UPU SPECIMEN STAMPS 1878-1961

Supplement 2021

from the reviews . . .


This supplement to Bendon’s 2015 UPU Specimen Stamps 1878-1961 (reviewed in the March 14, 2016, issue of Linn’s Stamp News) incorporates a wealth of new information that has come to light during the past six years, including research by Bendon that has generated important new findings.

“This Supplement is far more than a list of corrections and new discoveries,” Frank Walton wrote in the foreword.

“The appendices cover in great detail wider aspects of specimen material, as well as providing a historic setting for some of the key collections over the years.”

The supplement introduces specimen stamps for two new territories (Bechuanaland and Natal) and presents new or revised information for more than 60 of the 220 territories included in the 2015 edition.

On his website, www.jamesbendon.com, Bendon provides additional details about the supplement: “Numerous new illustrations are included, many of which provide visual confirmation of information already recorded in the 2015 edition. Careful attention has been paid to the checklists, with revisions marked in a way that will enable them to be understood without constant reference to the originals.”

“To help readers quickly connect information in this Supplement with that in the 2015 edition, cross-references are marked in the left margin, and all new material is headed by a note indicating its placement in the 2015 edition,” Bendon explained.

Specimen specialists will want to read the detailed article by Andrew Norris on the myriad varieties of the De La Rue type D12 specimen overprint that is included as an appendix.

Linns Stamp News November 2021


The original volume was published in 2015 (see my review in GSM July 2016) and was awarded the prestigious Crawford Medal by the Royal Philatelic Society London in 2017. Subsequently two free short supplements were issued and were available to download from the publisher's website. Whilst James expected some additional information to come to light, he made the rash statement in the original Preface that 'a further edition is unlikely to be published for many years and certainly not written by me'. How wrong can you be?

There is much additional information, corrections and newly available illustrations for more than 60 territories in this supplement. They are clearly presented in the same format as the original and incorporate in bold font textual changes, deletions, etc. The page numbering is cross referenced to the original page for each entry, but to avoid confusion the pages in the supplement are deliberately numbered up from 600 and the new appendices lettered F, G, and H. Similarly, the notes are numbered commencing from 21 for the chapters 1-6 and 201 for the catalogue section. The fully detailed Territory Index provides pages for both volumes and includes two new territories - French Congo and German Area - not in the original volume.

Appendix E is an extensive article by Andrew F Norris about the De La Rue Specimen type Dl2.

Appendix G reproduces the complete Robson Lowe 27 October 1976 Basle auction catalogues, where British Empire and Foreign countries specimens from a major collection and those received by the Bechuanaland Post Office archive were sold together with prices realised. Appendix H is a similar extensive World collection sold by Sotheby's, South Africa, also with prices realised. These are fully illustrated in black and white, but most other new illustrations throughout the volume are in colour.

More than 150 pages bound in library buckram, with gold tooling matching the red binding of the earlier hardcover volume and including additional illustrated advertisements from major dealers and auction companies make this volume special. It has a Foreword by Frank Walton, RDP, FRPSL. A superb and comprehensive book of reference.

David Rennie
Gibbons Stamp Monthly October 2021 and Philatelic Exporter October 2021


James Bendon has made a lifetime study of the specimen stamps of the world. He first published a book on the subject in 1988. Over time, James became the clearing house of information on all new discoveries of specimen stamps and postal stationery as well as questions pertaining to all aspects of the specimens’ characteristics. His unchallenged role as the doyen of specimens was well-earned from his diligent studies, especially those at the archives of the UPU in Berne. Philatelists who collect UPU related material have a high regard for James Bendon and his contributory work in the UPU aspect of specimens.

Here Mr. Bendon is at it again … also proving that philatelic fields of study are almost endless. Many new finds have come to the surface of specimens that James found justification to publish a Supplement with even more information. There is enough additional information in this Supplement that James gives a table on page xxvi which cross-references the new information on the pages of the Supplement to the pages in the original book [publ. 2015] where they are related.

As with the previous book, this one is scholarly and handy to use. Anyone who collects a country that has issued specimen stamps needs to have a copy of this book on their shelf for ready access. But even for those countries that supplied un-defaced stamps to the UPU, collectors can obtain “specimens” for their collections because of the application of distinctive receiving marks on those stamps upon arrival in some identifiable UPU member reference collections.

For philatelic judges, both the original book and this Supplement are de rigor. When I am judging, I find many specialists (of certain issues and certain countries in the late 1800s and early 1900s) are unaware that the specimen stamps in their collections are not actually “UPU” specimens but commercial ones. Not all countries overprinted their stamps before sending them to the UPU.

What many collectors will find interesting is that the creation of defaced stamps as specimens predates the UPU, when post offices wished to put examples on announcements for new stamp issues as well as when the various printers of stamps wished to show other postal administrations the quality of their work.

Many collectors will also find interesting the different means by which post offices (and printers) would deface specimens for their various purposes of distribution and even sale. There are quite a number of stamps and postal stationery that appear to be ‘canceled to order’ (“CTO”) but were actually specimens sent to the UPU in Berne for distribution to other members of that organization.

Another aspect that enthralled me were the number of stamps that were printed but not ever issued, or stamps that were quickly withdrawn, but which are available to collectors as specimens in a number of cases. Who would have thought? There are also the cases of stamps having to be reprinted for UPU distribution (because when they were created someone forgot to send a shipment to Berne from the original printing) and which are different from the actual issues in nuanced ways (very often paper differences but also inks and perforations).

This book is not just a compendium of the various stamps with some form of specimen marking, but is full of stories of interest that bring some animated flavor to reading such a book. In that way, it is not just your typical reference book. Even though James and I have been collecting the field of the UPU individually, in parallel, for about 50 years each, I found the book enthralling.

Because of James’s passionate dedication to the details of specimen stamps and postal stationery, this book is his Magnum Opus, and his continuing gift to philately.

James Peter Gough, RDP
Orange County, California