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TUVALU LEADERS OF THE WORLD AUTOMOBILES AND TRAINS STAMP ISSUES AND VARIETIES

The Cars and Trains Stamp Issues for Tuvalu 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
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In 1984 Tuvalu joined other commonwealth countries in the production and issuance of the Leaders of the World (LOW) Automobile and Locomotive series of stamps. Between 1984 and 1987 Tuvalu issued 5 sets of the Automobile series and 5 sets of the Locomotives series. This page will try to clarify how many sets were issued and produced and what varieties were also produced. I 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.

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 I now have, I can now show this to be a huge exaggeration on the facts.

I will present each set as it was issued and show examples of some of the varieties. Either I have exact documents proving what was produced or I 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.

Through evaluation of the documents I have in my possession and the common practices of the printer All sets of LOW Cars and Trains fall under the same consensus of quantities produced. We know that all issues for Tuvalu and all the islands before 1987 were reprinted once. The standard was the same for all that 21,000 normal sets were reprinted for the PDC. General invoices and documents show that original orders for many stamp sets outside the Leaders of the World Series and including the LOW series as well ranged from 15,000 to 25,000 sets for Tuvalu. At that time the PDC had a set allotment printed for resale via outside stamp selling entities. The allotment was generally 2/3 of the given original orders. The calculation of 21,000 for Tuvalu and the islands appears over and over and is an easy quantity to break down for the allotment. 21,000 went to the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau and 14,000 went to the PDC's outlets. So I will base on the high figure that a total of 56,000 sets were produced for all the issues except sets printed in 1987 which documents show a difference. The last sets for some of the countries were never reprinted.

At the time of original printing some Progressive color Proofs and varieties were produced. These were usually in what I call 5-stage or 6-stage sets. The 5-stage sets include the yellow and black colors combined stage. The 6-stage sets have no all colors with no inscriptions stage. The 7-stage sets are the reprints for all the series up until late 1986 when the 7-stage sets became the norm. All presentation folders have the reprints. The reasons for the reprinting were that the earlier printings were from press sheets of which very few were saved. The reprinting was done to produce limited quantities of varieties for collectors to buy at affordable prices to enhance their collections. The majority of reprints come from cut panes. Storage of press sheets, which are very large, proved to be from the earlier versions not viable and so almost all the reprints were cut into panes for ease of storage.

The standard printing was set for all reprints.

3,000 sets of 7-stage progressive color proofs.
5,000 sets of imperforate stamps.
2,000 sets of specimen overprinted stamps

In most cases 1,000 sets of imperforate specimen overprinted stamps and 3,000 sets of misperfed or missing color "errors" were also produced. Of them, most now appear to have been destroyed.

Most all specimen overprinted stamps, imperforate stamps and errors were all printed at the time of reprinting as allowed by the "reprint agreement". Therefore all of them have finite numbers. With Tuvalu it was agreed to allow them to confiscate what they deemed as errors. Progressive color proofs are not errors but they confiscated many and destroyed them before they could be saved. Most all imperforate specimen overprinted sets and quite a few imperforates and even some of the normal specimen overprinted sets were also taken. I do not know why they did not take all of them but theorize that because the evidence taken was so large, I am talking about many thousands of panes, that they just simply missed them. The evidence was just thrown into police evidence bags with no regard to the philatelic preservation what so ever! Thus sorting through the material was quite difficult. Again view the example shown at the top of the page. Try sorting through several hundred of those!

I have created a special page with links to pages showing examples of the various progressive color proofs used to create the stamps. The pages will show you closeup images of specific values from the different series to help collectors define which proof belongs to which series and value.

View the SPECIALIZED Tuvalu Leaders of the World Automobiles and Locomotives Progressive Color Proofs Page here.View the SPECIALIZED Tuvalu Leaders of the World Automobiles and Locomotives Progressive Color Proofs Page here.
LET'S GET STARTED!

1st Series Railway Locomotives issued February 29, 1984
1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (1st series) Stamps

56,000 sets of the normal perforated issues were produced.

1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (1st series) SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps

2,000 specimen overprinted sets produced according to general reprinting practices. No imperforate specimen overprinted sets seen on the market

1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (1st series) Scott 224 with Inverted SPECIMEN Overprint

I found this inverted specimen overprinted stamp (Scott 224) on the internet. The quantity that exists is unknown but I would think they are low in numbers.

