I have wanted to write on the topic of the many shade varieties of the Falkland Islands for several weeks. During the summer Aron acquired a very nice collection of Falkland Island stamps and I had the opportunity to comb through it and identify a great many items in the Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, and George VI issues. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to write an extensive blog posting on the topic, but we were amazed and amused to discover that the newly added items sold so well I simply couldn’t imagine writing a description of particular items we had on offer without immediately needing to revise as they sold. Clearly, Falkland Islands stamps are in demand, and it’s plain to me why that is. Collecting shade varieties in older stamps is a challenging but rewarding task, and the Falklands issues have a very rich array of choices. So I have decided to provide some more general comments on the topic below in the hopes of piquing interest and providing some tools and hints for current and future collectors of Falkland Island stamp shade varieties.
Being a professional philatelist I have a fortunate advantage when identifiying shades, in that I can often look at a great many examples of a given value from Aron’s stock. I also make frequent use of my Stanley Gibbons Stamp Colour Key (an absolute must-have for anyone interested in identifying shade varieties). Although the key is not necessarily an exact reference for each stamp it serves as a very useful comparison tool, in comparing not only the stamp to the pictured shade on the key, but also in comparing one shade on the key to another in order to narrow down the possibilities for a given stamp.
Nonetheless, shade comparisons can be exceedingly daunting at times. It’s not too hard to learn the difference between blue and ultramarine, but how to distinguish light blue from pale blue, indigo from deep blue, and so on? It has taken me years of study to become comfortable with these subtle distinctions in shade, and even then there are often differences in individual issues that require that I wait for more examples to arrive in our offices before I can make a confident identification. Needless to say, we only offer shade varieties for sale once we have reached such a confident conclusion.
If one is interested in acquiring familiarity with subtle shade distinctions in stamps of the British Commonwealth, putting together a collection of the stamps of the Falkland Islands is a perfect way to get there. One would want to use both the Stanley Gibbons catalogue and Stefan Heijtz’ highly respected Specialized Stamp Catalogue of the Falkland Islands and Dependencies for reference. In the Victoria, Edward VII and George V issues you can learn to identify true Greens and Yellow Greens, true Orange and Yellow Orange (usually much paler), a full range of Ultramarine and Blue shades, and so on. (On a side note, the highly elusive Reddish Purple variety of the Edward 2d and the Reddish Maroon shade of the George V 5 Shilling are so tricky they require the application of ultraviolet light to the stamp to see the difference, and so should only be purchased as described from the most reputable of sources.)
For the Falkland Island stamps of King George VI’s reign, even more expertise is often required to determine the many different printings of almost every value. I have made ample use of the invaluable article available on the KGVI Stamps website, which you can view here: www.kgvistamps.com/articles/falkland/Falkland.html. It is an exhaustive survey of the many different printings and offers all kinds of useful tips for narrowing down identifications based on secondary features, like gum texture and color. While Stanley Gibbons lists a few of the shade varieties in the KGVI Falkland issues, most notably the difficult 5/s shades and the reasonably priced 1/s shades, there are many unlisted shades which can be found in the Heijtz catalogue and which make for an enjoyable hunt for the intrepid collector.
Our own stock of Falkland Island stamps is broad and ever-changing, as we buy and sell in this category regularly. Please check our price lists frequently and of course feel free to submit a want list as well.
Posted by: Kathryn Wright, Philatelist