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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Printings of the 1/- Orange Queen Victoria Keyplate Definitive Issue of Lagos Watermarked Crown CA 1884-1886

Overview

Today's post will look at how to distinguish the six printings of the 1/- orange definitive of Lagos that was in use between 1884  and 1887 when it was replaced by the bi-coloured black and yellow green definitive stamp.

The six printings were dispatched as follows:


  • First printing - July 8, 1884 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Second printing - December 16, 1884 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Third printing - July 13, 1885 - 62 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,720 stamps.
  • Fourth printing - December 29, 1885 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Fifth printing - June 30, 1886 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Sixth printing - October 12, 1886 - 68 sheets of 60 stamps - 4,080 stamps. 
It will immediately be apparent that the quantities dispatched for each printing were roughly the same, so I would expect that in a given group of stamps taken from random sources, that I should have roughly the same numbers of each printing, as they are all of approximately equal scarcity. 

In distinguishing the printings, I expect the shades, to be of primary importance followed by the gum characteristics. Recalling that the practice of double gumming began in April 1886,  I would expect the first four printings to be singly gummed, while the last two should be doubly gummed. 

Dating the various printings should be made much easier by the fact that dated CDS cancellations started coming back into use around 1884. Several used stamps of this issue are found with late dates into the early 1890's, though I can safely attribute most of these to the last, or second last printings. The 8-barred oval killer and 9-bar killers should be useful in helping to separate the last printings from some of the earlier and intermediate ones as well. 

So my plan is to sort the mint and used stamps that I have separately, and then to match the mint stamps with the used examples. Once I have done this, I will attempt to assign the groups of stamps I have identified to the different dates using the cancellations on the used stamps. 

I have 35 mint and 35 used examples to work with in sorting the printings. 

The Printings

My initial comparison of the stamps led me to identify more than six groups. However, five of these were sufficiently close to one another in terms of their overall appearance that I now believe they likely all come from the same printing, which I have assigned as the first printing, on the basis of the gum, which is crackly, like the first printings of the other crown CA stamps. Then, the other shades fell pretty neatly into five other groups. The cancellations did not turn out to be nearly as useful as I had hoped in assigning the various printings to a date sequence. Instead I relied on:

1. The assumption that the shades follow a logical progression and that two printings that are a similar shade, but differ in terms of gum characteristics for example, would be adjacent to one another on the timeline.

2. The characteristics of the gum, i.e. whether it was crackly, whether it appeared to be smooth, toned single gum, or whether it appeared to be the less toned, smooth double gum that was introduced in April 1886.

These characteristics turned out to be sufficiently useful that I believe I was able to correctly identify all six printings. 

The orange colour exhibits considerable variation from a bright reddish orange that varies in terms of how much yellow is included in the colour, to a dirty yellow orange, to a deep brownish red orange, and finally to a deep brown orange. On some of the printings the duty plate and the head plate colour are identical, and then on others, the duty and head plate colours are completely different, and these differences are readily apparent even without the use of a 10x loupe, as we shall see. 

First printing - Dispatched July 8, 1884 

As I stated above, the orange shade of this printing exhibited several minor variations, resulting in five subgroups. However, all of them are the closest thing to pure orange of any of the six printings, though some of the groups show either a slight hint of red, yellow or brown to the orange. However, in no case is the hint so marked as to make one feel that the shade is a "red orange" "yellow orange" or "brown orange". The gum on the mint examples of these stamps is always clearly crackly in appearance, even without the use of a loupe. The paper often shows faint vertical mesh and the watermark is usually very clear without the use of watermark fluid as we shall soon see.

Shade Group 1

The first shade group is a deep reddish orange that is neither bright, nor dull. At first glance, the duty plate and head plate colours appear to be the same, but under a loupe, you will be able to see that the orange of the duty plate is just every so slightly paler than the head plate. I have four mint and ten used examples that fall into this group. Lets take a look at the mint ones:


The scan is a bit deceiving because it makes these look slightly brownish when they are not. The third stamp from the left looks more the pure orange colour that this group is. Notice how the words of value (duty plate) appear to be the same colour as the rest of the stamp (head plate). Now here are the backs showing the gum:


It is difficult to see the crackliness of the gum on these, because the cracks are fine, but they are definitely there and visible without a loupe. On these mint examples, there is no obvious mesh visible, nor is the watermark very clear. 

