Stamps PERFORATED 'SPECIMEN' on a Railway Theme

Introduction to stamps PERFORATED with the word SPECIMEN.

Specimen handstamps and overprints are by no means uncommon. An eye-catching alternative, occasionally encountered, are stamps perforated with the word SPECIMEN, often in a straight line but sometimes in horse-shoe shape. Note: The expression 'Specimen Punch' is also sometimes used to describe stamps perforated SPECIMEN.

This article is devoted to all regular postage stamps with even the slightest railway thematic content, provided that they are PERFORATED with the word Specimen, whether in English (most often) or in any other language. Stamps overprinted Specimen, or proofs with simply a punched hole, are outside the scope of this article.

Stamps perforated 'SPECIMEN' exist from at least five printers, Bradbury Wilkinson, De la Rue, Waterlow & Sons Ltd, the Chilean Mint and what we presume to have been a State printing works in the Soviet Union. However, the total number of railway-themed stamps perforated SPECIMEN is very small, no doubt because this method was neither as fast nor as simple as an overprint or handstamp. These specimen stamps are in the issued colours, unless otherwise stated.

Specimen print-runs were usually quite small, typically 100 to 200 sets, but this is only a rough guide.

Other Content (in this article): We have taken the opportunity to provide some non-specimen information about a handful of the stamps covered by this article, where this information is not available in any of our other articles. For KUT and Nigeria, this involves the perforation varieties of the regular stamps. For Jamaica, it concerns a plate flaw. For convenience, we have provided a listing with check-boxes for these non-specimen varieties, but these are in Black, whereas all catalogue-style listings of the stamps perforated SPECIMEN in this article are in Green.

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Bradbury Wilkinson stamps perforated Specimen : BULGARIA

Bulgaria 1911 stamps perforated Specimen sellos postales

A set of 12 stamps was issued in 1911, all of which received a SPECIMEN perforation. Two of the set are of railway interest. Specimen perforations of later printings in the same designs exist, but all those that we have seen these have only a simple four-pin diamond-shaped punch applied.

1911 : 3st Red & Black : Railway Bridge at Turnovo perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1911 : 15st Bistre-Brown : River Isker & Railway Tracks perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

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Bradbury Wilkinson stamps perforated Specimen : CEYLON

Ceylon 1935 George V 6c perforated Specimen sellos postales Ceylon 1935 George V 6c perforated Specimen timbres-poste Ceylon 1935 George V 1R perforated Specimen Briefmarken Ceylon 1935 George V 1R perforated Specimen stamps

1935 : Ceylon George V 6c Colombo Harbour perforated SPECIMEN (dubious railway) [ . ]
1935 : Ceylon George V 1R Trincomalee Mole / Wharf perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
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Ceylon 1938 George VI perforated Specimen
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1938 : Ceylon George VI 6c Colombo Harbour perforated SPECIMEN (dubious railway) [ . ]
1938 : Ceylon George VI 1R Trincomalee Mole / Wharf perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

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Stamps of the Chilean Mint perforated Specimen : CHILE
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Chile 1930 Nitrate Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Winged Wheel

Above: Somewhat Art Deco style of Winged wheel (not flanged), the first three values of the 1930 Centenary of First Export of Nitrate from Chile. The higher values show either a Girl Harvester or a Sower.

1930 : Chile Nitrate 5c Winged Wheel in the issued colour perforated SPECIMEN : Reading UP [ . ]
1930 : Chile Nitrate 10c Winged Wheel in the issued colour perforated SPECIMEN : Reading DOWN [ . ]
1930 : Chile Nitrate 15c Winged Wheel in the issued colour perforated SPECIMEN : Reading DOWN [ . ]

We have seen two sets of the 1930 nitrate issue specimens and the 5c punch reads upwards and 10c & 15c downwards on both sets. We think it unlikely that they exist in the opposite orientation.

