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Information and Reference of the designing, Printing and Distribution of the Stamps Through the British Crown Agents Philatelic Services

Scott Catalog 446-9, 449a Stanley Gibbons 527-30, MS531

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex Stamps
Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex Souvenir Sheet
Marquee for Golowe's Reference Site on the Format International Security Printers

In my acquisition of the documents used in the trials against the Format International Security Printers Ltd. and the associated companies including the British Crown agents philatelic agency, I found 139 documents in reference to the creation and distribution of the 1986 Ameripex SS Great Britain stamp issue.
These documents give a much clearer look at how stamps are created, produced and distributed to collectors around the world.
This group of documents gives us a basic idea of how all Falkland Island stamps were produced during the 1980's and 1990's and how varieties were commonly requested by the philatelic agencies to promote collecting and increase revenues.

These documents were originally intended to prosecute the above mentioned companies for illegal intentional production of errors and varieties where in the end of the trials it was proven they did nothing illegal and produced varieties of stamps legally and under contract to do so.

Anyone who contests the facts given can request a pdf file of all the documents for a fee.

The Concept

In March of 1985 the Falkland Islands Stamp Committee proposed to have a set of stamps created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the S.S. Great Britain's arrival to the Falkland Islands. In 1970 a set was issued for the Falkland Islands depicting the S.S. Great Britain and so the committee was interested in this time to portray the vessel in a series of concepts. The proposed concepts were:
In her glory
Dismasted in the Falklands
Beached at Sparrow Cove (or alternatively mounted on the Mulus pontoon)
In restoration at Bristol

On July 11, 1985 Mr. D.L. Clifton, manager of the Philatelic Bureau for the Falkland Islands began inquiries for original photographic materials. He contacted the curator of the SS Great Britain Museum and a Mr. F.G. Mitchell who specialized on the subject. In turn he was referenced to the National Maritime Museum which in turn sent photo on August 29, 1985. The documentation is vague but I believe all images for the four stamps of this issue were obtained via these sources.

It was proposed in October, 1985 that the stamp set be issued 4 days earlier than the official anniversary date to correspond to the Ameripex Stamp exhibition being held on May 22, 1986. It was at this time that it was proposed that the Ameripex logo be placed on the stamps. Originally it was planned to only issue the stamps but this was altered to include a souvenir sheet. The reason was the subject of the matter did not have anything to do with Ameripex which was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. The argument was that one of the stamps be altered to have the Statue of Liberty in the background which would have been just plain wrong. This is why the proposed souvenir sheet was created with a view of New York showing the arrival of the SS Great Britain after her maiden voyage on August 10, 1845. The closest the subject could tie with the Statue of Liberty which (sic) did not even exist at the time.

The finished artwork arrived at the Crown Agents office on February 19, 1986. The original background colors were black and red. This was changed to the beige colors on the issued stamps. Arguments were raised as to the colors of the title, denomination and country name also. Originally they were all red. The proposal to make them all black to match the Ameripex logo (which had to be black or blue) was finally compromised by making the title black and keeping the denomination and country name red. On March 10, 1986 the committee agreed after much bantering namely because they were out of time if the deadline to issue the set on May 22 was to be met. All in all my opinion on this set is that it was hurriedly made more for the goal of sales at Ameripex and meeting the deadline to do just that, than for the true historical event it was intended for originally.

The Quantities Produced

In my research on the printers and practices they followed it is little known by the majority of collectors and most "experts" just how massively produced stamp issues really are. In many cases the quantities that a given country states were issued and what was actually produced and distributed to the market are extremely different. This does not just hold true to the PDC, Format Printers and various companies who were put on trial. It holds true with the majority of other philatelic agencies, bureau's and printing companies who were doing the same exact thing. The trials against the Format Printers revealed these facts. What is being overlooked and or completely ignored is the fact that basically all of the printers followed orders given to them by the philatelic agencies. This one case will show you the evidence that even the British Crown Agents stamp company were ordering quantities and varieties in limited quantities just as the PDC (Philatelic Distribution Corp.) did.

The reason I state this is because these documents are based on orders given by the British Crown Agents who many argue would never do such a thing!

A letter of standing order posted to the Philatelic Bureau in the Falkland Islands was sent on February 7, 1986 from the Crown Agents Stamp company requesting 400 gutter pair sets and various special cancelled FDC's and CTO stamps. This was requested before the stamps were even made! This is evidence showing standard practices of the Crown Agents to order gutter pairs and varieties all during their time as philatelic agents for the Falkland Islands and dependencies.

