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Monday, October 31, 2016

Distinguishing the Six Printings of the 1d Lilac Surface Printed Lagos Stamp With Crown CC Watermark and Perforated 12.5

My apologies for the tardiness of today's post, which was supposed to be written last week. I have been very busy listing Canadian material in my e-bay store and unfortunately I just didn't get around to writing this post until today. Today's post will hopefully provide some insights that will help you identify the different printings that were made of this first issue of Lagos between May 1874 and May 1875.

I find that the best way to proceed with these is to try and sort used stamps first, and then to match the mint stamps to the used stamps that you have classified, since there are very few clues that will definitively allow you to correctly classify the mint stamps.

In attempting to assign individual stamps to the six printings, I find it useful to look at three things:

1. Cancellations

2. Colours - particularly the colour of the value tablet, or duty plate in relation to the head plate.

3. Paper

I will briefly discuss how each of these characteristics can aid in identification and will then show you comparative scans of each of the six printings.


The very earliest cancellation used in early 1874 was a Lagos CDS that had only the date code, A, B or C and no year date. it looked like this:


The period of usage for this cancellation was so short in 1874 that one can usually safely conclude that any example bearing this cancellation is likely from the first printing. The numbers issued in each printing are so low, and the shipments were so frequent, i.e. every 2 or three months, that the likelihood of an early printing being used late due to being left in post office stock is quite low. Most stamps would have been either sold or used very soon after being issued. 

For this reason, we can also use another of the cancels to help identify the last printing. In 1876, the Lagos CDS was replaced by a barred diamond grid that had a large "L: in the centre. This type of cancellation is the most common one found on these issues, because it is also the one that was in use when more than half of the issued stamps were issued, which was the last printing, which was shipped to the colony on May 13, 1875. This type of cancellation looked like this:


If you see this cancel on any of the stamps of this issue, chances are very good that it is from the last printing shipped on May 13, 1875, or possibly the fifth printing, which was issued on February 3, 1875. It is not very likely that it will have come from any of the earlier printings. 

With those two cancellations dealt with, we are left with the Lagos CDS cancels which are dated between May 1874 and January 1876. The earliest dates I have seen are July 7, 1874, while the latest is January 29, 1876. The dates in most cases can be used to narrow down the group of printings from which the stamps came, but occasionally, they can provide absolutely conclusive proof. The dates given by J.F Ince in his work on the stamps of Lagos for the various printings were:

  • First printing - May 12, 1874
  • Second printing - September 14, 1874
  • Third printing - November 18, 1874
  • Fourth printing - December 14, 1874
  • Fifth printing - February 3, 1875
  • Sixth printing - May 13, 1875
The above dates are understood to be those on which the stamps were shipped to the colony, not the dates that they arrived. The commonly accepted issue date for the first printing of this stamp is June 10, 1874, or just under a month after shipment. The first dated examples I have seen are in July - another month later. Thus it is reasonable to suppose that:

  • First printings will be cancelled between June 10 and mid-October 1874.
  • Second printings will be cancelled between mid-October 1874 and late December 1874. Some might go as late as January 1875, but not too many. 
  • Third printings will be cancelled between late December 1874 and late January 1875, with a few maybe dated as late as early March 1875.
  • Fourth printings will be cancelled between late January 1875 through to approximately April 1875. 
  • Fifth printings will be cancelled between early April 1875 and mid-June 1875.
  • Sixth printings will be cancelled from mid-June 1875 and 1876 when they were replaced. 
The sixth printings were the most plentiful, with the supply being equal to the total of the first five printings. Those first five lasted almost a year. So it is reasonable to expect that the period of use covered by these last printings to be the better part of a year also. In addition, all other things being equal, one would expect most mint examples to have come from the last printing, and very few to have come from the first printings. 

Any stamp cancelled before September 14, 1874 and very likely October 14, 1874 must have come from the first printing, since the second printings had not yet been shipped. For dates after that you have to use conjecture and then the shades and papers to make a final determination. But a good first start is to sort your used examples using the guidelines above, and then to go through each group and look at the shades. 

Shades of Colour

The printings made of these stamps were very small so we would expect them to have been completed in  very short period of time, with probably only one or at most 2 press runs. What that means is that we should see very little shade variation, if any, within a printing, but could see considerable variation between different printings, as completely new batches of ink would have to have been prepared for them. 

