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Wednesday 15 May 2024

What's Life Without Spices?


Indian spices on stamp

In the wonderful world of culinary arts, a spice is a product derived from natural plant sources that adds more value to food. The value addition ranges from adding aroma to better taste to enhanced appetite to improved immunity and many more. 

With right combination of spices, a bland dish may turn into a mouth-watering meal filled with aroma. The fragrance of spices makes taste buds salivate. One can have spicy food without worrying about the extra dose of calories.

Spices from Malaysia (Source: Internet)

A variety of spices are sourced from different parts of various plants. From flower to seed, bud to berry, root to bark, the endless list includes tree-sourced products. For example, cloves, a popular spice, are nothing but dried buds of the flowers. Cinnamon is the bark of the tree. Ginger, turmeric, etc. are the roots of the plants. Since time immemorial, countries from Southeast Asia have been the biggest producers and suppliers of spices in the global market.

Spice First Day Cover from Malaysia (Source Internet)


A few popular spices, much sought after around the world, are (alphabetic):

  1. Black pepper
  2. Cardamon
  3. Chilli
  4. Clove
  5. Cumin seed
  6. Ginger
  7. Mace
  8. Nutmeg
  9. Star anise
  10. Turmeric and the list goes on

The Spice Islands

A group of islands comprising Halmahera (the largest), Seram, Buru, Ambon, Ternate, and Tidore, and the Aru and Kai of Malaku (or Moluccas), are known as Spice Islands. These Indonesian islands of the Malay Archipelago lie between the islands of Celebes to the west and New Guinea to the east. The Philippines, the Philippine Sea, and the Pacific Ocean are to the north; the Arafura Sea and the island of Timor are to the south. Due to its geographical location west of New Guinea, east of Sulawesi, and northeast of Timor, the Spice Islands archipelago is part of both Asia and Oceania. In the global trade of spices, they contributed the most to spices like mace, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper etc.

Star anise from Malaysia

Sometime in the fourth century, Arabian traders introduced spices sourced from the Spice Islands to the European elites. But they kept the source of the spices a trade secret. Adventurous Portuguese traders ultimately found the Spice Islands during the sixteenth century.

Chilli from Malaysia

The dawn of the bulk spice trade in the Spice Islands dates back to the 1520s, when Portuguese traders started sourcing spices from them for the European market. Smelling big profit and huge demand by the elites, British traders entered into spice voyages in 1598.

Cardamom and other spices from Malaysia

The spice trade in the inlands included all kinds of spices of life, viz., money and greed, colonialism, suppression, slavery, slaughter and endless bloodshed. Fights between local natives and intruders, and also among different European traders were common and violent. It was a battlefield spanning several centuries among the traders and soldiers of the Dutch, British, and Portuguese for taking control of the spice business. Traders from different parts of Asia and the Middle East were also attracted, either by the flavour of spices or by the enormous profit associated with the trade. In the spice war, about 6,000 people perished.

Spice First Day Cover from Singapore (Source: Internet)

Natives of the Spice Islands had a unique tradition of planting a clove tree as soon as a child was born into the family. So the production of cloves was plentiful in the islands. When the Dutch traders saw this, they destroyed all clove trees on all islands except those are at Amboina and a few nearby islands. The result was obvious: a shortage in supply, scarcity, and a skyrocketing price of cloves in the global spice market. At that time, cloves in weight were worth more than the equivalent weight of gold. The trend was reversed over a period of time when spice plantations and supply started from other parts of the world, viz. Zanzibar, Brazil, the West Indies, etc.

Let’s talk about a few specific spices, at random.

Black pepper:

Black pepper from India

Black pepper is the most common spice traded and consumed worldwide. It is native to the South Indian Malabar Coast in the States of Kerala, Goa, and Karnataka. In the mummy of Ramesses II of Egypt, it was found that the nasal cavities were blocked with black peppercorns. One wonders, in those eras, how it reached from India to Egypt and was used in the process of mummification. In ancient Rome, Greece, etc., it was valued as black gold.