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Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Chile 1936 Discovery of Chile

Above : Two issued stamps and, to best display the punch, the backs of the equivalent stamps perforated SPECIMEN

1936 : Chile 30c Minerals in the issued colour perforated SPECIMEN (dubious whether 'railway') [ . ]
1936 : Chile 10p Nitrate & Railway Trucks in the issued colour perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

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Bradbury Wilkinson stamps perforated Specimen : GOLD COAST

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Gold Coast 1948 George VI Manganese Mine

1948 : Gold Coast 3d Nsuta Manganese Mine perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

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Bradbury Wilkinson stamps perforated Specimen : HONG KONG

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Hong Kong 1941 Centenary George VI 25c tram Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Hong Kong 1941 Centenary 25c tram detail

1941 : Hong Kong 25c Tram & Hong Kong Bank perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

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Waterlow stamps perforated Specimen : JAMAICA

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Jamaica 1938 1/- Sugar Industry George VI Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Jamaica 1938 1/- Sugar Industry George VI
Above: Normal stamp (SG 130); stamp with Specimen punch (SG 130s); 'Repaired Chimney' variety (SG 130a)

1938 : Jamaica 1/- with 'Repaired Chimney' variety [ . ]

1938 : Jamaica 1/- (1s) Sugar Factory & Railway Trucks perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

Note : The issued stamp exists with the variety 'Repaired Chimney', which occurs once per sheet. We do not know whether this variety is also found on stamps perforated SPECIMEN. If it does, only a handful could exist.

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De la Rue stamps perforated Specimen : KENYA UGANDA & TANGANYIKA

Kenya Uganda Tanganyike KUT King George V KGV 1935 30c Jinja Railway Bridge Kenya Uganda Tanganyike KUT King George V KGV 1935 30c perforated SPECIMEN punch Kenya Uganda Tanganyike KUT King George V KGV 1935 5s 5/- Jinja Railway Bridge Kenya Uganda Tanganyike KUT King George V KGV 1935 5s 5/- perforated SPECIMEN

1935 : George V : 30c : Jinja Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1935 : George V : 5/- : Jinja Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
Note: The scans shown above may not be of genuine specimen . Forgeries of the punch are known and they, as in the stamps above, usually lack evenness of hole-size and often do not have a 'clean' punch.

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Kenya Uganda Tanganyike KUT King George VI KGVI 1938 30c Jinja Railway Bridge Kenya Uganda Tanganyike KUT King George VI KGVI 1938 30c perforated SPECIMEN punch

Above: George VI 30c : Perf 13.25 (SG 141) ; Perf 13.25 x 13.75 (SG 141b) ; Perf 14 (SG 141a) ; New colours (SG 142) ; Perf 13.25 perforated SPECIMEN.

1938 : 30c : Blue & Black : Perf 13.25 [ . ]
1941 : 30c : Blue & Black : Perf 14 [ . ]
1942 : 30c : Blue & Black : Perf 13.25 x 13.75 [ . ]

1952 : 30c : Brown & Purple (Perf 13.25 x 13.75) [ . ]

Kenya Uganda Tanganyike KUT King George VI KGVI 1938 5s 5/- Jinja Railway Bridge Kenya Uganda Tanganyike KUT King George VI KGVI 1935 5s 5/- perforated SPECIMEN

Above: George VI 5/- : Perf 13.25 (SG 148) ; Perf 13.25 x 13.75 (SG 148b) ; Perf 14 (SG 148a) ; Perf 13.25 perforated SPECIMEN.

1938 : 5/- : Carmine & Black : Perf 13.25 [ . ]
1941 : 5/- : Carmine & Black : Perf 14 [ . ]
1944 : 5/- : Carmine & Black : Perf 13.25 x 13.75 [ . ]

Specimen Stamps:
1938 : George VI : 30c : Jinja Railway Bridge (Blue & Black) perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1938 : George VI : 5/- : Jinja Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

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De la Rue (litho.) stamps perforated Specimen : KENYA

Stamps perforated TDLR/SPECIMEN - Kenya 1990 Stamp Centenary Locomotive 20s

TDLR = Thomas de la Rue

1990 : 20/- (20s) Stamp-on-Stamp Steam Locomotive perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
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De la Rue stamps perforated Specimen : NIGERIA

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Nigeria 1936 d and 10/- George V Apapa Wharf Jebba Railway Bridge

