All World Railway Thematics : Prepared for Use but Not Issued

In researching the stamps to be included in this category, I rejected outright, 'hesitated over and then rejected' or 'deliberated over at great length and finally rejected' many more stamps than I have included.

The easiest stamps to reject were those that were issued but not in the country of intended use, usually in the colonial capital. Examples of this are several printings of the One Mark engraved design showing the Main Post Office in Berlin, issued, ironically, from that very building but never dispatched to the country for which they had been prepared.
Several printings for the German P.O.s in China qualify under this, as do, I believe, the rare Marienwerder overprints in Capital letters. As some of these stamps were available to the public (or the stamp trade) and could in theory have been applied legally to mail in the colonies, if anyone had thought to send some out there, these stamps are, from a purely technical point of view, issued stamps. Otherwise, one could categorise all the London issues of the Free French around 1943 as 'prepared for use but not issued'; many of these issues could not have been delivered at the time to the colonies due to wartime conditions although most of them did became valid as the war progressed.

I also rejected all proofs, essays and colour trials, including trial colours of overprints on stamps which were later issued with an overprint in a different colour. I rejected these, even if a few were issued in error or 'fell into the hands of stamp dealers or collectors', since the purpose of the production of these stamps were trials, not intended at the time they were printed as material for public use.

Original stamps which were only issued with overprint (or surcharge) I have deemed to qualify providing that:
1. The original unissued stamp was intended for POSTAL use
2. The original unissued stamp is known by me to exist in a reasonable quantity, not, for example, just a handful of copies in official archives or given as gifts to a few government ministers.
3. The stamps were not produced by one of the modern stamp-issuing agencies with the sole intention of making money from collectors. Evidence in this area is very hard to find and I have taken an attitude of guilty until proved innocent for these issues. This may be a little harsh, especially for countries with high inflation, and I am always happy to consider any stamp on its merits.

I have not taken into account differences in perforation or watermark in identifying a stamp as unissued, concentrarting essentially on designs rather than printing procedures. However, I would consider stamps which were reprinted in visually very different form (in a new colour, for example) to qualify, providing the print-run was made with a view to issuing these stamps to the public. If, after printing, it was found necessary to surcharge them, yet they were origianlly printed without that intention in mind, then they would qualify as 'prepared for use but not issued'.

This may all seem very precise but I am trying to identify just those stamps which went through the entire process: from design to approval, to order, to printing. It may, or may not, have been delivered to the postal authority; it will not, however, have been issued intentionally to the general public for the carriage of mails.

Finally, whenever a stamp was only issued with overprint or surcharge, it almost certainy exists somewhere without that surcharge. This has the potential to provide the most subjective part of the listing below. I have taken the view that, if I know that unoverprinted copies occasionally come onto the philatelic market, I will list them, unless I feel that to do so would be to promote stamps whose origins are particularly reprehensible and damaging to philately. As this is highly subjective, you are very welcome to dispute with me my decisions to include or exclude any stamp. There must be collectors 'out there' with views, information and knowledge of unissued stamps which I have not listed either through ignorance or an invalid assessment of their status. Contributions welcome; I am happy to make this page an 'open forum', if it doesn't take up too much of my time!

Belgium .

Belgian Railways: 1938:
3F50 Green
4F50 Deep Lilac
5F50 Red

Listed by COB (Catalogue Officiel Belge), these stamps were only regularly issued with surcharge.

Bolivia .

As I need to make a scan of one Bolivian stamp, I might as well add in three more which illustrate well the need for precise definitions. In my opinion, one, or more, of the above stamps can be described as 'prepared for use but not issued'. Which ones?

Stamp 1: I have heard three versions about these stamps. Firstly, that they were produced to the order of the Bolivian Post Office but that the printers sold them to stamp dealers in Paris at a stamp fair in 1892, prior to issue, and that the Bolivian Post Office subsequently refused to take delivery of them. Secondly, that they were handled by Bolivian diplomats in Paris and sold to the stamp trade and that, subsequently, they were not issued and the Bolivian Post Office ordered that all purchasers should be refunded the monies paid. The third version is that they were completely bogus productions, made to decieve collectors, and sold to dealers at the 1892 styamp fair. Does anyone know which version is correct please?!

