Sunday, March 30, 2008

That Every Mouth May Be Stopped (p. 1 of 2)

"Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died..."--C. S. Lewis, "Miracles: A Preliminary Study" (p. 110, 1947 ed.; p. 169, 1960 ed.)

On Friday, November 16th, 2007 after returning home from the incredible all-day ASOR conference, I posted a message to Yahoo's ANE-2 list, letting interested people know I'd be blogging about it & the subsequent SBL conference, which I did in a series of 28 posts herein.

After that first announcement, Eliot Braun expressed dismay over discovering that Robert Deutsch, long-time manager of the Archaeological Center in Israel, had sold LMLK handles--something he's been doing for many years--his business has been operating since 1979, & is one of the most successful & prominent antiquities businesses in The Land. I originally published a link-page advertising this in the Dealers section of LMLK Dotcom on 7-20-2003, so it's not a very well-kept secret!

Disclaimer: Dr. Braun asked several questions, & since I didn't address them directly in ANE-2, I'll take the time to do so here. During a cursory web search I did today (after drafting both parts of this blog series), I discovered that Dr. Braun has worked for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), & is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeology, 2 institutions I have great respect for. The nature of my discussion here is in response to his specific concerns expressed on ANE-2 regarding my collection of LMLK handles (several of which are in storage at the Albright Institute, & many others at the IAA), & should in no way reflect negatively on his own field of research, or on his past employment at the IAA.

Infants, children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, people with chronic heart problems, & people who are not able to stay focused on specific issues (especially people who believe in goo-to-you-thru-the-zoo Evolution), I would strongly urge you to close your browser window now, or visit a website with a more pleasant, non-confrontational topic. Feel free to come back in May. For now, may I recommend the promotional blog for the new "Expelled" movie?

Now that you've been warned, back to Braun:

"Where do they come from and where is he selling them?"

That depends, of course, if they're legitimate. If they are, then they came from the land of Israel; if they're fake, I wouldn't have any idea where they came from (& they're not fake). As for where Robert Deutsch is selling them, I provided links above to his site, which is also based in the land of Israel. Purely a coincidence, I'm sure.

"I wonder about the legality of these transactions."

Wonder all you want. Wonder is wonderful.

"Is this what this list is about, disseminating such information?"

ANE-2 is about disseminating info pertaining to the Ancient Near East (ANE), which ASOR was organized to do over a century ago, & that's what the point of my original post was about. The person who decided to make the subject something else was Eliot Braun. So it seems odd that Dr. Braun would bring up a subject he considers to be out-of-bounds for the list, then ask if that was what the list was about. I would expect a person with legitimate PhD-research credentials (i.e., from a reputable university) to be a little more logical, & do the research first by inquiring with the list's moderators.

Before I had a chance to respond online, Joe Zias chimed in with the same wonderful wonder. Unlike Dr. Braun, Mr. Zias does not possess PhD credentials (legitimate or otherwise), so his misleading comments should not have surprised me; however, I had been under the impression that he had a PhD, as witnessed by my response to him, in which I addressed him respectfully as a doctor. As with Dr. Braun, I will also issue a disclaimer towards Joe Zias, that nothing I'm about to say in these 2 blogs should be interpreted as a lack of respect for his knowledge of Anthropology, nor his contributions to that particular field of study.

One remark he made that I did not address on ANE-2 was: "[I]nscribed materials ... are forbidden for export according to the law."

He repeated himself in a later message: "[A]ccording to the law, inscribed material is not allowable for export."

Notice that he stated the law on both occasions without citing a reference. What law?

This is your clue that he's ignorant on this subject. I've broken the law here in America on several occasions in several states, & each time I was caught, the police officer handed me a piece of paper citing a reference to a specific law (e.g., section 8069AP, or 10.32.040MC). If you're going to accuse someone of breaking the law, you should be specific because it's a serious matter, & if you're wrong, it could damage your reputation--especially your academic standing since fields of research demand objectivity & certainty prior to publication.

