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I know that many early Liberia stamps were cancelled to order

Does anyone know though why different cancels were used for these?

It seems a lot of work to make and issue different cancels

Also, where did the CTO work take place?
was it actually done in Liberia or elsewhere and then sold on to dealers?


  • edited August 2016
    I'm sure Manfred has a lot on info on the CTO cancels. As far as i know the CTO's were not done in Liberia. CTO's were put on stamps to make them sell for less than mint stamps. Liberia was one of the leaders in selling CTO stamps. 
  • edited August 2016
    Albert is right, the early CTOs were all done in England (according to Cockrill). Although I have no proof I am convinced the first stamps that were canceled to order in Liberia were the ones printed in Berlin. Not by Liberian officials, but by employees of the company that had the contract, J.W. West.

    I have only one explanation for the many different CTO postmarks used on some of the issues: they were still experimenting, trying to figure out what kind of postmark would appeal most to collectors. As far as I know the first CTO stamps were those of North Borneo (1894 ?), canceled with an ugly bar cancel. When the Gibson registration stamps were issued in 1903, some collectors probably already expected this kind of CTO cancel, while others wished for a more postmark like cancel. Also, perhaps the first batch didn't sell well, so they tried something else, and so on...
    Just a guess, but at least that would make sense to me.

  • I've always assumed that CTOs were done to raise extra revenue by selling to collectors but has anyone any information on how much revenue might be raised this way?
    Presumably a very large number of CTOs would be need to make it worthwile

  • edited August 2016
    Not sure how much money was done by selling CTO. I do know that after 45 years of collecting Liberia i see more CTO sets than mint sets. Every collection i see or every stamp set the used is always CTO more than mint or more than postally used. As a kid in the 1950's the first set i got was CTO. Liberia was one of the leaders in selling CTO stamps. Maybe Manfred has more info on this CTO issue.
  • In his Liberia series booklet No. 25, Cockrill quotes from a note Henry Hayman sent to Perkins Bacon regarding an order of stamps of the 1909 definitives "all to be cancelled with the usual obliterations" and to be handed to him personally:
    30000 each 1, 2, 5, 10
    20000 each 15, 20
    10000 each 25, 30, 50, 75
    same quantity as above O.S.
    Total stamps 400000
  • Albert/Manfred

    I wonder what they sold for back then?

    Even today a used CTO set has a catalogue price of maybe $4 so 10000 sets would be $40000 - hardly a fortune

    I also wonder how many Liberia collectors there were in those days - probably more than today!
  • Mik,

    I should have added that the note is dated from December 1912, three years after the stamps were issued. I assume Hayman placed several orders like this over the years (with the early ones probably being even bigger), and the fact that he placed this one means that there was a demand.
    In those days the average stamp collector who had an interest in exotic stamps from overseas would collect everything he could get his hands on. The stamp market just wasn't glutted yet like it is today.
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