Monday, August 8, 2011

To be or not to be : CTO - The very obvious ones 01 a

CTO's, ... live and let live... live and let die...
everyone has them in their collections, maybe you don't know it (yet) but this topic will try to reveil the thruth behind CTO stamps.

If you have no CTO stamps in your collection (bravo), then this topic might be surprising in the end.
Well, not this item, since this first item is about "the very obvious ones".
If after this article, you found out that you have unknowingly CTO's in your collection, then you will be surprised more.

Why did I use the title 'The very obvious ones'?
Well, because anyone who has seen the stamps here, (or similar ones) will, should have noticed the cancellations.
CTO stand for Cancelled to Order.
In a way, the obvious ones, aren't quite cancelled to order, since that's a term to receive 'cancelled' stamps on demand. Opposite to "CTO" is "postally used".
In that perspect there are two ways to collect postally used stamps.

A very special cancellation is a cancel on the day of issue.
I don't mean First Day Covers, since they aren't actually sent on that day. So here we encounter again the Cancel To Order.
The best way, is to collect stamps that were cancelled around the date of issue (this can also be days, weeks, months later than the dat of issue of course). Those stamps are most common, as they are used once they appear at the postoffices, until expiration.

Some stamps can be used years and years after they were issued.
They don't loose their face value, but in a way they become an anachronism after a while.
Suppose you put a stamp to announce the landing on the moon, on a letter in 2011...
The stamp might still be valid, and the use of it isn't illegal, still, it will be a bit odd to have those stamps in your collection.

One stap beyond the cancels that are a bit out of date, are CTO's.
In fact, a lot of countries issue stamps that aren't sold at postoffices.
Reasons may be various.
1. Some countries don't want money to get out the country, and stamps are 'money' in a certain way.
Cancelled stamps are worthless (for postal use, or direct cash)
2. Some countries have too many stamps in stock that they can't commercialize. Cancelling them, and selling them for a lower price to collectors, is a source of income, but again, the commercial cash value is gone.
3. As in point 2. some countries make 'false' cancells to cheat on collectors. In order to sell them as rare, used stamps. I'll come to this item later, as you will be surprised to see what a wide varity of countries used this trick. These are not false cancels, since the use of those cancels are known and described in (good) catalogues.
4. Real falsifications of cancels, fake dates, fake cancels... are not related to CTO directly.

Going back to the first item, we'll find this technique (in combination with item 2) in many countries, mainly under old communist influence.
Cuba, Soviet Union, Chechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, North Korea, Nicaragua, PR Lao, Cambodia, ...
Thousands of stamps, ALL with the same type of cancel, all still gummed, never ever used postally.
And yet, many of those stamps are highly priced.
The mint version of those stamps are rare, but can be found. Postally used are hard, very hard to find and to get.

Some fine examples of the HUGE amount of CTO, in the 'very obvious ones' - category

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