Why Liberia?

Several long-time members have asked for more posts and discussion on the forum

here goes.

So why do each of us have an interest in Liberia stamps? Something I've always wondered

I mean, it's not the most obvious or well-known country for collectors (many people would find it difficult to even locate on a world atlas) and I'm not sure it's well-known in philatelic circles. And yet each of us has decided to focus on this country

In my case it's partly personal. I worked in Liberia for a few years in the early 1970s so got to know the country and some of its people and history.

When I came back to the UK I got interested again in collecting and decided to focus on the early Liberia stamps (from 1860 up to the year I left Liberia in 1973). 30 years later here I still am!

What about everyone else?


  • edited October 2015
    A couple of months ago I was asked the same question, and first I would like to repeat here what I said then:
    "I used to collect (mint) amphibian and reptile topicals, and I got
    hooked because some Liberian stamps I needed where really hard to
    find, despite their comparatively low catalog values. Of all the
    countries in the world Liberia proved to be a real challenge. Since
    then I've found many more reasons, of course,
    like the close connection between Liberia and Germany."

    So, in my case it's no personal connection with the country. Liberian philately has immanent traits that make it special. Many of them are probably a very early reaction to the demands of the philatelic market, like the interest in picturesque stamps from exotic places. Liberia was probably the first country to issue a long pictorial stamps set. Many other countries followed in her footsteps. Or the demand for varieties and errors. Think of all the inverted centers. It is hardly a coincidence that Liberia has the largest number of inverts of all countries (a fact I was told and didn't check myself, but I believe it). Then you have numerous overprints and "emergency issues", an eldorado for variety hunters, and so on.

    I started collecting Liberia about six years ago, and thanks to the Internet I think I have already compiled a very nice collection. Still, it feels like I have only just begun.

  • Manfred

    when I worked in Liberia I noticed the strong connections with Germany - German companies based there, German shipping and transport etc - but I never understood why the links had developed

    Any ideas why Germany is linked so closely?  
  • edited October 2015
    The close connections between Germany and Liberia definitely date back to the beginnings of the Woermann Line in the 19th century. Back then it was simply a matter of opportunity: Liberia as an independent country had just begun to exist, and it offered a new market that was not already occupied and protected by British, French, or other companies from any of the established colonial powers.German traders gradually intensified their business activities with Liberia over decades. Once established, it seems that not even two world wars were able to break these links. After WWII, when President Tubman finally got serious about an "open door policy" for Liberia and started looking for investors in Europe, the booming post-war Germany seemed like a natural partner.
  • Makes sense in terms of colonial history

    I remember when I was there, there was a big German presence linked to Bong Mine, a huge mountain of iron ore
  • My grandfather got me interested in stamp collecting many, many years ago.  I started out collecting U.S. then moved on to worldwide 1840-1940.  I eventually decided that I needed to specialize in a particular area or country and I ended up choosing Manchukuo.  Since the country was only in existence from 1932-1945, I thought it would be relatively easy.  I was wrong!  And not knowing how to read Chinese didn't help.  I spent a lot of time deciphering things.  

    So I decided I needed to specialize in a country that used English as their main language. I also wanted to collect something that everyone else wasn't collecting.  Liberia is the obvious choice! I have been collecting Liberia ever since and really enjoy it.  I do wish there the Liberia collecting community was more active.

  • Travis,

    the Liberian philatelic community is indeed very quiet, compared to other countries, almost as if it doesn't exist at all. It is frustrating to think what could be accomplished, how many questions (first days of issue, postal rates etc.) could easily be answered if collectors would work together. And, this doesn't happen just because of ... what? Dullness? Or a general lack of interest? At least that's what I am forced to think considering the number of people who have contacted me asking for the password to access the LPS back issues: exactly one!!!

    It is funny you brought up the language aspect. In part due to the lack of exchange of knowledge between collectors of Liberia I had started looking for another country I could collect, a second area of interest; and one with a more active community. I was happy when my final choice also meant I had to dig into French! Well, I had French in school, but I was really bad and got rid of it as soon as I could. Since then, I've forgotten more of that language than I ever new. But, I will try to fix this mistake now. Of course, French isn't Chinese - I may not understand what I am reading, but at least I can read it!

  • Welcome Korsbecker! Although we are a small group, there are some very knowledgeable people on this forum and I have learned a lot. Manfred has done a great job with this website. Feel free to join in any of the discussions.

