28 February 2011

Overpriced Cover from Unprofessional Dealer

Here is the front and back of a cover offered by a Bulgarian dealer.

Look at the item description by the dealer:

"A cover sent from Kampuchea Cambodia to Bulgaria in September 1991 during the last days of the pro-Soviet and pro-Vietnamese RPK regime that had no recognition by UN but de facto ruled Cambodia between 1979 and 1991 as opposed to the Khmer Rouge Pol Pot parallel regime supported by China and USA. The civil war and the isolation of Cambodia form the Westerns World ended in October 1991 with Paris Peace Accords and the introduction of the United Nations Advanced Mission in Cambodia.

"Postmark from 30.09.91 with a variation of the RPK/People’s Republic of Kampuchea postmark “Phnom Penh RP Kampuchea” different from the other postmark formats used through the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s “Phnom Penh RP” only.


"Variation of stamps both with Kampuchea and Cambodia inscription (the name of "People's Republic of Kampuchea" was officially changed to State of Cambodia in April 1989)."

There are 3 things highlighted by the dealer. Firstly the cover is from the last days of non UN recognized PRK, secondly the postmark is unusual, thirdly there is mix franking of People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) and State of Cambodia (SOC) stamps.

The cover sounds so much like a gem! I have repeatedly reminded fellow collectors to stay alert of dealers' trap, this is one of the traps.

PRK renamed SOC in April 1989 merely for the sake of international image, no one considers it a political or social milestone.

The Paris Accord was signed in October 1991, but the date did not mark the end of a regime. It was 1993 when Cambodia re-installed a monarchy, so basically the postmark date 30th September 1991 gives absolutely no significance of any kind.

Not to mention mixing franking of PRK and SOC stamps can be found on most covers of the period.

The dealer takes time to read Graham Shaw's website and makes it a reference of the postmark, the postmark on the cover is the same type as shown in figure 5 of Shaw's article. Personally I do not consider numbered postmarks as a variation, and it is certain that this postmark type is not unusual, according to my study the numbered postmarks are extensively used from 1987 to 1993. For further information see my blog entry "Phnom Penh CPO Postmarks Part 1".

I guess only very junior collectors would consider having covers from non UN recognized countries a fantasy. There are quite a number of non UN recognized countries around, such as Republic of China (Taiwan), Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Republic of Kosovo, State of Palestine .....

The dealer asks for 75 USD. The true market price, is just a few dollars.

20 February 2011

Proofs of Cambodian Stamps

Post 1979 Cambodia does not release imperforate stamps, but for certain issues there seem to exist. They are actually proofs.

These what believed to be colour or plate proofs from the archive of COPREFIL are available on the market as imperforate stamp and souvenir sheet full printing sheets, or single pieces in case of colour proofs. For some issues, designer proofs are on market. Up to date these different kinds of proof of the following issues are found in private collections:
  • 1985 JUVALUX'88 Cats
  • 1986 Halley's Comet
  • 1988 Apsara
  • 1989 BRASILIANA'89 Butterflies
  • 1994 FIFA World Cup USA'94
  • 1994 Tourism - Public Gardens
  • 1994 Beetles
  • 1994 Submarines
  • 1994 Chess
  • 1994 80th Anniv of the 1st Flight of Multimotor Plane
  • 1994 Indochinese Birds
  • 1994 Dinosaurs
  • 1994 National Independence Festival
  • 1995 Butterflies
  • 1995 Protected Fauna
  • 1995 Locomotives
  • 1997 Khmer Culture - Banteay Srei
  • 1998 Chinese Year of the Tiger
  • 1998 Defivitives
  • 1998 Cats
  • 1999 Butterflies

Current market price for most of the plate proof sets is 5 to 10 USD each.

They should not be confused with the de luxe sheets of three 1983 issues: 4th anniversary of PRK, Los Angeles Olympics and butterflies.

There are also printing wastes which found their way to the philatelic market. Collectors are reminded that printing wastes are worthless and forbidden to use as philatelic exhibition material.

5 February 2011

Cancelled-to-order (CTO) Stamps of Cambodia

From 1982 to 2001, Cambodia had most of her postage stamps designed and printed by COPREFIL, and to make more philatelic sales, all of these stamps have a certain quantity cancelled-to-order (CTO). Just as all other modern CTO, negative stereotypes and heavy generalization has made Cambodian CTO nothing more than gap fillers.

Personally I do not reject CTO. As a matter of fact, some modern CTO are so sought after that they fetch hundreds of US dollars. Although Cambodian CTO mostly end up in value packs for starters, with a closer look they do have little interesting information for collectors.

The Cuban printer sometimes included print run information on philatelic pamphlets, but it seems that the numbers do not include CTO quantity. Extra number of stamps were printed and then machine postmarked, this cancellation was not printed along with the stamp design.

Not all stamp printing sheets have serial number, but CTO are always on non-numbered sheets.

The machine postmark design has been revised a number of times during the two decades of CTO flourish, however only the very first one is identical to the handstamp postmark used in the Cambodian post offices, all others are nothing close. This makes collectors easy to tell CTO from postal used stamps.

The Date shown on cancellation is not first day, sometimes a week after, sometimes longer, yet it does not go further than a month. The following is a first day cover and a CTO of the 1993 BRASILIANA'93 S/S, note the cancellation and date difference:

It is very rare that the CTO date is before the date of issue. The 1991 World Cup issue makes the record, issued on 15th February, the CTO are dated 25th January.

For each stamp issue all CTO of it have the same cancellation date, but sometimes there are variations. The 1996 first definitive set gives a notable example. Issued on 30th January, the standard CTO date is 9th February, the variant shows 9th August:

The 9th August variant is rarely seen, in fact the date was meant for the second definitive set (issued on 30th July) CTO:

The COPREFIL contract ended in late 2001, since then Cambodia stops having CTO. From 1982 to 2001, only the surcharges, the 1988 Vietnamese printed Apsara 4v set, the 1993 Russian printed independence 3v set and the 2001 Vietnamese printed King's 80th birthday 13v set do not have CTO.