Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The Coronation Issue of 1937 and King George VI Definitives from 1938-1953
On May December 11, 1936 King Edward VIII abdicated the throne and was succeeded by his brother, King George VI. The coronation was held on May 12, 1937. To mark the occasion all member countries and territories in the commonwealth issued stamps, most of which were in a common design type. The common design featured the King and Queen beside the Orb and Royal Sceptres. The issue was the work of two printers: De La Rue and Bradbury Wilkinson. Each common design issue consisted of three denominations, which were generally used to pay local surface mail, surface empire rate and the foreign surface rates. Each territory or country used its own colour combination, and these combinations repeat several times in the set. Nigeria's stamps were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson.
The King George VI Definitive issue appeared on May 1, 1938. My wife learned that she was married to an imperialist anglo when I told her that this was my favourite issue from any country, or all time. She shook her head. But seriously, the designs strike the right balance between simplicity and ornateness, and the colours are so brilliant and fresh that it is a hard set to beat aesthetically speaking. the low values up to 1/3d were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson, while the 2/6d and 5/- high values are De La Rue Productions. There were upwards of a dozen identifiable printings of each value to delight the specialist. There was a major perforation change in 1950 on the low values, from 11.9 line to 11.5 comb. On the high values there are no fewer than four different perforations. I illustrate a selection of the major varieties of each value in the set. As you examine them you will notice several subtle and not so subtle shade differences on most values.
1.5d deep brown
3d Bright ultramarine
0.5d Deep Green perf. 11.9 line from 1938
0.5d Dull green perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950
1d Carmine perf. 11.9 line from 1943
1d Rose-red perf. 11.9 line from 1938
1d Deep Mauve perf. 11.9 line from 1945
1d Bright magenta perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950
1.5d Red brown perf. 11.9 line from 1938
1.5d Red brown perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950
2d Grey Black perf. 11.9 line from 1938
2d Bright scarlet comb perf. 11.5 from 1952 or 1953
2d Dull scarlet, line perf. 11.9 from 1945 or 1946
2.5d Yellow Orange from 1941
3d Dark Blue perf. 11.9 line from 1938
3d Black perf. 11.9 line from 1944
4d Orange from 1938 - this is the key stamp in the set, as far as the basic designs go.
4d Blue from 1944
6d Purple Brown perf. 11.9 line from 1942 or 1944
6d Dull Purple Brown - perf. 11.5 comb. from February 1950
1/- Sage green perf. 11.9 line, from 1938
1/- Light olive green perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950
1/3d Turquoise Blue perf. 11.9 line from 1940.
1/3d Pale blue, perf. 11.5 comb from February 1950.
2/6d Deep Blue and black, perf. 13.5 from 1946
2/6d Deep ultramarine and black, perf. 13.5 from 1942 or 1944,
2/6d Deep ultramarine and black, perf. 13 x 11.5 from 1938
2/6d Dull ultramarine and black, perf. 14 line from 1948
2/6d Bright ultramarine and black, perf. 12 comb from 1951 or 1952
5/- Bright red orange and black, perf. 12 from 1951 or 1952
5/- Deep red-orange and black, perf. 13.5 from 1942 or 1943.
5/- Bright orange and black, perf. 14 line from 1947 or 1948
5/- Deep red-orange and black, perf. 13 x 11.5 comb, from 1938.
The above is just scratching the surface, in terms of details. These stamps are found with different papers and different gum types as well as perforations and shades. Hopefully you can appreciate the subtle nuances that make each stamp different from the ones next to it.
Next up will be the 1953-1960 Queen Elizabeth II pictorial definitive issue.
I have been passionate about stamps and postal history since I was 6 years old. I am a Chartered Accountant in good standing with the Ontario Institute. I was until July 2015 a partner of a mid-sized Toronto firm. I left in July 2015 to pursue my passion of full time stamp dealing.