STAMPS AND SHEETS
The stamps of France, from 1940 onward, and of its former colonies ("French Speaking Countries") exist as imperforates. The quantities were small (for France issues officially 20 sheets, ranging from 25 to 100 subjects) and the stamps were sold (till about 1996) at high prices, usually through a subscription process. Being the first sheets printed, the colors of these imperfs are very vivid.
Hungary started en
masse with imperfs on August 1st, 1950. They were sold for export to
five time the export prices for the perforated stamps and to Hungarian stamp collectors at ten times
the face value. This way the Hungarian P.A. assured its monopoly,
by preventing the home collectors to trade these stamps with their
foreign colleagues. Till 1957 the Hungarian imperfs were not valid for
The Romanian P.A. issued in the 70th and 80th an important number of imperforated topical souvenir sheets (not shown), that were officially sold only outside the country. As result, the Romanian stamp collectors could get some stamps issued by their country only from foreigners (what wasn't actually possible either, because the possession of foreign currency, necessary to buy them, was prohibited).
The imperfs from Switzerland and Liechtenstein, shown above, are quite bizarre. The problem is that the respective postal administrations have never announced them and consequently they shouldn't exist at all. Manufacturing errors cannot be excluded, of course, but too many of such stamps suddenly appeared on the market, all being offered at very high prices. Taken as example, the last two values of the Liechtenstein 1967-1971 series Patron Saints (see above, Scott 440-441) are offered for CHF 1500 (about $1000). The dealer who offers them writes: "At time these stamps are unique". Of course this "at time" is not very reassuring... The Scott catalogue value of the same stamps, but perforated, is $2.35 only. The stamps were printed by a Swiss (as opposed to a banana's republic) printing office, Courvoisier SA, enjoying an excellent reputation. I'll quote from a short article of Kurt Waltert (SBZ 1/2000, p.20), appeared after this column was published: "...I will not omit the fact that the mentioned stamps (imperfs), that are labeled as samples, essays, etc., were brought on the market by disloyal functionary... It would be of general interest to know how many of such imperfs arrived in the possession of different persons or on the stamps market."
Obviously such politics undermine the trust of stamp collectors in their postal authorities and adversely affect the stamp collecting, thought as a nice, a joyful, and also as a serious hobby.
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Notice: The imperforates should not be mistaken for "perfins", which are stamps punched with "perforated initials" or designs of holes that stand for letters, numbers or symbols. Perfins are normally used by business or government offices to discourage pilferage or misuse of stamps by employees. Perfins may be either privately or officially produced. Although they are less and less used by both business companies and government offices, because of the increasing use of franking machines, they are still in circulation in many countries.
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