Now, let's take a look at the used examples:


Again, the cancellations make some of these look browner than they actually are. In all cases, the duty plate colour is a pure orange that is slightly paler than the head plate. Most, if not all of these appear to have been cancelled with the 8-bar oval killer, though at first glance, the second stamp from the left in the second row appears to have been cancelled with the 10 bar oval killer used at Ibadan. However, this killer was not introduced there until 1898, based on the other examples of this cancellation that have been found on cover. Upon closer examination of the cancellation on this stamp, it appears that there are actually 2 overlapping strikes of the 9-bar killer. None of these cancellations are wholly inconsistent with the classification of these as coming from this printing, though the 9-bar killer would suggest late usage of this stamp relative to the others. 

Now, let's take a look at the backs of these stamps:


Here, the paper does not show any clear mesh, as would be expected of printings from this year, but the watermarks are very clear. 

Group 2

Here the shade is a deep bright orange. The duty plate colour appears slightly deeper than the head plate colour even without the use of a loupe. I have one mint and one used example. I'll start with the mint one:


Notice how the duty plate is slightly deeper than the head plate, and how the entire shade is a deep bright orange that does not appear either reddish, yellowish or brownish.

Here is the gum side of that stamp:


The crackliness of the gum is a bit more visible on this stamp, particularly toward the bottom of the scan. This example bears the signature of the European expert A. Brun. 

Here is the single used example that I have:


Again, note the deep bright shade and the slightly deeper duty plate colour. 

Here is the back side of that stamp:


Unfortunately this example is thinned at the bottom left, but we can see again a clear watermark. However this time the paper does show a faint vertical mesh. 


Group 3

The shade of this group again is a deep bright orange, that is ever so slighly brighter than group 2. The duty plate and head plate of the stamps in this group are exactly the same shade. I have no mint examples, but two used examples:


Notice here how the duty plate and head plate shades are exactly the same. Both stamps are cancelled with 8-bar oval killers, which does not contradict their classification as early printings. Now let's take a look at the back of these two stamps:



Both stamps show clear watermarks and faint vertical mesh. 

Group 4

The shade in this group is also deep bright orange, but with a very slight hint of brown. Again, the duty plate and head plate are the exact same shade. I have three mint examples of this shade and no used examples. Here they are:


Note the very slight hint of brown to the orange, and the fact that the head plate and duty plate shades are identical. 

Here are the backs of these three stamps:



One of these is unused and has no gum, while the stamp on the right has very little of the original gum remaining. The stamp in the middle has very crackly gum however. 

Group 5

The shade of the stamps in this group is a paler bright orange, that is neither reddish, brownish or yellowish. The duty plate colour appears at first to be the same colour as the head plate, but on closer examination, is very slightly paler than the head plate. I have no mint examples, but I do have four used examples, all of which are cancelled with strikes of the 8-bar oval killer:


Hopefully you can see that these are paler than the other stamps, but not so pale as to move from the bright orange classification to yellow orange. 

Here are the backs:


Here the paper shows no clear mesh and the watermarks are barely visible. Thus, it would seem that the first printings show quite a bit of variation in the paper. This variation is consistent with what I saw in the third printings of the 3d chestnut stamp which were sent out at the same time as this stamp.

Second printing - Dispatched December 16, 1884 

The shade of the stamps from this printing show some variation, but all the shades are a pale orange, which is occasionally yellowish or brownish. One distinguishing characteristic is that the gum of the mint stamps is crackly in appearance, and the duty plate shades are slightly paler than the head plate shades. I have one mint example, and six used ones. The used stamps all appear to have been cancelled with strikes of the 8-bar oval obliterator. 

Here is the single mint example, which is a pale brownish orange:


Note the slight brownish hint to the orange, the slightly pale and dull appearance, and the fact that the duty plate colour is slightly paler than the head plate colour. 

Here is the back of this stamp:


You can hopefully see that the gum has a slight crackly texture, and the watermark is not clearly visible.

Let's look at the used examples:


Here we can see the slight variations in the shade, with the two left hand stamps on each row being a slightly more yellowish orange, compared to the others. The third stamp from the left in the top row and the second stamp from the left on the bottom row are more of a very pale orange, while the second and fourth stamps from the left in the top row have a very slight brownish cast to the orange. 

Let's take a look at the back of these stamps:


Here we have the same degree of variation in the paper as the first printing, with some stamps showing a clear watermark, while on most stamps the watermark is faint. None of the stamps however show clearly visible mesh.

Third printing - Dispatched July 13, 1885 

The shade of this printing is very distinct, and it is the first printing in which the head plate colour is wildly different from the duty plate colour. The head plate is a distinctly dull orange colour, while the duty plate colour is a dull brownish orange. Without a loupe the two colours look similar, but under a loupe, they are completely different. This is the first printing to have the completely smooth, toned single gum.  I have one mint single, and a block of 9 mint stamps from this printing. Here is the mint single:


Note how the head plate and duty plate colours look similar at first, but then as your eyes adjust, you can clearly see that they are quite different. 

