The Alamo Story and Texas Independence through Philately

We have a special guest for our October 15 meeting: John Own of the Columbia (SC) Philatelic Society will be speaking and showing his exhibit: “The Alamo Story and Texas Independence through Philately”, subtitled: “Putting Together A Philatelic Exhibit of Postal History – It’s Easy But Requires Some Due Diligence”. We will also have a mini-auction in October, members can submit no more than three lots each.

For our November meeting we will have our regular auction, so encourage your fellow members to pull out all the stops and bring the GOOD stuff! December is our Christmas luncheon at Deerfield, but we haven’t finalized the date yet.

Finally, October 25 is the deadline for submitting articles for the November-December Smoky Mountain Philatelist. Start writing!

Meaningless or Deceiving Adjectives Used to Describe Stamp Items for Sale

Larry Oliver

I was originally trained as a journalist, and my father taught me some very pertinent things about the use of language. Amongst them was the importance – and lack of importance – of certain words. He was the first to teach me about objectivity vs. subjectivity. He phrased it as unambiguous and ambiguous, respectively. Some words have a clear, precise meaning, while others (commonly used in advertising!!) can be interpreted in multiple ways. The subjective words or phrases tend to appeal to the reader’s own desires, with the reader (or listener) interpreting them in the way most pleasing to the reader. We were not allowed to use the subjective words in our newspaper except in the opinion columns. Newspaper reporting was the “who, what, when, where, how and why” approach, with caution to be exercised in the “why” discussion.

Stamp dealers, auction houses, and even collectors like to embellish the descriptions of their offerings with subjective, or ambiguous terms. Even philatelic authors succumb to the temptation to express a feeling or an emotion about the topic of the article. We, as readers and buyers are always going to be exposed to vague terms and we almost without awareness read them, apply our own interpretation, and go on. It may be of some value to all collectors to develop a sense for these adjectives that, while probably not intended to deceive, induce a positive unconscious reaction that encourages purchase of the item.

Over some period of time, I have jotted down the words and phrases that I have observed in auction catalogs, dealer descriptions and ads that fit the above definition of ambiguous interpretation. Enjoy reviewing this list of terms used in stamp auction catalogs and dealer’s ads that are enticing, but uninterpretable, and use caution when you see the word or phrase used to describe the collection or item you are examining!

Floor Sweepings
Hand selected
Seldom seen
Fairly Complete
Rarities abound
Not to be missed

And my personal favorite for ambiguous interpretation:


The Variety Hunter: Case #529a and #530a

by Scott Martz

In previous columns I have focused on plate varieties, but today let us look at a printing variety.  The pictured stamps are: #529a— three cent purple, type III, offset printing, double impression; and #530a—three cent purple, type IV, offset printing, double impression.

Scott #529a
Type III offset printing

Scott #530a
Type IV offset printing

These are spectacular double impressions, showing great distance between impressions. They almost make you think your eyes are out of focus.  It is interesting with offset printed stamps the paper is not actually printed twice. The plate puts ink on the transfer roll twice. If the transfers are slightly apart then when the paper does go over the transfer roll, both ink impressions are transferred to the paper at the same time, showing the double image. This also explains why 1 image is slightly blurry, and less distinct. The ink was disturbed from the first transfer by the second, so the second transfer is bolder and clearer.

These are not rare varieties for the offset series, and can usually be found at a large stamp bourse. These three cent denominations can be had for only $20 to $30 dollars.

Happy Hunting! Scott

The Beautiful Canada Scott #158 “Bluenose”

by Robert Taylor

Considered one of Canada’s most beautiful stamps, the Bluenose was created in 1929 as a high value (50 Cents) in the King George V scroll issue. It’s striking dark blue color is very evident and has been a collector’s favorite from that year onward. The name Bluenose was actually the name of a Canadian fishing schooner as you will see in more info below.

Printed by the Canadian Banknote Company of Ottawa, it shows the fishing schooner photographed racing off Halifax Harbor by Wallace MacAskill in 1922. The designer actually chose to show two images of the schooner to represent it winning one of it’s legendary races.

Despite it’s racing career, the Bluenose is not a yacht but a fishing schooner, and actually spent much of its life as a working ship although it was designed and built with racing in mind. It was one of hundreds of schooners that each year ventured out into the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland, fishing for cod from March to October. Designed by noted yacht designer William Roue of Halifax, it was built in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and launched in 1921. Its name “Bluenose” is a nickname given to those who fish the Grand Banks, although the ship is actually painted black. On one excursion, the Bluenose brought back over 300,000 pounds of cod, the largest catch ever recorded in Lunenburg’s history.

There is a rarity that exists with this issue. It’s called “man on the mast”. It appears as a small image of a figure just below the top of the forward mast. This is an item that can be faked easily so expertizing of such a stamp is necessary. Such legitimate varieties are quite pricey.

In Canada, there is an annual challenge called the International Fishing Trophy, a competition among the fishing boats of the Grand Banks. The Bluenose, reaching speeds of 17 knots under full sail, won the trophy in 1921, 1922, 1923, 1931 and 1938 under Captain Angus J. Walters, never losing a race in 17 years. It sailed to Chicago in 1933 to represent Canada at the Century of Progress Exhibition, and sailed to England in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of King George V. Outdated and replaced by modern motorized vessels, it was retired from service in 1942 and sold to work as a freighter in the Caribbean, stripped of its sails and masts. Laden with a load of bananas, in 1946 it crashed into a reef and sank off the coast of Haiti, a sad ending to a legendary icon.

The famous Bluenose, easily the most recognized Canadian ship and a national symbol of Canada, is also shown on the Canadian dime and on Nova Scotia license plates. Today, the Bluenose II, a replica built in Lunenburg in 1963, recaptures the glory of these magnificent schooners, representing Nova Scotia at numerous events.With just over one million copies printed, it remains and continues to hold excellent value:

MNH   $450.00
MH   $350.00
FINE   $200.00
USED VF    $100.00
USED FINE    $50.00


Are you interested in articles like these? Join our club and receive The Smoky Mountain Philatelist in your email box bi-monthly, six times a year. And if you would like to share your expertise with your fellow stamp collectors, we’re always looking for interesting submissions. Please email the editor here, and thanks!