A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stamps of Argentina 1858-1892

1878 Scott 36 20c blue, Rouletted 
"Dalmacio Velez Sarsfield"
Into the Deep Blue
One of the rewards of completing a six year survey of the 1840-1940 A-Z countries, is that now I can, at my discretion, go back to earlier posts, and expand on the stamp coverage.

Argentina has wonderful stamps, and I will enjoy spending more time with them. The original Argentina post is here.

For the last post, I looked at the watermarking that is needed for Argentina, if one wishes to correctly identify issues. This post will look at, in greater detail, the Argentinian stamps issued between 1858-1892. The next post will continue the Argentinian theme, and review issues between 1899-1939.

For this post and the next, I will ignore the issues where watermarking is needed, as those issues were covered earlier..

The 1858-1892 stamp era for Argentina requires very little watermarking, so most of the issues are available for discussion. But, even with selecting for a smaller period, I will only have the time to cover and highlight certain issues and stamps.

One of the joys of South America in general, and Argentina in particular, are the modest CVs of the classical era stamps.

If we look at the 1858-1892 time period for Argentina, there are 125 major descriptive numbers for regular and official stamps. Of those, and selecting for CV <$1-$10+, there are 88 stamps available, or 70%. !! Compare that with the cost of the 19th century U.S. !

I've always been tempted to sub-specialize in South American countries as a WW collector, because of the modest costs, and the philatelic challenges. Perhaps I will at some point!

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centavos = 1 Peso
Argentine Confederation 1858 Scott 1 5c red
"Symbolical of the Argentine Confederation"
Lithographed, Imperforate
The first stamp of the Argentine Confederation was the 1858 5 centavo red, part of a three stamp lithographic set. A large cache of unused copies of Buenos Aires post office remainders were sold to dealers in 1890. That is one reason that unused specimens for the set are only CV $1+-$10+ some 160 years after issuance.

The other reason is the many fakes, at least four by Fournier, Spiro Brothers and others, have depressed the prices.

Characteristics of the genuine (which this appears to be) are a left serif extension to the bottom of the "N" of "CENTAV."; the patterns of both side borders are the same, beginning with a down stroke to the right, and the mouth line curves a bit downward on the right.

1867 Scott 18A 10c green "Manuel Belgrano"
Perf 12; Groundwork of Horizontal lines
The stamps of Argentina between 1864-1882 were engraved, so they are rather striking in appearance, and forgeries (although they exist) are less of a problem.

The 1867-68 10c green "Belgrano" was part of a three stamp portrait issue, along with Bernardino Rivadavia and Jose de San Martin.

The stamp is characterized in Scott as having horizontal lines groundwork, but I do see some diagonal lines also.

The 1867-68 stamps (five total) range from CV $1+-$20+.

There was, in fact, a lithographic forgery produced by the Spiro Brothers of Hamburg, Germany. The genuine has the three "A's" with pointed tips in the upper inscription, while the Spiro forgery has all flat topped "A's".

Manuel Belgrano holding the Flag of Argentina
By Artist Rafael del Villar circa 1910
Manuel Belgrano was one of the Libertadores during the 1810-1818 Argentine Wars of Independence, and he created the flag of Argentina.

1873 Scott 26 90c blue "Cornelio Saavedra"
Perf 12
In 1873, there were five more portrait stamps issued, all engraved.

CV is <$1-$20+.

Cornelio Saavedra was a military officer and patriot who played a large part in Argentina's first step toward independence form Spain, the May 1810 Revolution.

1877 Scott 31 2c on 5c vermilion "Rivadavia"
In February, 1877, three stamps were surcharged with large black numerals.

The CV is higher than most @ $20+-$70+.

 Bernardino Rivadavia
Bernardino de la Trinidad Gonzalez Rivadavia y Rivadavia was the first president of Argentina, then called the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, from 1826-1827.

1878 Scott 40 25c lake "Alvear"
Three more portrait engraved stamps were issued between 1877-80.

CV is <$1-$6.

Carlos Maria de Alvear, as General of the army besieging Montevideo, forced the surrender of the Spanish troops in 1814.