Interestingly it would appear that De La Rue changed their method of production part way through this issue. The first printings show the duty plate (words of value) in the same colour as the rest of the design (head plate). This suggests that the stamps were printed from a single batch of ink in one operation. However, subsequent printings usually show the duty plate a different colour from the head plate. Sometimes these differences are very pronounced, and it is indeed surprising that Gibbons makes no mention of them in their catalogue listings. This isn't the only time that De La Rue has done this. Collectors of King George VI issues will recall that the definitives of Malaya showing King George VI's portrait among palm fronds were printed in both one and two operation runs. In fact there is evidence to suggest that they employed different production methods for many of the colonial issues. 

So generally speaking if you look at your sorted groups of used stamps, you should find all of them being more or less the same shade, with maybe one or at most two variations. Based on my study of these stamps, the shade combinations are as shown in the scans below:


The first printing in reddish violet. You can clearly see that the words of value are the same colour as the rest of the design. 


The second printing in reddish lilac & dull purple. If you compare to the first printing, you can see that the main colour is not as dark ad is milkier. If you look closely, you can also see that the words of value are a slightly different colour from the rest of the design, being duller and lighter. 


Here is a second printing cancelled October 20, 1874 - well within the date range proposed above for the second printings. 


The third printing in reddish lilac and deep reddish purple. The main colour is the same as the second printing, but the duty plate colour is much more reddish than the first two printings. 


This example is cancelled May 17, 1875 and is well within the date range we suggested for the fifth printing. However, the colour matches the stamp above and is quite different from other shades found on printings made later. So my best guess is that this is the third printing. 


The fourth printing in purple and deep mauve. Again, this is cancelled in \May 1875, which is in the period in which we would normally expect to find the fifth printing. The colour though is is much lighter and rosier than on the other printings. 


The fifth printing in slate lilac. This colour lacks the rosiness of the other shades. On this printing, the duty and head plates are the same colour. 


The fifth printing in a slightly paler shade of slate lilac.  This example is dated July 16, 1875, which places it in the period for the sixth printing. However, it matches other used examples dated May 1875, which is to early for the sixth printings. 


The last printing in reddish lilac and pale dull claret. This is a very distinct colour combination that is quite unlike an of the other printings. 


Here is a used example, with a little less red in the pale dull claret of the duty plate, and the characteristic Lagos diamond barred grid cancel. 


There appear to have been two kinds of Crown CC watermarked paper:

  • Paper which shows no clear mesh
  • Paper showing a feint vertical mesh
In general, the early printings tend to be on paper showing no clear mesh, while the later printings are on paper showing feint vertical mesh. The scans below show the differences:


An example of the first printing. No clear mesh is visible. 


An example of the fifth printing. If you look closely, you can see the fine vertical mesh in the paper.

This concludes my discussion of the 1d lilac Lagos stamp watermarked crown CC and perforated 12.5. We have a good selection of mint and used examples in our e-bay store, which you can view by clicking on the following link:

Next week's post will look at the 2d blue printings. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Queen Victoria Surface Printed Issue of Lagos Perforated 12.5 Line 1874-1876

Today's post will deal with the very first issue of Nigerian postage stamps: the Queen Victoria surface printed issue produced by De La Rue and first released in 1874. It will surprise many collectors to learn that there were no fewer than seven printings of these stamps issued between May 12, 1874 and May 13, 1875. With careful study and attention to colours, paper differences and cancellations, it is possible, I believe to distinguish them all. Despite this relatively high number of printings, the print quantities themselves were very small, with the result, that overall, these are by all accounts, very scarce stamps, especially mint with full original gum. Gibbons prices mint stamps with gum in fine condition, but in my experience, most mint stamps I encounter either have no gum at all, are sweated gum, or re-gummed. When the stamps are found with original gum, it is often very heavily hinged, or have pencil markings. Given the circumstances of the overall scarcity of the stamps, I do not believe that these issues should deter you from buying such stamps. I have never seen any mint blocks or multiples of any kind on either this or the perf. 14 crown CC issues, which again, is another indication of their immense scarcity.

Perforations present another challenge on this issue in the sense that most of the time they are not cleanly cut, which tends to turn off collectors who are not accustomed to rough perforations. Occluded perforations are the norm on these, and it is often only the last printings that have what most collectors would recognize as clean cut perforations.

