FORMAT INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PRINTERS LTD. AND THE ARCHIVE
Information and Reference of What was Found in the Archive and Elsewhere
Between the years of 1967 and 1989 the firm called "Format International Security Printers Ltd." printed stamps for many of the nations
in the British Commonwealth areas and also supplied many foreign countries.
The British Crown Agents were their largest and main customer. As is standard practice with all the major stamp printing firms, production and
printing of postage stamps is on large uncut sheets of as many panes as sound layout design dictates. This is usually panes of four.
The individual panes are separated from each other by vertical and horizontal spaces (known as "gutters" in the trade) which provide the space
needed for cutting the sheet into its separate panes for final packaging and shipment. Depending on the size of the stamps these panes usually
have twenty to one hundred stamps on them.
For their own reference needs, Format Printers set aside original uncut sheets in their archives. Judging by the auction sales and known private
purchases when the liquidators sold the archive, it is very doubtful that very many of the issued and unissued stamp sheets were stored in
quantities of more than five to ten sheets. A major portion existed in quantities of one to three sheets. In most cases only one uncut sheet represented an
issued set of stamps. If an issue dealt with a member of the British Royalty, the number of uncut sheets ranged from three to seven in most
cases. This does differ with certain very popular issues such as the 1986 Royal Wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Fergusson and certain Princess Diana imaged issues.
With these up to several hundred sheets were saved for future generations of collectors to have.
As far as imperforates, specimen overprinted, progressive color proofs and "errors" are concerned
larger quantities were saved but the exaggerated statements that "MILLIONS" of a single issue were made and saved by the printer and associates by certain biased agencies and stamp clubs
and some enemies of the former owners of the company is not to be believed and should be ignored as we now have solid proof of what really was printed and saved
via the Police Evidence from the trials and documentation directly made at the time of printing. This evidence completely conflicts with Scott catalogs statements for instance on the
"LEADERS OF THE WORLD" issues by various British Commonwealth countries stating "Large quantities of the Leaders of the World issues were sold at a fraction of face value when the
printer was liquidated". In comparison of the thousands of stamps that were issued for these sets, and the amounts found in the archive and elsewhere,
"LARGE quantities" is a bit of a misleading statement, would you so agree? The logical minded person would take this statement as a warning and it has hurt the collectability of
these issues as a whole.
The "enemies" and as we are finding complete liars have instilled this stigma by simply using a single word or two to influence the collectors and dealers
of stamps to shy away from these issues as a whole and thus undervalue them as a whole. These words have been built upon over the past 20 years and embedded into
the collecting markets literature and "experts" opinions without any research being done to prove it. We have done the research over the past 10 plus years taking
the evidence that is left from all sides of the story in an unbiased and bipartisan view and have found the story to be quite different than the earlier articles and
information has portrayed things to be.
An interesting side note to the story are the ties between the Format International Security Printers and The House of Questa. Evidence is mounting that
at least for a time they were one and the same!
Materials in the archive of the Format Printers made by Questa. Both were litho printers. Both printed
many of the common design stamps of the commonwealth countries. Examples being the 1981 royal wedding, 21st birthday of Princess Diana and so on.
The same designers of the stamps. The same style of stamps produced. And finally the most profound evidence so far...the progressive color
proof presentation folders showing that they were located at the same address!!
EXAMPLE 1 OF HOUSE OF QUESTA ADDRESS
EXAMPLE OF FORMAT INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PRINTERS ADDRESS
EXAMPLE 2 OF HOUSE OF QUESTA ADDRESS
Interesting yes? I believe that the ties between the two companies have and are being covered up because of the "scandals" with the Format Printing company. The
association of the two companies has been avoided over the years because if put together they produced the majority of the commonwealth nations stamps and
produced stamps for the United Kingdom itself! Both companies producing stamps from the late 1960's to late 1990's having a major control in the 1980's and 1990's.
Of course if the association of the two companies is fully established in the stamp collecting community this could basically devalue all stamps
produced in the 70's, 80's, and 90's for the commonwealth as well as Great Britain itself! Why? Because the House of Questa also produced massively
imperforates, specimens, progressive color proofs AND "errors" in the same quantities!!
Quite the dilemna yes? Either devalue and defame them all or equalize their standing in the collecting community.
Don't take my word for it. Look at the evidence yourself! Look at what is being sold. Look at what exists.
Some "experts" including certain stamp societies and forum "leaders" will deny this and fight tooth and nail to disprove this but the evidence is too profound
for it not to be the case. Thus I state, looks like maybe the Format Printers were not so bad for producing varieties after all! You think?!?