It is a dried fruit (the peppercorn) of the trailing vine plant. There are several varieties of pepper, depending upon the time of harvesting:

  1. White pepper: The red skins of the berries are removed, and then they are dried. 
  2. Green pepper: The berries are harvested before they are ripe, and then marinated or dried for a short duration of time. 
  3. Red pepper:  The berries are not plucked till they are fully ripe, then harvested, and marinated subsequently 
  4. Black pepper:  The berries are harvested much before they are ripe, and then they are dried for extended periods

It has applications as a spice in cooking foods, as a preservative, and also as a traditional medicine. It is used for the treatment of constipation, insomnia, oral abscesses, sunburn, toothaches, etc. It contains piperine, which is considered a type of antioxidant that helps to lower the risk of chronic illnesses.

In 2021, Vietnam was the largest producer of black pepper (288,167 metric tonnes), followed by Brazil (118,057 metric tonnes) and Indonesia (81,219 metric tonnes). Burkina Faso (67,983 metric tonnes) had the 4th position, and India occupied the 5th  position (64,816 metric tonnes). In that year, nine countries: Vietnam, Brazil, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, India, Sri Lanka (42,485 metric tonnes), China (33,133 metric tonnes), Malaysia (31,636 metric tonnes), and Tajikistan (21,269 metric tonnes) together produced more than 10,000 metric tonnes of black pepper.

Cardamom:

The queen of spices

Cardamom, the “Queen of Spices,"  is one of the rarest and most expensive spices in the world. It is made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. It is a spice with an intense, slightly sweet flavor. Though today it is available worldwide, it originated in the Western Ghats of southern India.

Cardamom is used to add flavour to foods, confections, and alcoholic beverages. It has high consumption in Middle Eastern countries, India, Pakistan, European Union member countries, the United States, and Japan. According to preliminary research, cardamom has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, cholesterol-lowering, and blood sugar-lowering properties.

The global production of cardamom is approximately 35,000 metric tonnes per year. Guatemala is the top producer, followed by India. Other cardamom-producing countries are Tanzania, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, etc.

Clove:

King of spices

If there is Queen of Spices, can the “King of Spices” be left behind? Clove is popularly called the King of Spices. These are aromatic flower buds from an evergreen tree that are native to Indonesia. This tree also grows in South America and a few other countries. As a spice, it is used to add flavour to desserts and drinks. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines.

Cloves are considered to have some anti-inflammatory properties, are added to mouthwashes, creams, gels, and oils, and are used to reduce toothache, dental pain, and plaque build-up.

Cumin:

Cumin is made from the dried seed of a plant known as Cuminum cyminum, which belongs to the parsley family. It is one of the most popular spices across the globe, used for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. In culinary preparations, cumin is used as a whole seed as well as in ground form. It provides a typical aroma and taste of both sweetness and bitterness.

In India, cumin has been used in cooking since ancient times. It entered Mexican and South American cuisines, courtesy of Spanish and Portuguese traders. Interestingly, excavation works in Egypt, Syria, etc. have revealed that cumin was used in the pastes to preserve the mummies! It appeared in the Bible in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Nutmeg:

Source: Internet

The irony is that nutmeg does not belong to a nut family. Nutmeg trees are native to Banda Island in eastern Indonesia. It is also cultivated in Penang Island in Malaysia, Grenada, Zanzibar and Malabar region of India. Old literatures mentions that nutmeg has entered into Indian cultivation and culinary from Indonesia.

Nutmeg is derived from the seeds of the Myristica fragrans tree, mace is another spice made from the seed covering, the fruit cover is used to prepare jam and the oil obtained by distillation of ground nutmeg is essential oil which has high demand in pharmaceutical and perfume industry. Nutmeg butter is another product from the nut.