1936 : Nigeria d George V Tracks at Quayside (Apapa Wharf), perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1936 : Nigeria 10/- (10s) George V Jebba Railway Bridge, perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
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Stamps - Nigeria 1938 5/- George V Jebba Railway Bridge

Above:George VI 5/-: Perf 13 x 11 (SG 59) ; Perf 13 (SG 59a) normal + a brown-red shade, also Perf 13

Stamps Nigeria 1938 5/- George V Jebba Railway Bridge Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Nigeria 1938 5/- George V Jebba Railway Bridge

Above: George VI 5/-: Perf 14 (SG 59b) ; Perf 12 (SG 59c) ; Perf 13 x 11 with SPECIMEN punch (SG 59s)

1938 : 5/- : Orange & Black : Perf 13 x 11 [ . ]
1942 : 5/- : Orange & Black : Perf 13 [ . ]
1948 : 5/- : Orange & Black : Perf 14 [ . ]
1949 : 5/- : Orange & Black : Perf 12 [ . ]

1938 : Nigeria 5/- (5s) : George VI : Jebba Railway Bridge (Perf 13 x 11), perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
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Bradbury Wilkinson stamps perforated Specimen : NYASALAND

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Nyasaland George VI 1945 stamps Perforated Specimen

1945 : Nyasaland 2d George VI map with railway lines perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1945 : Nyasaland 1/- (1s) George VI map with railway lines perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1945 : Nyasaland 10/- (10s) George VI map with railway lines perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

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Waterlow stamps perforated Specimen : RHODESIA (British South Africa Company)

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 5d

Although the stamps, issued in 1905, do not show any railway feature, the view of the Falls is that seen from the newly-completed Railway Bridge over the Zambezi and the set was officially issued to commemmorate the 'Visit of the British Association and the Opening of the Victoria Falls Bridge', a bridge which today links Zimbabwe with Zambia, with the boundary mid-river. The bridge opened almost exclusively as a railway bridge but for much of its life rail has shared the bridge with road traffic. An unusually interesting group of images of the Bridge can be viewed if you click on the 7 small images on this linked page (opens in a new tab).

This is a strange Specimen set in that, according to the catalogue, the normal set/6 specimen stamps is composed of 1d, 2d, 1/-, 2/6 and 5/- overprinted SPECIMEN and the 5d perforated SPECIMEN. The catalogue (SG) also shows the 5d as existing overprinted SPECIMEN, but this is described as a variety. The perforation of the word SPECIMEN on the 5d is known in 4 orientations, two seen from the front (normal), two from the back (reversed). For the keenest collectors, we have provided the extra three variants with a catalogue-style listing below the next scan, although most collectors will no doubt be content with one example of the stamp.

1905 : Rhodesia 5d Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN - perf: Upright Normal [ . ]

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 5d Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 5d Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 5d

1905 : Rhodesia 5d Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN - perf: Inverted Normal [ . ]
1905 : Rhodesia 5d Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN - perf: Upright Reversed [ . ]
1905 : Rhodesia 5d Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN - perf: Inverted Reversed[ . ]
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However, we have seen ALL the other values, normally overprinted SPECIMEN, offered for sale perforated SPECIMEN - albeit at fairly fabulous prices in keeping with their rarity. We show scans of these other five values below:

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 1d Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 2d Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 1/-
Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 2/6 Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Rhodesia 1905 Opening of Victoria Falls Bridge 5/-

1905 : Rhodesia 1d Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1905 : Rhodesia 2d Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1905 : Rhodesia 1/- (1s) Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1905 : Rhodesia 2/6 Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1905 : Rhodesia 5/- (5s) Opening of Victoria Falls Railway Bridge perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

It is clear when studying the scan above that the different values are perforated SPECIMEN with different sheet orientations. Whether any one value exists in more than one orientation, though, we do not know. The tiny numbers in existence make this seem unlikley, unless the sheet was folded before the specimen punch was applied. However, we have no information at all with regard to this.