1882 Scott 42 1/2c on 5c vermilion "Rivadavia"
Small "P" and Narrow "V" in "Provisorio"
Perforated across Middle of Stamp
The 1867 Rivadavia stamp was surcharged in 1882 as a provisional issue. There exists two types of surcharge: large "P"/wide "V" vs small "P"/narrow "V". The small "P"/narrow"V" stamp was further perforated across the middle of the stamp, and is illustrated here.

CV for these various versions is a modest $2+-$6.

1882 Scott 46 12c greenish blue, Perf 14
In 1882, the numeral design illustrated here was released, typographed, in Perf 12 and Perf 14 (Perf 14 are the major numbers). An engraved issue with three stamps, and similar in design, was issued later in 1884-85.

1884 Scott 48 1c on 15c blue 
"Jose de San Martin"
Groundwork of Crossed Lines
In 1884, five previous 1867-68 stamps were surcharged in red or black.

The underlying stamp, the 1867-68 15c blue, can be found with a groundwork of horizontal lines or crossed lines. The surcharged stamp illustrated is the crossed lines version, although a horizontal lines surcharged stamp exists also.

Of interest, the underlying engraved crossed lines type originally issued in 1867-68 was forged lithographically by the Hamburg Spiro Brothers.

In the genuine, for the "ARGENTINA" inscription, the "AR" lower serifs touch, while the "NTIN" upper serifs touch. For the crude forgery, all the letters are separate.

Generals San Martin and  Chilean Bernardo O'Higgins crossing the Andes
Jose de San Martin was an Argentine general and the prime mover for independence from the Spanish Empire in South America.

One of the major feats was crossing the Andes with 4000 soldiers to liberate Chile from the Spanish in January, 1817.

1888-90 Scott 67 50c blue "Bartolome Mitre"
1888-90 Lithographic Issue
Between 1888-90, a large thirteen stamp lithographic portrait issue was released. Scott has a note that there are several varieties of each value, depending on the relative position of the head to the frame.

CV is <$1-$10+ for the issue.

Bartolome Mitre 1861
Bartolome Mitre was born in Buenos Aires to a Greek family, and the family name was originally Mitropoulos.

He was President of Argentina from 1862 to 1868.

1888-89 Scott 68 1/2c ultramarine "Urquiza"
A six stamp smaller format engraved portrait issue was released in 1888-89.

You may have noted that the stamp above is labeled as released in 1888-89. Other Argentine stamp issues in Scott are similarly vague about a specific year date for release. Usually Scott, if they give a year date range for release of an issue, will give the specific release year date of each stamp as it is listed. But not for Argentina- perhaps the date release records for individual stamps were not kept? I think that is unlikely, and a specialized Argentinian catalogue would have this information.

Justo Jose de Urquiza y Garcia was an Argentine general, and president of the Argentine Confederation from 1854 to 1860.

1890 Scott 81 50c orange "Mitre"
In 1890, a nine stamp engraved portrait issue was released. I show the entire issue under the "Deep Blue" section of this post.

CV ranges from <$1 to $4+.

1890 Scott 89 1c brown "Velez Sarsfield"
Re-engraving of 1888-89 stamp
In 1890, a re-engraved version of the 1888-89 1c brown "Sarsfield" stamp was issued.
I have them both, but I am only showing the re-engraved version, which has a short upper left sloping serif for the "1". The original has a much longer serif.

Since they are both about the same CV (<$1), it is equally likely they will show up in a collection. Why doesn't the reader check their own collection and see which one (or both?) they have. :-)

Dalmacio Velez Sarsfield was an Argentine lawyer who wrote the Argentine Civil Code of 1869, and this code remained in force until 1915.

If one does an internet search however, the most likely result will feature the Buenos Aires football (soccer) sports club, Velez Sarsfield. This First Division football team was named after a nearby railway station, which bears his name.

1892 Scott 90 2c light blue
"Santa Maria, "Nina", and "Pinta"
Discovery of America, 400th Anniversary
An engraved two stamp set was issued in 1892 for Columbus and the 400th anniversary discovery of America. 

The issue only had 100,000 sets, yet the CV today is only $3-$4.