Here is what the smooth toned gum looks like:


On this stamp, the vertical mesh reappears and the watermark is faintly visible. 

Fourth printing - Dispatched December 29, 1885

The stamps of this printing have a similar dull brownish orange for the duty plate, except that it is a bit deeper and browner than the last printing. The head plate colour is a deeper orange and brighter orange compared to the third printing, but the stamps are still dull when compared to the stamps from the first printing. I have 12 examples of this printing, but they are all mint. 

Here they are:


It is a bit difficult to see the contrast between the duty plate and the head plate, but the dull appearance of the orange is very plain to see. Here are two stamps from this group, so that you can see the contrast between the duty and head plate colours more clearly:


Notice how the duty plate colour is definitely brownish compared to the rest of the stamp. 


Here are the backs of these stamps:


All stamps have the smooth toned gum that appeared on the last printing. None of them show clear vertical mesh, but the watermarks are all reasonably clear. 

Fifth printing - Dispatched  June 30, 1886

The shades of this printing are a deeper red orange for the head plate and a brownish orange for the duty plate, which is less brownish than the fourth printing. I have 11 mint examples (I will show 10 here) and one used example. 

Here are the mint stamps:


You should be able to see that these are definitely deeper than the stamps of the fourth printing, while being less dull. Once again, close up scans are needed to easily see the contrast between the head plate and duty plate colours:


Notice how the duty plate colours appear to be quiter close to the head plate colours at first. As your eyes adjust to the head plate colour, you will see that once again, they are quite different. 

These stamps are the first to have the double layer of gum. It can be difficult to identify this, but generally the double gummed stamps curl upwards and do not lie flat on the stockpage, whereas all the earlier mint stamps always lie perfectly flat. 

Here are the backs of these stamps, showing the toned double gum:


Again, with the exception of the upper right stamp in the top row, the watermarks are all reasonably clear, and the stamps do not show any clear vertical mesh. 

Let's take a look at the single used stamp from this printing:


This stamp unfortunately has a horizontal crease at the base, but it is a match in terms of shade to the mint examples shown above. The cancellation is only partially visible, but it would appear to be an 8-bar oval killer. Here is the back of that stamp:


Here we see very faint vertical mesh and a faint watermark.

Sixth printing - Dispatched October 12, 1886 

The shade of this printing is similar to the last, but has a distinctly brownish cast. The head plate and duty plate colours are more or less the same this time. I have four mint and 8 used examples. The used stamps appear to be cancelled with a mixture of 8-bar ovals, 9-bar ovals and some dated Lagos CDS cancellations, including one dated April 16, 1894, which is quite late. 

Here are the mint stamps:


Note how this shade is slightly brownish and how the head plate and duty plate colours are the same. 

Here are the backs:


These all have the toned double gum that the last printings had, and the watermarks are either faintly visible, or are clearly visible. None of the four stamps show obvious vertical mesh. 

Finally, here are the 8 used examples:


The variety of the cancels on these supports their classification as the last printings, since the CDS's do not become commonplace until the 1887-1903 issue. As expected the backs show clear watermarks and paper that does not show clear vertical mesh:


This takes me to the end of my discussion of the printings of this value. Next week, I will look at the 6d olive green, which had the same number of printings and were dispatched at the same time as these stamps. We shall see if all six printings can be identified and if they share the same general characteristics as to paper, gum and cancellation that we see here. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Second Crown CA Queen Victoria Keyplate Definitive Issue of Lagos - 1884-1887

Overview

In 1884 the decision was made to finally comply with the standard colour requirements of the Universal Postal Union. Thus it was necessary to issue a new series of stamps that incorporated the required changes. The only value that did not require a colour change, was the 1/- orange, and so it remained orange until the bicoloured Third Crown CA Issue of 1887-1903 replaced it.

Several new denominations appeared in this series. Some of these, like the new halfpenny value, along with the 1d value continued to to be used indefinitely, and were still in use when the Edward VII issues replaced the Queen Victoria Issues in 1903. Others like the 2/6, 5/- and 10/- stamps had a very short life of only six months or so. They are among the rarest stamps of the colony, having had extremely small printings.

The new series consisted of 9 values, which were supplied over a period from July 1884, until December 1886. As the halfpenny and 1d stamps continued to be used in the 1887-1903 series, the next series of posts will attempt to identify the printings of these stamps that were made before 1887.

