New Aerogramme Discoveries - Ghana, 1972
by Jerome V. V. Kasper
Published in The AerogrammeR, February, 1997.
Often new discoveries are the finding of previously unknown
aerogrammes or varieties. Sometimes, they are simply the
recognition of details or differences in items long known. In
this issue, we report on two such observations in the aerogrammes of
The first aerogrammes of Ghana were Gold Coast issues with
various "GHANA" overprints that were produced beginning on March
6, 1957. The first issue
with imprinted "GHANA" (HIRES)
was released on
October 5, 1959. The 6d stamp pictures a fire-crowned bishop
bird printed in black, yellow, red, brown and green. The tablet
at the upper left, the address and folding lines and the
admonition are printed in black. The border on all four sides
consists of ornaments in the colors of the Ghana flag. Starting
at the upper left, the colors alternate clockwise around the
front panel: red-green-yellow-red-etc. The paper is watermarked
"Imperial Air Mail" with the letter 'L'.
When properly folded
the aerogramme measures 148 x 88 mm.
The 6d reissue of February 1, 1961 is nearly identical and is
shown in Figure 1 (HIRES).
The watermarked paper is slightly lighter in
color and has the letter 'O' (indicating a later year of
manufacture). The major difference is the printing of a white
space on which the stamp is then printed giving the appearance of
simulated perforations surrounding the stamp. The stamp stands
out significantly better against the white background. It has
long been known that the issue was printed on watermarked paper
with several different letters with the major letters being 'O',
'P', 'S', 'T' and 'V' ('Y' and 'Z' have been reported).
One difficulty with this issue was that the top address line
(intended for the name of the addressee) is only 3.5 mm from the
perforations below the stamp, thus reducing the useful length of
the line. The lengths and positions (measured from the folding
line at the bottom of the front panel) of the four address lines
are as follows:
- Line 1, 86 mm long and 46 mm from folding line;
- Line 2, 81 mm and 36.5 mm;
- Line 3, 76 mm and 27 mm;
- Line 4, 71 mm and 17.5 mm.
It has not been previously recognized that a new black plate was
used for the later printings of this issue.
Figure 2 (HIRES)
shows the revised plate with the top 86-mm address line omitted and a new
67-mm bottom line added just 8 mm above the folding line. The
13-mm space between the new top line and the bottom of the stamp
is sufficient for the entire line to be comfortably used for the
The earliest usage identified to date for this issue is a letter
written August 16, 1963 and postmarked Accra, September 7. This
copy is also the only one reported on paper watermarked with the
letter 'P'. Of the copies with letter 'S', approximately 2/3 are
with the earlier plate and 1/3 with the revised plate. No copies
of the later watermarks 'T' and 'V' have been found printed with
the earlier plate. Please check your copies of these issues and
let us know what you find.
On December 1, 1965, the revalued 6p on 6d
Watermarks with letters 'V', 'Y' and 'Z' were used for this
issue. No copies have yet been recorded with the earlier
The next chapter in Ghana's aerogrammes covers the 9np
multicolored chameleon issues. The first issue, November 15,
1967, is the same size and format as the bishop bird issues and
has the same pattern of colors in the border ornaments. Oddly,
the earlier "close-spacing" black plate was used as can be seen
in Figure 3 (HIRES)
The second chameleon issue was released on April 29, 1970. This
represented a major change from previous issues, all of which had
used the same basic 4-panel format. The new format consisted of
three panels arranged vertically with the folded size being
increased to 150 x 108 mm. The order of the alternating colors
was changed to red-yellow-green clockwise across the top and
bottom (Figure 4 (HIRES)
the sides have the same order as the previous
issue. Since the spacing of the border ornaments was kept the
same, the larger size required an additional ornament on each of
the four sides thus breaking the pattern at each corner.
In 1975, a Christmas issue was issued showing two children
playing with blocks in the lower left of the front panel. In
1977, a second Christmas issue was released with a boxed greeting
also in the lower left. Both of these are on the basic 1970
Numerous missing colors and color shifts are known on the
chameleon issues. Although printed by the security printers
Harrison and Sons LTD, the complexity of printing the several
required colors made it easy for errors to occur and to reach the
Ghana postal agency.
Note carefully the aerogramme shown in Figure 5
. In 1972, there
was a short-lived printing which appears to have escaped
recognition until now. Once pointed out, the difference is
readily apparent. The order of the border ornaments on the top
and bottom was changed back to the red-green-yellow of the
earlier issues and the sides are now red-yellow-green!
four used copies of this normal aerogramme have been recorded.
The copy shown was postmarked November 3, 1972 with the other
copies also postmarked late 1972.
Interestingly, numerous copies of this issue are known with
missing colors or color shifts making the errors more common than
the normal aerogramme. Several collectors have checked their
collections and have found that for a long time they in fact have
had errors of both types! The existence of these errors is
important since they clearly show that the different order of
colors is due to revised plates and not use of incorrect inks.
Figure 6 (HIRES)
shows a copy of the common printing missing all green
printing. Figure 7 (HIRES)
is of the short-lived issue missing all
green and black printing (although not visible in the figure, this
copy has a setoff of the black printing on the reverse).
Although the same green parts of the
chameleon have been omitted, the border ornaments are in
To date, thousands of copies have been checked and only the four
used ones have been found. Since this issue appears not to have
been recognized by the dealers who were active in 1972, mint
copies of the normal aerogramme may not have been set aside, even
though the errors were! Normal mint copies may prove to be the
rarest of the early Ghana aerogrammes. Please check your copies
and let us know if you find any of these.
*** The May 1997 issue of AerogrammeR has
of this story ***