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THE FORMAT INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PRINTERS LTD. ARCHIVE

Information and Reference of What was Found in the Archive and Elsewere

Stamp issues for the Cook Islands printed by the Format International Security Printers Ltd. and items found in the Archive

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Marquee for Golowe's Reference Site on the Format International Security Printers

COOK ISLANDS

Cook Islands stamps printed by Format International Security Printers Ltd.
Links to pages with information on items found in the archive

Before I show the few sets that are printed by the Format Printers I wish to make some notes on Cook Island stamps.

In the past few years large numbers of imperforate varieties of the stamps issued between 1970 to 1990 are being weaned onto the stamp market. I can find nothing on these imperforates in any of the major catalogs. It is as if they are avoiding the subject altogether.
According to Stanley Gibbons Fournier was the printer of the majority of stamps for the Cook Islands during this time era. Now could somebody please tell me what this highly accredited stamp printer was doing producing large numbers of imperforate varieties that were never sold over the counter nor recognized in the catalogs as being legitimate or as even existing?

Yet again we have an excellent example of a stamp printer producing reams of imperforates obviously made for selling to collectors. Many of these to this day are selling for $20's to $100's a set even though evidence shows there are substantial numbers of them on the market. Are collectors and the "experts" that naive that they cannot see what is happening right under their noses?

I have been watching a couple sellers on eBay for the past year selling many of these imperforates from the Cook Islands in singles, pairs and sometimes blocks. They start the bidding at 99c and buyers flock to them and the bid counts range on many to over 20 bids. Winning bids range from $5.00 to $70.00 depending on the set.
I have quite a database full of the images of these sets and the count is getting quite high for such "rarities". Yet the buyers continue to fight for them as if they are heavily prized. Are they blind and cannot see what is happening?

Because of the numbers that I am seeing (a good example being the 1980 and 1984 Corals sets) it is obvious that probably at least 5,000 sets of imperforates were produced and do still exist!
In my research on the Format Printers things branch off to other printers as well and what I am discovering is what I paraphrase:

It is as if nobody is noticing the elephant in the room!

Evidence is showing us that many of the stamp printers of the time were indeed producing varieties in the same fashion and quantities as the Format printers were doing. The only reason that nothing has ever been done about it is that they were never exposed publicly as the Format Printers were because of the trials. The problem is that the evidence is all around us! The evidence is the stamps. Tons of varieties being sold on eBay and other venues. Pricing of many at extremely overinflated prices and being sold by highly "reputable stamp dealers". These dealers will not tell you that they have a stack of sheetlets or panes of them sitting in their stocks. Why should they? As long as collectors continue to buy them without any knowledge of what they are buying and only listening to that "reputable dealers" sales pitch.

It is as simple as what I have done. Check the market. Watch the market. See if there is a high difference in asking prices for the stamp or set. If one seller is asking $100.00 for it and another is asking $10.00 for it then nine times out of ten there is obviously something wrong with the seller asking for $100.00 for it.

1.)the seller is trying to rip you off
2.)the seller has no knowledge of what they are selling

It does not matter if the seller is a big dealer or has thousands of great feedbacks. for your information if you haven't figured it out yet, some of the biggest in the field are that way because they are professional rip offs. Do the research before you buy it. Don't be one of those who has contacted me and found that what they bought for $1,000.00 is only worth $25.00!

Back to cook Islands stamps.
It is interesting to note here that there are problems with the Stanley Gibbons Catalog.

Stanley Gibbons only vaguely references who the printers of many modern issues of Cook Islands stamps are.
The example below shows a pane of one value of the 1985 Famous Trains issue.

Example of Cook Islands 1985 Famous Trains pane showing no color guides and logo
Notice there are no color guides nor logos on the selvage.
During this time period the Format Printers usually always have their logo and color guides on panes such as these. Especially in the mid 1980's. For some reason this is not so with the Cook Island stamp issues.

There are quite a few sets of stamps issued between 1967 and the late 1980's which I have suspicion that the Format Printers were actually the printers of. The first and most obvious clue will be to define which stamps are lithographed and which are photogravure. If they are lithograph stamps then they were obviously not printed by Fournier during Format's time.

Be it by design, influence from certain sources biased against the printer, or just plain error of omission, I believe that certain sets issued by the Cook Islands were indeed actually printed by Format possibly contracted out by Fournier. Many clues for instance, availability of progressive color proofs and imperforates, tend to substantiate the theory.

There are other problems with the catalog as well.
Stanley Gibbons notes many issues in the late 60's and early 70's as being printed, for instance, in sheets of 10 stamps and 2 labels ect; ect;.
The problem with the catalog is they note some and not others.

An example being the 1967 Christmas issue.
Each value issued in sheetlets of of 6 yet this is not noted in Stanley Gibbons.
Another example being the 1968 Christmas issue.
Again, each value issued in sheetlets of of 6 yet this is not noted in Stanley Gibbons.

The description error of the 1971 Royal Visit sheetlets shown as the first set imaged below is another example of why I state that the catalog has too many things wrong. The vague printers note stating "The following stamps were printed by Heraclio Fournier, Spain except where otherwise stated. The process used was photogravure." must be looked at more closely.

I personally am not a collector of Cook Islands stamps and thus do not have the issues for comparison. I leave this up to specialists in the country to look into this. Until changes are made the following issues are the only issues noted in Stanley Gibbons as being printed by the Format International Security Printers.

1971 ROYAL VISIT OF PRINCE PHILIP, THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH
Scott #297-301, 301a, SG #345-9, MS 350
Each value printed in sheetlets of 10 plus 2 labels.
Stanley Gibbons is in error stating they are printed in sheets of 7 plus 2 labels.

1971 Royal Visit of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh Stamps
1971 Royal Visit of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh Souvenir Sheet

The Sheetlets

1971 Royal Visit of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh 1c Sheetlet of 10 Plus 2 Labels
1971 Royal Visit of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh 4c Sheetlet of 10 Plus 2 Labels
1971 Royal Visit of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh 10c Sheetlet of 10 Plus 2 Labels
1971 Royal Visit of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh 15c Sheetlet of 10 Plus 2 Labels
1971 Royal Visit of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh 25c Sheetlet of 10 Plus 2 Labels

1982 COMMEMORATION OF NORMAN ROCKWELL (painter)
Scott #683-6, SG #848-851
Printed in sheetlets of 20 with border.
1982 Commemoration of Norman Rockwell Stamps

1985 FAMOUS TRAINS Scott #858-865, SG #1022-9
Quantities of this issue perforated and imperforate proofs came onto the market after the liquidation of the Format International Security Printers Ltd. in 1988. There are some varieties that are legitimately rare. Also full uncut press sheets of the issues have a rarity factor.
Based on printers standards of the time at least 5,000 imperforates were produced.

These were supposedly the last stamps printed by the Format International Security Printers Ltd. for the Cook Islands. The company went into bankruptcy in 1989.

1985 Famous Trains Stamps

References taken from:
Stanley Gibbons Eastern Pacific
Scott Catalog
Inventory list for the Format Archive by Robson Lowe

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UPDATED LAST ON: 23-Jan-2015 02:57 PM