on which are printed the date of production is helpful to know what happened with the phosphorescent print. In France the Sococodami association is proud to take an inventory of this knowledge.
Next episode: the implementation of this policy in both catalogues of France next Autumn.
Next hope: that collectors, experts and dealers use it honestly.
Saturday 16 April 2016 update:
In French (but an intelligent use of Google Translate may help), Oliver Gervais proposed a first lesson how to study phosphorescence errors on stamps of France. Read his blog Les News du phospho on April 13th. The main tip given is how to be sure the stamp is not "rémanent": with a normal collector's UV lamp, you may not see any phosphorescent ink, but under in an "absolute black" and a powerful UV lamp, you could spot tony dots of ink. The stamp will fall from phosphorescent band-less stamps (yippee!!!) to normal status because it was printed normally but for a shrinking ink tank.