24 August 2009

Unlisted Stamps (II)

The most exciting unlisted stamps of Cambodia are the surcharges. Since they were locally handstamped for postal use with no philatelic sales, overseas collectors have had a hard time identifying and collecting them.

After a long time of putting together bits and pieces of information, 19 surcharges have been recorded:

To spice it up, the original 1988 folk dance set has two stamps with a variety of inscription errors, they were surcharged alongside with the regular stamps.

Here is a genuine set of the folk dance surcharges with 1r variety.

More unlisted surcharges may exist, further research has to be done for a better picture.

Almost all 1990s surcharges have fakes - real stamps but forged surcharges. Some sources claim the CPO sold surcharges until late 2000s, if the CPO did, those are fakes too (YES, fakes from CPO). Fellow collector Jean-Marie Florent of Belgium is kind enough to scan some fakes for our reference: 

(courtesy: Jean-Marie Florent)

Please click here for part I of this article: "Unlisted Stamps (I)"

13 August 2009

Unlisted Stamps (I)

Catalogue unlisted stamps always thrill collectors, they may not be scarce or rare, yet like secrets, their missing arouse everyone's curiosity. Cambodia's unlisted stamps give no exception, these captivating items have posted big challenges to serious collectors as much as postal history specialists. 

In my previous blog entries, I have told the story of 1993 "40th Anniversary of National Independence" 3v set (click here to read), the authentic stamps are unlisted. In Michel, it states "Der Status von drei weiteren, motivleichen (Ansicht von Angkor Vat) Marken zu 400, 500 und 600 R ist ungeklat", Stanley Gibbons and Scott give no reference at all.

In the following year, Cambodia quietly sold a single stamp set without much public attention. Officially issued on 3rd December 1994, the 2000r stamp celebrates "Inauguration Station Terrienne Standard a Cambodge - Australie", the completion of a satellite antenna which was part of Cambodia's US$700,000 joint venture with the Australian telecommunication company OTC (Telstra). Denomination is indicated in Khmer numerals only.

The stamp was nearly unknown outside Cambodia, it had no international sales.
At the time of issue, inflation had already been under control, the face value 2000r fetched for about 0.49USD, this made the stamp not a very high face value one yet postal used copies are unrecorded because at that time the vast majority of outgoing letters had postage at merely 800r (to Europe), obviously a 2000r stamp served very limited practical use.

Above is the stamp in block of four. The issue is recorded in the 1997 official stamp catalogue published by the Cambodian Department of Posts.

(to be continued)

Please click here for part II of this article: "Unlisted Stamps (II)"

Special Delivery?

This not-in-my-collection cover is interesting as it has a red label which no one would miss. The label says "special delivery". It makes people wonder how special it could be.

As a matter of fact, there was no such service, even if there were, the label would not had been in English: the Cambodian postal authority used French as their working language till late 1990s.

10 August 2009

1993 Independence Anniversary Stolen stamps

The stolen 3v COPREFIL printed set.

In 1993 Cambodia enjoyed her first free general elections as scheduled by the 1991 Paris Peace Accords. The royal government was successfully formed in September and in November the new leadership led the celebration of 40th anniversary of national independence (from France in 1953). The Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications joined the feast by issuing a set of 3 commemomrative postage stamps.

The original set comprises of 3 values: 300r features the Phnom Penh Central Post Office building, 500r features Vimean Ekareach, the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh that is, and 700r features the national flag. For the first time, English was used on stamps instead of French.

Unfortunately some of the stamps were reported stolen during transit from COPREFIL, the official producer and printer in Havana, to Phnom Penh. Russia got the news and quickly offered a little gift to the new royal government - a new stamp set was promptly prepared and shipped to Phnom Penh replacing the missing issue.

The Russian set differs from the Cuban set in two ways. Unlike the Cuban set, all three stamps are now identical in design, they depict the world famous Angkor Wat. And denominations are now changed to 400r, 500r and 600r.


The Russian printed replacement set in folder.

No official FDC was prepared for the new set. Nevertheless, a special folder was made as complimentary gift from the minister to foreign guests of the government. The folder is in English, printed in blue ink with a set of mint stamps stuck in. The ministry did not make it available to public, counterfeits exist in market.

The obsolete Cuban printed stamps were never sold in Cambodia and therefore no postal used copies can be/should be found. However mint sets and CTO can easily be bought in Europe and America, for COPREFIL's German agent had flooded the stamp market with these wallpapers in such a way that now even the major stamp catalogues think they are the official issue (Sc 1323-1325, Mi 1394-1396).

Commercial used copies of the replacement set are very common, while the stolen COPREFIL set sees absolutely no postal use.

7 August 2009

Cambodia, Tuva, or Bust !

Two airmail stamps from two different airmail sets are franked on this 1986 cover to Australia.

Since 1980 Cambodia has only issued two airmail sets, the first one in 1984 and the second 1986. Both share the same illustration but have different inscription, I guess the Cambodian authority was very proud of the unchanged design: how legendary to have a 
Ilyushin Il-62 over Angkor Wat (despite the fact that no Ilyushin Il-62 ever flew over Angkor) !

It resembles Tuva (Tannu Touva). Tuva in the 1930s and Cambodia in the 1980s were isolated and no common holiday destination. Philatelically in 1936 Tuva issued a few big sets which fully captivated young children with beautiful colour and exotic design, there included one stamp with a camel racing train, and another with a horseman watching zeppelin.

Stamps don't always give facts. There were no railway and zeppelin in Tuva, no boeing over Angkor. Illusion of advancement is always beautiful, isn't it?

1 August 2009

Missent Postcard

Mail in and out of Cambodia were via Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in 1980s. This 1988 postcard from USA to the Netherlands was stamped "Missent to Phnom Penh" and "Missent to Ho Chi Minh City". I will leave you to guess which missent came first.