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SIERRA LEONE 1862-1895

Return To Catalogue - Sierra Leone 1896-1920

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Colony of Great Britain in Africa.

1862 (1859?) Queen Victoria in a octagonal, perforated

  6 p violet

For the specialist: this stamp exists perforated 12 1/2 or 14, it can be found on bluish or white paper with both perforations.

Value of the stamps

vc = very common
c  = common
*  = not so common
** = uncommon
*** = very uncommon
R   = rare
RR  = very rare
RRR = extremely rare
Value Unused Used Remarks

Bluish paper (1861), no watermark

6 p RR RR Perforation 14
6 p RR R Perforation 12 1/2
White paper (1872), no watermark
6 p RR R Perforation 14
6 p RRR RR Perforation 12 1/2
Watermark 'CC Crown' (1876)
6 p *** *** Perforated 14
Different shades also on bluish paper

Some very rare imperforate proofs exist (and forgeries of those, see under forgeries), also some rare stamps with "SPECIMEN" or "CANCELED"

Overprinted "REVENUE" for fiscal use:

Typical cancellations, "B 31" and red cancel:

'B 31' cancel

Forgeries, example:

Forgery! Forgery!

I think the above forgeries must be the one described in Album Weeds. It exists imperforate and also roughly perforated. The words "SIERRA" and "LEONE" are too close together. The inscription is thicker than in the genuine stamps. The queen's nose (and mouth) are strange. The cancellations that can be found are a circular cancel with "CORREOS"(?) and unreadable date (as shown here, most likely "CORREOS 7.1.60. II-III" as found on forgeries of other countries), some straight lines (the second image above?) or the cancel that can be found on the genuine stamps also (see above). I have also seen a cancel consisting of 4 concentric circles with some parallel lines in the center part.

(engraved) Oneglia forgeries

Sperati forgeries

Sperati forgery, image obtained from http://www.seymourfamily.com/rfrajola/Sperati/sbritish.htm

Image obtained from Stanley Gibbons.

The Sperati forgeries pretend to be the imperforate proofs, they seem to have a claw foot at the second "R" of "SIERRA". By the way, there seems to be a very rare second state Sperati forgery which does not have this characteristic, see http://www.vreug.com/Stamps/slsc2-5.pdf for more details. In the forgeries that I have seen, two dots are joined under the "X" of "SIX" (I do not know if this is always the case).


1872 Queen Victoria in a rectangle

1/2 p green 1 p red 'typical cancel' 2 p lilac 2 p grey Image obtained thanks to Weldon Padgett 1 Sh brown

  1/2 p brown (1876)
  1/2 p green (1884)
  1 p red
  1 1/2 p (3 Half pence) lilac (1876)
  2 p lilac
  2 p grey (1884)
  2 1/2 p blue (1891)
  3 p yellow
  4 p blue
  4 p brown (1884)
  1 Sh green
  1 Sh brown (1889)


Image reproduced with permission from: http://www.sandafayre.com

  1/2 p on 1 1/2 p lilac

For the specialist; this issue has watermark 'crown CC' or 'crown CA'. 'Crown CA' watermarks were used from 1883 onwards. Some stamps exist with sideways watermark. The perforation of all stamps is always 14.

Value of the stamps

vc = very common
c  = common
*  = not so common
** = uncommon
*** = very uncommon
R   = rare
RR  = very rare
RRR = extremely rare
Value Unused Used Remarks

Watermark 'CC Crown' (1872), perforation 12 1/2

1 p R R  
2 p lilac RR RR  
3 p RR R  
4 p blue RR RR  
1 Sh green RR R  
Watermark 'CC Crown' (1876), perforation 14
1/2 p brown *** ***  
1 p R ***  
1 1/2 p *** ***  
2 p lilac RR ***  
3 p R ***  
4 p blue RR ***  
1 Sh green RR R  
1/2 p on 1 1/2 p RRR RRR A misprint exists 'PFNNY': RRR
Watermark 'CA Crown' (1883), perforation 14
1/2 p brown R R  
1/2 p green * *  
1 p *** *  
1 1/2 p *** ***  
2 p lilac RR ***  
2 p grey *** ***  
2 1/2 p *** **  
3 p *** ***  
4 p blue RRR RR  
4 p brown *** ***  
1 Sh brown *** ***  
1/2 p on 1 1/2 p *** *** A misprint exists: 'PFNNY': RR

Certified genuine
"HALF PFNNY" misprint and inverted surcharge misprint

Black and red elliptic "POST OFFICE SIERRA LEONE LAVANAH" cancel and a "B31" cancel, also in black and red. I've been told that customs ports used oval postmarks.

