27 mei 2024

The Surinam 1945 Airmail Varieties

On March 12, 1945, Surinam re-issued three of the older 1930 and 1941 airmail stamps with surcharged new values. Apparently they were running short of some of values that were needed, so they overprinted the 60 cent dark lilac with a 22 ½ cent surcharge, the 2 ½ gld yellow with a 1 gld surcharge and the 10 gld bistre with a 5 gld surcharge. Figure 1 shows the original stamps, and Figure 2 the surcharged ones.

The NVPH gave the set the catalog listings of LP24-26. Forty year ago, in the Vol. 5.2 December 1979 Netherlands Philately (NP) magazine, there was an article with the headline about an unknown variety which had been found on one of these stamps. The article went into some details about the different varieties. The author of the article is not credited, so I am assuming it was the Editor, Paul E. van Reyen. If some ASNP member knows definitely who it was, please let us know so we can give proper credit to the author.

Figure 1: The three airmails used for the surcharges, the 60 cent NVPH LP21, the 2 ½ gld NVPH L17 and the 10 gld, NPVH LP19.

This article will only discuss the varieties that the NVPH lists, as there a many different plate faults and varieties on all the three values of these stamps that are not listed. In this article we discuss and show images of two different examples of the elusive LP24fb stamp that the previous writer had not seen. The LP24fb stamp is very rare; some references state that only four stamps were surcharged with this variety.

Figure 2: The three surcharge airmails, 22 ½ cent on the 60 cent, NVPH LP24, 1 gld on the 2 ½ gld NVPH LP25 and the 5 gld on the 10 gld NVPH LP26.

The 1979 NP article mentioned that the rate for a single weight letter to the USA was 22 ½ cent, so the post office used the 60 cent to be surcharged, as there were many surplus 60 cent stamps in possession of the post office in Surinam. The writer of the NP article also hypothesize that because only 15,000 1 gld stamps and maybe only 2,000 of the 5 gld stamps had been previously printed, it was decided to overprint the 2 ½ gld stamps with 1 gld, and the 10 gld stamp with 5 gld surcharges, respectively, since these were infrequently used and also in surplus.

Dr. J. D. Riddell in his book,” Suriname – A Postal History (Postale Geschiedenis) 1700-1956, published in 1970 by H. Duerinck-Krachten NV., Kloosterzande, gives the number of the stamps that were surcharged as 50,000 of the 22 ½ cent stamp , 9,700 of the 1 gld stamp, and likewise 9,700 of the 5 gld stamp.

Figure 3: The 22 ½ cent surcharge airmail with inverted 22 ½ cent NPVH LP24fa.

The 1979 NP article mentions that it was said that sometime during the first few days of sales two sheets were found of the 22 ½ cent stamp that had inverted surcharges (Figure 3). The NVPH lists this stamp as LP24fa. An article in “Stamps” magazine stated that the postmaster had sold only one each of the inverted surcharge stamps to different customers.

The writer stated that if it was true that the postmaster only sold singles, then there could not be any pairs of the inverted surcharge of the 22 ½ cent surcharged stamp. As we will further learn in this article, it is not true that the postmaster only sold single inverted surcharged stamps, in at least one case. We also know of at least one of these LP24fa inverted stamp that was used on a cover (Figure 4). Did the user of that inverted surcharge on cover know that the stamp was an error?

Figure 4A: The inverted surcharged 22 ½ cent on cover.
Figure 4B: Reverse of same cover.

Despite that at only 196 copies of NVPH LP24fa probably could exist (Why not 200, you might ask? We will see the answer as this article continues.), the NVPH lists the 22 ½ cent with inverted surcharge for only 400 Euros.

It was also quickly discovered that every sheet of the 22 ½ cent stamp had a printer’s error with two stamps having the ‘1’ upside down in the fraction ½ (Figure 5). These stamps are found in positions 9 and 51, according to the writer of the NP article. Since there were a total of 500 10 x 10 sheets printed of the 22 ½ cent surcharge, there could only be 996 (again maybe you ask, shouldn’t there be 1000?) of these stamps in existence. This 22 ½ cent surcharge stamp with the inverted ‘1’ in the fraction is given the listing LP24f by the NVPH and the catalog value is only 50 Euros.

Figure 5: The surcharged 22 ½ cent with the ‘1’ in the fraction inverted (LP24f).

Then someone realized that there should be four stamps that had the inverted 22 ½ cent surcharge but with the ‘1’ in the correct position! That fact answers the question of why one needs to subtract 4 stamps from the normal inverted surcharge, and 4 stamps from the one with just the inverted ‘1’ in the fraction. There were 996 stamps printed with just the ‘1’ in the infraction inverted. There were 196 stamps printed with the inverted surcharge with normal fraction, and 4 stamps printed with the inverted surcharge with ‘1’ in the fraction in the correct position. This was because they were two in each sheet that had the ‘1’ in the fraction inverted. The inverted surcharges with the correct ‘1’ would have been found in positions 60 and 92 on the inverted sheets before they were broken up (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Simulated sheet showing the positions 60 and 92.

When the NP article was written in 1979 the author said that a copy of the type of inverted surcharge with the ‘1’ in the normal position had not been seen in an auction for a least 11 years (1979). One copy recently came up in NPV‘s 2019 Spring auction (Figure 7). This stamp is listed by NVPH as LP24fb and is valued at 7,500 Euros in the 2020 NVPH catalog. This copy was one of the stamps in position 60.

A different LP24fb, in position 92, (we know it was in position 92 because it was in a strip of three with the bottom margins of the sheet), was sold in the October, 2013 Corinphila auction (Figure 8).

Figure 7: The inverted surcharged 22 ½ cent with ‘1’ in the fraction in the correct position, LP24fb from NVP Auction from position 60.

One would think the catalog value from the NPVH for 24fb is too low compared to scarcity. The USA inverted Jenny airmail stamp had 100 stamps in a sheet and sells for 100’s of thousands US$ each. However, here we learn a lesson about supply and demand with these stamps from Surinam. Poor old Surinam just does not have the respect or demand for its stamps by collectors as do popular countries like the USA. The result is many rarities from Surinam sell for fairly low prices compared to their availability on the market as there is little demand of these stamps.

There is one more variety listed by the NVPH in this series; the 5 gld surcharge on the 10 gld stamp with a pointed ending of the curl in the numeral 5 (Figure 9). It is listed by the NVPH as LP26a and valued at $50.

Figure 8: The inverted surcharged 22 ½ cent with ‘1’ in the fraction in the correct position, LP24f in a strip of three in position 92 from the Corinphila Auction.

One wonders why the authors of the NVPH picked this variety to list, as there are many other varieties as explained in the 1979 NP article on the surcharges of this series of airmails. In fact, there are so many different varieties of these three surcharges that I imagine a specialist collector could spend many hours analyzing them.

In addition to the NP 1979 article, Vol.7.2 December 1981 of Netherlands Philately contains a discussion of more details about the 1 gld surcharge.

Figure 9: The 5 gld surcharge with a pointed ending of the curl in the 5, NVPH 26a.

Thanks is given to Ivo Spanjersberg for the graphics, and to Alex Nuijten and Hans Kremer for their help with information about these airmail surcharges.

Netherlands Philately magazine and the ASNP
This article was originally published in Netherlands Philately, 44/4, pages 66-69, 2020; published here with kind permission of the editor of NP magazine.

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