Sunday 30 April 2017

991. Samoa: Philatelic Collector Out, High Value Surcharges In.

  🇼🇸 Recently, Steven Zirinsky wrote in Stampboards that he would soon have news of the issue of high value Parcel stamps. And now in his Zirinsky Stamps Newsletter he expands on these hints.

  First the good news - Steven Zirinsky's article records that the agreement between Samoa Post and its supplier of postage stamps, Philatelic Collictor Inc., finished at the end of 2016.
  Now the bad news - The only meter franking machine belonging to Samoa Post "broke down at the end of last year" - this had previously been used for EMS, packets and parcels. Therefore Samoa Post decided to provide itself with its own stamps by surcharging previously issued stamps with high values up to $200 (£59.18p) for use on Parcel mail and rather as we've heard quite a lot recently (Royal Mail David Bowie sheets, Guernsey cruise ship Post and Go labels and so on) not for philatelic sales.
  Steven Zirinsky reveals in his newsletter that this has resulted in the production of 10 new stamps with the face values of $30, $40, $50, $60, $70, $80, $90, $100, $150 and $200 giving a total face value of WST870 which is equal to £257.61p
  The new surcharges are applied to the following stamps:-

  $30 on 35s 2002 Faces of Samoa

  $40 on 2002 95s Year of Eco Tourism

  $50 on 1999 $2 Christmas.

  $60 on 2002 5s Faces of Samoa

  $70 on 1999 70s 30th anniversary of the first lunar landing

  $80 on 2002 $1.40c Treasured islands of the South Pacific (scenic views)

  $90 on 2003 95s Sporting legends

  $100 on 2001 $1 Fire walking

  $150 on 2006 $1.75c Queen Elizabeth's 80th birthday

  $200 on 1994 90s Teuila tourism festival

  The main points here are:-

1. These are stamps which are reported by an expert in the philately of the Pacific area and which he reports as having been issued by a postal service with the specific intention of them being used on Parcel Mail and are genuinely required to meet that need. They are not products put out by a foreign philatelic agency which have little relevance to postal needs and have excessive face value.

2. These are high to extremely high face values which may well be needed to address postal service requirements and as such are of interest to stamp collectors who are interested in adding real postage stamps to their collections.

3. Their role as stamps for a parcel service is made clear and used as an explanation for the face values which seems entirely reasonable. Of course they will be of interest to collectors and Samoa Post should make them available to any collectors who wish to, and can afford to, buy them. 

4. Presumably respectable stamp catalogues will list these as "Parcel stamps" in a defined sub-section and this gives collectors the opportunity to decide whether they wish to add that particular group of stamps to their collections.

  This is interesting and very helpful news and information from Steven Zirinsky. His newsletter is always worth following.


  1. Two quick observations. When listed by the catalogues they will probably be listed amongst all the other issues as there is nothing on the stamps indicating they are specifically released for the parcel use. Secondly it is interesting that none of the stamps overprinted were released by PCI, rather they are stamps released by Crown Agents or when New Zealand acted as consultant to Samoa Post. It might be that the PCI stamps are still in postal use or if I was cynical that there​ very stamps actually supplied to Samoa.

    1. In the US, the Scott catalogues do have a category for parcel post stamps (they start the catalog numbers with a Q), but it remains to be seen whether they put them there since as you pint out they do not say anything about being for parcel post (and there are some recent US stamps that are clearly for airmail that don't say airmail on them and they stick them with the rest of the regular issues).

    2. Given that Steven Zirinsky is to have an article about these stamps published in Gibbons Stamp Monthly and has previously provided important information to the editor of Stanley Gibbons Catalogue (St Vincent and Tonga and Papua New Guinea and Guyana surcharges) the editor should know that these Samoa stamps are primarily intended for Parcel use even if they do not have "Parcel Post" printed on them so it seems reasonable to hope that they might be listed under a "Parcel Stamps" subheading.

      Alternatively he may choose to list with a catalogue number stamps up to a certain face value, about £10, and then mention higher face values in a footnote as he hinted in the recent comment attached to the catalogue supplement in the May GSM.

