Distinguishing the Six Printings of the 2d Blue Queen Victoria Crown CC Keyplate Perforated 14 (1876-1880)
First Printing - Dispatched May 9, 1876
At a mere 106 sheets, of 60 or 6,360 stamps, this is the third scarcest of the six printings. The colour is very distinct, being a clear, dark blue. The colour is the same for both the head plate and the duty plate. The paper is a thin, hard wove paper, that has a fine vertical mesh. The gum is a thin, flat coulourless gum that has a satin sheen. The used examples that I have seen are all canceled with the Lagos diamond barred grid cancel.
Here is a scan of the front and back of my only mint example:
Second Printing - Dispatched June 12, 1877
This printing is the second scarcest, at 105 sheets of 60 stamps, or 6,300 stamps. I am very fortuate to have a single, solitary used example that bears a red, dated Liverpool Packet cancellation from March 1878. This means that it can only be either the first, or the second printing. It is closer to the shade of the third printing, than the first printing, which leads me to conclude that this stamp is from the second printing.
The colour of the head plate and the duty plate are very close, being a pure blue tending towards dull blue. The duty plate colour has a very slight greenish tinge, that is not present in the stamps of the third printing as we shall see. I do not have any mint examples of this printing, but I suspect that the gum will have the same characteristics as the first and third printings, being a flat, thin colourless gum. The paper is a thick, hard wove, with no obvious vertical mesh and in which the watermark is not readily visible.
Here is the front and the back of my only used example:
Third Printing - Dispatched August 28, 1878
This is the second most common printing, at 200 sheets of 60 stamps, or 12,000 stamps. It is very close in shade to the second printing, but the blue is duller and lacks the greenish cast. The colour of the head plate and duty plates are identical, and the paper and gum characteristics are as before. There is some variation in the intensity of the blue, but in all cases, it is dull. All the used examples I looked at have been cancelled with the Lagos diamond barred grid cancel.
Here is a scan of the front and back of one of my many mint copies:
Fourth Printing - Dispatched July 23, 1879
At 105 sheets of 60, or 6,300 stamps, this is tied with the second printing as the second scarcest of the printings that were made. I have identified this printing primarily by the colour, which for both the head and duty plate, is a very deep bright greenish blue. I only have two used examples, both of which are cancelled with the barred oval killer, which suggests very strongly that it is one of the later printings. The low number in my stock also supports the notion that it is from one of the scarcer printings. These can only be the first, second fourth and fifth printings. I have already identified the fifth printing as having a comb perforation, as you will see below, so it is not the fifth printing. It is neither the first, nor the second printing, because of the shade. So it must, by process of elimination, be the fourth printing. The paper is a thin, soft wove, that does not show obvious vertical mesh.
Here is the front and back of my nicest used example:
Fifth Printing - Dispatched November 26, 1879
100 sheets of 60 stamps were produced for this printing, making it the scarcest of the six printings, at 6,000 stamps. The main distinguishing characteristic is the comb perforation, as opposed to line, which was the perforation used for the other four printings. The second main characteristic is the colour, which was the same for both the head plate and the duty plate. The colour is a deep pure blue that is neither greenish of greyish. The gum on mint examples is thicker and a deep yellowish cream, with a slightly crackly surface, and a satin sheen. This is a huge departure from the colourless, thin gum found on the earlier line perforated stamps. All the used examples I have seen so far, are cancelled with the barred oval grid killer.
The scans below show my only mint example:
And now for a used example:
Sixth Printing - Dispatched November 18, 1880
This printing numbered 203 sheets of 60 stamps, being 12,180 stamps in total, making it the most common printing of the six. There are several characteristics that distinguish it. The first is the comb perf. The second is the colour, which is slightly different for the head plate, and the duty plate. The head plate is a deep blue, that is neither greenish, nor greyish, nor is does it contain any black that would make it dark. It is just an intense, pure shade of blue. The duty plate (words of value) is a deep greenish blue. The paper can be found with obvious vertical mesh, as well as with much less obvious mesh. Finally, the vast majority of used examples will be cancelled with a barred oval killer, rather than the Lagos barred diamond grid. The gum on the one mint example I have is a thick crackly cream gum, with a semi-gloss sheen - very different from the flat, thin satin gum that is found on the earlier line perforated printings.
The scans below show the front and back of my only mint example:
Now, here is a used example: