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THE 1988 EXPLORERS STAMPS
AND OTHER VARIETIES PRINTED BY THE FORMAT INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PRINTERS LTD.

The 1988 Saint Vincent Grenadines and Bequia Great Explorers Stamps and What was Found in the Archive

In 1988 the Format International Security Printers Ltd. were commissioned By the St. Vincent postal authorities to produce two issues of stamps depicting various scenes of Famous Explorers including Columbus and the discovery of America for Saint Vincent Grenadines and Saint Vincent Grenadines Bequia.
The stamps were to be run in conjunction with the mainlands run issued January 11, 1988 commemorating the upcoming celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America in 1992. Many other commonwealth countries as well as other foreign countries were to celebrate the event mostly in 1992. For some reason St. Vincent and Dependencies got off with an early start to the celebration. Saint Vincent Grenadines issued their stamps on July 29, 1988.
Saint Vincent Grenadines Bequia issued their stamps on July 11, 1988. This page is for both issues. This is the set which was produced and issued for Saint Vincent Grenadines:

1988 EXPLORERS Scott #596-605, SG #563-71, MS572
An unissued $6.00 souvenir sheet exists showing the Santa Maria.
It is the same as the issued souvenir sheet BUT the colors are yellowed
and the frame around the stamp is a salmon color versus the issued lighter yellowish color.
Scott Catalog lists the $5.00 and $6.00 souvenir sheets correctly but fails to mention the unissued variety.
Stanley Gibbons lists TWO $5.00 SOUVENIR SHEETS with correct pictorial descriptions and NOTES the $6.00 unissued souvenir sheet.
This is in ERROR as there were never two $5.00 souvenir sheets issued for this set.

1988 Explorers Stamps
1988 Explorers Souvenir Sheet
It appears that some sellers think this souvenir sheet was not issued.
THEY ARE WRONG! Please note the light yellowish frame of the stamp and lighter color of the Souvenir sheet overall.
1988 Explorers Souvenir Sheet
THIS IS THE UNISSUED 1988 EXPLORERS SOUVENIR SHEET! Note the Salmon pink colored frame of the stamp and the much darker and heavier overall yellow color of the souvenir sheet, The brown and red colors appear much lighter.
1988 Explorers Unissued $6.00 Souvenir Sheet

This is the set which was produced and issued for Saint Vincent Grenadines Bequia:

1988 EXPLORERS Scott #251-9

1988 Explorers Stamps
1988 Explorers Souvenir Sheet

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

According to prior written information and internet research the following findings will be presented and will stand until solid evidence is presented proving otherwise........

SAINT VINCENT GRENADINES

THE NORMAL IMPERFORATE PROOFS

1988 Explorers Imperforate Proof Stamp Set

Based on market scanning and analysis it is fairly safe to say these have a medium rarity factor. Price variances from $20.00 to $100.00 a set of singles shows that these are getting to be a tough buy. Quantities are unknown but availability is limited. Appears at the moment that no souvenir sheets in imperforate proof form are available on the market neither as single nor as color trials. Possibly none were saved for this country? If evidence turns up showing they do exist we will change the status here. Judging from availability we would estimate these will be in the extreme rarity class.

THE PROGRESSIVE COLOR PROOFS

1988 Explorers Progressive Color Proofs
1988 Explorers Progressive Color Proofs

These examples I found were for sale at around $50.00 for the set. An exceptional deal for these! These are getting tough to find. Market valuation for a full set is around $3-400.00.
Have not seen any of the souvenir sheets for this issue in color proof form.
Color proofs come in varying numbers for different stamps and sets. This particular set has total of 9 variants including the final product. When buying these be sure to check that all the variants are there or it should be considered a short set. Many sellers say nothing in these regards.
One issue I note with these is the color proof of the frame. Several are very easy to mix up. The only way to tell which frame belongs to each issue is by the way the depicted image penetrates the frame. Notice how the sails of the ship on the 15c value penetrates the frame. Several of the frames are penetrated in almost the same position by the depicted images and thus can easily be mixed up or even duplicated for several issues thus one must closely inspect them to assure the correct proof is with its matching counterparts.

THE SPECIMEN OVERPRINTS

I found there to be no examples of these for sale. The possibility again that none were saved?
Again if evidence turns up showing their existence the status will be changed here.

GUTTERS ETC.