The Stamp Designs Printings and Quantities Issued


1d Mauve

First printing - May 12, 1874 - 1,980 stamps.
Second printing - September 14, 1874 - 2,400 stamps
Third printing - November 18, 1874 - 3,060 stamps
Fourth printing - December 14, 1874 - 3,180 stamps
Fifth printing - February 3, 1875 - 3,000 stamps
Sixth printing - May 13, 1875 - 6,180 stamps
Overall total - 19,800 stamps


2d Blue

First printing - May 12, 1874 - 1,980 stamps
Second printing - September 14, 1874 - 2,520 stamps
Third printing - February 3, 1875 - 3,060 stamps
Fourth printing - May 13, 1875 - 6,540 stamps
Overall total - 14,160 stamps

3d Red brown
First printing - November 18, 1874 - 3,000 stamps
Second printing - December 14, 1874 - 3,300 stamps
Third printing - February 3, 1875 - 3,000 stamps
Fourth printing - May 13, 1875 - 6,480 stamps
Overall total - 15,780 stamps

4d Carmine

First printing - May 12, 1874 - 1,920 stamps
Second printing - August 13, 1874 - 2,160 stamps
Third printing - September 14, 1874 - 2,520 stamps
Fourth printing - November 18, 1874 - 3,180 stamps
Fifth printing - December 14, 1874 - 3,060 stamps
Sixth printing - February 3, 1875 - 3,180 stamps
Seventh printing - May 13, 1875 - 6,300 stamps
Overall total - 22,320 stamps

6d Green

First printing - May 12, 1874 - 2,040 stamps
Second printing - August 13, 1874 - 2,160 stamps
Third printing - September 14, 1874 - 2,520 stamps
Fourth printing - November 18, 1874 - 3,240 stamps
Fifth printing - December 14, 1874 - 3,240 stamps
Sixth printing - February 3, 1875 - 3,060 stamps
Seventh printing - May 13, 1875 - 6,360 stamps
Overall total - 22,620 stamps

 1/- Orange (both types shown)

First printing - November 18, 1875 - 3,120 stamps
Second printing - December 14, 1874 - 3,120 stamps
Third printing - February 3, 1875 - 3,000 stamps
Fourth printing - May 13, 1875 - 6,360 stamps
Overall total - 15,600 stamps

In looking at the above quantities, at least three things become readily apparent:

1. These stamps are very scarce, with between 14,160 and 22,320 stamps printed of each value. To put this quantity in perspective, consider that most surface printed stamps of this period from GB were printed in the millions. Other colonies with large Caucasian populations such as Ceylon, Mauritius, Barbados, Bermuda and so forth had print quantities much larger than this for the lowest denominations. Now of course what really counts is not the quantity printed, but the quantity surviving. However, considering that these were issued before the Crown Agents retained stocks to sell to collectors and stamp dealers in the UK, we would expect that the survival rate of any stamps, would be much lower, given the impact that the tropical climate of Nigeria has on paper and gum. 

2. All of the values are nearly equally scarce, with the 1d, 2d and 3d being every bit as scarce as the 1/-. Yet the Gibbons values for the 1/- are between five and eight times as much for the 1/- than the other values. In used condition, the 6d is a relatively inexpensive stamp, even though the quantity of 4d stamps printed was almost exactly the same. Therefore it is fair to conclude that the Gibbons and Scott catalogue prices for these stamps make absolutely no sense at all, given the quantities printed. 

3. The last printings of each and every value are by far the most common, if the word common can even be used, with over 6,000 of each of the stamps coming from this printing. This means that there is a good chance that the stamp you have is from this printing. The other implication is that the catalogue values can reasonably be regarded as applying only to the stamps from this later printing. The very first printings of each value are exceedingly scarce, with fewer than 2,000 being printed, and it stands to reason that these should be far more valuable than the later printings. How much more valuable is not clear, but I would expect that 100% premium would not be unreasonable. 

The low quantities make it very clear that any multiples, whether they be mint or used, will be actual rarities, and not merely scarce.

Intended Usages

The intended usages for the stamps of this issue were as follows:

  • The 1d lilac was used primarily for local letters up to 1/2 ounce, as an add-on for each additional 1/2 ounce, and newspapers.
  • The 2d blue was used primarily for local letters weighing more than 1/2 ounce, but less than 1 ounce.
  • The 3d red brown was used for local letters between 1-11/2 ounces, or local parcels not exceeding 8 ounces.
  • The 4d carmine was used either for local letters weighing 11/2-2 ounces or letters to other West African ports not exceeding 1/2 ounce. 
  • The 6d green was used either for local parcels weighing between 8-16 ounces or letters to the UK weighing less than 1/2 ounce. 
  • The 1/- orange would have been used primarily for 1 ounce letters to the UK, but could also have been used on heavier parcels. 

