271-4 signed approvals

Found these in the bottom of a stamp box, perhaps 20 years old. Seem to be photos of the stamps approval and each one signed (real signatures) on the back. Seems I have group #21. Anyone know who the signator is and any history of these.


  • These are from a series of photo proofs and essays signed by the designer of this issue, John Webb. There were a total of 30 complete sets (of eight? - not sure now), but most sets have been split up and sold as singles.
  • Thank You again...and Happy New Year.
  • edited December 2018
    Can you the other photos if you have them. Is this only essay you have ?
  • Here are scans of the set of 8, as described by Manfred above. I have been tracking these on eBay for over a decade, and have only seen the toucan, buffalo, antelope and hippo, with the "approved by" stamp and signature, June 23, 1936, and always signed on the back by John Webb. The other four always appear with just a John Webb signature on the front, no other signature.

    My thoughts are not conclusive, but do accurately reflect several eBay offerings from 2006 to date.

    And I also add a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, "in keeping with the situation."

  • Albert, give me a day or two and I will scan both sides of the 4 I have and post them.

  • Here is the front and back. Note that #3 was signed upside down.

  • Way back, Mike Lester asked whether we know anything about the designer and signatory, John Webb. We do – just a little.

    We know that he also designed the 1936 commemorative / air mail triangular issue #C3A-C3F, for which similar approved, reduced, photographic essays of the original 25x35cm (9½x13½'') hand drawn design, each signed in pencil by Webb, also exist. President Edwin Barclay’s approval signature in this case is dated "May 4th, 1936". This is interesting because, in drawing the Waco aeroplane, Webb must have been given direction / information from Liberia for the design choice, and we can imagine that he similarly had direction regarding the hippo #274 and buffalo #273 in this issue.

    Webb’s son, Chris, said, "My father was a very private and unpretentious man", and he had to wait for a period of recovery from a leg injury to be able to spend enough time to catalogue and exhibit his late father’s paintings.

    Webb served in World War II in Java and became a Prisoner of War of the Japanese until his release in 1945. He was at various points an auctioneer for Harmer, Rooke & Co. Ltd. in London, and at Stanley Gibbons Auctions, and eventually spent some years as a Managing Director of the Stanley Gibbons group. In that guise, he turns up in philatelic contexts ranging from the British West Indies Study Circle (guest at their 21st Anniversary Dinner) to the journal for Russian philately “ямщик” (provider of information on the Tsar’s Collection). He may have been the author of the paper “The 1926 Overprints of Liberia” from the June 1937 Gibbons’ Stamp Monthly (reprinted in the Journal of the Liberian Philatelic Society, 27(2), 118, pp20-21, April-June 2004).

    He retired as Managing Director from Stanley Gibbons in 1977, which is frustrating. Ordinarily, looking up filings with Companies House (the gentler UK version of going into the EDGAR database) could get us the span of his directorships, a date of birth, home address, and (if he had any) extra middle names to help narrow down any other searches: sadly, 1977 dates back beyond the information currently on the website.

    However, if we imagine that he retired at age 65, that would have made him approximately 88 when he died in 2000, he would have been aged 29-33 as a Japanese POW, and about 25 when he designed these Liberian stamps. So that seems about right.
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