    3. Scott has chosen to list them as regular stamps and not as parcel post stamps, but just lists the catalog value with a dash (meaning they lack data on value).

  2. 10 stamps with values of $30, $40, $50, $60, $70, $80, $90, $100, $150 and $200 seems excessive to me. Can't they use 2 $100 stamps instead of a $200 stamp?!

  3. I can perhaps understand the need for a $200 stamp (although as pointed out two $100's would work), but the need for all the values from $30 to $90 seems questionable.

  4. Unless we have a list of current Samoan postal rates it is hard to tell if these are needed or not. At least the stamps are of reasonable size, not like Royal Mail's £10 stamp which was twice the size of the £5 Windsor Castle stamp!

  5. The Samoa Post website gives a detailed table of tariffs but is dated 2008. Among International Air Parcel rates the cost of sending a parcel from 1kg to 1.5kg to Australia is $75, to Belgium $205, to Great Britain $160 and to Italy $192.50 with each additional 500g being, respectively, $12.5, $43.75, $31.25 and $43.75. You might say that the Belgium rate justifies a $200 stamp but quite how many parcels are sent from to Samoa to Belgium per year is a question to which I have no answer.

  6. I don't believe these should be split out from the main listing in SG, the GB parcel High Values from 1983 aren't, they were slotted in as SG 1026b-f

  7. I still find it interesting that the stamps overprinted at those issued by Crown Agents or New Zealand Post on behalf of Samoa Post Office. Understandably they probably have excess stock of these, but I wonder if any of the PCI issues will get overprinted or if stocks of these are still available, or indeed if these stamps actually made it to the islands?

    1. As I have written the Samoa Post website is offering previous issues for sale but they are all Crown Agent or NZ Post produced issues and none of them are the stuff that was produced by PCI. This suggests to me that Samoa Post has very little of the stuff in stock - I think I have seen one or two items for sale on different internet sites over the years which appear to be genuine commercial covers which had PCI stamps on them so I think that these stamps made it to Samoa even if in small quantities. Samoa Post doesn't seem very keen to use these products for surcharging at present but it will be interesting to see what comes along.
      Perhaps Steven Zirinsky's upcoming article in Gibbons Stamp Monthly will answer some of these questions.

  8. Long comment ahead, but needs to be said. Please ask me any questions you might have.

    These overprinted stamps were made for nothing other than for profit! You can speculate all you want but that is the actual truth of the matter. I know agents are not well liked in groups like this but I am so disgusted by the actions of Samoa Post and Steven Zirinsky that I needed to come forward and share some truth. My name is Chris Lazar and I am from Philatelic Collector Inc., we were the agents that represented Samoa as we were asked to help balance their philatelic budget as they were losing tens of thousands of dollars per issue they produced. We offered them a generous royalty on all philatelic sales, we covered all costs for all new issues, we welcomed all new issue suggestions from Samoa Post and the real kicker here is that we provided Samoa Post with any postal value they asked for in any quantities required for postal needs for free. This was all spelled out in our Philatelic Supply Agreement with them along with other aspects. Until last year everything was moving along and we were growing the philatelic profile for Samoa is various markets as they asked. Then we find out that Steven Zirinsky contacted the CEO of Samoa Post looking to buy errors, overprints and postal correspondence. Out of nowhere, Samoa Post breaches our supply agreement with them and illegally produces overprinted values and says it was because we refused to supply postage to the post office which is incorrect. It is then discovered that a substantial sale of assorted items along with these overprints were sold to Steven. To be clear there was absolutely no reason Samoa Post needed these overprints as all they need to do was notify us of postage needs and the denominations would have been sent right out. After endless correspondence with the CEO of Samoa Post about this breach of agreement we received some pretty terrible statements but most notably the quote “The board is only interested in $$$$$$, not words, not quality, not anything, not me or you!!!!!!!!!”. At this point it became very evident that Samoa Post does not care about the perception of its philatelic profile, which was further supported by Samoa Post expressing interest in representation by another agent which is often bashed on this blog. More fuel for the fire, the excuse that these newest overprints for packages was due to their postal meter breaking is most likely untrue as well, I can say this as the CEO was threatening to release more overprints back over the summer of 2016 during our contract period (showing these were planned for quite a while). Currently, we are still trying to resolve the past problems with Samoa Post as our former contract has still not been closed out as Samoa Post refuses to rectify their breaches of the agreed written terms. You can paint agents as the bad guys all you want but please know that our company (Philatelic Collector) works very closely with the countries we represent and try to do what we can to generate growing funds for the post office while giving them the postage stamps they need for use.

