I have long been fascinated by the Cape Triangle stamps, but with the large number of fakes, forgeries and reprints on the market I have been a little wary of adding any to my collection. So when I first came across references to the book "Cape of Good Hope 1853 - 1864 Triangle Stamps" by Greg Allan I thought that this could be just what I needed to overcome my mental block to these complex stamps.
I initially had some trouble locating a copy of the book but eventually found it stocked by Jannsen Stamps who list it at US$25. Registered postage to Canada was an additional US$8.
On first receiving the book, I must admit to being a little bit underwhelmed. This is a small A5 (5.8" x 8.3") format book; only 48 pages long, bound with a cheap plastic comb binding, and apparently printed on a home-office inkjet printer. To be fair though, that is exactly what was advertised so it shouldn't have come as any surprise. Besides which, after paging through the book it soon became apparent that a considerable amount of care had been taken in its production.
Once past the introduction, the book begins with general information applicable to all of the Cape triangle stamps except for the extremely
rare "Woodblocks" which are dealt with separately later on in the book.
First, a review of the various papers used to produce these stamps along with the watermarks.
This is followed by a discussion of the different die types, complete with detailed drawings illustrating the salient features of each.
Next, the "secret" engraving signs are revealed. These are used to categorically identify stamps produced from the original plates - something which applies to both the genuine stamps as well as the reprints.
After this is a section on postmarks and cancellations, this includes examples of both fake and genuine cancellations and how to tell them apart.
The next section of the book is divided into six parts; one for each of the four denominations plus the two
Each denomination in this section is categorised by printing along with colour shades for each printing, each annotated by the Stanley Gibbons catalogue number.
Illustrations of fakes and forgeries are also included for each denomination as an aid to easy identification.
The remaining pages of the book contain sections describing the official reproductions, plate proofs, pairs and multiple blocks. All of course fully illustrated.
A nice touch is the little plastic envelope attached to the last page which includes a set of "spacefiller" stamps produced by the author - appropriately marked on the back to prevent anyone from attempting to pass them off as the genuine item.
All in all, I am very pleased with my purchase. The book is written in clear easily understandable English, amply illustrated, and with plentiful examples.
Although I have as yet to add any triangles to my collection, I have whiled away many pleasant hours, book in hand, browsing online auction listings trying to identify the triangles on offer.
For a book this size, I don't feel that US$25 is particularly cheap, but considering that one is paying for the content, not the paper, and given that the price is only a fraction of the catalogue value of even the cheapest Cape Triangle, I believe that it would be a worthwhile investment for any collector interested in collecting or identifying these fascinating stamps.