Back to the story.
Issued stamps were never sent in uncut sheets to any of the various country issuing agencies. ALL that existed were stored in the Format Printers archive.
Being to large for standard storage equipment, Most of the full uncut sheets were folded and refolded before storing them. Damage to many of the sheets
was considerable. This was not considered a problem by the printers though because they had no intention of ever selling their archive.
Because of their large size, uncut sheets cannot be mounted in albums. In the early 90's when the archive was sold, dealers and collectors
knew that they could be mounted and framed for display, but considered that even three days of exposure to sunlight can fade the colors.
We know now that you can display them with the proper protections, basically being UV protective glass or plastic. We know now that many of
the full uncut sheets have been broken up into gutter units, se-tenant pairs, imprint strips, color guide strips, etc., which are now
available to the public market and are extremely collectible and many are very valuable as many are one of a kind. Canada and the United
States have now been selling uncut press sheet for years to the public in limited quantities. Some sell for hundreds of dollars.
Other countries are beginning to follow suite and collectibility of them is rising every year. They are issuing them in "limited" numbers
of 5,000 or 10,000 etc. So what if there are only a few or maybe just one in existence? What would that be worth? A thousand? Two thousand?
Ten thousand? The intact uncut sheets from the Format printers archive are the rarist in the world! Exceeding even the 1935 U.S. Farley
A NOTE ON VARIETIES
In Linns Stamp news September 2012 an article has been made about imperforates only found on U.S. uncut press sheets.
These are made for collector items and not sold in local post offices. Thus I must ask, what is the difference between these
made for collector varieties and the ones made by the Format Printers? The answer is no difference at all. Therefore should they
be valued while imperforates from the issues made by the Format Printers should not? Absolutely not!
Should they be valued at higher prices? Why when tens of thousands are made in comparison to say 5,000 made by Format?
In 1988-89 in a bitter takeover fight, A new set of shareholders, namely Mr. Clive Feigenbaum, took over management of the Format International Security Printers Ltd..
The displaced shareholders accused the new management (one of whom was the British Crown Agents manager) of creating deliberate printing
errors and secretly selling them to the public as great rarities without informing the public that they were deliberately made.
The St. Vincent Missing Tennis Ball and Inverted Royal Ruby Wedding issues are two good examples. The question is, were they deceiving the public which would
have been a crime. We think not as here is evidence that they were made only for promotions of the issues.
Basically it came down to them being found not guilty of all charges. Yes they did create some "errors" and yes they
did present them to the public, but they did imply that they were made by the printer in limited quantities for collectors.
Only a couple of them appear to have been in the archive. Many "made for collector" stamps are produced by many countries in the millions. The issuing countries
have a population that would never use them all in a lifetime! What has happened to many of these "errors" is that some shady dealers
are still to this day trying to sell them as true error stamps and using deceitful tactics not stating that they were made for collectors
by the printer, lying about their rarity, and trying to convince non-savvy collectors that they are a great investments. To these dealers
I say, "SHAME ON YOU!".
So, after the trial apologies were made to all the accused parties. The British Government paid all the costs for the trial.
But sadly the firm went bankrupt. So a government appointed liquidator was given the task of selling the Format Printers archive and the
actual process was turned over to Christies/Robson Lowe which was and is a highly reputable auction house in London.
Please be aware the following link is to an article that was compiled from articles written with some bias against the final owner of the company and should be taken
"with a grain of salt" so to speak. If you look closely you will see that certain calculations are way over exaggerated and wording of some statements
is keyed toward defaming and putting in a bad light the former owners reputation. In the end of the article the short statement (and admission) is
made that all parties involved were found not guilty of all charges thus showing the trials were a waste of time and monies against the wrong parties.
In my opinion they should have gone after the dealers who were selling the made for collector "errors" as genuine errors.
You can read the Tuvalu version on the trial here:
The sales of the archival materials spanned over several years.
A NOTE ON THE POLICE EVIDENCE
The police evidence taken from the archive and several other locations was at the times of the final sale in 1995 of the archive ignored and covered up by the liquidator
Mr. Stanley Rose in view of the confiscated material causing in his words, "a markedly deleterious effect on the stockholdings of dealers world-wide.".
Mr. Rose in his own words stated he personally went to the police store and viewed the evidence seized. What he did not state was that in reality
the police evidence seized were the imperforates, progessive color proofs, many specimen overprinted stamps and some "errors". In other words
what the police seized in the raids that looked like errors of which almost all of the material was not errors at all!