These stamps exist overprinted "REVENUE" with value labels in different color for fiscal use. The values 1 p lilac and red, 3 p lilac and brown and 1 Sh lilac and blue exist:

These fiscal stamps exist cancelled to order with cancel: "FREETOWN SIERRA LEONE NO 18 91", example:

Image obtained from http://pages.sbcglobal.net/radgetters/_wsn/page3.html

I have seen a postcard of 1 p red in the same design as the above postage stamps (issued 1881). Other postcards in the values 1/2 p green (1893) and 1 1/2 p grey (1881) exist.

Some varieties of the surcharge 1/2 p stamp exist: The surcharged stamp is normally on 'crown CA' watermark, but copies on 'crown CC' watermark exist (very rare). Double and inverted sucharges exist (also very rare). Stamps with a misprint "HALF PFNNY" ("F" instead of "E") exist, example:

Image obtained from Weldon Padgett
(misprint "HALF PFNNY")

Fiscal overprints, 1 Sh green overprinted "SIERRA LEONE 5 S.". Remainders are cancelled with a red bar. Examples:

Images obtained from Weldon Padgett

(part of a sheet with this red bar cancel)


Album Weeds distinguishes two different forgeries.

First forgery of Album Weeds: Spiro forgery:

Forgery! Forgery!

The first forgery described in Album Weeds applies to the stamps issued in 1872 (1 p red, 2 p lilac, 3 p yellow, 4 p blue and 1 Sh green) and I have also seen 1/2 p brown and 1 1/2 p lilac. It can be recognized by the fact that it doesn't have a watermark. The perforation is often very primitive. Furthermore the diamonds in the four corners are badly drawn (compare with the genuine stamps above). The "T" and the "A" of "POSTAGE" are touching each other at the bottom, in the genuine stamps, these letters are separated. The white spaces just outside the white lines that form the center design are not equally wide. The top and bottom white line are too small and the left and right line are too large. Often guidlines can be seen in the outer margins (near the perforation), genuine stamps don't have such guidelines. Furthermore the left and right white line don't align with the box for the value label and the box for the word "POSTAGE".

Cancels of the forgeries, reduced sizes.

"FRANCO." cancel and a bars with "8" cancel. These cancels appear on forgeries of many other countries.

Maybe the cancels are the easiest way to recognize this forgery. Album Weeds gives circles with a few lines in the center or a diamond shaped figure with horizontal linen in it. I've also seen other cancels (see the small and big images above for examples). As a genuine cancel I have only seen the B31 cancel. These forgeries were made by Spiro. I have seen a whole sheet of 25 of these forgeries of the 1/2 p brown value.

Second forgery

The second forgery mentionned in Album Weeds can be recognized by the fact that the front of the face and the neck are white. The cheek is shaded with dots instead of lines. The diamonds in the corners are too large. There is a line in the outline of the face (which is not present in the originals). Album Weeds says only the 3 p red (instead of orange-yellow) was known to him. These forgeries are uncancelled.

These might be the second forgery of Album Weeds. They look very similar to the Spiro forgeries (except for the outline of the face). I've seen the them with part of a "905" numeral cancel. Next to it two forgeries of St.Christopher, Nevis and British Honduras with the same cancel. I've also seen a forgery of Sicily with the same cancel.

Same forgery type but with a different numeral cancel "53 as in the St.Vincent or British Honduras forgery next to it.

Other forgeries, examples:

The value inscription "TWO PENCE" and "FOUR PENCE" is too small in both of these forgeries. Note the bogus cancels, for example the 'F.54' in a box. In the 1 Sh forgery, the line under "NG" is too short.

Image obtained from: http://pages.sbcglobal.net/radgetters/_wsn/page3.html
2 p forgery in wrong color blue! There is a very strong outline of the face in this forgery.

Another primitive 1 p forgery.


1 1/2 p lilac
("B31" cancel and Paquebot cancel)

Bisected stamps:

The above bisected stamps could very well be forgeries. The cancels are very faded and these stamps would be more convincing if they were on the whole cover and not 'cut out' like the above ones.


For stamps of Sierra Leone issued after 1895 and miscellaneous, click here.


A website specially dedicated to stamps of Sierra Leone can be found at: http://pages.sbcglobal.net/radgetters/ made by Weldon Padgett.

Copyright by Evert Klaseboer