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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Printings of the 1/2d Green and 1d Carmine Queen Victoria Keyplate Stamps of Lagos 1887-1904


Today, I circle back and begin the arduous task of unravelling the tremendously complex labyrinth of printings for what were the two most commonly used stamps of Lagos between 1887 and 1904: the halfpenny green and the 1d carmine.

According to Ince, there were a staggering 42 printings of the halfpenny and 49 printings of the 1d carmine. Some of these were made before the introduction of the bicoloured series in March 1887, when the monocoloured crown CA stamps were first issued in 1884, and some were made after July 1901, when plate 1 had been retired and plate 2 was brought into use.

The breakdown of printings is as follows:

  • Before March 1887: 6 printings of the 1/2d (24,300 stamps) and 11 of the 1d (41,400 stamps).
  • Between March 1887 and August 1901:  34 printings of the (1/2d 805,980 stamps) and 36 printings of the 1d (687,660 stamps).
  • Between August 19, 1901 and August 29, 1902: 2 printings of the 1/2d (219,780 stamps) and 2 printings of the 1d (375,900 stamps).
There are several implications of the above:

  1. There were a total of 1,050,060 of the 1/2d printed. 105,900 of these were remainders that were sent back to London in 1905 for destruction, leaving a net quantity issued of 944,160 stamps. While it is certainly more common than the other stamps of this period, it is not nearly as common as most stamps issued in this period by countries like Great Britain. In addition, the first printings are all very scarce stamps in their own right.
  2. There were a total of 1,104,960 of the 1d issued, with no remainders. So it is slightly more common than the 1/2d, but again, it is not nearly as common as people might think. 
  3. The quantity of 1/2d stamps issued up to August 1901 is 830,280 spread out over 40 printings, which averages out at 20,757 per printing. In actual fact, the numbers issued in the first six printings before 1887 were between 3,600 and 4,920 stamps, which is much less than this average. Excluding these means that 805,980 stamps were issued over 34 printings, which averages out at 23,705 per printing. We do know that in 1893 there was a massive shortage of halfpenny stamps due to the introduction of reduced UPU rates. So my expectation would be that the bulk of the 805,980 stamps would actually have been issued between 1894 and 1901. 
  4. Generally the Crown Agents sent stamps to Lagos on a quarterly basis. There are approximately 61 calendar quarters between March 1887 and August 1901. Between November 1885 and December 1886 they sent a shipment of 1/2d stamps to the colony every single calendar quarter, and on average they sent 4,050 stamps each time. I think that they probably continued to do this until the shortage ensued in August 1893. Thus, there would have been approximately 26 shipments between March 1887 and August 1893, if one small shipment was sent each time. At 4,000 or so stamps each time, this should account for about 104,000 stamps of the 805,980, leaving just over 700,000 stamps. Given the large size of the printings in 1901 and 1902, it would appear that instead of sending small shipments every quarter, the Crown Agents started sending much larger shipments of 100,000 or so stamps every year, in August. So, if 26 of the 34 printings between 1887 and 1901 were sent before 1894, then it follows that there should be about 8 much larger printings between 1894 and August 1901.
  5. Because of all this, the vast majority of all mint 1/2d stamps will be from the last 12 printings. Mint examples of any of the first 30 printings should be just as scarce as any of the better low and intermediate value stamps from this series. A majority of the used stamps will also be from after 1894 as well, because this when the usage of this value exploded. In fact only about 10% of all used stamps will have been from the first 30 printings. So their value should be much higher than the Gibbons catalogue prices.
  6. The quantity of 1d stamps issued up to 1901 is 729,060 stamps over 47 printings. This is an average of 15,511 per printing. Again, we know that these were not issued evenly over this period as the introduction of penny postage in 1892-1893 would have created far higher demand for these stamps at that time. Between July 1884 and December 1886, there were 11 printings totaling 41,400 stamps, or approximately 3,763 stamps per printing on average. The remaining 687,660 stamps were issued over 36 releases.
  7. Again, I would expect that of these 36 printings, 26 or so would have been sent up to 1894, and would account for 97,838 stamps, leaving approximately 590,000 stamps over 10 printings or so. This is a higher number of printings than the 1/2d, and would be over a period of just under 8 years - so roughly one printing every third quarter or so. Given that 133,500 stamps were issued with the second last plate 2 printing and double that with the very last plate 2 printing in August 1902, it is clear that the Crown Agents was continually increasing the quantities sent each time after 1893. So it is probable that the quantity sent in each of those 12 printings was not 50,000, but probably around 30,000 to start, increasing each time up to the point where by August 1901, it was 133,500. 
  8. So what that would again mean is that the vast majority of mint and used examples that are on the market will be from these last 14 printings (12 made after 1893 and 2 made in 1901-1902). Stamps from the first 35 printings will generally be much scarcer. 

I have spent some time attempting to show you what the general characteristics of plate 2 are, as well as making a cursory attempt to identify the first printings of both stamps. My next task, now that I have studied the rest of the 1887-1903 issue in detail and I am familiar with the changes in plate state, gum, shade, paper and cancellation, I can begin making a serious attempt to study the 36 printings of the halfpenny and 38 printings of the one penny that were made between March 1887 and August 1902.

With all of this information, the next stage is to try and separate the stamps in my possession into different states of plate 1 and the plate 2 stamps. Based on my study of other stamps in the series, the states of the plate should cover the following periods:

  • First state - March 1887 to Approximately December 1889/January 1890.
  • Second state - April 1890 to about January 1894.
  • Third state - April 1894 to April 1897.
  • Fourth state - August 1897 to August 1900
  • Fifth state -  November 1900 to August 1901. 
  • Plate 2 - August 1901 to August 1902.
Based on my hypothesis above, I would expect the following number of printings associated with each state:

  • First state - 12 printings of each of the halfpenny and 1d.
  • Second state - 14 printings of the 1/2d and 1d.
  • Third state - 3 printings of the 1/2d and five printings of the 1d. 
  • Fourth state - 4 printings of the 1/2d and five printings of the 1d.
  • Fifth state - one printing of the 1/2d and the 1d.
In terms of used stamps, I should be able to place a great deal of reliance on dated cancellations to help me narrow down printings. The reason is that due to the very heavy demand for these stamps, there should not be very many late usages, if any at all. In fact given that there was a known shortage of the 1/2d stamp in 1893, there should not be any stamps issued prior to that date that were used after, because anything on hand from before that date at post offices would have been used up and sold long before. There might be some later usages in the later printings, but they should only be late by a matter of several months to a year or two at most, not 6 years or 8 years as we have seen with some of the higher values that saw much less frequent use. 

So the first stage of my study, which will begin in earnest next week, will be to identify those stamps that are from the first state of the plate, and finalize my classification of those that were made before 1887 and between 1887 and 1890. So, stay tuned for my first post in this last series dealing with this issue. I have elected with these two values to tackle them both simultaneously, so that each post will deal with printings of each stamp, or if it is too large, it will deal with one stamp and then the other.