Judging from what is available it appears that the gutters and cross gutters from uncut press sheets have a modest rarity factor. Cross gutters are being offered at around $50.00 thus the probability of 20-50 uncut press sheets were saved. More research is needed on these.

VARIETIES

Noting seeing one error missing blue color exists. More details will be added later.

The following are

NEW DISCOVERIES

from the Bileski Estate!!!

THE DOUBLE SOUVENIR SHEET PROOFS

In my purchases of the Bileski Estate I found a large manila envelope packed with souvenir sheet pairs cut from archival sheets. I was amazed to find they all pertained to the 1988 Columbus issue for Saint Vincent and the 1988 Explorers issues for Saint Vincent Grenadines and Saint vincent Bequia. Several years ago I acquired several documents with diagrams of the uncut press sheets for these which included the number found, the description of how the souvenir sheet pairs were cut and how many exist. I present to you here now images of the above mentioned souvenir sheet pairs never before seen on the market and previously unknown till now.

1988 EXPLORERS Scott #604, SG #MS572
THE $5 SOUVENIR SHEET PAIR WITH PERFS MISSING ON THE RIGHT SIDE
Three uncut sheets were found in the archive.
26 vertical pairs were cut. (of which I found 23)
4 horizontal pairs were cut.
VALUE = $500.00 (for vertical pairs)

1988 Explorers $5 Souvenir Sheet Proof Pair with Perforations Missing on Right Side

One uncut sheet of 20 was found by Mr. West, owner of Avion Stamps.
20 single souvenir sheets with large margins were cut.
Value = $250.00
Available at AVION STAMPS

1988 Explorers $5 Souvenir Sheet Proof with Perforations Missing on Right Side

1988 EXPLORERS Scott #605, SG #MS572
THE UNISSUED $6 (changed colors)SOUVENIR SHEET PAIR WITH PERFS MISSING ON THE RIGHT SIDE
Four uncut sheets of 20 were found in the archive purchases of Mr. Bileski.
4 vertical pairs were cut.
36 horizontal pairs were cut.
VALUE = $300.00 (for horizontal pairs)

4 exist
1988 Explorers Unissued (changed colors) $6 Vertical Souvenir Sheet Proof Pair with Perforations Missing on Right Side
36 exist
1988 Explorers Unissued (changed colors) $6 Horizontal Souvenir Sheet Proof Pair with Perforations Missing on Right Side

One uncut sheet of 20 was found by Mr. West, owner of Avion Stamps.
20 single souvenir sheets with large margins were cut.
Value = $150.00 each
Available at AVION STAMPS

1988 Explorers Unissued (changed colors) $6 Souvenir Sheet Proof with Perforations Missing on Right Side

No uncut press sheets of the ISSUED $6.00 Souvenir sheet seem to have been found. There is still a possibility they may exist but until evidence is found it stands that they do not exist at present.

SAINT VINCENT GRENADINES BEQUIA

THE NORMAL IMPERFORATE PROOFS

1988 Explorers Imperforate Proof Stamp Set
1988 Explorers Imperforate Proof Souvenir Sheet

Based on market scanning and analysis it is fairly safe to say these have a medium rarity factor. Price variances from $20.00 to $100.00 a set of singles and $15-50.00 for the souvenir sheet shows that these are getting to be a tough buy. Quantities are unknown but availability is limited. Fair market value should be around $50.00 for the set and $25.00 for the souvenir sheet.

THE PROGRESSIVE COLOR PROOFS

1988 Explorers Progressive Color Proofs
1988 Explorers Progressive Color Proofs
1988 Explorers Progressive Color Proofs Souvenir Sheets

These examples I found were for sale at around $50.00 each set. Another exceptional deal for these! These are getting tough to find. Market valuation for a full set is around $2-300.00. The souvenir sheet another $100-150.00.
Color proofs come in varying numbers for different stamps and sets. This particular issue has total of 9 variants including the final product. The souvenir sheet has 8 variants including the final product. When buying these be sure to check that all the variants are there or it should be considered a short set. Many sellers say nothing in these regards.
Again I note with these is the color proof of the frame. Several are very easy to mix up. The only way to tell which frame belongs to each issue is by the way the depicted image penetrates the frame. Notice how the wing of the seabird on the 15c value penetrates the frame. Several of the frames are penetrated in almost the same position by the depicted images and thus can easily be mixed up or even duplicated for several issues thus one must closely inspect them to assure the correct proof is with its matching counterparts.
Many of these are available at AVION STAMPS

THE SPECIMEN OVERPRINTS

Mr. West has the souvenir sheet imperforated with this overprint.
1988 Explorers Imperforate SPECIMEN Overprinted Souvenir Sheet
According to Mr. West these seem to be quite rare. He has very few and none are available elsewhere.
Again if evidence turns up showing existence of others the status will be changed here.