On March 13, 1986 Mr. D.L. Clifton, manager of the Philatelic Bureau for the Falkland Islands, requested the following quantities:
10p 30,000 to Falkland Islands 1000 for Ameripex showing
24p 60,000 to Falkland Islands 1000 for Ameripex Showing
29p 80,000 to Falkland Islands 1000 for Ameripex Showing
58p 20,000 to Falkland Islands 1000 for Ameripex Showing
S/S 8,000 to Falkland Islands 3000 for Ameripex Showing
FDC 8,000 to Falkland Islands (same figure for stamps on one cover and souvenir sheet on another)

Somewhere along the line more of the 10p value was ordered for the Ameripex show and the total went to 36,000 ordered.

On April 3 the Crown Agents made two ordered, each for 12,150 First Day Cover envelopes to be produced by Smith & Watts Ltd. This is 4,150 more than requested by the philatelic bureau in the Falkland Islands.

On April 4, 1986 the Crown Agents Stamp company ordered the Format International Security Printers to print the following quantities and send them to the listed locations.

To send
with CAPC
10p 30,000 7,000 30,000 15,000 82,000
24p 60,000 2,000 30,000 15,000 107,000
29p 80,000 2,000 30,000 15,000 127,000
58p 20,000 2,000 30,000 15,000 67,000
S/Sheet 8,000 3,000 30,000 15,000 56,000

The Postal authority is of course the Falkland Islands Philatelic Bureau. CAPC is the Crown Agents Philatelic Corporation which was based in the U.S. CASCO is the Crown Agents Stamp Company Limited based in the U.K.
As we can see the stamps for the AMERIPEX show were to be sent to CAPC because it was held in Chicago.

This shows that the Crown Agents ordered large quantities of stamp issues in exactly the same way as Philatelists Ltd., PDC and many other philatelic agencies did and are doing today! I do not have a specialized book on the Falkland Island stamps but I am fairly certain that the stated quantities issued in most is far less than what was actually produced and exists today.

On April 11 three cancel dies were sent to the philatelic bureau in the Falkland Islands. They were for Fox Bay, Mount Pleasant and Port Stanley.

On April 17, 1986 the Crown Agents Stamp Company referencing their letter of February 7 requesting 400 sets of gutter pairs made another request. They requested 100 more sets of gutter pairs making the standing order for 500 sets in total.

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex Gutter Pair Stamps
On April 28 the FDC liners were dispatched to the philatelic Bureau. There was a complaint on May 6 that they were rather small and could possibly interfere with the cancellation if not placed in the far right side of the envelope.

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex FDC Liner
On June 10, long after Ameripex ended, the Crown Agents tried a request to reduce their order for FDC's and CTO stamps they had ordered on February 7. On June 12 the Philatelic Bureau replied that they had already been sent and there was nothing they could do about it.

On June 26 the Crown Agents acknowledged receipt of the 500 gutter pair sets, 1250 stamp FDC's and 750 S/S FDC's.

On July 14 the Crown Agents acknowledged receipt of 1300 CTO stamp sets and 1300 CTO souvenir sheets.

On August 18 the Crown Agents acknowledged receipt of 906 stamp FDC's and 614 S/S FDC's.

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex Port Stanley Cancelled First Day Covers
On September 19 the philatelic bureau in the Falkland Islands dispatched 75 stamp FDC's and 100 S/S FDC's with the Fox Bay Cancel. They also dispatched 100 stamp FDC's and 100 S/S FDC's with the Mount Pleasant Cancel. These were acknowledged as received on September 30.

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex Fox Bay and Mt. Pleasant Cancelled First Day Covers
So here we have a conflict. If the philatelic bureau already dispatched the full quantities ordered by the Crown Agents in their original February 7 letter, which was acknowledged sent on June 12, of which they only required the numbers shown below. Why is this September 19 dispatch even here?

Taken from the document requesting a reduction from the February 7 order, the quantities requested are shown even though the February 7 document was not in the trial evidence. It shows the following.
Fox Bay cancelled stamps FDC's ordered 250 required 75
Fox Bay cancelled S/S FDC's ordered 100 required 33
Mt. Pleasant cancelled stamps FDC's ordered 100 required 23
Mt. Pleasant cancelled S/S FDC's ordered 200 required 23
CTO S/S's ordered 1000 required 900

We see here that the original quantities must have been sold and the additional quantities produced by the philatelic bureau long after Ameripex ended. This shows that First Day Cancels are being applied by demand and not just placed on the covers on the date of the event but is applied sometimes months after the event according to how many are ordered by collectors.