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Collotyped stamps perforated ОБРАЗЕЦ (SPECIMEN) : SOVIET UNION (Russia)

We do not have access to a specialised Russia catalogue for the Specimen stamps of this country. Shown below are the railway-related stamps that we know, perforated in Russian ОБРАЗЕЦ , an overprint which usually covered 2, 3, 4 or 5 stamps depending on the format of the stamps. The first image below is of the full word ОБРАЗЕЦ , applied here on a non-railway (definitive) stamp with similar ОБРАЗЕЦ perforation.

sample Russia ОБРАЗЕЦ perforation

Above: An example of the full ОБРАЗЕЦ perforation.

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Russia 1935 Moscow Underground Railway 20k Specimen ОБРАЗЕЦ

Russia 1935 Moscow Underground Railway Metro Specimen ОБРАЗЕЦ

1935 : Moscow Underground Railway 5k perforated ОБРАЗЕЦ (Specimen)[ . ]
1935 : Moscow Underground Railway 10k perforated ОБРАЗЕЦ (Specimen)[ . ]
1935 : Moscow Underground Railway 15k perforated ОБРАЗЕЦ (Specimen) [ . ]
1935 : Moscow Underground Railway 20k perforated ОБРАЗЕЦ (Specimen) [ . ]

We understand that Russian collectors ideally look for these specimen stamps in strips/4, although it seems unlikely that such a long strip is needed to include a full punch on any of the values. Note: We have seen the 1935 Moscow Underground set handstamped with the word 'Specimen' (in English) but these are outside the scope of this article.

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Bradbury Wilkinson Stamps perforated specimen : SAN MARINO

San Marino Bradbury Wilkinson Specimen stamp 1932 Rimini Railway

1932 : San Marino 1932 Rimini Railway 1L25 in Blue-Violet perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

This is the only railway-related stamp perforated SPECIMEN that we have encountered in a different colour to the issued stamp, it being in blue-violet instead of the deep greyish-blue of the issued stamp. We do not have an explanation for this.
Print Run: 200 Specimens were produced; they can be found in vertical interpanneau (gutter) pairs.

Note: To our knowledge, only four San Marino stamps have ever received a specimen punch, all in 1932: One value of the set for the Post Office Opening, one value of the Railway set/4 (above) and two values of the Garibaldi set/8.

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Bradbury Wilkinson Stamps perforated specimen : SARAWAK

Sarawak Bradbury Wilkinson Specimen Punch 1949 UPU

The scan above is from Spink's April 2020 specialised auction catalogue for British Borneo, reproduced here with permission. Without access to an archive inventory, we have no knowledge as to whether the low value of the UPU set, which shows a streamlined train, might also exist punched SPECIMEN. If such a stamp does exist, it too would presumably be unique.

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Waterlow stamps perforated Specimen : SPAIN

Each of the scans below shows, left to right, the normal postage stamp, the normal postage stamps perforated SPECIMEN and the Official stamp of the same value in changed colours (the shade difference between the postage 10 Pts and the Oficial 10 Pts is very small).

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Spain 1931 4 Pts

Stamps perforated SPECIMEN - Spain 1931 10 Pts

1931 : Spain 4 Pts Postage in Violet, Tramcar, perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]
1931 : Spain 10 Pts Postage in Chestnut, Tramcar, perforated SPECIMEN [ . ]

Edifil reports that the stamps in the colours of the Official with 'Oficial' overprint also exist perforated SPECIMEN. We have yet to see these. The 4 Pts will be in the bright rose-purple, with Oficial overprint in Blue, as shown two scans up (right-hand stamp), but additionally perforated SPECIMEN. The 10 Pts will be as the right-hand stamp immediately above, viz. in the very slightly lighter shade of Chestnut, overprinted Oficial in Red as in the scan, but additionally perforated SPECIMEN.

1931 : Spain 4 Pts Oficial in Bright Rose-Purple, Tramcar, perforated SPECIMEN [ . ] Not illustrated.
1931 : Spain 10 Pts Oficial Chestnut, Tramcar, perforated SPECIMEN [ . ] Not illustrated.

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It is highly unlikely that we have discovered all the world's railway-related stamps PERFORATED Specimen in any language, especially as it is a field to which we have only paid serious attention for two or three years. There may, for example, be other Soviet stamps with Specimen punch in Russian and possibly quite a few modern issues of which we are unaware. If you know of any others, do please let us know, so that we can add them to this article. Thank you.
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