Indonesia is world's largest (nearly 50%) producer of nutmeg, Grenada in second largest and India occupies the third position. Other major nutmeg producer countries are Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Tanzania/Zanzibar, Cameroon and Thailand. The Netherlands contributes in the global nutmeg trade as importer and processor.

This spice is a double edged sword. If consumed in smaller quantities, it provides relief from indigestion, insomnia etc. But absorbing in larger quantities causes intoxication, hallucination, unconsciousness and ultimately loss of life. Not recommended for the children, and pregnant women.  

Believe me, at one point in time, opium was an integral part of the global spice trade. Some of the spice traders were addicted to opium, and they were in the spice business to meet their own requirements for opium.

Spices in philately:

However, this is not a story of spices but that of spicy philately. The delicious spices have literally spiced up the world of philately. Tanzania Post, on June 18, 1984, while celebrating the 20th anniversary of the revolution, issued a set of four postage stamps. One of the stamps featured clove farming in Zanzibar.

Clove from Zanzibar (Source: Internet)

Zanzibar is also known as Spice Island. It has not only played a crucial role in the route of the spice trade from sixteenth century but also produces a variety of spices, even today. 

To and fro Dar Es Salaam - Zanzibar in VIP class by catamaran services

The entry of Zanzibar into the spice production and market was credited to Portuguese and Indian traders several centuries ago. 

Catamaran is ready to sail for Zanzibar from Dar Es Salaam

The Zanzibari spice basket mainly comprises clove, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. 

Catamaran is docking at Zanzibar port (Karibu in Kswahili means Welcome)

The tourist industry of Zanzibar thrives on spice tourism, which covers spice plantations and spice markets (Darajani market) in Stone Town. 

Immigration counter at Zanzibar

A spice farm in Goa

It will not be out of point to mention that Goa, in India, has several spice farms and they do conduct spice tourism in truly Indian style.

Spices from St. Vincent (Source: Internet)

St. Vincent, under the Herbs and Spices series, issued on April 22, 1985, a set of four spice stamps, one each on pepper, sweet marjoram, nutmeg, and ginger.

Spice basket of India

Indian kings, nawabs, and emperors had been great connoisseurs of spicy foods. The cooking procedures, with spices, undertaken by the chefs or housewives are no less than the work done by the alchemists. Garam masala has been an integral part of Indian cuisine for generations. Garam masala is a traditional blend of spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, black pepper, bay leaf, cumin, mace, fennel, coriander, and nutmeg. It occupies a special place in every Indian kitchen. One can find spices even in a modest Indian kitchen. Their mixing proportion ratio delivers a special appeal to the food, the secret of which has been passed on from one generation to another. The combination of spices varies from dish to dish as well as according to the expertise and experience of the cook, whether at home or at a five-star restaurant.

Indian spice's First Day Cover

On April 29th, 2009, India Post issued a set of five diamond shaped stamps displaying typical spices. Four stamps, each worth INR 5, were issued, showing individually cardamom (ilaichi), black pepper (kali mirch), cinnamon (dalchini), and clove (laung). 

Assorted Indian Spices

The fifth stamp of face value INR 20,  featured three spices collectively, viz., turmeric (haldi), chilli (mirch), and corriander (dhaniya).

Spices from Malaysia (Source: Internet)

Malaysia Post, on March 28, 2011, issued stamps, miniature sheets, First Day Covers, and stamp booklets featuring fennel seeds, turmeric, chilli, coriander, and white pepper. 

Miniature Sheet and First Day Cover on spices from Malaysia (Source: Internet)







Spices from Singapore (Source: Internet)

Under the Spices of Singapore series, on July 15, 2011, Singapore Post issued a set of five stamps depicting cinnamon, coriander, star anise, tamarind, and turmeric.

Remotely related to spices (Source: Internet)

There are postage stamps issued on Spice Girls, but that’s a different story.