A fax received June 28, 1990 from The House of Questa of all things....documents the destruction of the printing plates, printing materials and progressive color proofs.

The Rarities Produced

In my analysis of the trial documents my conclusions are:

The stamps and souvenir sheet in and of themselves are quite common.

Around 10,000 Stamp First Day Covers with Port Stanley cancels exist.

Around 10,000 S/S First Day Covers with Port Stanley cancels exist.

The rarer items are:

Only 500 sets of the gutter pairs exist if the Falkland Islands philatelic bureau did not save any.

Only around 325 Stamp First Day Covers with Fox Bay cancels exist.

Only around 200 S/S First Day Covers with Fox Bay cancels exist.

Only around 200 Stamp First Day Covers with Mount Pleasant cancels exist.

Only around 300 S/S First Day Covers with Mount Pleasant cancels exist.

Try finding the FDC's with either cancel and you will find it very difficult!

It also is documented that some of the souvenir sheets had perforation errors. The perforations were not aligned with the stamps.

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex Souvenir Sheet with Perforation Error
At the time of writing this I found one of the souvenir sheets on the market with this error. It is documented that it was believed they were only on FDC's and those examples could not be found. This example is stated to be mint never hinged therefore not from a FDC.

I also found this color shift error. The black color is shifted upward.

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex Souvenir Sheet with Shifted Color Error
I saw on the market a pair of the 58p with the perf error. Here are examples of the 24p and 29p with perf errors.

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex 24p and 29p Corner Blocks with Perforation Error
Here are pairs with the error.

Falkland Islands 1986 Ameripex 24p and 29p Stamp Pairs with Perforation Error
What is interesting is they come from panes as the selvage shows and are not from the souvenir sheets.
One document shows that 100 of the 58p and 4 souvenir sheets were to be compensated for the error as they were received by the philatelic bureau of the Falkland Islands. Because the 58p and the above examples show proof of coming from panes, this would mean that at least 50 of 24p and 29p value exists and evidence of 100 of the 58p value exist.

Documents shows that the matter of compensation for defective stamps was dropped when no examples were produced to prove validity of the claim by Mr. D.L. Clifton, manager of the Philatelic Bureau for the Falkland Islands. The question then arises as to what happened to the stamps with errors?
The document showing a Telex made by Mr. Clifton to the Crown Agents representative states:

RE Poor Printings
Unfortunately have been unable to find any further imperfect sheets. There were a number but all these were used on FDC. Suggest you opt out of claim. My fault for not pursuing matter more vigorously originally apart from ink smudges.

We can see they exist. The grosvenorauctions.com website (Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions) shows us they have been auctioning off pieces from the panes over time. The imaged corner blocks realizing a price in 2008 of £420 and £550 respectively. The imaged pairs are currently being auctioned at an estimate of £170-190! It appears to me these are being weaned into the market to unsuspecting collectors at very over inflated prices even if only one pane existed of each value of which I am sure there are more.

It was stated in one document by the British Crown Agents philatelic agency when they were promoting contracts to various countries that it is inadvisable to retain a philatelic agency that is a stamp dealer claiming the Crown Agents were not. One reason being that the dealer run agency would retain errors and varieties getting the"jump" on other dealers thus hurting philatelic popularity of the country.
This one section of documents and evidence shows that not only were the Crown Agents involved in creating limited varieties, but that errors were found and released to the market under their watch! This is supposed to not happen according to their own standards. So the question is who is at fault? The Falkland Islands Philatelic Bureau or the British Crown Agents Philatelic Agencies....or both!?!
Yes, the errors originated in the printing process, but they made it all the way to the Falkland Islands Philatelic Bureau thus showing us that the Format International Security Printers had nothing to do with the distribution of them to the market.

As for British Crown Agents Stamp Company not being a stamp dealer...well, what were they going to do with all those stamps....store and admire them?

That is not the case. On May 21, 1986 The Crown Agents Stamp Bureau invoiced Urch Harris For 3,300 sets of the Ameripex issue and 2,700 Ameripex souvenir sheets for the price of £7,260 (face value) with VAT added at £1,089. From the sale the Crown Agents retained 30% of the face value according to contracts with the Falkland Islands Philatelic Bureau. Looks like big stamp deals to me.

This basically sums up the development and production of the Falkland Islands 1986 SS Great Britain 100 year Anniversary Stamps.

References taken from:
Stanley Gibbons Falkland Islands
Scott Catalog
Trial Exhibits #61 and #455

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UPDATED LAST ON: 23-Jan-2015 03:07 PM