10 August 2009

1993 Independence Anniversary Stolen stamps

The stolen 3v COPREFIL printed set.

In 1993 Cambodia enjoyed her first free general elections as scheduled by the 1991 Paris Peace Accords. The royal government was successfully formed in September and in November the new leadership led the celebration of 40th anniversary of national independence (from France in 1953). The Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications joined the feast by issuing a set of 3 commemomrative postage stamps.

The original set comprises of 3 values: 300r features the Phnom Penh Central Post Office building, 500r features Vimean Ekareach, the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh that is, and 700r features the national flag. For the first time, English was used on stamps instead of French.

Unfortunately some of the stamps were reported stolen during transit from COPREFIL, the official producer and printer in Havana, to Phnom Penh. Russia got the news and quickly offered a little gift to the new royal government - a new stamp set was promptly prepared and shipped to Phnom Penh replacing the missing issue.

The Russian set differs from the Cuban set in two ways. Unlike the Cuban set, all three stamps are now identical in design, they depict the world famous Angkor Wat. And denominations are now changed to 400r, 500r and 600r.


The Russian printed replacement set in folder.

No official FDC was prepared for the new set. Nevertheless, a special folder was made as complimentary gift from the minister to foreign guests of the government. The folder is in English, printed in blue ink with a set of mint stamps stuck in. The ministry did not make it available to public, counterfeits exist in market.

The obsolete Cuban printed stamps were never sold in Cambodia and therefore no postal used copies can be/should be found. However mint sets and CTO can easily be bought in Europe and America, for COPREFIL's German agent had flooded the stamp market with these wallpapers in such a way that now even the major stamp catalogues think they are the official issue (Sc 1323-1325, Mi 1394-1396).

Commercial used copies of the replacement set are very common, while the stolen COPREFIL set sees absolutely no postal use.

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