Webliography:

  1. https://library.princeton.edu/visual_materials/maps/websites/pacific/spice-islands/spice-islands-maps.html
  2. https://the-travelling-twins.com/zanzibar-spices/
  3. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/black-pepper-production-by-country
  4. https://www.britannica.com/place/Halmahera
  5. https://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/nutmeg-producing-countries.html
  6. https://www.rmg.co.uk/stories/topics/spice-islands

Disclaimer:

The noble objective of this blog, is to promote the hobby of philately through images of stamps, a few pictures and related narration. The scans of a few stamps, featured in this blogpost are mine while others (sourced from internet) are properties of their respective owners. No intention to infringe any type of copyright. 

The information provided in the article is for general informational purposes only. All information is provided in good faith. This is only for sharing of knowledge of philately with philatelist fraternity of the world. No commercial or political angle, whatsoever, is involved. This is not a historical document. Under no circumstances, I shall have any liability for reliance on any information provided in the story.

*************

The story was published in the June 2024 issue of popular philatelic e-magazine 'Ananthapuri Stamp Bulletin'. Incidentally, it was the 100th issue of the publication. Scans of the relevant part of the story is given below:

Cover page

 
The index page

Page 1 of 4

Page 2 of 4

Page 3 of 4

Page 4 of 4

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Death of Diesel

Source: Internet

It was dead of night of 29 September 1913. A steamship named SS Dresden was on her voyage from Antwerp, Belgium to Harwich, England. The ship sailed through the water of English Channel; little murmur of the engine was breaking the eerie silence of the surroundings. 

At around 10 pm, one of the passengers of the vessel, who had boarded the vessel in the evening, after his dinner, went to his cabin to sleep. While leaving the dining hall, he told the porter to wake him up at 6:15 am next day morning. That was the last time, he was seen by the fellow passengers and the crew of the ship. Subsequent morning when the porter went to wake him up, he found the door of the room was kept ajar. His bed was still neatly laid up which meant that he had not slept on the bed on the previous night. His night-suit was intact and unused. A search was undertaken at all possible corners of the ship. But no trace of the person was found. He had vanished in the thin air of the channel. He was declared missing from the board. 

A diary was found on the side table of his bed. The particular page of that date in the diary was found marked cross (X). His disappearance might be connected to a few possibilities:

Firstly, he might have slipped from the deck of the ship.

Second possibility was that he might have jumped into water, and committed suicide, and 

third possibility, more intriguing, he might have been murdered and thrown overboard. 

To find the answer of the mysterious vanishing of the person, whether it was a suicide or a murder, we shall explore a bit, little later.

On 10 October 1913, the crew of a Dutch North Sea steamer noticed a floating bloated human corpse on the water, in the vicinity of the route of SS Dresden. It was so badly decomposed that it could not be retrieved from water. So, they decided that it should have a watery grave. But wisely they recovered a few belongings from the highly decomposed body - a wallet, one paper knife and a few small items. Later, the son of the person confirmed that those items belonged to his missing father.

(Source: Internet)

The name of the missing person was Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel, the famous German mechanical engineer and inventor. He was the man behind the invention of the Diesel engine, that runs on Diesel oil and has subsequently revolutionised the world. Both the engine and fuel carry his name, even today.

The diesel engine, created by Diesel at that time, was very bulky in size and was fit for static industry or large ships. Application of diesel engine in automobile sector dawned a little later, by mid-1920s, when a comparatively compact diesel engine for road transport sector was developed by Clessie Cummins. Mercedes-Benz introduced diesel driven automobile in 1936.

(Source: Internet)

He was born on 18 March 1858. 

(Source: Internet)

On 18 March 1958, on his 100th birthday, the German Post issued a blue-green commemorate postage stamp on the personality. 

(Source: Internet)

It was designed by Prof. Hermann Schardt who had included an image of Diesel and a sketch of his diesel engine. 

