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Monday, September 10, 2012

Denmark 40 øre Stamp: Sometimes a Little Means a Lot!

I add stamps to my collections from many different venues-- ranging from exchanges to stamp shows to large international philatelic auctions.

Recently, I purchased some stamps from the APS StampStore... and got a nice little (unexpected) "bonus," in the process. It reminded me how-- as a specialist collector-- it's often something quite small that makes a big difference.

Denmark AFA 105 & 105a; Scott 116 & 117
In 1918, Denmark issued a number of definitive stamps in the long-running series featuring King Christian X facing to the right. The 40 øre value was actually issued in two distinct versions: The lilac and black (at left) is generally regarded as the "main" stamp, while the distinctly different blue-lilac and black is regarded by most as a "color variety." The US-based Scott catalogue assigns separate numbers, while most others list the first stamp with its own number and the blue-lilac with an "a" designation. The blue-lilac is somewhat harder to find.

I am always looking for "really nice" copies of Danish stamps-- my collections are centered around having "excellent quality" stamps in all my album spaces. That's not everyone's strategy, of course, but it happens to be my personal preference.

So when I found a lot with 4 different Christian X stamps, I was quite happy to purchase the lot of four, in order to get the really nice example of the 40 øre blue-lilac, pictured at right. Very well centered, with a fairly "crisp" cancel and good perfs, it is the kind of quality I look for. Although there are a couple of tiny cancel smudges, it will do nicely till I find a better example.

In Denmark-- and beyond-- the "bi-coloured" King Christian X definitives have become a very popular specialist area. For the most part, the stamps are reasonably valued (the exception being the 27 øre and 10kr stamps) and fairly readily available.

The issue also offers the specialist a great many plate flaws to look for. Part of what makes this series interesting is the two-color printing process: The outer frame was printed during one pass through the presses; the center on a second pass. Since the same center (portrait) plates were used for different values (different frames), it's possible to find the same portrait plate flaws on different stamps. Naturally, the different value frame plates all developed distinct plate flaws of their own. And because it's a two-step printing process, you can also find some notable colour-shifts.

I was about to put the stamp into my album when I noticed something slightly "odd."

Take a look at the bottom right corner. It is slightly rounded, and there seems to be a small "line" across it. Listed as AFA number 105av, this is one of the recognized "major" plate flaws on this stamp.

Although it's no great rarity-- the error occurs on four stamps in each sheet of 100-- it still meant that my $5.00 stamp was now a listed AFA variety with a catalogue value of 400,- Danish kroner-- about US $70.00!

For me, a large part of the appeal of being a "specialist" lies in the fun of the "treasure hunt" and finding the unexpected. I also like the fact that it allows me to "continue collecting" now that I have reached a point where I am only missing a very few and very expensive stamps in terms of "main catalogue numbers." Increasing the size of my collection simply through my (limited!) ability to spend thousands of dollars on the next stamp doesn't hold much appeal.

Hence, I started to specialize.

All you really need is a keen eye and the knowledge (which I get from a number of different articles and specialist literature) to know what to look for. And sometimes you may even find "something new" from simply looking carefully at what seems like a very "normal" stamp!

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