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BERNERA ISLANDS LEADERS OF THE WORLD TRAINS AND CARS BRITISH LOCALS STAMP ISSUES AND VARIETIES

The Trains and Cars British Locals Stamp Issues for Bernera Islands Produced by the Format International Security Printers

A Specialized Study of the Varieties and Quantities Produced

Would YOU store YOUR specialized stamps this way?

Example of how the Police Evidence Stock was Stored
Marquee for Golowe's Reference Site on the Format International Security Printers

Information on this series is changing as more information is being discovered. This page and associated pages will be updated as more information is made available. Arguments are welcome if you have the evidence to back it up!

In 1981 Bernera Islands produced the first series of the Leaders of the World (LOW) Locomotive series of stamps. It was the protype for all the LOW Locomotives and Automobiles series. At the time it was issued the Leaders of the World program had not even been conceived. it was simply the LOCO100 series. Between 1981 and 1987 Bernera Islands issued 3 sets of the Locomotives series and 1 set of the automobiles series. There was a 1st issue of Automobiles but they were never fully produced nor issued. This page will try to clarify how many sets were issued and produced and what varieties were also produced. We will show examples of the varieties including progressive color proofs, SPECIMEN overprinted varieties, Imperforates and yes the made for collector errors and where possible, genuine errors.

BERNERA

The Bernera Islands consist of Great Bernera (which covers 10 square miles and lies north-west of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides) and Little Bernera (which covers less than one square miles and lies just off Great Bernera). A bridge connects Great Bernera to Lewis but Little Bernera is reached by boat. The Laird of the Islands maintains a local postal service with three posting boxes on Great Bernera and one on Little Bernera which are serviced at regular intervals for the benefit of tourists. The boatman who ferries visitors to the uninhabited Little Bernera, carries a supply of Bernera stamps. He also collects the mail and reposts it in the official post office on Great Bernera with a British stamp added. Postal rates are double those of the United Kingdom and proceeds from the sales of stamps go to the Bernera Community Council, from whom they are available.

There was a huge controversy on the legitimacy of the production and sale of the varieties which ended up in court trials against the owners of the Format International Security Printers Ltd. and associated companies, their owners and some employees. The trials proved that the companies and owners had the sole right to reprint, and produce the varieties at their discretion for promotional programs and such despite the objections of the Tuvalu Philatelic Agency and others. A large portion of the progressives and other varieties were seized as evidence for the trials by the British Metropolitan Police and held by the same until 2008 when they were finally released back to the original owners. See the above image as an example of the cruel way the material was stored. We are lucky it survived! Representatives for Tuvalu went through the material and confiscated some for destruction but much was left and now these varieties are available to the collecting community to add to their topical and specialized collections. As for the material from St. Vincent, St. Lucia etc;, it was released back without tampering.

The valuation of the material has been grossly under valued because of the stigma produced by a few agencies, clubs and ex-employees and some dealers over the past 20+ years instilling in the collecting community the idea that there are "millions" out there hidden away in warehouses, attics etc. This is NOT the case and with the evidence we now have, we can now show this to be a huge exaggeration on the facts.

We will present each set as it was issued and show examples of some of the varieties. Either we have exact documents proving what was produced or we will use existing documentation which shows the general practices used for ordering and printing of the varieties which shows the general consensus of quantities produced and if possible...what still exists. As (and if) more information and documents are discovered, it will be added to this study for reference to collectors.

The Bernera Islands issues produced by the Format Printers are interesting and quite a mystery. They are British Locals rather than regular postage stamps. It has been unclear until now as to the actual issue year. Month and day have long since been lost. Some sellers have been listing them as all issued in 1986. This is wrong. We have the invoice for the last set which was printed for Davaar Island at that time along with the Bernera Islands Automobile issues.
Interestingly the production of the varieties appears to have been much greater than the actual issued stamp sets themselves. An example being the final Locomotives series had all varieties created as in imperforates, SPECIMEN overprinted, progressives and errors in standard quantities produced for all LOW Automobiles and Locomotives issues whereas only 1900 sets of the normal perforated issues were made! In other words the normal perforated sets of British locals are much rarer than the normal perforated sets of regular stamps.

We will base our calculations for these sets produced for Bernera on the invoice we have in our possession which being made during the time when MAXIMUM quantities of varieties and issued stamps were being produced and reprinted in 1987 should be a sound basis for quantities produced for earlier issues.

LET'S GET STARTED!

1st Series Railway Locomotives issued ???, 1981
1981 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Locomotives (1st series) Stamps

1,900 sets produced according to general printing practices.

1981 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Locomotives (1st series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 sets produced according to general printing practices. Only the four values shown seem to exist.

At present there is no evidence that any varieties exist for the 1st Locomotives series
At this time, no SPECIMEN overprints, progressive color proofs nor errors are available on the market.

2nd Series Railway Locomotives issued ???, 1983
1983 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Locomotives (2nd series) Stamps

1,900 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1983 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Locomotives (2nd series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 sets produced according to general printing practices. All values exist this way.

1983 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Locomotives (2nd series) Progressive Color Proof Stamps

3,000 sets produced according to general printing practices. All values values exists in this form.

1983 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Locomotives (2nd series) Missing Red Error Stamps

2,000 missing red error sets produced according to general printing practices. 1,000 sets perforated and 1,000 sets imperforate.
All values exist in perforated form. At present it appears the imperforate varieties do not exist.
These are made for collector errors.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 2nd Locomotives series.
At this time, no SPECIMEN overprinted varieties are available on the market.

1st Series Automobiles issued ??, 1984
1984 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Automobiles (1st series) Unissued Imperforate Proof Stamps

Unknown at present if this set was ever issued or actually produced. Only these proofs seem to exist. We cannot find any source for normal issues. Aside from red/blue die proofs nothing else seems to exist.

3rd Series Railway Locomotives issued April ??, 1984
1984 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Locomotives (3rd series) Stamps

1,900 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1984 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Locomotives (3rd series) Progressive Color Proof Stamps

3,000 sets produced according to general printing practices. The four high values are available on the market.
It is unknown if the other two values exist in this form.

At present there is no evidence that any varieties exist for the 3rd Locomotives series.
At this time, no SPECIMEN overprinted varieties, imperforates other than the progressives nor errors are available on the market.

2nd Series Automobiles issued April ??, 1987
1987 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Automobiles (2nd series) Stamps

1,900 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1987 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Automobiles (2nd series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 sets produced according to general printing practices.

1987 Bernera Islands Leaders of the World, Automobiles (2nd series) Progressive Color Proof Stamps

3,000 sets produced according to general printing practices.

At present there is no evidence that any varieties exist for the 2nd Automobiles series.
The invoice shows that they were produced but nothing is available on the market for this set.

This concludes our study of the varieties produced for the Leaders of the World Locomotives and Automobiles series issued by Bernera Islands. We hope that this clarifies the point that the stigma that millions were made of each issue is completely false and should be ignored by collectors and dealers of these issues. Because of a few biased and exaggerated opinions and written articles on these issues of which they have NO EVIDENCE to back their claims the LOW stamp issues and varieties have been under valued and shunned by many for years. Sometimes the "experts" are NOT such experts as they have NOT completed the research needed to verify their claims.
We have.

Your friend and fellow collector and researcher,
JLowe

References taken from:
Documents obtained from the trial exhibits
Actual materials from the police evidence used in the trials
Modern British Locals CD Catalogue by Ralph Phillips
Online research
Documents obtained from the printers files that still exist
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UPDATED LAST ON: 23-Jan-2015 05:01 PM