(Source: Internet)

Germany issued another commemorative stamp on 28 August 1977, featuring him while commemorating the centenary of invention of diesel engine. Besides Germany, several countries have honored the inventor by issuing postage stamps on him. Some of them are:

Central African Republic - 21 December 1986

Maldives - 26 December 1989 and 04 October 2018

Cuba - 20 January 1993

Gibraltar - 01 March 1994

Uruguay - 08 December 1997

North Macedonia - 18 June 2008

Guinea - 20 October 2008

Vietnam - 29 September 2013

Sierra Leone - 30 August 2018

(Source: Internet)

There was an interesting twist for stamps issued on 01 February 1993 by Western Sahara on Diesel and his diesel engine. Morocco Postal Services vide their circular number 414 of 2002, number 69 of 2004, and number 71 of 2008, has declared those stamps of Rudolf Diesel were illegal issues. 

(Source: Internet)

They have clarified that there was no operational post office under the control of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic when those stamps were released.

(Vietnam Post, Source: Internet)

Let us examine the possibilities of mysterious disappearance of Rudolf Diesel. 

He was insomniac so it may fit well that after dinner he might be taking a stroll on the deck. But the idea of his accidental slippage from the deck into water does not hold water because on that night there was no rough or stormy weather. 

(Source: Internet)

The suicide theory was propagated based on his financial status. It was said that he was getting nearly broke. To examine the suicide angle, his possible financial stress was analyzed. It was found that before boarding the ship, he had left a bag with his wife, with a strict instruction that it was to be opened after one week of his departure. Later, on opening the bag, a reasonable amount of cash and financial statements indicating debts were found. The criticality of financial conditions was debated as previously he had generated great wealth through his new innovations.

(Source: Internet)

The cross-mark (X) on the page of diary remained shrouded with mystery. Several possibilities are there. Whether he was contemplating to commit suicide or had a hunch that he would be attacked by someone during the voyage remained unanswered. Another unanswered question is that was it marked by himself or someone else put the mark, in order to divert the attention towards suicide theory.

Now the third angle of possibility of his murder. Who would be interested to kill an inventor like him? For the analysis purposes, there are two different approaches. Firstly, the time of his disappearance was a period of tension between Germany and UK which ultimately followed by full-scale World War I (28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918). Was he travelling from Germany to London to sign a secret deal for technology transfer of his diesel engine to British Navy? 

Alternatively, whether his continuous research to use vegetable oil (like peanut oil) as fuel had raised red flag among the petroleum oil magnets of that era?

There are only endless questions but no answer.

Today, the well-oiled wheels of twenty first century are driven by diesel oil. Concerned with global warming caused by diesel engines, countries are progressively working on bio-diesel. The oils extracted from various plant seeds are being tried in lieu of diesel in vehicle engines to reduce emission of green house gases (GHGs). Is the civilisation completing a full circle, in fuel front, as Diesel had progressed considerably in his research work to use peanut oil and other seed oils as fuel? 

If bio-diesel become reality on a large scale across the world, then it will put a break on the reckless process of dieselisation of industry and that may be a fitting tribute to the researches of Diesel which he could not complete due to unfortunate untimely demise. 


Bibliography:

  1. https://colnect.com/en/search/list/collectibles/stamps/q/Rudolf+Diesel
  2. https://the-line-up.com/rudolf-diesel
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-38302874
  4. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/inventor-rudolf-diesel-vanishes
  5. https://www.websleuths.com/forums/threads/international-rudolph-diesel-inventor-55-ss-dresden-english-channel-29-sep-1913.692462/
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLzMvbqMVQE

Disclaimer:

The noble objective of this blog, is to promote the hobby of philately through images of stamps, a few pictures and related narration. The scans of a few stamps, featured in this blogpost are mine while others (sourced from internet) are properties of their respective owners. No intention to infringe any type of copyright. 

The information provided in the article is for general informational purposes only. All information is provided in good faith. This is only for sharing of knowledge of philately with philatelist fraternity of the world. No commercial or political angle, whatsoever, is involved. This is not a historical document. Under no circumstances, I shall have any liability for reliance on any information provided in the story.


