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Lester Williams
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1925 Hungary Color Variety: An Analysis
By Lester Williams

During a typical year I try to attend two local stamp shows in the state where I live and at least one large national show that is within driving distance. Four years ago at one of the local shows I was going through one the stockbooks of a dealer, turning over pages fairly quickly. The show show was nearing an end and I wanted to see all that I could before I left. I came across a stamp which left me perplexed. I knew that it was the Hungarian issue from 1925, but I did not recognize the color. I thought that it was probably a color changeling, fake, or forgery, but for the price of $4.25 I decided to purchase it anyway.

Over the next couple of months, I attempted to find out what exactly I had purchased. I posted scans on my website and asked for help from the rec.collecting.stamps.discuss newsgroup. The few people who responded intimated that it was probably a color changeling. My next course of action was to try to contact dealers in Hungarian stamps to see if they might know anything about the stamp. That was met with little success, so I simply let the matter rest and worked on other areas of my collection. Four years later, I decided to revisit this stamp to see if I could find out any more information. This article describes my discoveries.

On April 27, 1925 Hungary issued a set of 8 stamps to raise funds in order to aid various athletic associations within the country. The stamps pictured the sports of the various associations and included athletics, skiing, skating, diving, fencing, scouting, soccer, and hurdling. Each stamp was sold for double face value, as stated by the printing on the reverse of each stamp. Although examples of stamps used on cover do exist, the issue did not meet any postal needs and was only valid for 8 months until December 31, 1925. Of particular interest, is the next to highest value of the set, the 2000K soccer stamp, with a print run of 117,651. The stamp as issued is lilac or purple.

I began my research by scanning in both stamps in high resolution (1200dpi) to see if I could spot printing or paper differences. Both stamps appeared to have been printed on the same type of paper using the same printing plates. Nothing present indicated that the blue stamp was a fake or forgery. Illustrated are the upper left hand corners of each stamp. I then asked my wife, a graphic designer by trade, to take a look at the scans and the stamps and render her expert opinion on what the blue stamp was. In response to the question, "Is it possible for the normally issued lilac stamp to change colors, by either fading or chemical altering, to the blue variety?" she replied that it was not. The reason cited was that both stamps were printed via flat press and that any color changing would involve fading to a lighter color, not a different color. She did however state that the stamp looked similar to blue line proofs commonly used today. This statement led me to consider the possibility, that instead of a color error, it was an intentional color variety i.e. a proof.

Searching the internet using that line of reasoning led me to two articles concerning the issue. First, I found an article by John Ineson which illustrated a blue scout proof from the set. Another article by Douglas Uzakewicz conclusively stated that there are known proofs of the set in blue and that all proofs are perforate. In addition, I found this website which illustrates the scout proof in blue.

Putting all of the research together leads me to the conclusion that this color "variety" is actually a proof of the soccer stamp from the 1925 Hungarian sports set. It is unknown how many of these might exist, although I would estimate fewer than 10. Also unknown is its value, but the article by John Ineson comments about a dealer selling proofs for $800 to $1000. I would value the proof conservatively at $250. Please contact me if any of you have additional information about the proofs from this set (i.e. colors, quantity, or value).

Copyright 2/5/2005 by Lester Williams.

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