Design, Engraver, Plates and Plate Layout

The design was a hybrid of the designs used for the South Australia 1d stamp and the first issue of St. Christopher. The engraver of the design is believed to have been De La Rue's chief engraver, M. Jean Ferdinand Joubert. 

Two plates were used for printing:

  • The key plate, which comprised the entire design except for the value, and
  • The duty plate, which was the words of value.
The key plate used for all issues up to 1901 was plate 1, and the stamps were printed in sheets of 60 being laid out in 10 horizontal rows of 6 stamps. The sheet margins of the sheets bore no jubilee border lines, but the key plate #1 was printed in white on a ball of colour located both above stamp #2 and underneath stamp #59 in the sheet. In addition, the "current number" was printed in colour in a white oblong with voided corners, above stamp #5 and under stamp #56. I have only ever seen these on the later issues. In fact the earliest issue I have with these marginal markings like this is the first Crown CA issue of 1882. The current number is interesting. Many collectors misinterpret this as a plate number, when it is not. What it actually represents is the order in which plates were laid down since 1861, regardless of country. In 1874 each colony was allocated its own sequence of numbers, starting from number 1 in each case. Thus for these issues, we would expect the number to always be "1", though a different number would signify the existence of more than one plate. This system was eventually abandoned, but continued in use until the mid 1890's. 

There were two different duty plates used for the 1/- value. The first one is shown in the scan on the left. In this type, the words "one shilling" are 15.5 mm long, and there is no crossbar to the "g". The second type is shown in the scan at right, and is the more common of the two. The letters are heavier, 16.5 mm long and there is a distinct crossbar to the "g". 

Paper and Gum

The paper used for this issue was a medium white wove, watermarked crown CC. The gum was colourless, thin and matte. It is very distinct and quite unlike any gum seen on the crown CA issues, which is yellowish by comparison. Here is what the back of a typical mint stamp from this issue looks like:


This stamp is the second printing of the 2d and what stands out on this is the lack of clear mesh in the paper and the thickness of the gum. The first printings were made on paper that shows clear mesh and tended to have slightly thicker and shinier gum than the later printings which were on paper showing a no visible mesh. The gum used on the perf. 14 crown CC issues was thinner by comparison to the gum used on these issues. Here are some examples to show the difference between the papers used:


A used copy of the first printing 2d. Note the visible vertical mesh.


A used example of the fifth printing of the 1d. Note the complete lack of visible mesh. 


Because the duty plate was printed separately from the key plate, there are often instances where the colour of the inscription differs from the colour of the rest of the stamp. This becomes critical to identifying the different printings. Below are two scans of two printings of the 2d blue, which show how different these colours can be:


The first printing - note how the colour of the words is the same as the rest of the stamp.


The 4th printing. It is a little hard to see on this scan, but if you look closely and allow you eyes to adjust, you will see that the colour of the words "two pence" is a greenish blue in comparison to the deep bright blue of the rest of the stamp. Here are two more scans, showing the differences on the 1d:


The first printing of the 1d reddish violet.


The third printing of the 1d reddish lilac and dull purple.

Cancellations and Manuscript Markings



The very first cancellations were Lagos CDS's that had only a time code and no year date.


The next cancels were almost identical, but had the year date.


The cancellation most often seen on the last printings of all values. This was an "L" inside a barred diamond grid. It was introduced in early 1876. 

Many collectors dislike the last type, as it was often struck heavily and will insist on CDS cancels. However, this type is the normal cancellation used on the last printings of this issue, and as long as it is struck clearly, stamps should not be downgraded by collectors just because they are not cancelled with a CDS. The undated types are all rare and worth a considerable premium. Nearly all the used 1/- stamps that I encounter are cancelled with the barred diamond grid unless they are the first type. Type 2 examples with CDS cancels are scarce and worth a premium as well. 

