Neglected Nyassa

By : Claude Emerson
First published : Portu-Info (International Society for Portuguese Philately) Volume 22, No. 93, January 1987

In April 1925, two young friends and I went to the neighborhood stamp dealer for hte first time. We were all about the same age and in gramma school; I was eleven. The dealer invited us into his office. He was strictly an approval dealer, so few collectors ever stopped to see him. He seemed glad to see us; we were, understandably, a little apprehensive.

We were soon looking at stamps from several countries. I was so interested I was almost hypnotized. Here in front of us were small pictures of distant, mysterious, exotic countries we may have heard about but never expected to see. Now here they were right in front of us - small pictures, but real. We were able to buy a few stamps with the small amounts we had with us. He gave each of us small "albums" that held about 100 stamps, and a few hinges, and cautioned us about handling stmaps with our fingers. We should buy tongs as soon as we could. We left in a kind dazed excitement.

Several weeks later, I went to our post office and bought a set of Lexington-Concord new commemorative stamps : total eight cents. A little later I bought the 2 cent Norse American (our village P.O. was too small to get an allotment of the five cents). I had already decided I was going to collect all the world.

By 1926, my goal of a complete-world collection had changed drastically. I realized that not even a rich man could accomplish that, and certainly I couldn't with the small amount I was able to spend each week. It came to the point as to whether I would enjoy a five cent candy bar, or an ice cream cone, or a stamp. The first two would be eaten and gone quickly, whereas I could buy a stamp and enjoy it as long as I kept it. It was a difficult decision for a young boy.

Since I couldn't collect the world, I decided that maybe a few countries or a group of countries would be more obtainable with my limited resources, but that proved futile. I had to come up with something else. Even collecting number ones was impossible.

By 1927 I had changed my ideas again. Since several countries were too much for me, I began checking Scott's Catalog - it was one volume then - for a single country I could afford, and complete. After some time, I found one country. It had issued 141 stamps and the highest of these catalogued at $5.50. The used were cheaper, so I would buy them. So my first collection of Nyassa began.

Now, sixty years later, I'm working on my fourth Nyassa collection. The others are long gone. During this time my knowledeg of Nyassa has increased a great deal. Yet each collection has been more difficult than the one before due, in large measure, to that knowledge. In other words, more information has expanded my search for additional items; plus the tough items have become tougher.

In 1925, I knew nothing about errors, forgeries, reprints, perforations, proofs, cancelled-to-order, cancelled remainders, covers, revenues or blocks. That has all changed. It is a cycle, at least for me : the more I find out, the more demand increases to find out more. Knowleddge is said to beget power, but the obsession to learn more is a hard master.

In the July 1986 Portu-Info the Editor was kind enough to include my request for help from ISPP members on information from ther Nyassa collections, mainly perforations. I expected to hear from several dozen members. That didn't happen, and I was very disappointed. Therefore I still feel handicapped in my so-called project.

What would happen if Scott suddenly decided that the US section of their catalog was too bulky and they were going to combine all identical designs and colors under one number - completely disregarding paper, perforations, watermarks, grills, shades, plate varieties? You would hear a howl from here to China. Why then do you tolerate this with Nyassa? Its perforations should be separated into definite catalog numbers. Errors should be numbered. What about shades and reprints? You collectors who put Nyassa stamps into designated spaces and forget them are not collecting that country. You are not enjoying the search for completion this requires. You are not an enthusiastic stamp collector!

Break your collection down into different perforations. Stamp dealers have yet to separate their stocks, so you have a golden opportunity to find the perforations you need. This also applies to collections for sale and for auction. So get the fullest out of your Nyassa collection. You'll enjoy the hunt, as I do. After you've completed this and foudn new copies, perhaps I'll hear from you with some of the information you've gained. For example, I'm hoping at least one of you has a complete sheet of a denomination in one or both of the first two issues.