*************

The story was published in the February 2024 issue of the popular philatelic digital magazine, Ananthapuri Stamp Bulletin.

The cover page

The index page

Page 1 of 3

Page 2 of 3

Page 3 of 3



Thursday 30 November 2023

The CIA Invert

Source: Internet

- 'Give me back that postage stamp or accept this termination letter for your job!'

Something like this might have happened related to a particular postage stamp. The order was given by none other than C.I.A. (Central Intelligence Agency) of USA, the civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, to a few of its own employees. Subsequently, the stamp became famous as 'CIA invert'. Otherwise, it had nothing to do with the activities of C.I.A. to commemorate. It was a definitive stamp and was purely related to philately.

Normal rush lamp stamp (Source: Internet)

On 02 July, 1979, the United States Postal Service (USPS) issued a postage stamp (Scott 1610) of face value $1, depicting a candle holder with burning candle (rush lamp), under Americana series. “America’s Light Fueled By Truth and Reason” was written on the stamp. The issue of definitive postage stamps of USPS, under Americana series, was in place from 1975 to 1981. The Americana Series superseded the Prominent Americans series, and was in turn superseded by the Great Americans series and the Transportation coils. 

First Day Cover with normal stamp (Source: Internet)

One day, C.I.A. sent one Steve Lambert, its employee to the post office in McLean, Virginia to buy a few postage stamps for official purposes. He went to the post office and purchased a partial sheet having 95 number of $1 stamp and returned to the office. A few days later, another employee of C.I.A. found that there were a few errors in those stamps. There was a mis-match in the direction between the flame of the burning candle and the candle holder or rather they are opposite to each other. Similarly, with respect to the flame, the writings were too inverted. He made a brilliant discovery (in the year 1985).

CIA Invert (Source: Internet)

Subsequently, Steve shared this information confidentially with a close group of his colleague, comprising seven male and two female C.I.A employees (total nine). 

CIA Invert (Source: Internet)

It was a single pane of $1 candle-stand stamps. But out of one hundred stamps of the pane, five were already sold off before by the post office person to some other unknown customers. So, the pane or the sheet was having ninety-five stamps in it - all with identical error. The selvedge part of the pane which carried the plate number was missing. They smelt the financial potential of this finding. 

Both versions together (Source: Internet)

The group of nine C.I.A. employees began making strategy to capitalise the new found treasure. They discussed among themselves and finally came out with the idea that at first they would replace the error pane with normal stamps by purchasing from the post office. Once they replace the errors with valid ones, they would divide the booty among themselves. According to the plan, under the secret operation within C.I.A. office, they pooled the total amount, purchased ninety-five number of normal stamps and substituted them in the office for error stamps. By giving normal candle-stamps to the office, those error stamps came under their possession, which later became famous as ‘CIA Invert’ (Scott 1610c). Each one of them kept one stamp and decided to dispose of the balance (95-9 = 86 stamps) for profit to an auctioneer. They contacted Ike Snyder, the stamp dealer from Annandale, Virginia. Snyder, in turn, suggested them to contact Jacques C. Schiff, Jr., the error stamp dealer of New Jersey. When contacted, Schiff asked them to meet him as quickly as possible. Even he was ready to reimburse the airfare for travel. 

An advertisement (Source: Internet)

On 02 April, 1986, one person on behalf of the group, visited the office of Schiff at Ridgefield, New Jersey. The C.I.A. person wanted $100,000 for the part pane with 85 intact and one damaged stamps. Schiff, being a cunning businessman gave a counter offer of meagre $25,000. A tough bargain followed between two sides. In spite of the best effort by the group side, the dealer didn’t budge from his initial offer of $25,000. Reluctantly, the representative of the group agreed for the offered amount, conditionally. Schiff agreed to the condition that come what may, the identity of the sellers would not be disclosed to anyone. He issued nine  cheques, each for an amount of $2,777.78 for the purchase of the partial pane of 85 intact mint stamps ($2,777.78 X 9 = $25,000). One damaged stamp (86th one) was given to him as complimentary. 

