Notes from the Past

Nicholas F. Seebeck - Part V

Gentle credits Joseph B. Leavy, writing in the journal of Stanley Gibbons of London, for the initial news of reprints.

Leavy's definition of reprints were only those stamps that were printed on thick, porous paper that the Hamilton Bank Note Co. first used for the 1899 postage dues of El Salvador.  The reprints exist on this paper with and without watermarks.

For years it was not known that the Phrygian Cap watermark is horizontal on this thick coarse paper; the original paper used for the 1895-98 issues has the Phrygian Cap always vertical.

Leavy's revelations caused great confusion among collectors and catalog editors, but gradually the catalogs began to recognize these differences.

German philatelists have done considerable research on Seebeck issues, and information was published in that country as early as 1910.

It is accepted, according to Gentle, that there are no known reprints of the Nicaraguan Seebeck issues of 1890, 1891, 1892, and 1895.  There were several printings of the 1894 issue, but the status of these is not clear.

It has been stated that Seebeck, instead of reprinting after the stamps were demonitized had excess quantities printed before the stamps were delivered.  Because these stamps were printed during the time they were valid for postage, it would be difficult to consider these anything but originals, whether they were ever delivered to the respective countries' postal authorities or not.

But since neither official documents of the governments involved nor any records that may have been kept by Seebeck are known, printing quantities of original deliveries or of reprints must remain a matter of speculation.

Nonetheless, there is evidence of a growing philatelic interest in the Seebeck issues, and fresh information may yet be uncovered.

One thing is certain:  the name "Seebeck" is firmly enshrined in philatelic terminology.

Cabeen (Standard Handbook of Stamp Collecting, Crowell, 1957) reports, as a sidelight, that Seebeck made an unsuccessful attempt to sell advertising space on the back of the stamps printed for Ecuador by the Hamilton Bank Note Co.

Cabeen notes the possibility that Seebeck might have originated the idea that New Zealand used in 1893 when it issued stamps bearing commercial message on their backs. 

- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume Three Q-Z
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted October 21, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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