Challenge #1 of 3: So my first challenge to Mr. Zias would be to either cite the specific law he was quoting, or issue a public apology since I don't appreciate being falsely accused of committing a crime ... especially after I've donated half a decade of my spare time, & tens of thousands of dollars making original contributions to our collective knowledge of Ancient Near East history.

Next, Dr. Braun wondered what my contributions were. I gave a general answer, & stated that details would be forthcoming in this blog, where they would not be subject to censorship by ANE-2's biased moderators, who have repeatedly demonstrated anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, & anti-Bible biases in general, & censored/rejected messages I've posted that support Israel's cultural heritage from a Biblical bias. (On ANE-2, if you express a positive Bible bias, it's called "bias"; if you express a negative bias, it's called "objective scholarship".)

Again, it surprised me that someone with research credentials apparently lacks the fundamental ability to do the elementary research needed to answer his own question pertaining to my contributions to LMLKology (i.e., typing my last name & the word "LMLK" in any Internet search engine to find a tangible connection)!

But to make it even easier for Dr. Brain Braun, I don't mind taking this opportunity on my blog to brag about the accomplishments God has enabled me to make in this esoteric field. (Anything good/useful that can be attributed to me, needs to be credited to God working through me per Hebrews 13:20-1; but anything bad/useless I do is my own fault due to my own negligence.)

I must also preface them by revealing that I prayed to God before I owned a single LMLK handle, & asked God to use me in a way that would bring some modicum of glory to God so that my life would make a slight difference for the better, no matter how small.

Aside from those caveats, my contributions to LMLKology thus far have been:

Admittedly, not even a blip on the map of all human knowledge, but an original contribution nonetheless. And all because I was able to become the steward (i.e., responsible temporary owner) of artifacts legally exported from Israel. Critics might claim that my research could have been done without the need for my acquisition of the artifacts, but that's bogus because I simply would not have had the interest. Initially, I had no idea of their importance, nor that there was no extensive English book on the subject. God arranged for me to acquire them, & God inspired/enabled me to do the research. If the laws had been different, then God would have had to lead me down another path. And of course, there are plenty of other ways God could've answered that somewhat ambiguous prayer.

So I hope that helps Dr. Braun & Yitzhak Sapir figure out why it would have been "unsuitable" for me to answer this particular question of theirs on ANE-2. They don't allow God, or mere verbal support for God, to exist in their discussions. It has nothing to do with Science; it simply has to do with bias.

Belief in God didn't hinder any of the great men of Science (Bacon, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Priestley, Faraday, Henry, Mendel, to name a few) from making their contributions to it. If anything, maybe their interpretations or misinterpretations of the Bible might have hindered or helped them, but not their devotion &/or prayers to God. Theism & prayer should be encouraged in every school classroom. (Please note that I said "encouraged", not "taught" or "mandated".)

And in anticipation of someone asking, Why would anyone care about these seals?, I would point out the following:
  • They are key artifacts for dating strata in Israel.

  • They are key artifacts for understanding the evolution of alphabetic scripts.

  • They relate directly to what some military historians believe is the most important conflict ever, because if the outcome had been different, the 3 major monotheistic religions would've been different, or might not have come into being at all, & that would've had a domino-effect on the rest of world history (for better or for worse) like no other military event.

  • They're mysterious, & everyone loves a good mystery!

Dr. Braun specifically wanted to know, "[I]f such analyses were done what could the data obtained from them be used for[?] Enlighten us, please."

