19 August 2013

Denomination Mistakes on Cambodian Stamps

In modern days for the smoothness of communication and the ease of postage calculation, all postage stamps are denominated in Arabic numerals, then often accompanied with respective native numerals (if exist) of the country so to hold up national identity.  For Cambodia, since 1980 almost all postage stamps are denominated in both Khmer and Arabic numerals.

Although it is understood that Arabic and Khmer numerals are to show identical value, stamp design mistakes can cause face value confusion.  Careless mistake in denomination notation has happened on both stamps and souvenir sheets of Cambodia.

In 1985 the Cambodian authority issued a 7v stamp set devoted to flowers.  An epic design mistake comes up on the stamp which features fairy primrose (Primula malacoides): the Khmer and Arabic numerals do not show the same monetary value.

The Arabic numerals indicate a face value of 1.5r, in Khmer a different value is shown,1.2r.

Below is a quick tutorial on Khmer number scripts if you do not speak the language:

Here is the question: should the face value be 1.2r or 1.5r ?

From 1983 to 1991, the majority of Cambodian pictorials are issued in the form of 7v per set with denomination patterns observed.  Starting from 1983, the most common denomination pattern has been 0.2r, 0.5r, 0.8r, 1r, 1.5r, 2r, 3r while there is a less used pattern of 0.1r, 0.4r, 0.8r, 1r, 1.2r, 2r, 2.5r.  Almost all 7v sets follow these two patterns until 1989 when new denominations were introduced because of inflation.

With the other six values taken into consideration, this 1985 flower set fits in the most common face value pattern of 0.2r, 0.5r, 0.8r, 1r, 1.5r, 2r, 3r.  It can be quite certain that there should be a 1.5r stamp, the Khmer numeral for "5" on the 1.5r stamp is just incorrectly illustrated with "2".

A stamp set of 6v and a S/S was issued in 2000 on the occasion of Bangkok 2000 - the World Youth Stamp Exhibition and the 13th Asian International Stamp Exhibition.  This time it is the S/S which catches the mistake, Khmer numerals state a face value of 5400r, oddly the Arabic  say 4500r.

Again, general denomination trend may provide a clue to the puzzle.  Cambodian S/S issued from March 1997 to the end of 1999 were face valued 5400r each, however in year 2000 there saw a lower value at 4500r, then the next year it was reversed back to 5400r.

The Bangkok 2000 S/S was officially issued on 27th February 2000, according to the denomination trend, it is likely that the correct value is 4500r, if such the Khmer numeral indication is wrong.

These denomination mistakes happen only on Khmer numerals, it may due to the fact that stamp designers at COPREFIL are Cuban, cursive Khmer numerals are too foreign and difficult for them to recognize.

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