I must admit I am taken with the design of this issue. I think it is better than most of the U.S. 1893 Columbian Exposition Issue stamps.

There are lithographic forgeries that are abundant. The engraved set has a small but distinct accent over the "U" of "REPUBLICA" (enlarge to see). The forgeries lack this accent. The genuines have the bottom serifs of the two "A's" in the upper inscription touch each other.

1884-87 Scott O5 4c brown "Mariano Moreno"
On 1873 Regular issue, Overprinted in Black
Argentina has a long history of "Official" and "Official Department" issues. All of them are overprints on regular issues.

In the Scott 1840-1940 catalogue, there are 54 overprinted "Official" stamps between 1884-1954.
Of those, 33 are CV <$1-$1+, or 61%.

The first "Official" issue, with diagonal overprint,  was released between 1884-87, and there are fourteen stamps from the regular category overprinted in black. These stamps are Perf 12 or 14, but there were nine additional stamps released 1884-85, either rouletted, and/or overprinted diagonally in red. The diagonal overprint can either be found reading upwards or downwards.

Mariano Moreno was a lawyer, journalist, and politician that played an important role in the first national government of Argentina (Primera Junta), after the May 1810 Revolution.

Deep Blue
1890 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner)  has nine pages for the stamps issued from 1858-1892. All of the major numbers in Scott have a designated space.

1887 Scott 56 24c blue "San Martin", Perf 12
Based on San Martin Rouletted Type of 1878

Out of the Blue
I now know a bit more about Argentine history, based on their classical 19th century stamps.

Note: The portrait paintings image scans appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cayman Islands - Bud's Big Blue

Cayman Islands and Piggy Bank
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Cayman Islands (CI for short) stamps are surprising for what they omit. British Caribbean countries’ stamps ordinarily show coats of arms and sailing ships. Not the Caymans. No arms. No ships, except for a sport schooner and cat boat. There exists a Cayman Islands coat arms suitable for stamps, of course, with a top-perching turtle. Columbus named the islands The Turtles (Las Tortugas).

Further, Cayman Islands navigation history might have inspired stamp designs, but didn’t. Records list over 300 local shipwrecks including, according to legend, one carrying Prince William, later King William IV. Ships did wreck, but William wasn’t aboard any of them. He appears on the 1932 series along with George V to celebrate CI’s legislative assembly centenary. Because of their mercy toward shipwrecked sailors William’s father, George IV, granted CI freedom from taxes, forever.

Now home to over 100,000 businesses but only 56,000 people, CI is served by 40 of the world’s 50 fattest banks. Once known as “guardian of the Caribbean,” modern CI guards wealth against taxation.

CI’s turtles (Chelonia mydas) make appearances in the 1935 and 1938 pictorial series, as does a booby bird with blue feet. The feet should be red, though. The blue-footed sort lives in the Pacific.

Update note to stamp changes made since scans were made: replaced scuffed #5; corrected error for #23, added seven to supplement, tipped-in two interesting cancels. Note: #s 114 and 115 on supplement page were issued in 1947.

Census: 51 in BB spaces, 1 tip-in, 22 on supplement page. 

Jim's Observations
Considering the wealth of the Cayman Islands, the issues in Big Blue are reasonable in cost. The most expensive stamp is the 1938 Scott 109 2s green ($10+). I did find, in addition, 17 stamps- including the 'dropped" war tax stamps- that could be added for <$1-$2+.

Cayman Islands Blog Post and Checklist

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Have a comment?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Castellorizo - Bud's Big Blue

Castellorizo in Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Sadly, none of these are used. Used examples, if authentic, are expensive, as are the earlier overprinted French stamps.

Census: 20 in BB spaces, 8 on supplement pages

Jim's Observations
Big Blue '97, on one page,  has Italian issues from 1923-1932. There are 20 stamp spaces. The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue, beginning in 1920, has 36 major descriptions for French issues, and 49 descriptions for Italian issues after 1922. Overall, Big Blue has 24% coverage. If one excludes the French stamps (cheapest is $30+), the coverage for the Italian issues is 41%.

Like most small population island issues, the mint stamps are cheaper than genuine used stamps.

