As I stated in my last post, Ince did not provide a detailed list of printings in his works. Because of that, coupled with the lack of dated postmarks in this period, it is not possible to definitively assign specific printings to specific dates. We do know that at this time that the colony was on the quarterly supply system with the crown agents. This means that there were shipments of stamps to the colony each and every month as they were needed. Now, this does not mean that there was a shipment of every value each quarter - only as supplies were exhausted. Historically, the 1d was included with almost every shipment. However, this was because the local postage rate was 1d per half-ounce. However, the local letter rate was raised from 1d to 2d on March 22, 1879. Thus, the only use for the 1d value during this period was for newspapers, and possibly as a makeup stamp on overweight mail. Pre-printed, private postcards had not been invented yet, so the need for 1d stamps was considerably less than before. This is borne out by the change in quantities printed:
1. The 1874-76 series produced 19,800 stamps over a 1 year period, in six shipments during that time.
2. The 1876-1879 series produced 66,600 stamps over a four year period, in four shipments, averaging 1 shipment per year.
3. This series produced 31,980 stamps over an almost four year period. The number of shipments is not known, but is likely somewhere between 4 and 6 shipments.
So I am going to sort my stock of 19 mint examples and 24 used examples with a view to seeing how many different printings I can identify.
After careful sorting and comparison, I have identified eight groups of stamps that have different colour shades as to the head plates and duty plates. I have identified one group of three very pale stamps also. However, these three stamps might be nothing more than badly faded examples. In order to be more comfortable assigning these to a specific printing, I would like to see mint examples, which will confirm that the shades did not come about as a result of fading.
Both the CDS cancel and the barred grid obilterator were contemporary during this period, although one can probably safely assign printings that are cancelled with predominantly CDS's to the last printings, while those cancelled only with the barred oval obliterators are likely to have come from the beginning of the period.
Paper and perforation are not much help here. All of the stamps are comb perforated 14. The paper is softer and of inferior quality to that found on the crown CC issues. The visibility of the watermark does vary outside fluid, from very faint, to highly visible. Usually on the back side, under a loupe, the paper will have a somewhat rough appearance. This seems to hold across all the printings, as we shall see.
The gum does vary a little bit. The earlier gum is thick and appears quite crackly under a loupe, as well as to the unaided eye. Later, as the period progresses, the gum becomes smoother and less crackly. There is however, one example here which is regummed with a very thick, shiny gum. This must of course be ignored, as the gum is not original.
Here is the scan of the first group of mint examples:
In this first group of stamps, both the head plate, and the duty plate are the exact same colour: a deep reddish lilac. There is an unmistakable reddish undertone to it.
The gum is yellowish, and is both thick and crackly:
Now, let's take a look at two used examples:
Here are the backs:
- First - fifth group
- Second - third group
- Third - first group.
- Fourth - eighth group
- Fifth - fourth groupp
- Sixth - sixth group
- Seventh - seventh group
- Eighth - second group