Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take the first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. We have an interesting story to tale of unofficial prints of real stamps.
At first glance, this stamp may appear Australian. The size and color palate reflect an Australian stamp. The lithograph on the stamp is captioned as a modern housing estate. To call a residential neighborhood that sounds British. That this stamp is from the African nation of Nigeria is surprising in that it was issued over 25 years after independence.
The stamp today is issue A140, a 5 kobo stamp issued on June 16th, 1986. It is part of a 14 stamp issue in various denominations that give views of modern life in Nigeria. Cancelled, it is worth 25 cents according to the Scott catalog.
The Scott catalog indicates two discrepancies that I am not used to coming across in stamps of mine. The first is the indication that this issue of stamps was in use for a few years before it’s date of issue. This seems strange as there were many stamps issued by Nigeria at the time, so why was there an urgency to get these out ahead of time. These do seem destined for use to mail letters instead of for collectors so I wonder if an early batch was printed in order to sell without passing the proceeds on to the postal service.
The other discrepancy is that the Scott catalog indicates there are a number of fakes around of this issue. The stamp has never held a high value to stamp collectors. If any of the commenters have more information on this, please bring forward the information in the below comment section. I hope my copy of the stamp is one of the fakes.
The subject matter of the stamp at the time must have seemed as progressive and hopeful. The newly independent states often were brimming with much such optimism in their early issues. Mid-century modern architecture springing up in the form of universities, libraries, and government buildings were a staple of many nations’ early stamps.
There is something a little sad about this in retrospect. The average person’s life remained so far below the progress shown on the stamps. In Nigeria the average person has 11% of the average American’s income. The new currency that started at one per USA dollar is now 360 per dollar. This is despite the greater than 80% depreciation in the dollar since 1973 when the current Nigerian currency appeared. This happened despite Nigeria having a lucrative oil industry all along the way.
What Nigeria has also had to contend with is borders that have more to do with now ancient colonial issues than with where Nigerians of various tribal and religious affiliations live. Nigeria has also dealt with extremely rapid population growth that must put quite a burden on even the best of its leaders. The optimism of todays stamp is also long gone. The last stamp issue seems to be from 2013 and the last issues seem to all honor something from the past, not optimism about the future.
Well, my drink is empty so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. Assuming the picture on the stamp is of a real neighborhood and not just an artist conception of something they hoped to build, I would be interested in what it looks like now. No I don’t know a street address for a google street view. Come again tomorrow for a story that can be learned from stamp collecting.