Monday 26 March 2012

Wikipedia Claims Chinese Error Resulted In South Sudan Stamp Not Being Issued.

In an article added to Wikipedia on 23 March 2012 which is titled "Postage stamps and postal history of South Sudan" a contributor, Leo Van Der Velden, an ex-patriate Dutchman who records that he has lived in Sudan and South Sudan intermittently from 1986 and most recently from 2009 to 2011, has written that the 2.5 SSP value of the first stamp issue which had been produced in China and donated to the government of South Sudan as a gift from The People's Republic, was not actually issued in South Sudan because the stamp featured the coat of arms of (north) Sudan rather than those of the new republic. This would certainly explain why no-one has been able to obtain the three values of the announced set although the other two values featuring the new national flag and the former leader, John Garang, seem to be freely available now on the internet although prices are terribly high at about £20 - £25 for the pair. I have seen only two complete sets for sale on E Bay, and the latter was being sold from China itself and, as previously reported made over £200 in the auction; the buyer seems to have acquired an unissued stamp for that high price and that may be quite reasonable for someone interested in obtaining what is clearly a rare item even if it was never sold at a South Sudanese post office. However I do not think that the Wikipedia explanation for the non-release of the stamp is quite correct since the design does not depict the emblem of (north) Sudan. The illustration below depicts the design of the stamp as prepared in China and it features an African fish eagle looking to its left placed behind an African shield and spears.
As can be seen this is very similar to the arms of South Sudan (depicted below) except that the true arms show the eagle looking to its right.
By contrast the emblem of Sudan is nothing at all like that featured on the unissued stamp, featuring as it does, a secretary bird bearing a shield typical of the period in the nineteenth century when the whole of Sudan was ruled by the Mahdi. The emblem of Sudan was adopted as long ago as 1970.
Therefore, I suspect that the truth is not that the stamp was rejected because it showed the emblem of the north, rather it was because the position of the eagle on the arms, in particular the direction in which its head is turned, was incorrect though why that should be is a mystery. Perhaps it is the case that there was a last minute change to the arms themselves and that when the stamp was designed the position of the eagle's head was correct at the time. In all events, it now looks as though collectors do not need to chase after the third value unless they wish to include a rare unissued stamp in their collection.


  1. To be clear, what Leo says on Wiki is that the Coat of Arms is the wrong one, but he does not say that it is the Coat of Arms of (North) Sudan. He goes on to clarify that the eagle is facing in wrong direction and holding the wrong implements.
    How the Chinese printer came up with the wrong design, remains a mystery. Nevertheless, your conclusion is correct (and the same as Leo stated).
    BTW, Leo and I are co-founders and co-Presidents of the South Sudan Philatelic Society and both of us have extensive experience living and working in Sudan.

  2. Thank you but actually the text in Wikipdeia did originally say the the coat of arms of (North) Sudan was depicted on the stamp but it was altered after I posted this particular blog and placed the illustrations of the different coat of arms on my blog (I'm not saying the 2 events were related).