  • If you have anything to post, please do. We need all we can get. Right now there is only a small number of us who seem to post info on Liberia. So please join us anytime. Manfred has done a lot of work on this site. We need a group to keep it going.
  • I have to pretty much agree with Korsbecker's reasons.  The many varieties, legit or no, are fascinating, even the forgeries keep one busy with interesting detective work.  The stamps are intriguing from every angle, and one can still find occasional old-time collections at reasonable prices, some of which have a good chance of providing something new or even another rabbit-trail to chase down. I collect a number of countries as specialties, probably too many, and Liberia is a long-time favorite, especially the revenues and postal stationery.

    This is my first post, I just found the site today and was blown away by the amount of information here.  Looking forward to continued involvement.
  • My dad started collecting worldwide stamps while hospitalized. recuperating from wounds received during the Battle of the Bulge. It amazes me that if he hadn't fallen in the snow and his wounds froze, he would have bled out before I was born. Stamp collecting was something the hospital used to help occupy their patients minds during their long recoveries and rehabilitation. Dad enjoyed stamp collecting then, but put it aside once he was released and resumed living.

    At age 7, dad gave me his collection, and seeing all those pretty pieces of paper from all over the world got me excited, and lit a fire in me that still burns brightly in me. Collecting worldwide was challenging, and there was so much. But many of the stamps I obtained didn't fit into my small worldwide album. So I started focusing on collecting stamps from the United States of America. By the time I was in high school, every US stamp I needed cost more than a dollar and I couldn't afford them. So I switched to collecting British Commonwealth stamps. That was exciting, and the omnibus issues were really cool. I remember answering an add in Linn's from a Greek collector who was selling his collection, and the approvals he sent me. My collection was growing. I started getting approvals from Kashmir Bileski in Canada. Now I was a sophomore in high school and he was sending me British Colonials worth $150 on approval. He would let me buy then all for $100 and I could pay that off $10 a month. I bought them all and many others. Then one day, Bileski sent me a British approval selection and said if I bought them all for $100 he would give me as a free bonus $100 worth of Liberian stamps that he included in the package I received.

    I liked the British stamps, but the Liberian stamps...they were simply beautiful...and intriguing...and free! You know I bought that British selection and keep the Liberian bonus. Then I bought a whole lot more Liberian from Bileski.

    I liked the history of how Liberia started...that it's official language was English...that it's currency was pegged to the US Dollar...that it offered overprints, inverts, varieties galore that I could afford. Rare stamps that I could afford. I was hooked. Then Bileski sent word that he was about to publish Col Rogers "A Century of Liberian Philately" and if I would pre-purchase two copies, he would send me two mint Liberian Gabon Viper triangles as a bonus for waiting for publication, I sent him payment and became a sponsor of the work. Several years later when the book was published, I really began to understand and appreciate the vast amount of knowledge that I did not know about Liberia. I have learned so much since then, but I know, despite my years of specializing in Liberia, there is still so much I can learn about Liberian philately.

    I've been asked how could I stay interested in one small countries stamps for so long. Surely I had found all that I could afford in a lot less time. But with Liberia, the fun is trying to find the stamps.

    I started collecting mint Liberia. I eventually accepted Roy Mackal's challenge of going for postally used Liberian stamps...a much more difficult task. Somewhere along the line I decided to see how many Liberian stamps I could find on cover.
    I am still working on all three of these areas. It truly can be an enjoyable life time pursuit.

    If I go to a stamp show and only find three or four postally used stamps that catalog for a quarter that I still don't have in my collection, I go home excited, knowing the show was a success for me.

    Now that I have reactivated this thread, I would like to hear from others, why you are interested in Liberian philately.
  • Alan

    thanks for the post
    Interesting connection with Bileski

    My own interest in Liberian was posted earlier

    I found the country fascinating when I was working there and the people amazingly friendly

    I collect Liberian from the first issues up until I left in 1973 (you have to stop somewhere!)

    I find it amazing what crops up for sale

  • Mikwizzy, I agree you have to stop somewhere. I decided to collect 150 years of Liberian stamps, so go from 1860 to 2010. I know, that's 151 years...but stopping at 2009 just didn't seem right. Getting anything used from the last twenty years is very difficult for two reasons. First, many of the stamps probably never made it to Liberia, and second, Liberians text, tweet, and twitter more than they write, which is true in the USA too.
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