I have seen the following values: c, 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c (very scarce), 20c, 50c (scarce)and One Bolivar (rare). The c exists imperf between vertically (horizontal pair) - very scarce. I have heard it reported that the 5 Bolivars and 10 Bolivars exist, but I have not seen them. I used to consider these stamps cinderellas but, with some doubt as to their origins, it may be that they qualify as 'prepared for use but not issued'. Whatever the case, they have become highly sought-after in recent years and even the commoner values fetch good prices, even though most of these stamps are found in poor condition, usually with thins. Scarcer values fetch high prices. I have not listed them below, pending further inofrmation on them.

Stamps 2 and 3: The stamps were produced for use by the Bolivian Post Office around 1914 but there was only one problem: The Bolivian Post Office had never placed an order for the issue and, when offered the prepared stamps, declined, understandably enough, to take delivery of them. There are nine values in the set, two of which have some railway interest, the 50c shown above and the 2 B. which shows a ship at the quayside, probably with a travelling crane. Again, this does not strictly qualify as prepared for use but not issued as there was no order for the stamps from the postal authority, a pity perhaps as these are far more attractive than most Bolivian stamps of the period. The third stamp is an ugly reprint in garish colours by someone who gained access to the printing plates. All nine values exist in new colours too, and all are just as ugly !

Bolivia: Bs.10: This is the only stamp of the four illustrated above which undoubtedly qualifies for listing here. A decree was issued, authorising production of this stamp, in order to commemorate the opening of the new railway from Santa Cruz (in Bolivia) to Corumba (in Brazil). The stamps were printed and ready for issue in 1954, but the new line, unfortunately, was anything but ready ! The tracklaying was finally completed in 1960, at which date the stamp was issued with a surcharge, 1200 Bs. For an unissued stamp, which eventually did serve a postal purpose (with surcharge), there is a surprisingly plentiful supply of this unissued stamp on the market - and it is very inexpensive, or it should be! I have seen it offered at prices that are very 'optimistic' for such a common item.

China1 .

China: 1949 $5000/$100: Dah Tung Book Co., recess-engraved. Illustrated above, at left. This was a single unissued value, not included in the set of 30 (33 including Type II printings) Gold Yuan surcharges, issued in January 1949. A scarce stamp. As with all of this design, the Transport Revenues, the stamp is always without gum.

China: 1949 10c/$1000: I have illustrated above both the issued 10c/$1000 (centre) and the unissued 10c/$1000 (right).
1. The issued stamp is in rose-carmine, the unissued stamp in red with a hint of vermilion.
2. The issued stamp is recess-printed, the unissued stamp lithographed.
3. None of the issued stamp appears very white to the naked eye, there being an overall carmine background hue. The unissued stamp has clear areas of white to the naked eye.
4. The design detail is far sharper and better-defined on the issued stamp.
5. On the issued stamp, the small tug in front of the liner has a window on the bridge to the left of its mast (as we view it) as well as three windows to the right of the mast. On the unissued stamp there is no window on the left, just the three on the right.
6. In the top line of portholes down the side of the liner, the fourth and fifth portholes are clearly separated on the issued stamp, they almost merge together in the unissued stamp.
7. The lower arm of the railway signal points down at an angle and is STRAIGHT in the issued stamp; in the unissued stamp, it starts to point downwards and then, almost at once, angles up to the horizontal, appearing more like part of the building behind than a signal.
8. The small hut next to the locomotive has only one window in total on the issued stamp (facing the loco) whereas the unissued stamp displays two, possibly three, windows facing the loco and a further window on the gable end.

I have given many differnces above, as the surcharge often hides some of the design details. Strangely, for stamps with so many design differences,both stamps were printed by the Central Trust. The issued 10c/$1000 is part of the May 1949 set of 9 Silver Yuan surcharges, all issued without gum. The unissued stamp is also without gum.

China Kwangtung Province Stamp Unissued China Stamps Silver Yuan Hupeh Province Transportation Revenue


China: May 1949 Kwangtung Province Surcharge: Although this stamp was issued with black overprint (SG1237) as part of a set of six stamps, the red overprint is not a colour trial, it seems, but was produced in some quantity with a view to being issued. The stamp illustrated (left, above) has double overprint, which, strangely, is commoner than the stamp with a single overprint.

