Saturday, 1 March 2014

Damman's warriors

The more you learn, the less you know. I presume we're all familiar with how that works! And it's certainly the case with Damman's warriors. I have written before about the Warrior definitives of the early 1900s, from the French Somali Coast, engraved by Benjamin Damman. I now have a good few more items so am able to paint a more complete picture for you (and myself).

Introduced in 1902, these definitives were the highest values of a larger set, and they were bicoloured. Only three values exist and they're not easy to find, I must say. This 5f is my first and as yet only copy from the set.

But I did manage to come across bicoloured proofs, which I'd never seen before, so that was quite a bonus. As you can see they're denominated 0f, and these particular ones include a printer's imprint (Chassepot in Paris, France) in the design, both just under the vignette and at the very bottom of the stamp.

'Naturally', the actual stamps have neither, just the names of the designer and engraver at the very bottom.

Now, it gets better when in 1903 the set is reissued but now with black centres.

Again, I have proofs which are similar to the bicoloured ones.

But I also have proofs which do not have a printer's imprint, and instead have no information whatsoever.

So now that I have a better idea of what sort of items are available, the question arises what they are. It may be acceptable that a master die is undenominated. Usually, values are only added when subsidiary dies are made.

But printing plates are produced at a later stage and would most certainly have a proper value included, otherwise the plate could never be used for printing stamps. The thing is that I do have an item which shows that these 'proof' printings were made from a plate rather than a single die.

Especially now that I also have 'proofs' which have the printer's imprint, I'm wondering whether these may 'just' be produced to promote the printer's expertise in stamp printing. They're still recess-printed and made with the use of Damman's engraved die, so that's all fine, but that would most certainly not make them 'proofs'.

So you see, I'm left in the dark again...



  1. Hi there, delighted to find your site. Of great interest to me as I am collecting stamps designed by Paul Merwart who, as you know, is the artist for these early Somali coast stamps. He also did designs for French Congo and Guiana around the turn of the century. Best wishes with your site. Simon

  2. Thank you Simon! Glad you found it interesting.