As the New Year begins, many philatelists are probably contemplating, “What was my most important philatelic purchase or discovery which I added to my collection last year?” I thought about it too, so I can share with you my joy that in the fall of 2016 I managed to fill a gap in my collection: I purchased an imperforate block of four 1A stamps of the 1922 Third Airmail issue.
Fig. 1. An imperforate block of four 1A stamps.
I will consciously withhold the details of the name of the auction where I found my purchase and the sale details, in order to preserve some intrigue and stimulate curiosity, and at the same time to encourage you to review your last year’s acquisitions. However, I would like to share my thoughts about the 1A imperforate stamp.
On August 31, 1924, the first Lithuanian-language magazine for philatelists, “Lietuvos Filatelistas“, published in Kaunas by the Lithuanian Society of Philatelists (however, due to various reasons, only two issues of the magazine have been printed).
Fig. 2. The 1924 cover of the first issue of the “Lietuvos Filatelistas” (click to enlarge).
On page 5 of this magazine, an illustration of the full sheet of 1A imperforate stamps is shown.
Fig. 3. A full (upside down) sheet of 1A imperforate stamps (click to enlarge).
Examining it in accordance with the positional numbering used in the catalogs by J. Ubartas, K. Matuzas and A. Jankauskas reveals that the sheet is upside down. As far as I can distinguish, due to the poor printing quality of that time, position 100, which is at the top of the page in the illustration, lacks dots in the bottom rosettes of the stamp, and the letter “L” in “LITHUANIA” has a dot, so we can safely assume that this imperforate sheet is printed utilizing the right lithographic plate, out of the two original plates (also known as the printing base) that were used to print the stamps. In his catalogue, A. Jankauskas uses the letter “B” to label sheets of perforated stamps printed with the right plate.
I would assume that the full sheet B of 1A stamps was cut up and sold/traded in pieces to philatelists, while my longtime experience as a stamp collector allows me to claim that pairs of imperforate stamps or larger blocks from the sheet B are among the rarest varieties of classic Lithuanian postage stamps. As long as I can remember, I have only seen this type of stamps sold in auctions three times. On September 13, 2011, the lot No. 6187 from the Matuzas’ collection was sold for $450. This was a single stamp from position 100, and, in my opinion, it was a regular perforated stamp from which the perforations have been trimmed. Fig. 4 below shows such a stamp from my collection – you can make your own conclusions.
Fig. 4. An examples of a regular perforated 1A stamp, position 100 with trimmed perforations (click to enlarge).
Another lot No. 6188 was sold for $1200 at the same Cherrystone auction – this is a tête-bêche pair, which (at least for me) does not raise any suspicions of its authenticity. A year later, at the same the same Cherrystone auction, on February 21-23, 2012, the sale of the Grigaliūnas’ collection also included a group of three 1A imperforate stamps from the sheet B, positions 46, 55 and 64. The lot No. 3224 that also included other rare items was sold for $45,000. For the third time, once again a year later, and again at the same auction house, on May 14, 2013, the so-called Kaunas collection sale included an imperforate pair which was sold as the lot No. 2320 for $525. Again, this pair does not raise any suspicions of its authenticity, and the sale price was very good. Interestingly, in all above-mentioned cases, no imperforate stamps with a dot on the upper rosette, of which there are 12 on the sheet, were sold.
The imperforate block of four 1A stamps that was recently added to my collection is from the sheet B, positions 53, 61, 62, and 63. Please note that the uppermost stamp in the block, position 53, has a dot on the upper rosette.
I think that many philatelists would be interested to know what other pieces of the imperforate sheet exist. Is sheet B the only surviving sheet? Or perhaps someone has found 1A imperforate stamps from sheet A?
I encourage everyone to share their thoughts and information with others here.
Going forward, I ask all the readers of the LithuanianPhilately.com to post your comments in the forums: http://lithuanianphilately.com/forums/