Well, for me, I've used the data obtained from them for demonstrating that 2Chronicles 29-31 may contain a reliable record (& I certainly believe it does based on this scientific evidence). Until I conducted my research (beginning with my unprovenanced specimens), & published my interpretation of the evidence, nobody had made any direct connection between King Hezekiah's worship reformation & specific evidence from the LMLK-sealed jars (only general economic connections to Hezekiah's royal administration by Vaughn's thesis in the 1990s). Not only do they support the Biblical record, but they tie the unique narrative recorded in 2Chronicles to the parallel records in 2Kings & Isaiah. Chronologically, those 2 sources state precisely that the Assyrian attack occurred in the middle of Hezekiah's reign--the 14th year of 29.

My analysis of the unprovenanced seals, combined with my later analysis of the provenanced seals, helped me accomplish this. They were inseparable. Though you can separate them now, you would not have had the seal drawings & totals to work with if the unprovenanced specimens had not been available to me.

Consider yourself officially "enlightened"!

Dr. Braun issued another polemic remark:

"It is generating a market for destruction of cultural patrimony."

That's basically a chicken/egg statement. Did my, or anyone's, interest in these artifacts generate the market, or did the market generate my interest? Well, you'd have to be embarrassingly ignorant to think that I personally generated the market. Though I had seen LMLK seals in BAR magazine years before I bought one, the only reason I bought one is because the market came to me, & generated my interest by making it available. It existed long before I knew it existed, & would've continued to exist even if I had never been born.

Dr. Brain Braun is using the kind of ill-logic that would have me feel guilt every time a bank robbery occurs because of my desire to have loads of money! Like as if it's my fault for wanting to accumulate money by putting it into a bank, so people who are lazier & more immoral than me are somehow forced into robbing banks so they can have an economic advantage over me. In essence, that's not a very well-thought-out argument for someone with a PhD.

To his credit, he did not post any additional messages on this subject.

The Bible & everything related to it is fascinating to many people, & that ain't ever gonna change; but I'll tell ya what can & has changed.

Look at what's happened to archeology in Palestinian terrorist-territory, specifically the region just north of Jerusalem at sites such as Jib & Nasbeh. No civil person would dare excavate in/near Ramallah nowadays--even if they could get permission--because of all the uncivilized animals-disguised-as-humans roaming the area. Even Hebron, a bona fide Jewish site with no historical connection to the late foundation of Islam is now unsafe to the point where visitors have to be escorted in bullet-proof tour buses.

Here's my point: If the handles I own had been excavated scientifically, they would never have appeared on the antiquities market. If the government funds used to combat Arab/Palestinian terrorism were freed up, it could be used to sponsor such scientific excavations, or do a better job of protecting The Land.

So a more urgent problem is not the prevention of antiquities sales, but the restoration of the entire country to complete Israeli control, which means killing (because they'll never go away voluntarily) the uncivilized troublemakers who hate Jews & Christians, & teach/train their children to blow themselves up. This would "generate a market" for the continuation & expansion of scientific excavations, & there's a good chance that it would reduce the looting that Braun & Zias are so concerned about, because it would present an opportunity to hire decent, law-abiding Arab/Palestinians.

Challenge #2 of 3: So my 2nd challenge to Zias & Braun (& like-minded individuals) is, Are you going to be as vocal in advocating the killing of Arab/Palestinians who have been caught & convicted of terrorism-related activities as you have been against law-abiding antiquities dealers & collectors?

[End of part 1 ... silent pause for gratuitous dramatic effect ... stay tuned for part 2 later this week ... note that portions of LMLK Dotcom (the root site, not the Research site) will be changing soon.]

G.M. Grena

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Serendipitous Diringer

"serendipity": a phenomenon of good luck, or an aptitude or faculty for making desirable discoveries not sought for (coined January 28, 1754 by English author, Horace Walpole, from characters in the Persian fairytale, "The Three Princes of Serendip", who made such discoveries).

For many years even before I became the LMLK enthusiast I am today, I've been intending to purchase one or more of David Diringer's books about Writing. Beyond his many journal articles & other scholarly History-book chapters, he wrote, co-wrote, or edited several books on this fascinating subject:

(Note: These are all in English, though his landmark, extremely rare 1934 book, "Iscrizioni Antico-Ebraiche Palestinesi", was in Italian.)