Furthur more I must state here that the stock that was seized was completely different than the stock sold from the archive in it being the above mentioned varieties
and thus would not be detrimental to dealers stocks worldwide but indeed would enhance dealers stocks instead!
The letter this was taken from was Mr. Roses response to Mr. Feigenbaums objections to the final sale of the archive in 1995. Mr. Rose was determined
to not delay or stop the final sale for reasons unknown. Possibly for financial reasons, be it personal or public, or possibly being tired of dealing
with the liquidation which was over a six year period.
Any way you look at it, the response letter by Mr. Rose is what started the rumors of "millions" of stamps flooding the market when the police evidence
stock would be released.
The first sections of the archive were sold through private treaties.
Much of the sorting and organization of the different sections of the archive that were sold privately was done by Keith Low (unrelated
to Robson Lowe).
The first section sold privately were the sheets (presumably uncut press sheets) of mint stamps, (which inadvertently included some unissued
variations). They were sold to Allan Grant of Rushstamps in the UK. Some of the material from the archive he still has and is selling.
Here is the link to their website.
The remainder of the mint stamp sheets was sold to Robert W. Lyman presumably in two to three sections. In turn he sold portions to George
Alevizos in Los Angeles and some to Kasimir Bileski. Portions of the material handled by Mr. Alevizos were featured in his various auctions
through his website and some are still present today! Here is the link to his website.
In 1993 Christie's had a major auction sale in New York of the archival material. Roger West, owner of Avion Stamps, was one of the major buyers
of the material so it is said. He is still selling items from the archive on his website. He is a member of the Stampdile Network. Being said member
it basically comes down to Mr. West buying back part of the material and joining Mr. Feigenbaum in the selling of it.
Here is the link.
The materials held as evidence for the trial was released in 2008 and parts have become available on the market. The late Clive Feigenbaum's son
Jonathan Feigenbaum is carrying on the business and has many archival items for sale via his website including from the police evidence. Here is the link. STAMPDILE LIMITED
Another site that is selling Format items is Justwendy Thematics which is also a member of the Stampdile Network. Here is the link. JUSTWENDY THEMATICS
Several of the crates were auctioned off containing the St. Vincent/Nevis side of the Leaders of the World Automobiles/Locomotives varieties
and other issues such as the Ships, Cricket and Soccer issues including the imperforates, specimen overprinted, progressive color proofs and "errors".
These have been put into randomized lots on eBay by City Collectibles and almost all have been sold and spread across the world. The panes (there were no uncut press sheets)
are now being cut up and sold by various dealers (many in not complete sets) because of the randomized way they were placed in lots by CC.
It was stated that it was too difficult to match the progressive colors to their perspective values.
I have recovered a major portion of the St. Lucia/Tuvalu side for the research. Much has been fully reunited and
counted and documented for future knowledge for collectors and dealers. Printing quantities are basically the same for all these issues and thus one
can base the same figures on the St. Vincent/Nevis side of the materials as well. Specialized pages will be created for more details on specific issues.
It has been stated that there was a different stock from the Format Printers Archive which consisted essentially
of Belize and Lesotho material. Mr. Clive Feigenbaum was very vague about this stock but insisted it was separate from the remaining Format stock.
Assuming this means it was retained outside of all sales of the archive.
More knowledge of the archival material seems to have been presented by Kasimir Bileski, A world renowned stamp dealer from Winnipeg, Canada, than any other person associated with the stamp market
and the Format International Security Printers Archive. He was most famous for the discovery of the Canadian Seaway invert.
He was one of the biggest buyers of the archive of Waterlow and Son, and of the Royal Collections of Egypt. I had the privilege of dealing
with him many years ago and he gave me some very beautiful and rare issues. You can read about him here.
In 1990 he began buying the Format Archive material from Christie's in private sales and purchased ALL of the unissued varieties section. He purchased more
at the Christie's auction in March 1993. The final auction for all the remaining Format material from the archive was held by Christie's/Robson Lowe on July 14th, 1995 in which he
purchased some of the Commonwealth to fill in his previous buys and the final lot of the day, a very large grouping involving all the foreign
country printings including Liberia, Haiti, and other Latin American countries, plus all else.
He did an enormous amount of research on what he had purchased from 1990 to 2004.
I need to point out here that I have discovered that many write-ups were in error either being they were from Mr. Bileski's earlier purchases
at which he did not know other items existed or because he did not know what was in the police evidence stock which now effects validity of the notes he made.
