THE FOURTH POPE
No, this is not a thriller movie but an indication to characterize the discovery concerning a new type of the famous overprinted issues centered on the 10’000 Lebanese Lira stamp. According to various catalogs, this stamp was issued on 11 May 1998 to commemorate His Holiness John Paul II’s visit to Lebanon on 10 and 11 May 1997. At the time was the highest face value stamp issued in Lebanon (fig 1).
Lighting up it by Wood’s lamp, one observes the presence of phosphorescent safety marks, actually the word “Lebnan” (Lebanon) in Arabic (fig 1a).
In the late 1990s also the Post was included in the privatization policy of Lebanese state-owned companies, in it capital structure entered a large shareholding of the Canadian Post Company and the “Poste de la République Libanaise” was renamed in 1998 LibanPost. To account stamps only in LibanPost stock, the need arose to overprint 15 values issued up to 1998 with a visible cross and a phosphorescent one, this is the famous “Qana” series, issued in January 1999 with a high catalog price which included also our stamp (figs 2 and 2a).
Following demonstrations towards what was referred to as a religious symbol, the overprint on some values was rotated by 45 degrees, sufficient to transform both the visible and the phosphorescent cross into an “X”, these values according to the Michel catalog were issued on 14 August 1999 (figs 3 and 3a).
It goes without saying that our stamp was also subjected to this treatment, still drawing, as already done for the “Qana” series, from the conspicuous stock of non-overprinted stamps.
We then come to our Fourth Pope who was recently submitted to me by a dear friend who stubbornly asked me for anonymity. It has the characteristics of the stamp of “Qana” series but is devoid of the visible overprint of the cross (fig 4 and 4a).
These are undoubtedly stamps without a print passage, the visible one of the cross. Not of a print in Albino or the lack of print due to a foreign body, as this would have prevented the printing of the phosphorescent cross as well. It remains to understand the number of stamps escaped from overprinting: I don’t think they are numerous and makes this not just a stamp’s variety but a real “natural stamp” with the need to catalog it separately.