Castellorizo Blog Post and Checklist

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Comments appreciated!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Argentina Stamps - A guide to watermarking

1864 Scott 12 10c green "Bernardino Rivadavia"
Wmk 84 "Italic RA"
Into the Deep Blue
Argentina is a wonderful country for the classical era stamp collector, but it comes with a caveat.


Admittedly, the watermarking concerns are not as terrifying as Brazil's "Who's afraid of watermarking the 1918-41 series?" with eleven different, but often similar watermarks. But the nine commonly seen watermarks found for Argentina pose their own problems.

And Argentina used watermarked paper quite extensively between 1864-1867 and 1892-1970. In comparison, the United States stopped using watermarked paper about 1915.

Not all of Argentinian issues during this wide time frame need to be watermarked if the process is not needed for identification purposes. But there are many stamps during the classical era that do require watermarking. For instance, the "San Martin" issues of 1917, 1918-19, 1920, 1920, and 1922-23 are characterized by "Honeycomb", "Unwatermarked", "Multiple Suns", "Large Sun-7mm", and "R.A. in Sun" watermarking types respectively.

And a familiarity with the watermarks of Argentina makes collecting the stamps so much more enjoyable!

With that in mind, a group of stamps and issues have been selected to highlight the watermarks.

By the way, I use Clarity watermarking fluid, which was developed at the request of the American Philatelic Society, and is safe for philatelic materials, and is non-hazardous to use.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centavos = 1 Peso
1865 Scott 11 5c brown rose "Bernardino Rivadavia"
Perf 11 1/2; Dull/Worn Impressions
Wmk 84 "Italic RA"
This catalogue wasn't kidding about the dull/worn impressions based on my copy of the 1865 5c brown rose. ;-)

Although watermarked paper is common generally for Argentina, most of the earlier stamp issues of 1860-1892 were unwatermarked, except for the 1864-67 "Rivadavia" issue of seven stamps.

They have the "Italic RA" watermark.

Wmk 84 "Italic RA"
My copies show the watermark quite clearly, and actually watermarking fluid was not necessary to see them.

One will need to check for watermarks, as the 1867-72 five stamp issue, similar in appearance to the 1864-67 issue, is unwatermarked.

1892 Scott 104 2p dark green "San Martin"
Wmk 85 "Small Sun, 4 1/2 mm"
Beginning in 1892, many of the stamps of Argentina are watermarked.

The fifteen stamp 1892-95 issue has the Wmk 85 "Small Sun 4 1/2mm" watermark.

1892-95 Issue - "Rivadavia", "Belgrano", "San Martin"
Wmk 85 "Small Sun, 4 1/2 mm"
Here's a look at part of the 1892-95 issue.

Wmk 85 "Small Sun, 4 1/2 mm"
The Wmk 85 watermark is characterized by a small diameter sun ( 4 1/2 mm), and a rather simple eyes, nose, mouth marking. Only one watermark (or partial watermark) is found on each stamp.

BTW, my pics of the watermarks will give you a realistic idea of what the "real" watermarks look like, but it will help to use them in conjunction with the catalogue watermark illustrations for identification.

1c brown "Rivadavia"
1892 Scott 93 "Wmk 85 Small Sun" & 1896 Scott 107 "Wmk 86 Large Sun"
But Argentina then had a subsequent issue in 1896-97 with many "identical" stamps, save for a new watermark - the "Large Sun - 6 mm".

Wmk 85 "Small Sun 4 1/2 mm"; Wmk 86 "Large Sun 6 mm"
Turning the 1c brown stamps just illustrated over, reveals the different watermarks.

1896-97 Issue - "Rivadavia", "Belgrano", "San Martin"
Wmk 86 "Large Sun 6 mm"
Here is a scan of some of the stamps in the 1896-97 issue.

Wmk 86 "Large Sun 6 mm"
Left lower row stamp: Wmk 85 "Small Sun 4 1/2 mm"
The large sun watermark is characterized by a sun 6 mm in diameter, and eyes, nose, mouth drawing that is more complex (lines for the eyes and mouth).

It is not too difficult to differentiate the small sun and large sun watermarks. Note that there is only one watermark found on each stamp with the (small) size stamp format.