In my quest to acquire autographs by LMLK VIPs, Diringer's has eluded me even though his was the first I ever saw (in the Bade library).

Ms. Irony & I have an intimate relationship!

It's also ironic that someone with such a deep interest in, & vast knowledge of, writing apparently didn't sign many copies of the books he authored (compared to contemporary LMLK luminaries such as William Albright, James Pritchard, & Yohanan Aharoni; I own several of each of theirs).

I decided to buy this 2-volume set when it became available at a bargain price (it normally sells from $40-$300; I stole one in near-mint condition for $15) even though it lacks his signature, because I simply love the history of writing--it being one of the excellent pieces of evidence supporting the belief that we live in a relatively young world per Genesis.

Naturally, the first thing I did was search the index for evidence of LMLK seals--usually the author will list "Hebron", but none of the inscription words were present, nor any of the variant spellings of "LMLK" in the "L" section. It didn't bother me, because I wasn't expecting to find any. LMLK inscriptions may be important in the relatively short-lived Judean monarchy, but I don't think of them as superstars in the entire history of Writing.

However, as I thumbed through Volume 2 containing the plates, being blown away by the incredible variety of specimens shown--things I never imagined existed, plus so many paleography tables that Diringer is well-known for--there they were on page 164:

And not just the usual lousy, poorly cropped stamps from Lachish, which Diringer is famous for publishing in PEQ vol. 73 (July 1941), but SIX additional handles unpublished elsewhere (1 Z4CI, 1 S4L, & 4 H4Ls)!

Imagine my glee!

Here's the accompanying text from Volume 1 (p. 188):

"On various sites in southern Palestine many hundreds of jar-handles have been found which bear impressions of factory stamps (Fig. 14.5). Some of these are royal trade-marks, others reproduce the names of private pottery works, while others are Yehud stamps, 'Jerusalem' stamps, and so forth."

He did not provide any specific credits for any of the photos, & because their resolution is so poor (the actual size of the page shown in the photo here is only 7.5x5.5"), I added them to the LMLK Research website yesterday since I doubt anyone at Funk & Wagnalls knows where these handles came from--I'm guessing they're from Lachish at the British Museum (listed along with 12 other institutions on p. xiii of Volume 1), but they could very well be from Diringer's own personal collection (although I can't say for certain if he had one).

If anyone can prove where these 6 are, or where Diringer obtained the photos, please let me know & I'll gladly provide proper credit, &/or remove them from the website if requested. Until then, it's fair use to categorize them for research purposes. Besides, I spent extra time despeckling the greatly magnified ink dots (there are 3x127=381 possible settings), so the versions you see on the Research site our essentially my own rendition (ad-hoc original on top; despeckled on bottom):

And oh, by the way, this new batch pushes the total number of unique stamp photos on the LMLK Research website over 900 now!

Song of the week: "Good To See You" by Vangelis (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 30-second sample; 393kb).
G.M. Grena

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Western-Wall Plaza-Handle Questions

Earlier this week, announced the publication in "New Journal of Physics" of some beetle research. Not just any ordinary beetle species or any ordinary animal species, but one that holds the current world record for its ability "to carry up to 850 times its own weight"!

To put it in perspective, it would be the equivalent of a human attempting to lift about 60 tons (which, by the way, is the approximate estimate for the largest blocks used in the Great Pyramid)!

The new observation, though, is related to the color of the beetle's shell changing between green & black, possibly relative to the humidity of its environment. However, researchers can't be certain at this time:

"As to why the beetle changes colour, question marks also remain. Some have suggested that it is to do with protection – it becomes more humid at night and is therefore good for cover to turn black. Others have suggested that it is to do with warmth absorption at night. Questions remain."