China: 1949(May) Hubei (also known as Hupeh) Province Silver Yuan surcharge: In addition to the two regularly-issued Hupeh Province stamps (SG 1312/13), two further values were prepared for use but not issued, a 5c with Black surcharge and 30c with Blue surcharge. They are listed in Ma and other more recent catalogues.
Ma 1426 5c / $20 with Black Surcharge
Ma 1428 30c / $20 with Blue Surcharge


Dubai Perf Dubai Imperf Dubai: 1964 New York World Fair ( Brooklyn Bridge ) overprinted. Of the original set of 9 values, three stamps, the 1np, 3np and 5np show the Brooklyn Bridge, a tramway / streetcar bridge in the past. Following the assasination of President Kennedy, six values of the perforated set were overprinted " In Memory of J. F. Kennedy " , the values being 3np, 4np, 5np, 75np, 2R and 3R. The overprint on the perforated stamps is in VIOLET-BLUE.

Additionally, the same overprint was applied, but in GOLD, to the full set of nine stamps but only Imperforate stamps were overprinted in this colour. The 1np, 3npa nd 5np were, therefore, produced with this overprint imperforate. Neither the Perf nor the Imperf stamps were issued and, seemingly, very few of these stamps were produced.



East Germany 1990: Translation of key text passages in the scan above:
The new issue programme for East Germany 1990 included the above set (without surcharge). After the currency union between East and West Germany, the issue was cancelled and was then re-scheduled with new currency surcharge for October 23rd, 1990. However, by that date the unification of Germany had taken place, so, in the end, neither the original set nor the surcharged set were ever released.

The scan shows a facsimile of the surcharged set in sheetlet form which was produced for the stamp show Thuebria '94. We are looking here not at one set 'prepared for use but not issued' but at two sets, the original set without surcharge and the surcharged set. Given the issue quantities shown for the surcharged set, these stamps would clearly have been issued in normal sheets and not in sheetlets. One would imagine that very few of the original (unsurcharged) stamps would have survived, as the whole printing would presumably have been surcharged. The next question is 'What happened to three million sets of surcharged stamps?'. I have never seen them, nor have I seen them offered. Are there some on the market, were they all destroyed or are they sitting in some secure vault somewhere? Information anyone, please???

Guata .

Around 1898, there were several totally bogus surcharges / overprints on the 1897 issue of Guatamala, some of which are allocated spaces in older printed albums and occasionally even in catalogues. The contrast between the stamps and the overprints is very poor, so I have scanned in four examples of bogus overprints (above) in negative image to try to bring out the detail. I have shown them here as I suspect that I might otherwise receive some correspondance about them. They are all pure invention, intended to defraud collectors. The top left and bottom right stamps are overprinted 'Servicio Interno', the top right stamp differs from the issued 1c/12c surcharge by the addition of two large figures '1', the lower left stamp is a 1c/2c surcharge.

Madagascar .

. . . Left : Issued Stamp 60c / 75c . . . . Right : Unissued 75c Violet / rose

Madagascar 1922 : Amongst the numerous Madagascar transport stamps of 1908-32 is a 75c violet (on rose) surcharged 60c. The 75c in this colour was never issued. I have little information on this issue and would imagine that a change in postal rates made the stamp obsolete, before it could be issued, and that almost the entire printing was subsequently surcharged 60c. A small number without surcharge are on the market, listed in catalogues as a 'surcharge omitted' variety. As I have not seen these stamps listed as ' pair, one without surcharge ', I would guess that a small number of stamps, perhaps one sheet, did not receive the surcharge.

Malawi set .

. . . Above : Left : The unissued 4 T . . and . . . Right : The issued 5 T

Malawi 1979 4T from sheets: A quantity of this set was prepared for use with the low value of the set denominated 4T. However, postal rates changed, and this value was not issued, a new printing being made at the value of 5T, this latter value being the regularly issued stamp. (Note: Although not very common with more modern stamp issues, many earlier issues had miniature sheets in the same values, colours and perforations as the sheet stamps. In these cases, it is a good idea, where you have marginal copies of sheet stamps, not to remove the selvedge, so that a stamp may be positively identified as coming from the sheets, rather than from the m/s). Malawi m/s Malawi 1979 m/s with 4T value: As with the set, above, a small quantity of the miniature sheet with the original value of 4T for the low value, were released onto the market. As with the sheet stamps, these were not officially issued.

Nicaragua .