1911 Scott 177 5c vermilion "Agriculture"
Wmk 86 "Large Sun" without Face
The "Large Sun - 6 mm" watermarks continue with the 1899-1903 "Liberty Seated" issue, the 1908-09 "San Martin" issue, and the 1910 "Centenary of the Republic" issue. But I will pass over those issues here, because the watermarks for them are not a distinguishing factor.

However, the 1911 two stamp larger format (19 X 25 mm) Agriculture issue has an interesting variation on the "Large Sun" watermark - no face!

Wmk 86 "Large Sun 6 mm" without Face
Here is Wmk 86 without a "face", as found with Scott 177-78.

1911 Issue "Agriculture"
Wmk 85 "Large Sun 6mm" with Face
Wmk Variation: Straight Rays vs Wavy Rays
In addition, the 1911 "Agriculture" issue (18 X 23 mm) has two variations of the "Large Sun - 6 mm" watermark. The stamps can be found with straight rays (4c, 20c, 24c), or wavy rays (2c), or both (1/2c, 1c, 3c, 10c, 30c, 50c).

Of interest, Scott gives no extra number, not even a minor number, for these watermark variations.

Left: 1911 Scott 179 1/2c violet "Agriculture"
Wmk 86 "Large Sun" with Straight Rays
Right: 1911 Scott 180 1c brown ocher
Wmk 86 "Large Sun" with Wavy Rays
Here is a closeup of two 1911 stamps. Both can have either variation.

Upper Row: Wmk 86 "Large Sun 6 mm" with Straight Rays
Lower Row: Wmk 86 "Large Sun 6mm" with Wavy Rays
The pic should clearly illustrate the watermark variation.

Left: 1912 Scott 192 3c green "Agriculture"
Wmk 87 "Honeycomb" (Horiz. or Vert.)
Right: 1915 Scott 212 5c red
The "Agriculture" motif design continues. The 1912 twelve stamp issue, though, has the Wmk 87 "Honeycomb" watermark.

Then the 1915 three stamp issue is unwatermarked.

Top Row: Wmk 87 "Honeycomb"
Bottom Row: Unwatermarked
The "Honeycomb" watermark is quite apparent.

One should to be aware that, for the 1c, 2c, and 5c denominations, they were also issued on unwatermarked paper in 1915.

1917 "San Martin" issue - Wmk 87 "Honeycomb"
Fair warning- the 1917-1923 "San Martin" various issues to be discussed/illustrated here come in five states: four watermarks and unwatermarked. !!

The 1917 issue of sixteen stamps showing small and large format portraits of "San Martin" was issued on "Honeycomb" watermarked paper.

BTW, do not confuse these large format "San Martin" stamps with the similar issue of 1916. The 1916 issue has "1816-1916" script along the lower central panel, while the 1917 (and subsequent issues) have "centavos" or "pesos" script for the lower central panel.

1918-19 Scott 259 50c gray black "San Martin"
In 1918-19, a   twelve stamp "San Martin" issue was forthcoming, but on unwatermarked paper.

1920 Scott 272 12c blue "San Martin"
Wmk 88 "Multiple Suns"
The 1920 eleven stamp "San Martin" issue introduced a new watermark, Wmk 88 "Multiple Suns"

Wmk 88 "Multiple Suns"
The "Multiple Suns' watermark with several suns and many rays going everywhere, and covering the entire paper, is quite distinctive.

1920 Scott 297 5c red "San Martin"
Wmk 89 "Large Sun - 7mm"
In 1920, there was also a seven stamp "San Martin" issue on another watermark. This watermark has a large sun, measuring 7 mm in diameter, and features several suns and/or ray complexes on each stamp.

Wmk 89 "Large Sun - 7 mm"
Wmks are closer together, so several appear on one stamp
Here are Wmk 89 "Large Sun - 7 mm" examples.

Compared these to the Wmk 86 "Large Sun - 6mm" watermarks of 1896-1911, where only one sun appears on a stamp.

Scott also states the rays are heavier for this watermark, compared to the earlier Wmk 86, but I don't really see that as a distinguishing factor.