1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (1st series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 imperforate sets produced according to general reprinting practices. These are exceedingly rare.

1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (1st series) Progressive Color Proofs

3,000 progressive color proof sets produced according to general printing practices. These are exceedingly rare. The majority as such apparently destroyed or lost.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 1st Locomotives series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, imperforates and progressive color proofs are very rarely seen on the market. It took me several years to find the ones imaged.

2nd Series Railway Locomotives issued June 27, 1984
1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (2nd series) Stamps

56,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

At present there is no evidence that any varieties exist for the 2nd Locomotives series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, no imperforates, errors, progressives nor specimen overprinted stamps are available on the market.

3rd Series Railway Locomotives issued October 4, 1984
1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (3rd series) Stamps

56,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (3rd series) SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps

2,000 specimen overprinted sets produced according to general printing practices. No imperforate specimen overprinted sets seen on the market

The variety of inverted watermark is listed in Stanley Gibbons for all four issued pairs of this set. Some are available on the market.
3,000 sets produced according to general printing practices and these can be considered made for collector errors.
The reason they are available is because the representatives for the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau missed them when they sorted through the police evidence.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 3rd Locomotives series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, no imperforates nor progressive color proofs are available on the market.

1st Series Automobiles issued December 7, 1984
1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (1st series) Stamps

56,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (1st series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 imperforate sets produced according to general reprinting practices. These are considered rare as I have seen them available in several locations at times.

1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (1st series) SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps

2,000 specimen overprinted sets produced according to general printing practices. No imperforate specimen overprinted sets seen on the market
Sets of these are rarely offered on the market showing that the possibility of quite a few being lost or destroyed is very real.

1984 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (1st series) Progressive Color Proofs

3,000 progressive color proof sets produced according to general printing practices. These are exceedingly rare. The majority as such apparently destroyed or lost. A car enthusiast would give their eye teeth for these.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 1st Automobiles series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, progressive color proofs are very rarely seen on the market if ever. It took me several years to find the ones imaged.

At this time, I have seen no errors available on the market.

4th Series Railway Locomotives issued March 19, 1985
1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (4th series) Stamps

56,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (4th series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 imperforate sets produced according to general reprinting practices. These appear to be exceedingly rare.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (4th series) Presentation Cards

According to general printing practices these presentation cards were produced for examination and approval before final printing. In most cases they were produced in limited numbers (usually 250 sets) of the final approved sets for Presentation Folders to be sold for promotions. Many times some of these that were not fully approved were also used in the limited edition sets.
These were probably passed over by the representatives for the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau because they were already on the cards.
The representatives were looking for only items they deemed as errors as in imperforates, specimen overprints, progressives in panes and actual "errors".

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (4th series) Progressive Color Proofs

3,000 progressive color proof sets produced according to general printing practices. These are exceedingly rare apparently and very hard to find. The majority as such apparently destroyed or lost.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 4th Locomotives series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, imperforates and progressive color proofs are very rarely seen on the market. It took me several years to find the ones imaged.

No specimen overprinted stamps nor errors seen at present.

2nd Series Automobiles issued April 3, 1985
1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (2nd series) Stamps

56,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (2nd series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 imperforate sets produced according to general printing practices. These are considered rare as I have seen them available in several locations at times.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (2nd series) SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps

2,000 specimen overprinted sets produced according to general printing practices. No imperforate specimen overprinted sets seen on the market
Sets of these are rarely offered on the market showing that the possibility of quite a few being lost or destroyed is very real.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (2nd series) Progressive Color Proofs

3,000 progressive color proof sets produced according to general printing practices. These are exceedingly rare. The majority as such apparently destroyed or lost. Again, a car enthusiast would give their eye teeth for these.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (2nd series) Presentation Cards

As explained above for the 1985 4th series locomotives presentation cards, the same holds true for these.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 2nd Automobiles series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, progressive color proofs are very rarely seen on the market if ever. It took me several years to find the ones imaged.

At this time, I have seen no errors available on the market.