Manuscript Markings


Occasionally one will come across a stamp like the one shown above where a manuscript marking is visible in conjunction with the cancel. It could be easily dismissed as a fiscal marking or pen cancellation. However another explanation is more plausible. J.F Ince, in his work titled "The Postage Stamps and Postal Stationery of the Colony of Lagos 1874-1906" suggests that these were the initials of the original owners of the stamps. He goes on to discuss how in the Falkland Islands there was a system whereby a person or firm that was far away from a post office could send unfranked mail to the office that would then frank the mail with stamps that they held on account for the person or firm. In order to avoid mixing up one person's stamps with another, the stamps were marked with a manuscript letter or set of initials. He goes on to express doubts about the plausibility of this theory as it relates to this issue on the grounds that the only examples he saw were marked with the letter J. However the above example is not the letter J, and I have other examples with different letters. I am convinced that his theory is correct and that these represent ownership markings. In light of the overall scarcity of the basic stamps, these must be quite rare in reality. 

Plate Flaws

I have noticed several plate flaws on this issue, some of which are definitely constant. I have determined this as a result of seeing the exact same flaws on later issues. Unfortunately not enough large multiples exist to establish the exact plate positions of these flaws. I will add additional scans of the other flaws as more become available, but for now, here are the flaws that I have encountered so far:

Frame Break Below Last "E" of "Pence"

Clear break in the frameline below "Pence". I have only found this on the 6d so far and not on the later issues. 

Small Frame Break between the "S" and "T" of "Postage"

I have only found this on the 1d so far. 

The truncated First "N" of "Penny"

You can see that the first "N" of "Penny" is clearly shorter than the second. I have found this on the 1d carmine crown CA stamps, which suggests that it was never corrected, and is constant. 

Flaw in "Y" of Penny

A little white bubble appears in the stem of the "Y". I have found this on later issues, suggesting that it is indeed constant and was never corrected. 

Broken Frame at Lower Left

This is quite a dramatic frame break and occurs in the lower left corner of the design. I do not yet know if it is constant, as I have only seen it on this copy of the 2d.

String of Pearls Flaw

What resembles a string of pearls appears above the letters of value. Again, I have only seen it on this copy of the 2d, so I do not know if it is constant. 

The Dot After "G"

This may be a freak flaw, as I have only seen it on this copy of the 2d. 

The Apostrophe Flaw

I have only seen this flaw on this printing of the 2d. So it may not be constant.

The "T" Flaw

This is definitely constant, and was never corrected, as I have seen this on every single printing of the 2d from this issue all the way up to the bicolour issue of 1887. 

The cracked "TH"of "Three" Flaw

Although I don't yet have a scan to upload, this constant flaw appears on the 3d red brown. I have two used examples that are exactly the same, so I know it is constant. However, I have not seen it on any 3d stamp after 1876, so it would appear that it has been corrected in later issues. It consists of a crack in the letters "TH" of "Three".

None of these plate flaws are listed in Gibbons, which is not all that surprising, given that practically none of the flaws that are now listed for other colonies, such as the "detached triangle", "damaged S" and the like were listed until very recently. They are a big deal because the printing standards for De La Rue were extremely high. Plate flaws of any kind seldom occurred and the immense rarity of those that do exist becomes very apparent when one considers that over 60 crown colonies each had several stamp issues printed by De La Rue. All in all, they printed millions upon millions of stamps between 1860 and the late 1950's with the number bearing any kind of flaw being minuscule. 

Specimens and Proofs

All of the stamps are known overprinted "Cancelled". Two different types of font are known, but unfortuntely I do not have an image of either to show here. In addition, they all exist overprinted "specimen" in two differerent fonts. Again, I do not have any examples that I can illustrate here, as they are all very rare. 

An essay is known of the 1d with a printed head in mauve and a hand painted frame, also in mauve, and with the value in red. It is on a glazed card, dated "16 Jan 74" and marked "Approved M.S". 

Eight different die proofs are known of this issue:

  • On white glazed card, printed in black, marked "Before Hardening" and dated "Mar 25, 1874".
  • On white glazed card printed in black with the value blank.
  • On white glazed card printed in lilac with the value blank and overprinted "specimen".
  • On white glazed card, printed in black, marked "Before Hardening", endorsed in pencil "Penny Halfpenny" and dated "Mar 25, 1874".
  • On white glazed card, printed in black, marked "After Hardening", with the value "Penny Halfpenny added", and undated.
  • On glazed card, printed in black, value blank, marked "Before Hardening", with "Threepence" in the lower right corner in watercolour. It is also annotated in pencil "This is too small, Mr. W.W.D says larger". The initials W.W.D likely stand for William Warren De La Rue, who was a partner in the firm at the time. 
  • On an irregular piece, maximum size 110 x 42 mm, bearing cut down die proofs of the design without value; 1d, 2d, 4d and 6d value tablets and then marked "April 2, 60 leads each".
  • On an irregular piece 42 x 46 mm with similar die proofs of the 3d and 1/- each with manuscript "Lagos" and the entire piece marked "Oct. 31st 60 leads each plate" and endorsed in red ink dated 'Nov. 1874".
These pieces are all unique as far as I know. The "Penny Halfpenny" value was used for postal stationery, which consisted of letter cards and reply cards. Although the design was first prepared in 1874, the first postal stationery items would not be issued until 1879. 