GUTTERS ETC.

Judging from what is available it appears that the gutters and cross gutters from uncut press sheets have a modest rarity factor. Cross gutters are being offered at around $50.00 thus the probability of 20-50 uncut press sheets were saved. More research is needed on these.

VARIETIES

No errors reported for this issue.

The following are

NEW DISCOVERIES

from the Bileski Estate!!!

Another

NEW DISCOVERY

from the Bileski Estate!!!

1988 EXPLORERS Scott #259
THE $5 SOUVENIR SHEET PAIR WITH PERFS ALL AROUND
Eight uncut sheets of 16 were found in the archive on Mr. Bileski's side. (one missing a vertical pair)
59 vertical pairs were cut.
4 horizontal pairs were cut.
Another sheet was found by Mr. West. It was badly damaged. Several vertical pairs have been cut from it.
VALUE = $200.00 (for vertical pairs)

1988 Explorers $5.00 Souvenir Sheet Proof Pair with Perforations All Around

1988 EXPLORERS Scott #259
THE $5 SOUVENIR SHEET PAIR WITH PERFS MISSING ON THE RIGHT
One uncut sheet of 16 was found by Mr. West from the archive.
Several vertical pairs were cut and singles also.
VALUE = $1000.00 (for a vertical pair) Mr. West is offering one for a lot less at present!
Available at AVION STAMPS

1988 Explorers $5.00 Souvenir Sheet Proof Pair with Perforations Missing on the Right

There still MAY be several uncut press sheets still in existence for these sets but they would now be considered extremely rare.
Advise is...if you have one retain it and you may find it to be unique. All have been broken and the pieces are slowly dispersing among the collecting community. Because these issues deal with ships, America's discovery and Famous Explorers, the estimated number of uncut press sheets that were saved range from 7 to 10 sheets. The range is higher for Saint Vincent and dependencies though as we can see the commonality of many of the varieties. The Format Printers last owners created a huge problem in this area because:

1.) Saint Vincent Postal Authorities seemed not to care WHAT the printers did with their issues.
2.) The company produced quite a few "made for collector" errors for this country between 1986-7.
3.) The company produced and held onto a large number proofs and color trials for various (what they considered) popular issues meaning LOW issues and topical issues and yes, royalty issues for Saint Vincent.

As we can see in the declining numbers of items available variety wise with the dependencies, they obviously at the time thought that the dependencies would not be as popular and thus less material was produced for them. This same methodology appears to be apparent with other commonwealth countries also such as Tuvalu and its dependencies. High numbers for Tuvalu and lower numbers for the dependencies.

This may not be quite so true with the explorer issues though as it seems to be opposite. It seems that color trials and such were saved in larger quantities for the explorer issues of 1988 Grenadines and Bequia than of the 1988 Discovery of America issues of St. Vincent. Possibly due to the topic. The St. vincent issues solely pertaining to Columbus whereas the the Grenadines and Bequia issues dealt with several explorers.

Luckily the whistle was blown and this type of production was put to a screeching halt in late 1987 and early 1988. Some materials were destroyed before police raids could get to them. Inside sources are now portraying the picture of what happened to some of the materials. Some quantities of sheets with errors were quickly sold off to investors who quickly got them off their hands before the raids. Investors who bought them, out of fear, locked them away and never resold them. Some destroyed the materials out of fear. SOME of the materials may STILL be locked away. Certain sources are now retracing the trails to find out what happened to them. As time goes by more and more information WILL be found and truths will be revealed. Shady dealers will be revealed and scorned. Pricing of these materials will be stabilized and most of what the Format International Security Printers produced will be shown to have been legitimately made and saved in the archive.

References taken from:
Stanley Gibbons Windward Islands and Barbados
Scott Catalog
Inventory list for the Format Archive by Robson Lowe
The Bileski Documentation
Online internet research

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UPDATED LAST ON: 25-Jan-2015 08:25 AM