Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 17, pp8-9 (Mar 1983)

Copyright notice

1928 Alfonso stamp 1928 Pegasus stamp

1928 Spanish Bureau Specimen Stamps

By W. A. Jacques

The twelve values with Alfonso portraits, plus the 20c Pegasus in deep red all exist in specimen form. These were for distribution to the U.P.U. at Berne, various postal authorities in Europe and abroad, and for the makeup of special presentation sheets for delegates at U.P.U. sponsored conferences and congress meetings throughout the world. The presentation sheets were inscribed "TIMBRES DE COMUNICACIONES" at the top and "CORREOS ANDORRA" at the bottom, underlined by an irregular wavy line. The stamps were stuck down into roughly printed squares and, therefore, examples from this source frequently have the gum badly disturbed, and also usually show traces of the black lines on the backs of the stamps.

The specimen stamps can be recognised by the fact that they all bear the same control number A000,000 with the exception of the 2c value. Similar to the normally issued stamps of this denomination the 2c specimens are without control number, and thus it is difficult to recognise this value in specimen form unless purchased with a complete set of values. The following specimen stamps are known to exist:

Perf 12 x 11½ (comb)   25c (die 2)
Perf 13 x l2½ (comb) 2c, 15c, 20c, 30c, 40c, 1pta, 4pta
Perf 14 (line) 5c, 10c, 50c, 4pta, 10pta, 20c Express

The 4pta is the only value known to exist in two different perforations. It is interesting to note that the 40c only exists perf 13 x l2½ with specimen control - it was not regularly issued in this perforation.

A complete set of specimens is known which came from the archives of the National Postal Museum, London. The stamps are overprinted "SPECIMEN" diagonally in black on the front, and the perforations are those listed above, (the 4pta being perf 13 x l2½). The shades of some values are quite distinctive and the perforations are generally rough, the perf 14 line being atrocious. (An article by Mr. Gil. Goudard in the Philandorre bulletin No. 6 states that 500 sets of specimen stamps were issued for U.P.U. purposes.)

Genuine Type A Type B Type C
GenuineType AType BType C

The control numbers in light blue are the same type as those used for the normally issued stamps with flat topped A, and neat squarish zeros. There are many forgeries of these specimen stamps and at least three different types of forged control numbers are known (types A, B and C).

Type A has thick characters, seemingly from old and worn numbering devices. The A is thick and squat, the zeros are narrow and usually out of alignment.

This type is recorded on the 15c, 20c, 50c and 1pta values, all perforated 13 x 12½. The 40c value is also known with a kiss-print (in red) of CORREOS ANDORRA on the back, this being from the flat bed of the press - very similar to the forged 30c value A001,029 overprint inverted variety.

Type B is similar to the genuine control but the zeros are slightly more square and the A has a pointed top. This control is usually finely applied and well aligned.

This type is recorded on the 10c, 20c and 25c (die 1) values, all perforated 13 x l2½.

Type C is the distinctive so-called Galvez type with pointed A and oval zeros. The stamps always have the very neat pin perforation 14.

This type is known on a very pale grey shade of the 1pta value perforated 14.

The basic stamps of these forgeries are frequently in distinctive shades not found in the regularly issued series. The control types A and B are to be found on Spanish stamps of earlier vintage and it is reasonable to assume that most of these forgeries (perhaps fakes might be a more accurate term) were made inside the F.N.M.T. itself, using F.N.M.T. machinery. It is well known that the security of the Spanish Security Printers was virtually non existent during this period, and that a well known Spanish dealer never seemed to be short of material which, at best, could only be described as printers' waste. It has not been possible to confirm a report that this dealer also had a scrap metal business which purchased old scrap machinery from the F.N.M.T.

As to be expected with all things Andorran, this is not the end of the story! Some of these forged specimen stamps, together with forged normal stamps, are known "used" with the seldom seen "ANDORRA LA VIEJA VALORES DECLARADOS" cancellation, usually dated 11 May 28 or 27 Ju ? (this same cancellation - 11 May 28 - is also known on blocks of four of the 4 and 10pta values with Galvez type perforations and controls). The cancellation would also appear to be a forgery, and these "used" specimens all seem to have originated from Carlos Lenze, another dealer, who was in Andorra at this time. In fact many of the covers of the Spanish Bureau of this period are of Lenze origin. Perhaps these used specimens were mementos of a pleasant and profitable stay?

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Updated 24th October 2000