Two different plate proofs are known:

  • The 1d as issued, but imperforate., and
  • the 6d as issued, but imperforate.
Again, these are both very rare, if not unique. 


There are several different types of forgeries that I have found of the stamps of this issue. Fortunately all of them are quite crude and can be easily spotted. Below are some examples of what I have encountered:

These last two have printed crown CC watermarks. 

This concludes my overview of this issue.The next posts will deal with each value individually and will describe the characteristics of each printing, and provide tips for how to identify them. 

We have listed all our 1d and 2d stamps in our store. You can view them by clicking on the following link:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Coloured Papers Of The Colonial Period Stamps

Image result for Lagos stamps

Today's post will discuss the various coloured papers that are found on some of the stamps of Nigeria, both in the period after 1914 and in the pre-1914 period. Starting in 1904 with the Edward VII issues of Lagos, certain  stamps having a face value above 2d were printed on a coloured paper. There were four basic colours found, with the denominations most commonly associated with them indicated:

  • Blue - used either for the 2.5d or later for 2/6 stamps.
  • Yellow - used either for 3d, & 4d stamps, and later for 5/- stamps.
  • Green - used either for the 1/- or 10/- stamps.
  • Red - used either for the 1d Lagos stamps or the one pound stamps.
For the pre-1914 issues, the stamp catalogues only list one paper for each stamp. While the paper is generally coloured through and appears the same colour on both the front and back of the stamp, careful study of multiple examples of the stamps will reveal that there are differences in the colours of the paper, which can be generalized as follows:
  • The blue papers can be found either with a greenish tinge to the blue, or with a greyish tinge to the blue. I have seen this on the Lagos 2.5d's and to a lesser extent on the Northern Nigeria 2/6d's, and the Southern Nigeria 2/6d's. 
  • The yellow papers can be found with a greenish tinge and an orangy tinge. Again I have found this on the Northern Nigeria 3d's & 4d's and the Southern Nigeria 3d's and 4d's. 
  • The green papers can be found with either a yellowish tinge to the green, or a bluish tinge. I have seen this on all the Northern Nigeria 1/- stamps as well as the Southern Nigeria stamps that are found on this paper. 
  • The red papers can be found in a brighter red shade as well as a brick red shade. I haven't examined enough Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria one pound stamps to say for certain what the full range of paper shades is on this values. However, I can confirm that the 1d Lagos stamps of the Edward VII issues can be found in the full range of red shades. 
Where the papers become very interesting is in the George V Keyplate issues. The variations found apply to all the crown colonies that issued stamps in the standard keyplate design. During this period, the papers used could either be coloured through, or could have a surface coating that was coloured and incorporated into the chalk coating, so that the colour of the stamp paper as seen from the front, is different from the back. This aspect of Commonwealth philately causes much confusion among collectors who are trying to identify single stamps, with the result that many are identified incorrectly. I will describe the colour combinations found on the Nigeria issues and provide tips to help you identify them correctly from just a single stamp. For this period, only the yellow papers and green papers are addressed in the Gibbons catalogue. I will say though that the blue papers and red papers do display a considerable amount of variation in colour, especially on the later issues watermarked crown and script CA, which were issued in the 1920's. 

