Commemorative Sheets - Notes

First some general notes (30th October 2007).


The list of sheets has been developed by reading through Gibbons catalogues and the second phase will be to repeat the process on Scott catalogues to confirm the details and to provide the Scott numbers.


It is inevitable that  I have missed some first sheets and it is clear that Gibbons has made some mistakes. These will be resolved over time.


My catalogues are not always the latest available, but the new Gibbons Stamps of the World 2008 claims to include all miniature sheets and so when this arrives in my local library I will be able to check my results and update the prices.


As noted elsewhere, I intend to obtain and show images of the sheets up to around 1960 and thereafter just provide details in text.

30th November 2007
A (reasonably) local library has stocked Gibbons SotW 2008 and so I am working through those, checking my results and updating the prices. Gibbons' treatment of sheets is not very impressive as there are few images of early sheets and I have identified four missing first sheets in Vol. 1, A-C: Anguilla, Bahrain, Croatia and Czechoslovakia. I have offered to check the rest of the volumes in return for a free set.


Ethiopia's Province Block

Mackay refers to an unissued 1894 sheet. Gibbons Part 12 describes the Province Block, comprising four imperforate variant copies of the 1 guerche blue, differing from the original in that four province names (Shoa, Harar, Kaffa, Tigre) are printed in Amharic script in the scroll on the right, one per stamp. "It is believed that this was produced without the authority of the Ethiopian Postal Administration." The stamp depicts Menelik II wearing the Coronation Crown.

image source (while waiting for a better copy)

Luxembourg, identifying the first sheet

My various sources agree that Luxembourg issued the first commemorative sheet but do not agree on when.

The first sheet identified by number prefix in Gibbons (Part 4, 4th edn) is the 1923 MS221 (Sc151), celebrating the birth of Princess Elisabeth. This is Mackay's choice.

image source 1

3rd January   1923 SG MS221 Sc151

Numbered by Scott but only mentioned in Gibbons are two sheets of the 1921 SG193 (Sc125). The stamp shows Grand Duchess Charlotte and celebrates the birth of Crown Prince Jean. There is a sheet of five (Sc125a) and one of 25 (Sc125b), whereas the 'normal’ sheet has 100 stamps.

image source 1

6th January   1921 Sc125a

6th January 1921   Sc125b

The 1906 sheet to commemorate the accession of Grand Duke William IV to the throne, identified by Wood is not mentioned at all in Gibbons (the individual stamp is SG162, Sc82) but Scott identifies the ‘souvenir sheet of 10’ as Sc82a.

The 1906 sheet does not have an inscription, but neither does the 1923 MS221. As it meets the Blackburn, Wood, Gibbons and Scott criteria and the Mackay criteria are not applied consistently, this is the world’s first commemorative (miniature and souvenir) sheet.

image source 1

1906 Sc82


Identifying Belgium's first sheet

Mackay states that Belgium's first sheet was issued in 1924, though the earliest I have found in Gibbons is the 1930 MS568 (£325 / £300) for the International stamp show in Antwerp.

image source 2


9th August 1930   SG MS568 Sc221

Looking back from there in Scott, there is a 1924 sheet for the Brussels stamp show that year, presumably Mackay's choice. Gibbons notes and prices the sheet but does not give it an MS designation.

Sc171a has 4 x 5fr red brown stamps of the same design

24th May   1924 Sc171a

and a 1921 sheet for an earlier Brussels stamp show. Gibbons notes a 'trial printing ... in this shade' sold at the exhibition and numbers the stamp (SG312) but not the sheet.

Sc170a has 25 x 50c dark blue stamps

26th May 1921   Sc170a


Identifying Japan's first sheet

According to Gibbons, the first is this 1934 airmail issue commemorating communications

20th April 1934 SG MS271

Selling on eBay in November 2007 was this sheet of four of the SG205, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Japanese Post. The stamp (SG205, Sc166)was issued on 20th April 1921. The seller notes that 'I cannot find reference to this item in any catalog, so unable to guarantee its authenticity'.


Identifying Russia's first sheet

This is the first sheet in Gibbons, issues in 1937 to commemorate the Pushkin Exhibition, Moscow.


10th February 1937 SG MS733c

A recent eBay sale drew my attention to this 1932 issue. It is mentioned in Gibbons and Scott, published for a stamp exhibition in Moscow and featuring two each of stamps SG601 and 602 (Sc485 and 486) but not postally valid, and so the 1937 sheet prevails.

The sheet sells for £2,750.

image source 1




The 1932 sheet was reproduced in 1997 for the Canadian Society of Russian Philately, sold here, from where this small image was obtained: there are two versions, the earlier with two spelling errors,


Image size 400, thumbnail 200 max side.

Image sources

1. eBay
2. Gaikokukite
3. Mayo postal history
4. Folkestone Stamp Shop catalogue
5. Phil-Index catalogue
6. Gary Posner Stamps