The Stamps, Issue Quantities And Shipment Dates


Halfpenny dull green.
24,300 stamps issued before 1887 in 6 printings
919,860 stamps issued after 1887 in 36 printings
First dispatch: November 24, 1885.
Last dispatch: December 13, 1886.


1d rose carmine.
41,400 stamps printed in 11 printings before 1887.
1,063,560 stamps issued after 1887 in 38 printings. 
First dispatch: July 8, 1884.
Last dispatch: December 13, 1886.


2d slate.
41,760 stamps printed over 11 printings.
First dispatch: July 8, 1884.
Last dispatch: December 13, 1886.


4d milky violet.
41,760 stamps printed over 11 printings.
First dispatch: July 8, 1884.
Last dispatch: December 13, 1886.


6d sage green.
22,500 stamps printed over 6 printings.
First dispatch: July 8, 1884.
Last dispatch: October 12, 1886.



1/- Deep orange.
22,200 stamps issued over 6 printings.
First dispatch: July 8, 1884.
Last dispatch: October 12, 1886.


2/6d olive black.
900 stamps issued in 1 printing.
Dispatched: October 12, 1886.


5/- blue.
600 stamps issued in 1 printing.
Dispatched: October 12, 1886.


10/- purple brown.
420 stamps issued in 1 printing.
Dispatched: October 12, 1886.


Dispatch Dates For Values Below 2/6

The dispatch dates for the printings of the values other than the three high values are as follows:

Halfpenny Green

First printing: November 11, 1885.
Second printing: December 29, 1885.
Third printing: March 29, 1886.
Fourth printing: June 30, 1886.
Fifth printing: October 12, 1886.
Sixth printing: December 13, 1886.

One Penny Rose Carmine

First printing: July 8, 1884.
Second printing: September 24, 1884.
Third printing: December 16, 1884.
Fourth printing: April 21, 1885.
Fifth printing: July 13, 1885.
Sixth printing: September 29, 1885.
Seventh printing: December 29, 1885.
Eighth printing: March 29, 1886.
Ninth printing: June 30, 1886.
Tenth printing: October 12, 1886.
Eleventh printing: December 13, 1886.

Two Pence Slate

First printing: July 8, 1884.
Second printing: September 24, 1884.
Third printing: December 16, 1884.
Fourth printing: April 21, 1885.
Fifth printing: July 13, 1885.
Sixth printing: September 29, 1885.
Seventh printing: December 29, 1885.
Eighth printing: March 29, 1886.
Ninth printing: June 30, 1886.
Tenth printing: October 12, 1886.
Eleventh printing: December 13, 1886.

Four Pence Milky Violet

First printing: July 8, 1884.
Second printing: September 24, 1884.
Third printing: December 16, 1884.
Fourth printing: April 21, 1885.
Fifth printing: July 13, 1885.
Sixth printing: September 29, 1885.
Seventh printing: December 29, 1885.
Eighth printing: March 29, 1886.
Ninth printing: June 30, 1886.
Tenth printing: October 12, 1886.
Eleventh printing: December 13, 1886.

Six Pence Sage Green

First printing: July 8, 1884.
Second printing: December 16, 1884.
Third printing: July 13, 1885.
Fourth printing: December 29, 1885.
Fifth printing: June 30, 1886.
Sixth printing: October 12, 1886.

One Shilling Deep Orange

First printing: July 8, 1884.
Second printing: December 16, 1884.
Third printing: July 13, 1885.
Fourth printing: December 29, 1885.
Fifth printing: June 30, 1886.
Sixth printing: October 12, 1886.

The remainder of this post will look at some of the broad aspects of this issue. In later posts, I will go through each value and attempt to identify the characteristics of the various printings of the halfpenny through 1/- values.

Specimen Overprints


All values of this series exist with the above type of specimen overprint. However, the high values shown are the only ones that most collectors can hope to acquire, as the others are either unique, or there are only 2 or three known of each. In any event, the high values shown above are rarities by virtually any collector's definition. 

It is reported that the halfpenny and 1d exist with manuscript diagonal specimen overprint. However, the authenticity of them has been in doubt because there  were no examples in the De La Rue collection.  Also, it was reported that 400 of the 1d stamps from the March 1887 dispatch were overprinted in the same style as above. However because no examples have come up for sale in recent years, the existence of these remains unconfirmed. 

Forgeries

The three high values have been forged by Sperati on genuine watermarked paper. They are of extremely high quality and are very dangerous forgeries. I have two examples in my stock, one of the 2/6d, and one of the 10/-. 