Yellow Papers

The main colour variations listed in Gibbons for the 3d, 4d and 5/- keyplate stamps are as follows:
  • yellow front and white back.
  • lemon front and back.
  • deep yellow front and yellow back.
  • pale yellow front and orange-buff back.
  • pale yellow front ad buff back.
  • pale yellow front and back.
The first printings were generally those with the white backs. They are easy to identify, but the yellow surface colouring can vary from lemon, which has a distinct greenish tinge, to yellow, to deep yellow. The second two, being the lemon and deep yellow papers date from about 1915. Lemon always has a distinct greenish tinge, which is unmistakable once you see it and commit it to memory. It is a very bright, rich and vibrant yellow, which has no orange whatsoever. The deep yellow in contrast, contains no green at all and quite often contains a hint of orange. The back is paler than the front, and can sometimes contain a slight greenish tinge to the yellow, but not nearly as much as those on lemon paper. I find the best way to identify this paper is by the front colour and also by the thickness, as this paper is much thicker than the normal lemon paper. This thicker paper is scarce and the best printings of the 3d and 4d are on this paper, as are some of the better printings of the 5/-. 

The orange buff and buff backs appeared in 1920. For reasons I am not sure of, Gibbons does not list the buff backed paper in used condition. I suspect it may have to do with the fact that the colours on this stamps run and the paper loses much of its colour when soaked. These two varieties of paper are confusing I find because the surface colour on all the stamps I have examined (and I have examined many) is more of a creamy yellow to creamy pale yellow, which contains neither orange or green. So both the orange-buff and buff descriptions are a bit misleading for the front. Buff is a creamy brownish yellow. It contains neither orange, nor green normally, whereas orange-buff will contain some orange to the brownish yellow. These descriptors are fairly accurate when it comes to the backs of these stamps. The best printings of the 5/- are on these papers, while the 3d's and 4d's on this paper are much better than the common white backs or lemon backs. 

The pale yellow paper is fairly distinct and makes its appearance in 1921. It is a creamy yellow that contains a fair amount of white, no orange, and no green. It most closely resembles the colour of butter.

Gibbons makes no distinction of the papers found on the 4d and 5/- issues with the script CA watermark. However, there is quite a bit of variation to be found with pale yellows and lemons to be found on both values. 

Green Papers

The green papers are in my experience trickier than the yellow papers. The main variations listed in Gibbons for the 1/- and 10/- stamps are:
  • blue green front, white back
  • yellow green, white back.
  • blue green front and back.
  • yellow green front and back.
  • blue green front and pale olive back.
  • emerald front and pale olive back.
  • emerald front and emerald back.
It is the pale olive back colour that is the problematic aspect to this paper. The reason is that it can be very pale - so pale as to be mistaken for white. The 10/- on blue green paper with pale olive back is one of the rarest stamps of Nigeria. I find the best way to identify the pale olive back in this case is to look at the gum, which is generally flat a and somewhat matte, and then the red colour of the value tablet, which is very bright and does not contain any blue or orange to the red. It almost looks like a fluorescent red - it is so very distinct, that once you see it, you won't forget it. The main difficulty you will find with the backs is telling the pale olive apart from the yellow green. Generally, the yellow green will be much deeper than the pale olive and it only occurs on paper that is also yellow-green on the front, whereas the pale olive backs are always found on paper that is either blue-green or emerald on the surface, but never yellow-green. 

The emerald colour is a deep, bright green that is neither bluish or yellowish. It is one of the most common colours, and nearly all of the 1/- and 10/- stamps from the later script CA watermark are on emerald paper. The blue green is fairly easy to identify and is the most common paper colour. This generally leaves you with yellow-green, which is nothing like either the emerald or the blue-green, though it is not really a true yellow-green. I find it to be more of a creamy green. I have found some examples of the 1/- script CA on yellow-green paper.

Again, the white backs and blue greens are the first papers, appearing in 1914. The yellow-green paper appears in 1915, while the blue green with pale olive back makes its appearance in 1917. The emerald papers with pale olive back appears in 1920 and the straight up emerald paper appears in 1921.

Once again Gibbons is completely silent on the paper colours used on the script CA watermark stamps. Again, I have seen a considerable amount of variation in the colour, with most stamps having emerald paper that varies in intensity and yellow-green paper. One curious aspect that I have noticed to the paper on these issues, is that it often contains tiny inclusions and fibres, almost resembling granite paper. 

This concludes my discussion of the coloured papers found on the colonial issues of Nigeria. I have now covered the general characteristics of each printer's work as well as the general characteristics of the stamp papers used by De La Rue. I am now ready to start discussing the specific issues in detail. My next series of posts will discuss the first issue of Lagos, which was issued in 1874 and was line perforated 12.5. It was replaced by an identical issue in 1876 that was line perforated 14 instead of 12.5. There were up to six printings of each value and each value deserves its own post, so my next 6 posts will deal with this issue: one general overall post and then a detailed post for each value.