In a parallel universe at what's been called the navel of the world--Jerusalem--questions also remain about 3 jar handles found in excavations adjacent to the Western Wall's plaza (a.k.a., the Kotel; by the way, the weight of one of the master-blocks on the Temple Mount near this Wall has been estimated at about 400 tons).

Just this week, the IAA announced some preliminary findings by archeologists, Shlomit Wexler-Bdoulah & Alexander Onn. The biggest attention-getter was a tri-register personal seal (better photo available from a Ynet report; detailed drawing available in the File-library at Yahoo's Biblicalist). Coming in 2nd place was an inscribed Herodian-era stone containing a fragmentary block-style Hebrew inscription.

This stone was not mentioned in any of the online news reports. It was shown on an Israeli news TV show--Mabat (MB@)--hosted in Hebrew by a beautiful young lady (who I'm showing here in the interest of scientific research because I'm hoping someone will be able to tell me what her name is so I can properly credit her in LMLK publications, of course):

Thanks to Victor Hurowitz for bringing this vixen video to my attention via Yahoo's ANE-2 list, & also to Yitzhak Sapir who provided 2 hyperlinks to the video.

According to the IAA report, "a vast amount of pottery vessels was discovered, among them three jar handles that bear LMLK stamped impressions. An inscription written in ancient Hebrew script is preserved on one these [sic] impressions and it reads 'NURBH KLML' ([belonging] to the king of Hebron)."

Notice that the IAA included the scriptio plene rendition of the word as it appears 73 times in the Hebrew Old Testament; only 4 times is it written scriptio defectiva as on all 5 Hxx LMLK seals. One of your clues that the seal's inscription might not be referring to the same place.

I have a love/hate relationship with the IAA. I love that they take care of Israel's antiquities, & publish reports like this, & grant export permits for me to acquire specimens of these inscribed treasures; but I hate it when they're ambiguous, especially when a simple E-mail of 3 photos to me could've resolved the ambiguity in less than 24 hours.

Based on their announcement, which is an English translation from Hebrew:
  • I'm not confident that they found 2 weak/fragmentary impressions as opposed to 2 LMLK-type handles with no seal impressions.

  • I don't know whether the impressions have 2- or 4-winged icons.

  • I don't know which of the 5 HBRN seal designs are on the one identified as such.

  • I don't know whether the handles were found along with other handle- or jar-fragments to deduce whether this small hoard represents 1, 2, or 3 jars.

Like the beetle-color issue, questions remain.

The reason I question their statement about 3 handles bearing impressions, is that if they're not considerate or competent or thorough enough to identify the basic icon design (which is obvious 99.7% of the time [only 3 of 897 are xxx]), how do I know whether they're really LMLK handles?

I'll demonstrate another reason why I doubt their report's accuracy. Witness my recent discovery of a 1975 journal (which is supposed to be more accurate than this mere press release by the IAA), where 2 LMLK handles from Chephirah were described as bearing a 2-winged & a 4-winged impression, & now a few decades later, the 4-winged impression has apparently vanished--mysteriously flying away I suppose!

One of the archeologists, Shlomit Wexler describes the excavation in the 2-minute TV report:

I especially doubt the accuracy of the English IAA report because it named her as Shlomit Wexler-Bdoulah, but the original Hebrew version along with the TV report omitted the hyphenated name, & presented her as "SLUMYT UQCLR". Later in the IAA sentence, the word "Bdoulah" was used--"ARKAULUGYT RSUT EOTYQUT, BDULH" ("Archeological Authority Antiquities, Bdulh"). Now, Sunday evening, I checked it again & noticed that it was corrected to "SLUMYT UQCLR-BDULH" at some point over the past few days. Could there still be a similar word-jumble in the LMLK sentences?

To my surprise, Mabat showed one of the LMLK handles during the 32:15-32:20 section of the entire show's video feed:

(Note--I deliberately rotated the image 90 degrees clockwise to show it in the highest resolution possible under my Blogspot 400-pixel limit without affecting the rest of my page layout.)