5th Series Railway Locomotives issued September 18, 1985
1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (5th series) Stamps

56,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (5th series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 sets produced according to general printing practices. These appear to be exceedingly rare.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (5th series) Presentation Cards

As explained above for the 1985 4th series locomotives presentation cards, the same holds true for these.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Locomotives (5th series) Progressive Color Proof Stamps

3,000 progressive color proof sets produced according to general printing practices. These are exceedingly rare apparently and very hard to find. The majority as such apparently destroyed or lost.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 5th Locomotives series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, imperforates and progressive color proofs are very rarely seen on the market. It took me several years to find the full set as the ones imaged.

No specimen overprinted stamps nor errors seen at present.

3rd Series Automobiles issued October 8, 1985
1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (3rd series) Stamps

56,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (3rd series) Imperforate Stamps

5,000 imperforate sets produced according to general printing practices. These are considered rare as I have seen them available in several locations at times.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (3rd series) SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps

2,000 specimen overprinted sets produced according to general printing practices. No imperforate specimen overprinted sets seen on the market
Sets of these are rarely offered on the market showing that the possibility of quite a few being lost or destroyed is very real.

1985 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (3rd series) Progressive Color Proofs

3,000 progressive color proof sets produced according to general printing practices. These are exceedingly rare. The majority as such apparently destroyed or lost. Again, a car enthusiast would give their eye teeth for these.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 2nd Automobiles series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, progressive color proofs are very rarely seen on the market if ever. It took me several years to find the ones imaged.

At this time, I have seen no errors available on the market.

4th Series Automobiles issued October 13, 1986
1986 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (4th series) Stamps

56,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced.

1986 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (4th series) Progressive Color Proofs

3,000 progressive color proof sets produced according to general printing practices. These are exceedingly rare. The majority as such apparently destroyed or lost.
For the 4th series Automobiles I only found the four lower values. The two high values may never have been produced as color proofs or if they were, are possibly lost or destroyed. Once again I state, a car enthusiast would give their eye teeth for these.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the 4th Automobiles series.
It is possible that they were produced but the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau's representatives may have confiscated and destroyed them.
At this time, progressive color proofs are very rarely seen on the market if ever. It took me several years to find the ones imaged.

No specimen overprinted sets nor errors available. The only imperforates appear to be with the progressives. My reasoning is that the progressive color proof sets that I obtained did not have duplicate final proofs for this series whereas other series did.

The following set was printed in a new format. Printed in panes of ten pairs. The printing was done only once and thus the status of quantities of normal printed stamps is lower and is based on the original print invoices imaged on the St. Vincent pages. The varieties produced would follow the same standards as in 5,000 progressive color proof sets produced, etc.

5th Series Automobiles issued May 7, 1987
1987 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (5th series) Stamps
1987 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (5th series) Souvenir Sheet

21,000 sets of normal perforated issues were produced according to the original printing invoice.

1987 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (5th series) SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps

2,000 specimen overprinted sets produced according to general printing practices. No imperforate specimen overprinted sets seen on the market
Sets of these are rarely offered on the market showing that the possibility of quite a few being lost or destroyed is very real.

1987 Tuvalu Leaders of the World, Automobiles (5th series) SPECIMEN Overprinted Souvenir Sheet

Unknown on exact quantities produced but would estimate it to be the same as the stamp sets at 2,000 specimen overprinted souvenir sheets produced. It appears by market sales that these are rare.

It appears no imperforates, progressive color proofs nor error stamps exist for the 5th series. I have documentation that the single pairs were produced with the following:
5,000 sets imperforate
2,000 sets overprinted specimen (perforated)
1,000 sets overprinted specimen (imperforate)
There is no information on the souvenir sheet. Only the souvenir sheet seen with specimen overprint at this time.

This concludes our study of the varieties produced for the Leaders of the World Automobiles and Locomotives series issued by Tuvalu. I 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 undervalued 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.
I have and this is for you.

Your friend and fellow collector and researcher,
JLowe

References taken from:
Stanley Gibbons Western Pacific
Scott Catalog
Inventory list for the Format Archive by Robson Lowe
Documents obtained from the trial exhibits
Actual materials from the police evidence used in the trials
Online research
Documents obtained from the printers files that still exist
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