Nicaragua 1901 2c/1c: There are numerous issues of Nicaragua between 1901 and 1905 which were produced by the Nicaraguan Post Office to meet a dealer's order; the 2c/1c (illustrated, upper left) is NOT one of them. This stamp belongs chronologically and philatelically with the first three sucharges, the 2c/1P (illustrated, lower left), 10c/5P and 20c/2P. Whereas these three values were issued, the 2c/1c was not. Michel list it as Michel II (Roman 2) and state that it was not issued in Nicaragua. I do not fully understand why they have added the words 'in Nicaragua'. The original stamp was printed by the ABN Co. and sent to Nicaragua. It seems highly likely that all surcharges were applied in Nicaragua and that, therefore, the stamp was produced in Nicaragua. However, it was not issued. Whether some copies were released only onto the philatelic market outside Nicaragua, I do not know, but that would seem a little curious. It is quite a rare stamp and may be found cancelled-to-order as well as mint.

Nicaragua 1901 2c/1c with bar under date: The same stamp also exists with the variety, bar beneath date. I do not have a scan of this, so I have provided an illustration of the regularly issued 2c/1P to illustrate the surcharge with bar (lower left illustration). The three issued values in this style had the surcharge applied to panes of 25 stamps (5x5) and only the five stamps in the top row had a bar beneath the date. It is highly probable that the unissued 2c/1c was surcharged in the same style and format. (Mi II var. - not listed).

1979 Nicaragua IYC issue 2C20: This stamp was issued with three different overprints in 1980 as follows:
1. Small black overprint near the foot of the stamp ANO DE LA ALFABETIZACION (only)
2. Olympic Rings and five lines of overprint, all in RED
3. Olympic Rings and five lines of overprint IN SILVER

All these issues were made after the Sandinista takeover, the original stamps having presumably been ordered by the American-backed government under some President General, whose name I've forgotten (Samosa ??). The stamp without any overprint, however, illustrated above, was prepared for use but not issued. (Do not confuse this with the slightly larger C5 stamp in the same design without any overprint which is from the miniature sheet. This sheet has both an 'ANO DE LA ALFABETIZACION' and an 'Olympic overprint' but these are both in the sheet margins, not on the stamp. As far as I am aware, this sheet does not exist without these marginal inscriptions - or does it? If it does, it would also presumaably be an unissued item, worthy of listing here). Can anyone help?

Russia .

Russia (Soviet Union) 1958 40K Unissued: Mi. XX (Roman 20): First a word on the issued set of three stammps in very similar design SG 2276-78, Yv. 2101-03, Mi. 2157-59, Sct. 2116-18, Domfil 958.115-17.
Green Stamp: Steam train hauling tractors: Illustrated (left, above): No problem - it's railway!
Reddish Stamp: Ladle Tucks at Foundry (illustrated centre, above): these are in the bottom right corner of the frame; the centre bottom of the main design is probably a pipeline, not a row of tanker trucks.
Blue design: Crane (not illustrated): I'm not convinced this is on rails - can anyone authenticate this, please?

Brown Stamp - NOT ISSUED: This article is much more interested in this additional value to the set, which was prepared for use but not issued and is illustrated at right, above. It shows what appears to be two diesel locomotives, although the rear loco may perhaps be an electric, although no pantograph or catenary equipment is visible. This is a rare stamp. I have no information as to why it was not issued.

Yugoslavia .

Yugoslavia 1983 8D80 without surcharge: This stamp was only issued with a 23d70 surcharge as shown on the left in the scan above. Michel lists the stamp without surcharge as 'Missing Overprint' (Mi. 1982F). In effect, I see no difference between this description and 'Prepared for use but not issued' in the case of a stamp only issued with an overprint or surcharge. A postal authority does not place an order for a stamp at 8d80 with instructions at the time of ordering to surcharge the stamp 23d70 ! There were other (non-railway) new issues with a face value of 8d80 both one month before and one month after this issue, so I can only assume that there was an unexpected shortage of 23d70 stamps and it was decided to surcharge all the 8d80 train stamps to fill the void. However, a very small number survived without surcharge, a state in which they were not issued to the public.

I am sure there will be more to add, perhaps even something to remove, as it is implausible that I have included everything relevant at the first attempt. I would ask anyone with comments on this article to read the introduction, long and detailed as it is (!!), as my criteria for inclusion are fairly strict. However, if in doubt or dispute, please do drop me an email (accessed via our Home Page)

Finally, a big thank you to those collectors who have been able to provide me with information and scans to make this article possible.

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