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THE 1985 QUEEN ELIZABETH QUEEN MOTHER 85TH BIRTHDAY STAMP ISSUES

Information and Reference of What was Found in the Format Archive and the Police Evidence Stock

Would YOU store YOUR specialized collections this way?

Example of how the Police Evidence Stock was Stored

Single Stamp Issues of Queen Elizabeth II 60th Birthday Series

1985 85th Birthday Stamp Set
Marquee for Golowe's Reference Site on the Format International Security Printers

WARNING!

Recently in 2014 I discovered forgeries of many of this series have been flooded onto the market in the form of normal issues, imperforates, color proofs and errors like inverts. Until 2014 no "inverts" existed because there were none made! The only existing errors were missing color and misplaced color errors and those only exist for certain sets!
Visit this link to get to my introduction on the many forgeries that now exist including the 85th Birthday issues.

Modern Fake Stamps

HISTORY

On August 4, 1985 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was to celebrate her 85th Birthday.
This became a huge event in the stamp world with many countries producing sets of stamps and souvenir sheets celebrating the event. The Format International Security Printers Ltd. were commissioned to produce many of these sets.
The largest series being the Omnibus series produced for the same 17 countries that the 1986 Royal Wedding Omnibus series were produced for. I am not refering to the common design issues which were also mainly produced by the Format Printers also.
This was the famous or as some in the philatelic world like to call the infamous Leaders of the World series. The reason it is considered the largest is because all the stamps are different depicting different images of the Queen during her life. Each set of stamps was produced with an additional Souvenir sheet. Numerous varieties including an unissued set of what Robson Lowe called essay souvenir sheets were produced.
A very interesting series that was well designed and is to this day a very popular series to collect despite what some in the field want to call wallpaper simply because varieties were produced for collectors as in imperforates, specimen overprinted and progressives.
The countries the Omnibus series were produced for are in the following table.

Eastern Hemisphere Western Hemisphere
Tuvalu SC#311-317 Bequia SC#206-212
Funafuti SC#45-51 British Virgin Islands SC#509-519
Nanumaga SC#45-51 Grenadines of St. Vincent SC#496-500
Nanumea SC#41-47 Montserrat SC#558-564
Niutao SC#37-43 Nevis SC#427-433
Nui SC#49-55 St. Lucia SC#782-788
Nukufetau SC#44-50 St. Vincent SC#861-867
Nukulaelae SC#47-53 Union Island SC#206-212
Vaitupu SC#51-57


All were issued in 1985 except for the restricted printing souvenir sheets which came out in early 1986.
In 1989-90 the printing company went into bankruptsy. Also at the time the trials against the last owner of the company and associates was underway. The British Metropolitan Police raided the company looking for what they deemed errors for specific countries involved in the trials and confiscated several tons of material, much being from their archive, including imperforates, progressive color proofs, specimen overprinted stamps and anything else they thought looked "funny". The trials did not end until 1995 when the verdicts were found to be not guilty on all charges. The police evidence was held until 2008 until all was agreed to be returned to the owners.

Getting back to 1990 because the company went bankrupt all assets were liquidated including what was still in the archive. Christie's/ Robson Lowe handled the sales of the philatelic materials through several private treaty and public auctions between 1990 and 1995 which was the final sale of the archive.

This is a story I have repeated several times on other series so I will make this short.
Mr. Kasamir Bileski was a huge buyer of this material at the time and purchased large portions of the archival material. He was also a huge buyer in the past of the Waterloo archive and Egyptian Royal Collections.
He was particularly interested in unissued designs and basically bought all of that section of the archive.

From this section stemmed the release to the market of the unissued mini souvenir sheets of the issued single stamp issues in souvenir sheet form.
1985 85th Birthday Unissued Souvenir Sheets
Mr. Robson Lowe refered to them as essays. At the time 250 of each were found in the archive. Since the release of the police evidence I would theorize that more were in the stock.
Based on the practices of the printer at the time I would estimate the printing to be 2,000 of each souvenir sheet as in the same year the restricted printing of the Queen Mother's 85th Birthday singles (revalued) on souvenir sheets happened. The restricted printing being 2,000 souvenir sheets.
1986 Queen Mother Restricted Printing Souvenir Sheet
I believe the majority of all of both series was retained and is available on the market.

What is really facinating is the number of varieties and errors that were apparently produced. Everything from missing colors, imperforates, progressive color proofs, presentation folders, perforation errors, specimens, watermark varieties, on and on. Everthing including the die proofs and composite press sheets that were saved in the archive was sold through Christie's.

A note of interest is that in the reprint contract it was agreed that the limited edition Progressive Color Proofs Presentation Folders would never be reprinted.
Therefore there was only a one time printing of the Progressive Color Proofs. In my opinion this is fact. Try to find the progressives of this series (except in presentation folders) anywhere! In most cases you will not find them! Even the Presentation folders themselves appear to be extremely rare and in many cases....appear not to exist!

Apparently some varieties such as the varieties from the composite sheets has never been publicly seen! In my recovery of some of the Bileski estate I found them. I will present them in the specialized country pages that follow!

Because of the differences in quantities, information and variants of this series, the following link table is created for each of the seventeen countries so as to break down what exists and new valuations of the material.

Western Hemisphere Eastern Hemisphere
TUVALU BEQUIA
FUNAFUTI BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
NANUMAGA GRENADINES OF ST. VINCENT
NANUMEA MONTSERRAT
NIUTAO NEVIS
NUI SAINT LUCIA
NUKUFETAU SAINT VINCENT
NUKULAELAE UNION ISLAND
VAITUPU


The study of the 1985 Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother 85th Birthday issues for these Commonwealth Countries is fascinating and ongoing.

The stigma created by Scott Catalog and numerous biased opinions of some dealers and collectors needs to be changed as we are finally finding by the EVIDENCE that these issues are NOT as common as the above mentioned would like you to believe.
The generalized statements in Scott Catalog saying
"Large Quantities of these issues appeared on the market after the liquidation of the printers"
should not be believed in respect to many of the issues printed by the Format International Security Printers Ltd. This statement is to vague and was sloppily applied without due research into the subject.

One would think by the statement that millions of copies flooded the market whereas in actuality only hundreds or in some cases one to twenty thousand sets or singles were produced. Not a lot considering the millions produced by other countries including the U.S. and Canada. Not a lot considering the millions of stamp collectors out there.

Hopefully the new research into the issues printed by this printer will help collectors understand what REALLY was printed and can establish a new and fair valuation of this fascinating philatelic material.

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UPDATED LAST ON: 31-Dec-2016 03:52 AM