The Samoa Express Issues

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C.L. Griffiths who  published the Fiji Times Express, needed a postal service to distribute his newspaper the Samoa Times that first appeared October 6, 1 877.
Rates to various countries were published along with the necessary information to use the service.
All of the Express stamps from 1879 on were lithographed in various printings.
Each year for the first three years a new set of stones was prepared
Each of these groups of printings has been called a “Type” or “State”.
Three states of the normal values were prepared.
A fourth state was introduced for a new value, the 9d, which was used for postage about a year before the post office closed. As most of the population was not literate and likewise had little contact off the island, few stamps were required or used. Covers are quite rare.
The Express post office closed on August 31 , 1881.
Postal history on these stamps is difficult to piece together as many of the great collections were lost by war, fire and earthquake (San Francisco 1906)

State I
Three values, the I d, 3d, and 6d, were issued in sheets of twenty, four rows of five stamps.
The outer edges are not perforated, so only 6 stamps per sheet have perforations all around.
These are perf. 121/2 and cut rough.
Used State I often have pen cancels on them which were used up to March 1878 followed by an Apia circular date stamp.

The State I has a small straight serif on the “M” and the line above the “X” is complete

State I.Row3.Pos4 / State I.Row4.Pos5

State I.Row4.Pos1

State II
This is possibly the rarest.
It appeared in mid- 1878 and introduced three new denominations, the 1/-, 2/-, and 5/-.
All were in sheets of ten, or two rows of five, so all have imperforate margins either at top or bottom, and the end positions will have right or left margins imperforate as well.
These are perf. 121/2 and cut from clean to rough.

The State II has a dot besides the serif of the “M”, retouched dots in the arc between the “M” and “O”. The line above the “X” is broken

State II.Row2.Pos2 / State II.Row1.Pos3

State II.Row1.Pos5 / State II.Row1.Pos2

State II.Row2.Pos3

The 3d can be found with the “POSTAGETHREE” variety as shown from the above section of plate reconstruction

State III
This state appeared in early 1879. The color in the line above the “X” in the master die had been noticed and correcting it appears to have made it worse.
The 1d was in the original sheet format of 20, with four rows of five , but all others were in sheets of 10.
These are perf. 121/2 and cut clean and rough. A later printing appeared perfed 11.8 and is more scarce.
The theory on the rough cuts is that attempts were made to perforate several sheets at once.

The State II has a long curved downwards serif on the “M”. The line above the “X” has been poorly repaired.

State III.Row1.Pos3 / State III.Row1.Pos1

State III.Row1.Pos3 / State III.Row1.Pos2

State IV
The only stamp issued as State IV  was the 9d, in a sheet of 10 , with two rows of five stamps.
A primary characteristic of State IV stamps is a point of ink that appears just below the center of the “M” of “Samoa.”
Any stamps of denominations other than the 9d that show State IV characteristics are either remainders or reprints.
The 9d is perforated a rough cut 11.8. Remainders and reprints have other perforations.

State IV.Row1.Pos1

Remainders State IV
In 1881 a new series was issued including a 2d.
These had the State IV traits in much brighter colors and clean cut perfed 11.8.
The 1 d, 2d, and 6d, were printed in sheets of 21, 3 rows of 7.
The 3d, 9d, and 5/- were in sheets of 12, 3 rows of 4.
The 1/- and 2/- are not fully understood and information is not accurate.
I have not come across any remainders that are not actually reprints, so more to follow on these.

Reprints State IV
In 1884, Whitfield King, England, entered into an agreement with G.L. Griffiths to purchase the rights to have the 8 denominations printed.
They were printed in sheets of 40 from the settings of the remainders with perfs on all sides. This is a distinguishing characteristic as most of the originals had at least one side imperforate. The colors are much more vivid than the originals.
To confuse things even further a second reprint was made in 1892.
It is noted that a very large number of this printing was made with both 11.8 and 121/2 perfs with margins imperforate. They have a “T. H. Saunders” watermark on them and apparently some have reprint stamped on the back.
The majority of samples on auction sites are reprints or forgeries.

Reprint.Row4.Pos5 / Reprint.Row5.Pos1

Reprint.Row4.Pos7 / Reprint.Row1.Pos8

Reprint.Row4.Pos2 / Reprint.Row2.Pos4

Reprint.Row2.Pos3 / Reprint.Row4.Pos1 listed for $800 on auction

Reprint.Row4.Pos3 / Reprint.Row5.Pos8

There are at least 6 known types but none can be considered dangerous.

Fournier Forgeries
These are very common and account for many of the stamps on auction sites.The main traits are the Thick large serif foot of the “M” and the offset dot between the “M & O”
Typical Fournier cancels on the right.

The forgeries come in 2 types with a difference in the letter size

Imperato Forgeries
These are also very common and the main features are the slanted “Club Foot” leg of the “M” and the tall “A”

Other Forgeries

This forgery has been attributed Samuel Taylor.
However, there is more evidence that it is a Ramón de Torres given the dot after PENNY, the odd serif shape on the “S” of “SAMOA” and the thin letters.

The Torres forgery is probably also present in the 3p. The above is a rendered image from his catalog.

This one which I located on an auction is only mentioned in one article and is probably rare. Note that it is reasonably well produced other than the 18 small upper dots instead of 16.

The other forgeries are noted in the references below but I have not found any samples. One is on heavily colored (wrong colors) thick paper. The other one, the space between the center  and left leg of the “M” is very narrow but wide on the right side.

Forgery & reprint guide, 5-6. Samoa express – Barefoot, J.
Plating Samoa Express Facsimiles – JR Hughes
Samoa Forgeries – Evert Klaseboer
The Samoa Express Postage Stamps –  R.B.Yardley
The Stamps & Postal History of 19th Century Samoa – Odenweller
Vade Mecum – Seranne
Various websites