Thursday, December 24, 2020

Loan No Get – Stamps Will Issue

A Washington based reader of my Blog who is both a numismatist and a philatelist sent me an assortment of images of Bhutan’s Gold Coin stamps … in an attempt to explain to me:

In philatelic (stamp collecting) circles, changing of the value is a "surcharge" and "overprint" refers to alterations that did not affect the face value.

The following is what is being explained:

An example of Overprint/Surcharge

What the reader sent me was a bunch of Bhutan’s world famous coin stamps issued by the Bhutan Postal authorities in 1966.

One of the images sent to me by the reader

A rich American by the name Burt Kerr Todd – a friend of one of the Royal families supervised the designing and printing of the stamps, including their marketing to the international collectors.

Very few Bhutanese would be aware of the reasons behind the emergence of Bhutan’s postage stamps. Although eventually Bhutan would have had to issue postage stamps, at that point in time when a decision was made to produce postage stamps – the reason was said to be for a reason totally unrelated to postal service.

Apparently Bhutan had applied to the World Bank for a loan of US$10.00 millions. The loan was denied – ostensibly because the World Bank did not want to displease India by helping Bhutan. In his capacity as the unofficial Financial Advisor to Bhutan, Burt Kerr Todd led the team that made the presentation to the World Bank. At the end of the Meeting as he was leaving, a US government official who also attended the meeting as an observer suggested that Bhutan could produce postage stamps as a source of revenue. The idea appealed to Burt and thus, with the approval of the government, he embarked on issuing a variety of postage stamps, in a bid to earn revenue for the country.

The philately world did not exactly jump with excitement over his initial offerings. Then an idea hit him – an idea that was originally conceived by the Kingdom of Tonga who had issued a hugely successful gold coin stamp in 1962.

Gold Coin Stamp of the Kingdom of Tonga

Burt designed and printed Bhutan’s own Gold Coin stamps in 1966, which was received very well by the global community of collectors. He never looked back thereafter – he designed and printed Gold Coin stamps, triangular stamps, square rounded corner stamps, silk stamps, steel stamps, stamps with bass relief, talking stamps, scented stamps and his hugely popular 3-dimensional stamps that took the world by storm.

Bhutan’s earliest postage stamps were designed and printed under the supervision of Burt Todd – beginning 1962. Before that, Bhutan had issued revenue stamps in 1954. At a time when it was most needed, postage stamps accounted for the highest foreign exchange earning.

But Mr. Todd has been a source of serious confusion for me – for a whole day! The confusion arose from the following stamp that had me  thoroughly puzzled:

The Stamp with two face values

I noted that the stamp had two face values – one in the inner circle and another on the outer circle. The value in the inner circle was set in Indian Naya Paise (N.P.) and the outer one in Bhutanese CH (Chettrums). I was puzzled – why would a stamp need two face values and which of the two is the face value of the stamp? I was intrigued – until I realized much later that the inner value was the value of the 1966 cupro-nickle Thala that was depicted. Thus the denomination set in CH on the outer circle was the face value of the stamp. The stamp design was comprised of two components – the 1966 50 N.P. coin encircled in a circular band of blue bearing two dragons facing each other.

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