A male Hebrew reporter, identified by Yitzak Sapir as belonging to Benny Lis, during the 5-second LMLK segment asks rhetorically (in Hebrew, translated by Sapir), "a seal - to the king of Hebron -- does it speak of King David?"

That's one question we can positively answer with a conclusive, "no". Even if the chronology of the Judean monarchy is TFU, we know from archeology that the LMLKs were in use at the time of a foreign invasion that conquered numerous cities in the region, & there were no such battles recorded in the Bible (our only reliable source of info on the reigns of Judean kings) during David's famous reign.

Now's a good time to mention that I like this TV show's watermark, which consists of concentric circles! I was shocked to see Circle-incisions on the handle too because they were not mentioned in the IAA report! A 4th strike against their reporting reliability.

What also surprised me was that I was not able to confirm the presence of an inscription or other clear identifying characteristic of the impression. This is not because the handle doesn't have one, but because of the low resolution of the video, & the highly skewed camera angle distorting the seal's design (unlike the rotated terracotta figurine shown just prior to this handle, the handle image was static).

My initial reaction was that this was probably not an H2D, even though it's the most common type (based on the number of handle-photos I've seen), & most common of types found with the Circles. Why not? Mostly because of the icon's head. The H2D's head is extremely unique among the 2-winged class, being elongated (i.e., taller/thinner) by a whole millimeter in contrast to some that are flattened (shorter/wider). Also, there are no known H2D stamps at a 7:00 orientation, which is what this one bears.

From a cursory inspection, I felt that this stamp could've been from an S2DR, which would be important because it's a rare type, & no specimens with Circles are known. However, when I scrutinized the impression for publication on the LMLK Research site Saturday morning, I noticed that it fit the M2U design best of all! What a shocker!

There's a shadow from a letter just off the top-right corner of the icon's head, & if this is from a Mem, it matches its location on the M2U, but not the S2DR or H2D; however, there's also a letter-shadow in the bottom-left register that matches the H2D's Nun, but it also matches the M2U's Tau. And if the short/wide icon-head resulted from a messy H2D stamp, then we have to consider the possibility of other features resulting from a messy/shifted stamp, such as a Z2D Fay in the bottom-left register, which resembles the H2D's Nun.

Focusing on the icon itself, there's nothing about this skewed image that contradicts the M2U design. And although its head doesn't match the H2D's, the asymmetric lower wing-joints resemble that distinct feature of the H2D (though the S2DR may also have a similar asymmetric joint, but I just don't have enough clear impressions to be certain).

So based on the evidence available to me, I'd have to say that it's a tie between the H2D & M2U, each having 3 positive indicators--the H2D having the inscription identified in the report plus a match with one of its letters & wing anomaly, & the M2U matching letters in 2 registers & matching the overall icon.

Kevin Edgecomb mentioned offline to me that just because we can't read the inscription on this particular handle, it doesn't mean that there isn't a clear "HBRN" inscription on one of the other 2 handles. He's right, but it's extremely doubtful that the archeologist would've shown this poor-inscription specimen to (pardon the expression) an ignorant news reporter while stating that some other/better specimen actually contained the "King of Hebron" inscription.

I checked with my knowledgeable LMLK friend, Michael Welch, who believes this is probably an H2D, "based on the more vertical second Lamed, probably a pretty clear final Nun, and probably the extra notch cut out on the upper right top of the two-winged sun disc icon."

I did not notice the 2nd Lamed when doing my analysis, but can see it now that he mentioned it, though I disagree on its being the more-vertical type because of the distorted camera angle. To me, it looks like the more curved type seen on the M2U! This just goes to show how 2 knowledgeable people can see the exact same thing, & form 2 different opinions.

