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TUVALU NIUTAO LEADERS OF THE WORLD CRICKET PLAYERS STAMP ISSUES AND VARIETIES

The Cricket Players Stamp Issues for Niutao Produced by the Format International Security Printers
A Study of the Varieties and Quantities Produced

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In 1985 Niutao joined other commonwealth countries in the production and issuance of the Leaders of the World (LOW) Cricket Players series of stamps. Niutao only issued one set of them in 1985. 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 that exist including progressive color proofs, specimen overprinted varieties, imperforates and yes, 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. 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, we 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. 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 Leader of the World issues fall under the same consensus of quantities produced. We know that some issues for Tuvalu were reprinted once. The standard was the same for all that 21,000 normal sets were reprinted for the Philatelic Distribution Corporation, (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 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 higher figure that a total of 56,000 sets were produced for Niutao.

There is a difference with Eastern Hemisphere countries as there was also an allotment of the regular issued stamps that was added to the issues sent to the PDC. These were called "GOOD OVERS" which was a supplemental stock or extra number of sheet runs (possibly to compensate for any errors) in the main run of reprints. It does not appear to be the case with the Western Hemisphere countries.

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 and destroyed many of 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.

LET'S GET STARTED!

Cricket Players issued January 7, 1985

For Tuvalu and all the Islands involved in the Cricket series it appears nothing except specimen overprinted sets exist. Imperforates exist for the Nukulaelae set from composite sheets that were combined with Saint Lucia Locomotives. Around 100-150 were produced. The commonality of the specimen overprinted sets shows evidence that a reprinting was done. Possibly all was confiscated or destroyed or the varieties could still be stored ready to appear someday.

Nothing for Tuvalu was offered in the 1995 final sale of the archive showing that all Tuvalu stock was confiscated at that time. That would include any press sheets, proofs, artwork....everything.

1985 Niutao Leaders of the World, Cricket Players Stamps

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

1985 Niutao Leaders of the World, Cricket Players SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamp Set

2,000 specimen overprinted sets produced according to general reprinting practices.

At present there is no evidence that any other varieties exist for the Niutao Cricket Players issue.
It is probable that they were produced but at present no others are known on the market.

This concludes our study of the varieties produced for the Leaders of the World Cricket Players series issued by Niutao. 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.

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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UPDATED LAST ON: 07-Mar-2015 04:07 PM