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Voices from the Past

With the help of Ernie Solit and John Gilroy, we are inaugurating a new column that will take us back to those wild days of philatelic yesteryear. From various sources, some gleaned from journals dated as early as 1920, Danzig is depicted in literature of the day.

From MEKEEL’S WEEKLY STAMP NEWS - Vol. 36 — February 25, 1922, with a similar article in THE AMERICAN PHILATELIST of February, 1925.)

The Five Mark German and Danzig with Center Inverted Facts Concerning Those Interesting Stamps Which I Secured on My Recent Trip to Germany by EDWARD STERN

Few know that the five—mark Germany, 1906-11 issue, with the center inverted, ranks with the rarest of all stamps with inverted centers. There are only three copies in existence. One lodges in a prominent collection here, and the other two are in Germany. All are cancelled on covers, and were found in the correspondence of a Hamburg bank. There must have originally been one complete sheet of twenty of these, but they were used up on commercial correspondence and only three of the twenty were found. The other seventeen will most likely never come to light.

On a par with this stamp comes the U.S. 4-cent 1871-75 Proprietary Revenues, catalogue number 798a. Only three copies of this exist also, two of which I have handled during the last two years.

To my knowledge, the next two rarest inverted centers are the 4a 1854 India and the 4d 1854-57 Western Australia. There are far more than three copies each of these known.

In 1920, the City of Danzig, formerly under control of Germany, was proclaimed a Free State. The current German stamps, issue of 1906— 11, then in use, were surcharged DANZIG.

At a Stamp Dealers’ Fair in Leipzig, a young man purchased a set of this particular issue. On arriving home, he discovered that the five—mark, contained in the set, had the center inverted. He immediately tried to secure more from the same dealer, but all that he had left were of the normal variety. The “find” soon became known, and everyone, collectors and dealers, scrutinized their holdings carefully with the result that a Mr. Sperling found he had two copies, and a Mr. Max Bullmann discovered he was the lucky possessor of sixteen, making a total of nineteen in all. These stamps were printed in sheets of twenty and the missing copy has disappeared.

Realizing their rarity, I made a special effort to procure these sixteen copies, and, after considerable negotiation, finally closed the deal. The owner intended to hold them indefinitely, and placed a value of at least $1,000 on each. Taking into considerationthe fact that this is a legitimate variety, and not made for philatelic uses, I do not believe this amount to be excessive. Of course, if they were United States or British Colonials, they would be rated much higher.


Danzig Report Vol. 1 - Nr. 75 - April - May - June - 1992, Page 5.

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