Actually, the images we think we see are formed by our brains based on other things our individual brain has seen. We don't actually see images, we see dots of light-information (from the individual rod & cone cells), & our brain fills in the gaps with things that make sense to it. That's why most scientists who only "see" Evolution-biased scientific info presented to them in school, can only think in an Evolution-Science paradigm--they can't fill in their gaps with anything else. They're mentally disadvantaged, but I digress...

For now, I've listed it on the x2x page stating that it's probably an H2D, but possibly one of the other 3 I described above. It would be very exciting if it turns out to be an M2U, because that's the only 1 of the 5 LMLK seal sets on which there are no Circles.

Until the archeologists publish their formal excavation report (which may be months, years, or decades from now), questions remain.

Song of the week: "To The One Who Knows" by Yanni (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 30-second sample; 393kb).
G.M. Grena

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Le Mystere Mosden

Last summer, my first French article (written in English, translated into French by Jean-Paul Danon) appeared in Doar Ivri #9, published by Cercle Francais Philatelique d'Israel. I made another discovery later in the year, & it appeared recently in Doar Ivri #11, Janvier-Avril 2008 (pp. 1 [the cover] & 5-7):

The cover shot came courtesy of long-time collector, William Farber. It is undoubtedly the most magnificent & valuable Flying-Scroll cover I've ever seen.

It's not just a colorful, well-organized arrangement, & not just a rare tab block on cover, but a block that allowed me to identify the position of a seldom-seen error--an oval blob between the Shin & Resh of the Hebrew rendition of "Israel" on the stamps (as you can see, they're trilingual). In this specimen, the error lands dead center in the block! Simply spectacular, regardless of whether the original sender knew about the error or not.

Back in the early 1960s, Mosden published a major philatelic catalog containing all kinds of minor varieties ignored by typical catalogs that only focus on regular/normal issues. Mosden recorded both errors that I discuss in this article, which is entitled "Deux Varietes du Rouleau Volant: Le Mystere Mosden" ("Two Varieties of the Flying Scroll: The Mosden Mystery").

The 1st variety, #50 in the Mosden catalog, is a printing-plate anomaly limited to the 3-mil sheets, which were the first ones printed back in 1948. The sheets contained 6 subdivisions--panes. Two of those panes were normal (#2 & #5), but 3 of them contained a blank spot in the 2-winged icon's tail (#1, #4, & #6). Pane #3 contains a unique dark spot.

It's possible that Panes 2 & 5 were fabricated first since they're positioned in the center of the sheet. Then some anomaly might have appeared on Pane 3; its raised surface would pick up the ink. Then the master was cleaned, & this removed the anomaly, but left a vacancy on the plate such that no ink could adhere to it during printing. Of course, this scenario is a figment of my imagination, & we'll probably never know for sure what happened, or what caused the problem.

The important thing is that this is the first time in philatelic history that the location of this particular error has been described (shown in Fig. 1 on p. 5), & photographed in color with high magnification for all 6 panes, showing them side by side (in Fig. 2 on p. 5). In fact, you can still see the white dots even in the lo-res photo here in my blog, though in the published article, you can see every individual color dot from the original printing!

The Mosden catalog did, however, contain a small black-&-white photo of variety #51, but again lacked a description of its location. The now-famous Farber cover provided a key clue, & thanks to my collection containing 3 complete sheets, I was able to pinpoint it, even though none of my 3 sheets contain the error! Apparently it occurred during the middle of the print-run, which produced about 8,000 of these 3-mil sheets.

So how many sheets contain the error? That's another mystery belonging to the King! In the article I narrow it down to anywhere from 100 to 2,800. An extremely rare philatelic catalog published in the mid-1950s speculated that it appeared on "a few hundred sheets".

But how was I able to identify its precise location on the sheet of 300 stamps? Ah, that's a mystery that everyone can solve by simply becoming a member of Cercle Francais Philatelique d'Israel, & obtaining a copy of this particular issue of their fine journal!

Song of the week: "Mystery" by Anita Baker (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 29-second sample; 361kb).
G.M. Grena