De-classified C.I.A. document (Source: Internet)

Such news could not be kept secret for longer time and somehow it reached the media houses. What subsequently followed was media blitzkrieg through print and audio-visual network (newspapers - The New York Times and CBS news, tv channels etc.). 

The first pane (Courtesy: Linns.com)

Fred Boughner first brought the CIA Invert story to general public through Linn’s Stamp News (issue 11 August, 1986). In the story, it was reported that those stamps were bought by a small business in Fairfax, Virginia. Subsequently, Don Sundman, president of Mystic Stamp Co., filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The printing agency revealed the involvement of C.I.A. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing had launched an investigation. It had concluded that this was a genuine error which had slipped all checkpoints prevailing at that point of time.

The office of C.I.A. was alerted about CIA Invert which was a big sensation by that time. The agency started their own internal ethics investigation and all nine employees involved in the matter were identified. The office contented that those stamps were purchased with government fund and hence they are properties of the state. They are liable for punishment for using government’s property for personal gain – a gross misconduct. Those employees were ordered to return those stamps from their possession or face imprisonment of ten years and a fine of $ 10,000. 

Four employees (including two ladies) returned their CIA Invert to the office and retained their jobs and the one who claimed that his precious stamp has been lost, continued in the service. On 01 November 1990, C.I.A. donated the recovered CIA Inverts (four in number) to Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Balance four employees (including Lambert), who refused to return their ‘jewels’ were terminated from the job by C.I.A. Nearly twenty years later, the former C.I.A. person who had claimed that his stamp was lost, approached Mystic Stamp Company to sell the ‘lost’ stamp. 

At Smithsonian National Postal Museum, one CIA Invert was placed for display which was donated by Don Sundman, the President of Mystic Stamp Company. These $1 stamps of Americana Series were printed in sheets of 400. Therefore, beside this discovered partial pane of 86 stamps, three more panes each of 100 stamps must have been printed. 

A block of four (Source: Internet)

As per the latest information available, in year 2004, one block of four CIA Invert was sold for $60,000 and another block was sold for $71,875 in 2015. It is said that only three such block exists with the collectors.

With plate ID (Source: Internet)

A new block of four CIA Invert, with intaglio plate number 40971 have appeared on the internet. In all probabilities, it was from the second pane. According to plate number, it was printed between 04 November - 05 December 1985.

However, pane number three and four have vanished in thin air without leaving any clue about their whereabouts. Their existence or destruction has been left to the imagination of the philatelists. May be someday in future, some of them may surface from the closet of some unknown collector.


Webliography:

https://www.stampcommunity.org/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=84105

https://www.linns.com/news/us-stamps-postal-history/cia-invert-revisited-how-did-it-occur

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0001057538.pdf

https://info.mysticstamp.com/learn/cia-inverts/

https://www.linns.com/news/us-stamps-postal-history/stamps-from-second-cia-invert-pane-found

Disclaimer:

The noble objective of this blog, is to promote the hobby of philately through images of stamps, a few pictures and related narration. The scans of a few stamps, featured in this blogpost are mine while others (sourced from internet) are properties of their respective owners. No intention to infringe any type of copyright. 

The information provided in the article is for general informational purposes only. All information is provided in good faith. This is only for sharing of knowledge of philately with philatelist fraternity of the world. No commercial or political angle, whatsoever, is involved. This is not a historical document. Apologies in advance, should there be any inadvertent error. Under no circumstances, I shall have any liability for reliance on any information provided in the story.


*************

This story was published in Ananthapuri Stamp Bulletin (January'2024 issue), the popular philatelic e-magazine.

The cover page

The index




Page 1 of 3

Page 2 of 3



Page 3 of 3

What's Life Without Spices?

Indian spices on stamp In the wonderful world of culinary arts, a spice is a product derived from natural plant sources that adds more value...