1922-23 Scott 306 2c brown "San Martin"
Wmk 90 "RA in Sun"
Then in 1922-23, another  issue with eleven "San Martin" stamps was produced, but on Wmk 90 "RA in Sun" watermarked paper.

Wmk 90 "RA in Sun"
Diameter of Sun 10mm for issues before 1928
The Wmk 90 "RA in Sun" was actually in use for a long time on the stamps of Argentina. Between 1922, and continuing up to, but not including 1928, the diameter of the sun for these watermarks is measured @ 10 mm.

Also note the ray linkages between any two suns watermarks meet at a slight angle (not straight)? A later introduced watermark (Wmk 288) will have straight ray linkages between sun watermarks.

1928 Scott C16  1.08p rose & dark blue 
"Wings across the Sea"
Wmk 90 "RA in Sun" 9 mm diameter
I show this 1928 Air post stamp, because, beginning in 1928, and persisting up to 1970, the Wmk 90 paper was used, but a bit modified. The Sun is now 9 mm in diameter, rather than 10 mm in diameter. 

Wmk 90 "RA in Sun" -9mm diameter
For Issues 1928 and later
Here are the 1928 and later Wmk 90 examples with a measured sun of 9 mm. This is considered a minor variation, and no separate Scott numbers are given for this variation. Scott also has a note that Wmk 90 exists in several "types", but no further explanation is given.

1927 Scott 364a (Pelure paper) 2c dark brown
"San Martin"; Type of 1923-31 Issue
Without Period after Value
Wmk 205 "AP in Oval"
In 1923, a new "San Martin" small format design was used, and this issue has a period after the value. The paper is Wmk 90 "RA in Sun".

In 1923-24, a similar design "San Martin" issue was produced, but without a period after the value. This issue likewise has the Wmk 90 "RA in Sun" watermark.

But in 1927, the "without period after value" "San Martin" design was put on Wmk 205 "AP in Oval" paper for seven stamps. The "AP in Oval" watermark was formerly used exclusively for Postal Savings stamps. In fact, the "AP" stands for "Ahorro Postal" (Savings stamp).

Wmk 205 "AP in Oval"
I show a live example of Wmk 205, but it is not ideal, so I am including an illustration of the watermark here also.

1935-51 Lithographed Issue - Wmk 90 "RA in Sun"
The 1935-51 lithographed issue definitives used Wmk 90 "RA in Sun" paper. 

1935-51 Issue: Typographed Varieties
BTW, some of the stamps were also issued typographed.

1935-51 Lithographed Issue - Wmk 90 "RA in Sun"
Here are some more of the lovely 1935-51 issue with Wmk 90 "RA in Sun".

1949 Scott 497 50c red & orange "Oil Well"
1942-50 Lithographed Issue- Types of 1935-51 Issue
Wmk 288 "RA in Sun with Straight Rays"
But some of the stamps of the 1935-51 type  can also be found with Wmk 288 "RA in Sun with Straight Rays".Sixteen of the stamps (Scott 485-500) were issued between 1942-1950 on this Wmk 288 paper.

Wmk 288 "RA in Sun with Straight Rays"
As noted, the linkages between the rays and the suns are mostly straight. ;-) The difference between Wmk 288 and Wmk 90 seems kind of minor, similar to other differences in watermarks that were not given "major" recognition. Be that as it may, if one is collecting past 1940, one will need to separate out Wmk 90 from wmk 288 stamps for the 1935-51 type designs.

Deep Blue
1899-1903 Issue "Liberty Seated"
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 67 pages for Argentina, including 29 pages for the many "Official" and "Official Department" stamps. All of the major Scott numbers have a space.

1892 Scott 96 5c carmine "Rivadavia"
Wmk 85 "Small Sun, 4 1/2 mm"
Out of the Blue
I created this blog post about the Argentinian watermarks to help myself, as well to share with others. When I have a group of stamps from Argentina that require watermarking, I can refer to the blog post, open the catalogue, and, with those tools, be better prepared to successfully identify the watermarks based on the groundwork already done.

I hope the reader will find it useful too.

Note:The Wmk 205 and Wmk 288 images were scanned from the Scott catalogue for educational purposes.

Comments appreciated!