The scans below show the genuine stamp on the left, and the forgery on the right:


The 2/6d olive black. The genuine stamp is olive black, whereas the forgery is olive brown. Occasionally olive black forgeries are found, but these fluoresce olive brown under long wave UV, whereas the genuine stamp will still appear black under UV. 


This one is much harder to detect, and generally UV is the best way to detect it. The genuine stamp will appear deep purple under UV, whereas the forgery is pale purple. Also, if you look at the design with a 10x loupe, the lines of the forgery appear rough, whereas the lines of the genuine stamp appear smooth and solid. 

Under UV the genuine 5/- is blue, whereas the forgery is Prussian (greenish) blue.

There are also poor lithographed Panelli forgeries of the 6d through 10/- values. The watermark is forged by impressing it into the paper, and the colours are too light.

Proofs


The above is a proof of the 6d value that is missing the value, and was sold in the 1971 Danson sale. It shows a frame break on the value tablet frame below the "A" of postage. This is a constant flaw as I have seen it on other examples of the 6d. 

Proofs are all very rare to unique, and in addition to the above, the following items are known:

  1. An essay of the halfpenny value consisting of an imperforate proof without value on unwatermarked paper, affixed to piece, with a hand painted "Halfpenny" value tablet below and initialled & dated "15 Oct 85".
  2. Halfpenny die proof of the value tablet. Manuscript "Lagos" above, affixed to piece marked "Oct 29 60 leads" and with red ink (Nov) "24 89" date.
  3. 2d plate proof, perf. 12, without value, similar to the 6d above.
  4. 2d, 4d, 6d imperforate plate proofs on watermarked paper, in issued colours.
  5. 1/- orange imperforate, as issued.
  6. Die proofs of the 2/6d, 5/- and 10/- value tablets, similar to that for the halfpenny, but with the date being October 11, 1886.
Colour Trials

There are a small number of very rare colour trial items from this issue, that can be summarized as follows:

1. A trial with a green head plate and either a mauve brown or a blue duty plate exists on unwatermarked paper, perf. 14.

2. Trials with a lilac head plate, that have either black, mauve, purple, green and blue duty plates exist on unwatermarked paper, perf. 14. 

3. A halfpenny proof perf. 14 on unwatermarked paper exists with the value in black instead of dark green.

4. A sheet dated "Aug. 28/83" marked "Existing Proposed  Schemes of Colours" exists. This sheet shows the 1d to 1/- in the 1874-1875 colours, and labelled "Existing Colours", the 3d and 1/- are marked "This colour cannot be improved upon" with overlap bearing designs for the 1d in red marked "Proposed colour being that established by the international postal convention for this duty"; the 2d in grey, the 4d pale violet and the 6d olive green. All these last designs are marked "proposed colour", and all of these designs have a blank value tablet. 

5. The halfpenny green exists as issued, but on unwatermarked paper. 

6. There exists a piece measuring 167 mm x 243 mm, dated "Feb. 14 '87". It bears a perforated specimen of the 1/2d green, and a second specimen overprinted in black. The first specimen is apparently on crown CA paper, while the overprinted specimen is on unwatermarked paper. 

Other Varieties

There are a number of constant duty plate flaws that I have identified on earlier issues that continue, uncorrected into this issue:

1. The 1d exists with the truncated "n" in "Penny"
2. The 2d exists the the damaged "T" of "Two", in which the stem of the "T" contains a large white bubble. 
3. The 6d exists with a frame break on the value tablet frame just under the "A" of "Postage".

The 1d and 4d are known with watermark inverted, and both the 1d and 2d are known with value omitted. 

Multiples

Although blocks are scarce on the 1887-1903 issue, they are very scarce on this issue. I have to date, only seen a small handful of blocks, all of which I show you below:


A beautiful block of 9 of the 6d from an early printing, in the paler shade.


A lovely lower right plate block in the deep olive green shade.


This is a superb postally used block of 4 cancelled with a complete strike of an 8-bar oval killer. Postally used examples of this value are worth more than mint by a factor of 8:1, so a block like this is a real prize. 


A lovely block of 9 of an early printing of the 1/- in a dull orange shade.


And now for the best piece in my stock: a top sheet margin block of 12 showing both the current number, and the plate number of the 1/- in a deep, rich shade of orange. 

This concludes my overview of this issue. Next week, I will begin looking at the printings in greater detail, starting with the 6d value, and the 1/- values, as they both have the same number of printings, released on the same dates. So they should have similar characteristics, which I can then use to help sort the 1d, 2d and 4d values. Then, and only then, can I sort the halfpenny value.