There were 36,240 stamps printed, making it the largest quantity of stamps out of the 1d, 2d, 3d and 4d values. Yet, mint stamps are extremely scarce, with the vast majority of the examples you will encounter being used. The very first shipment was sent out to the colony on February 14, 1882, and the last was sent on April 28, 1884. Thus there was a period of just over 26 months during which this stamp was current. Given that the Crown Agents supplied stamps on a quarterly basis, and the basic inland postage rate was 2d, this would have seen heavy usage, and therefore, it is reasonable to expect that there should have been 8 or 9 printings.
However, in my examination of the five mint and 37 used examples of this stamp in my stock, I have identified 12 different shade combinations, Some of these are very close to one another, and it is likely that they are mere variations of the same printing. I will describe their characteristics here and then draw some preliminary conclusions about the approximate order of the printings.
The approximate dispatch dates for 9 printings would be as follows:
February 14, 1882
Early June 1882
April 28, 1884
The gum will not be much help here because it was crackly throughout the period while these stamps were current. Most cancellations will be the 8-bar oval killers, though where a printing seems to have been cancelled mostly by the 9-bar type, we can attribute these to later dates in the series, like 1884.
The shade on this stamp shows quite a lot of variation, though at first glance they may appear quite similar. The darkest shades are a definite rose-carmine, with a bluish undertone in which the carmine dominates. In this shade, we will see bright and dull versions, as well as pale versions. Then the carmine diminishes, and the rose begins to dominate, giving rise to carmine-rose shades. Again, these can be deep, dull, pale and bright. Finally, we have rose shades, in which there is no carmine at all. These are generally much paler than the other shades, and can be mistakenly identified as being faded, when in fact, they are different colours altogether. Generally speaking, I found that the duty plate (words "Four Pence") were printed in the same colour as the head plate. However in a couple of instances, there were some very slight differences, which are best seen with a loupe.
Most of the printings are on paper that shows a faint vertical mesh, with watermarks that show clearly without the aid of watermark fluid, but there are some on paper that does not show clear mesh, and for which the watermark is less visible. These would generally fall at the end of the period rather than the beginning or middle.
Looking at the back, the stamps all show faint vertical mesh, and clearly visible watermarks, though the watermark on the left stamp is little faint. This again supports the notion that these are not the last printings, but probably a mid printing made sometime in 1883.
Clearly that third stamp from the left does not belong with this group, as the watermark is brightly visible, and there is very clear vertical mesh, whereas the other stamps show no clear mesh and only faint watermarks. Thus, it would seem like this is one of the last printings made in 1883 or 1884.
- Groups 3 and 4 are the same printing.
- Groups 5 and 6 are the same printing.
- Groups 9 and 12 are the same printing.
February 14, 1882
April 28, 1884
Logically, the cross-over printing will come before the other late printings of which I now believe there were four. Counting back four printings from the last one places this printing in April 1883.
In assigning the other printings to dates, I believe that the shades should logically follow some type of progression. The most carmine of the shades is group 2, followed by group 1, then groups 9 and 12, and finally group 11. Group 11 has the 9-bar killer cancel, which we know dates from a later period. It makes sense then to postulate that the first four printings be assigned as follows:
February 14, 1882 - group 2.
Early June 1882 - group 1.
September 1882 - groups 9 and 12.
December 1882 - group 11.
Looking at the last four printings, I believe the shade progresses from the deep bright rose shades to the bright rose, and finally to the milky rose. So the assignment of these last four printings would appear to be:
July 1883 - group 8
October 1883 - group 10
January 1884 - group 7
April 28, 1884 - groups 5 and 6.
I am comfortable attributing groups 5 and 6 to the April 28, 1884 printing, as three of my five mint examples come from this printing, and one would expect that most mint examples will have come from the last printings, whereas most used examples will have come from the earlier printings, which would have been largely used up for postage. In contrast, there are likely to have been some remainders of the last printing as supplies of the new 4d mauve were arriving in the colony to replace this stamp. It certainly is the case that the number of examples I have from these last 4 printings is relatively small: 12 stamps out of a total of 42 stamps.
This takes me to the end of my discussion of the first crown CA issues of Lagos. The next series of posts will look at the monocoloured second crown CA issue, which complied with UPU regulations. I am going to split this next issue into three parts, as two of the values issued, the 1/2d and 1d were issued right up until 1903, resulting in dozens of printings each, whereas the remaining values, being the 2d, 4d, 6d, 1/-, 2/6d, 5/- and 10/- were entirely replaced by the bicoloured issue by 1887. Thus I will start with the higher values first, and will then dedicate separate posts to the 1/2d and 1d stamps.