Many of the uncut sheets he broke up in such a way as to
display them in an album. Many of them are still one of a kind. Many souvenir sheet uncut sheets he cut into pairs creating as he liked to call
them, "instant rarities of the first degree!". An example are the Diana Royal Wedding souvenir sheets in pairs. Perforation varieties,
proofs, color trials, essays, progressive color trials, unissued, and much more he discovered and wrote about. Sadly , he has passed on
before he could finish his research, as it seems we as collector/researchers all do. His daughter, Jeannette, has kindly presented his
estate through numerous auctions to the stamp collecting community. The problem now though, is that it is being broken up and sold in smaller
and smaller lots as I write this. It is being skattered and sold and many of the items that are in the extreme rarity class are being sold
with no knowledge of what they really are! Items that should be sold for hundreds if not thousands of dollars are being sold from anywhere
in the range of a couple dollars to fifty dollars. This is why I am presenting this and the following webpages to try and help the stamp
collecting community understand and gain knowledge of what was in the archive and actually printed and saved. Many of you collectors and dealers will soon find out that you may
have an item or items in your possession that is much more valuable than you realize.
Waterlow and son was inventoried extensively and rarity
is known. The Royal Collection of Egypt the same and prices are in accordance. The Format International Security Printers Archive has not
been so extensively inventoried. Maybe because of the scandal. Maybe because they were around for only a short time. Maybe because they
are "modern" issues. The stamps issued during their short time have enormous historical significance though. The Royal Weddings, Discovery
of America, Olympics, Special events, Beautiful topicals, Art, all were in the archive. This is why the research must be done. Already some
information and or stamps and combinations of them have been lost forever. Let us try to preserve what is left before it is too late.
Quantities of many of the items remains a mystery. Certain sources of the material do not wish to reveal information
of this nature because of fears of devaluing their stock. Obviously this means they are holding larger quantities of certain
issues and trying to sell them at over inflated prices. An example would be the 1987 Saint Vincent Royal Ruby Wedding issue
with inverted frames or the 1985 Elvis Presley stamps with inverted frames (I have now found these to be reprints). Produced for promotional reasons but claimed to
be true errors by a few bad sellers. Thousands were produced! Not a few hundred. Anyone who invested 100's or 1,000's of dollars in them
I am sad to say were duped. They are worth $5-10.00 a set at most. Anyone trying to sell them for large amounts should be questioned in
ALL dealings. Also many of the regular issued stamp sets from some countries were reprinted several times creating a moderately large
Another example is St. Lucia Locomotives. Certain issues of imperforates are for sale stating only 10 exist and priced at over inflated prices.
We have the document proving 5,000 were produced. Where are the other 4,990? Interesting yes?
Issues which may have this problem have been noted with modified generalized statements made from Scott Catalog and Stanley Gibbons Catalogs.
Please be aware that these statements should be referenced to the general perforated issues whereas with the varieties one should hold
in reserve as to what actually exists and not be completely swayed by the generalized statements. Yes, in many cases 5,000 etc; exist. But
let's get real....millions do not!
Please be aware of these items before investing large sums of money on them.
I have found that many sets of progressive color proofs, imperfs, specimen overprinted and "error" stamps have limits
in quantities that were printed. I now have printers documentation on orders and I have acquired a large portion of the
police evidence stock stored for almost 20 years which verifies the practices used for the printing of this kind of material.
Good news is that there are not millions as some would like collectors to believe. Basically only 1,000 to 5,000 sets produced
for most issues that fall in the category depending on type. Examples being:
1,000 sets imperforate specimen overprinted
3,000 sets of progressive color proofs
As time moves on more sources have and will help by entering in true quantities and/or changing selling practices and stop over inflating prices.
I have found that even the varieties of many LOW (Leaders of the World) issues are very limited. Yes, the regular stamps for
many automobiles and trains sets etc; were reprinted (some several times) but evidence is pointing toward the varieties
as in progressives etc; not being reprinted or only the imperfs being reprinted still in the original limits. Good news for collectors of these!
The following links will be to pages showing each of the individual countries that the "Format International Security Printers Ltd."
printed stamps for and what stamps were printed by them. Each page will give information on varieties that exist. Many will have links to specialized
pages on individual issues and sets.
Quantities that were found in the archive and/or exist will be noted where available.
Some have stories to tell of why they were in the archive. Some are a mystery. I do have some for sale myself. If I do, it will be linked
to the appropriate page in my store. Questions and comments and/or more information is always welcome. Enjoy the show!
owner and webmaster of Golowe's Collector Stamps