    All the best,
    Chris Lazar

    1. Talk about a different side to the story, not sure what's true but a comment like this makes me think which is not something I can say for many internet comments.

    2. Dear Chris,

      Thank you for your full, highly detailed and very interesting comment.

      It is pleasing to receive a comment which highlights the Philatelic Agent's viewpoint.

      I sympathise with your comment that philatelic agencies are often poorly thought of by some stamp colkectors who make unreasonable comments which are often not grounded in fact.

      However Philatelic agencies which tend to have poor reputations with collectors are usually those which produce and market stamps and other items which are, to any reasonable person, clearly excessive in nature - both in face value and in numbers, as well as often featuring subjects which have no real relevance to the countries whose names are printed on those stamps.

      Some philatelic agencies are generally viewed more favourably than others, for instance Pobjoy Stamps/Creative Direction produces sensibly prices sets of stamps on a regular basis, but not excessively, on subjects which are relevant to the territories whose names appear on the stamps and which are also usually very well designed with high quality printing, and because of all these factors Pobjoy has a respected reputation among new issue collectors.

      Any reasonable collector will appreciate that philatelic agencies are businesses and, to survive, need to make a profit. This applies equally to postal administrations and their associated philatelic departments. In present times, however, agencies and postal authorities need to understand that collectors want to buy good quality products at reasonable prices just as any consumer of any product would want. New issue collectors are frequently discerning and can tell when they're being taken for a ride and will not only complain if they feel that is the case but also stop buying abusive or cynically produced products.

      Personally I value philatelic agencies as an easily accessible source of new stamp issues and as potential producers of desirable stamps and associated collectibles.

      I personally feel that your agency has let itself down with a number of products that you have produced - quite a number of issues for your client countries which had subjects of no relevance to your clients along with undoubtably excessive face values and too many issues per year for what are actually quite small territories. It may be that your client postal administrations pressured you to produce such items and I think collectors will be very interested in your account of your dealings during 2016 with Samoa Post. It is alarming to read about Samoa Post's lack of interest in quality of its products. It is also alarming that, according to your comment, Samoa Post has no interest in meeting the expectations of its philatelic customers while being content to extract large amounts of money from them. I suspect that Samoa Post's hope of selling the high face value surcharges to collectors will be a false hope and that collectors will not be prepared to part with such large amounts of money for cheaply produced and, apparently, unnecessary surcharges which may well end up not being fully listed in Gibbons Catalogue.

      I shall highlight your comment in the next edition of this Blog and thank you again for your interesting and detailed input.

  9. "Then we find out that Steven Zirinsky contacted the CEO of Samoa Post looking to buy errors, overprints and postal correspondence." and "It is then discovered that a substantial sale of assorted items along with these overprints were sold to Steven." Wonder what Steve has to say about this".

  10. I can say I was told (indirectly) that someone who was involved with PCI got out after frustration with dealing with one of the countries as they kept changing their mind on what they wanted.

  11. I have now actually received the $80 value on an EMS Express Mail cover.

    1. Thank you for that interesting piece of information.

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  14. Greeting from Samoa Post,
    Just discovered this page and surprised to see that Samoa Post was a news item. Samoa Post was in partnership with PCI and ended in 2016, due to its own challenges. But for the high overprinting values, it’s purely for Samoa Post’s Parcels and EMS postal needs, using the only stock available. High values correspond to the increase in international trade in Parcels and EMS, which is our primary and only focus. Letters, associated with printing small denominations is becoming obsolete. I’m happy to clarify any matters if required through email.
    CEO, Samoa Post.

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