Tunis 1943 Palm Stamp
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The landing of American formations in North Africa early in 1943 compelled the German High Command to concentrate considerable masses of troops in Tunisia.
The movement of packages suddenly increased tremendously and the number of the brown admission stamps available proved to be insufficient.
As an emergency measure, stamps were produced locally.
The package stamp printed from a design by Lieutenant Roleff is free from any speculative or philatelic considerations and was a postal necessity.
Its production was carried out in part in a French print shop in the city of Tunis by the lithographic process and subsequently, in a mobile printing outfit in an oasis in the Tunisian desert by offset printing.
The line perforation 111/2 was effected on a perforating machine which no longer functioned properly and which occasionally failed in spots to perforate.
Approximately 1 million were printed and over 600,000 were destroyed when the Afrika Korps surrendered in 1943.
Each soldier was allowed 2 stamps to send packages.
The intense heat prevailing in Tunisia caused a particularly rapid wear of the lithographic stone. The posthorns in the corners, with their tassels, soon became indistinguishable and the engravers mark in the right bottom corner gradually disappears almost entirely.
The different printing processes produced 2 varieties.
Variety 1, Tunis printing, March-April, 1943: Lithography. Thick white paper on which the early prints appear distinct. In later prints progressive obliteration of the posthorn and the engravers mark.
Variety 2, oasis printing, April, 1943: Offset-Litho process. Thinner, rough, porous paper on which the reproduction of the posthorns, the base line under the palm, and the engravers mark, is always defective.
A rectangular double line cancel with the inscription “Bei der Feldpost eingeliefert” (Delivered to the fieldpost) was prescribed for the cancellation of the stamps, to which a 20 Pfg stamp had always to be added as supplementary franking.
The above were certified by Guido Gabisch of the BPP. The proof is somewhat scarce and often forged as it eliminates having the required perforations.
Both crude (below with fake postmark) and excellent forgeries exist.
The lack of detail in the palm leaves as well as the injuries to the meander scroll look suspicious but this issue very quickly degraded with successive printings.
The above 2 are apparently ‘signed” by several “experts” but issues in the scroll, palm leaves and the almost perfect perforations indicate otherwise.
Note, this is a very specialized stamp and only a few people are qualified to properly certify these.
Probably the leading authority is Guido Gabisch of the BPP (Bund Philatelistischer Prüfer). I would not recommend any North American group to expertise this stamp or trust any signed stamps. Even certificates and signed stamps , especially older ones, may be fakes or simply erroneous.
This eBay offering for $800 mentions in the body that it is an “artistic” effort of the stamps with the signature of General Rommel.
Unfortunately the philatelist/artist used a forged copy as the model.
Some new material has been provided by a TSF member (classicalstamps)
Note that the following are opinions only, these stamps need careful, in hand inspection by a qualified BPP expert
The submitted left one looks fairly decent when compared with the BPP certified one on the right.
However, the really nice perfs are troublesome and they seem to be more than 111/2
There are also some issues with the squareness of the scrolls.