Printings of the 4d Mauve Queen Victoria Keyplate Definitive Watermarked Crown CA 1884-1886
- July 8, 1884 - 58 sheets of 60, or 3,480 stamps.
- September 24, 1884 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
- December 16, 1884 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps
- April 21, 1885 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
- July 13, 1885 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
- September 29, 1885 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
- December 29, 1885 - 62 sheets, or 3,720 stamps.
- March 29, 1886 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
- June 30, 1886 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
- October 12, 1886 - 76 sheets, or 4,560 stamps.
- December 13, 1886 - 80 sheets, or 4,800 stamps.
- All the printings made after April 1886, i.e. the last three printings should come with the colourless double gum that causes the mint stamps to curl vertically. This gum will be smooth and not crackly.
- Printings made between July 1885 and March 1886 will tend to have the smooth, toned single layer of gum that does not cause the stamps to curl, but is not crackly. This would correspond to printings five through eight.
- Printings prior to July 1885, i.e, the first four printings, will be found with crackly gum, or will be found without any gum at all.
- Most copies with CDS cancels dated after 1888 will generally be from the last three printings, as will copies cancelled with the 9-bar oval killers. In the case of the 2d slate that I studied last week, I found that the 9-bar killers were confined almost entirely to the last printing. I'm not sure whether that will be the case here, but we'll see.
- Although the 8-bar oval obliterator was in use until 1897, my expectation is that most copies cancelled with it will have come from the first 8 printings (i.e. before March 1886).
- The very first printing should have a smooth, thick gum that gives the paper a very stiff feel.
Results of the Sort
As was the case when I sorted the 2d stamps I initially identified 12 different shade groupings, which I consolidated into 11 groups on the basis of two of those groups being very similar to the other. So, once again, I believe that I have all 11 printings, though the assignment to specific printings is much more difficult, as I do not have a single CDS used example! Generally speaking, most of the characteristics of the early, mid and late printings were consistent with the other stamps I have studied so far. I did have one copy of the mint 4d with the same gum and stiff paper that I have come to regard as the first printings, which further supports the notion that this gum is genuine. However, I also have one mint example,with a thin, smooth colourless gum that is very reminiscent of the crown-CC stamps. I have not yet encountered this on the crown-CA stamps of this period, and I have no idea where to assign it in the sequence, so for now I have placed it as the second printing, since this does not conflict with my classifications of the 2d, which had the crackly gums starting with the third printing. One thing that I did notice that was different with regard to cancellations was that the 9-bar oval killers were not limited to the last printings. In fact, this cancellation type appears much earlier, though its use becomes more and more commonplace as time wears on.
In terms of shades, the first printings are a slate violet with a definite bluish undertone, which then becomes progressively paler and reddish until the last printings are closer to shades of mauve or lilac. The colour unfortunately does appear to be susceptible to fading as I have several examples, both used and unused, which I am fairly confident have faded over time. I have done my best to assign them to the correct groups, though I would caution readers that they may not be correct, and they may yet change.
So without further ado, what follows is my best guess at which printings are which. Much of the ordering is conjectural and is based on the assumption that the shades of colour follow a natural progression that changes incrementally. However, this may or may not be the case in actual fact.
First Printing - July 8, 1884
The first printing of this stamp has a head plate that is closest to slate-violet on the Stanley Gibbons colour key, except with a definite bluish undertone. The duty plate colour is very close to the head plate colour, except that it lacks the bluish undertone, being much closer to the true slate violet. The gum as I have stated earlier is thick, smooth and colourless, giving the paper a very stiff feel.
I have one mint, and one used example of this printing. Here is the mint example:
Second Printing - September 24, 1884
I have a single mint stamp and three used stamps that I feel belong to this printing. The mint stamp has a thin, smooth colourless gum, which is very similar to the gum found on the early crown-CC issues. The colour of the head plate is closest to dull violet on the Gibbons colour key, but again, there is a bluish undertone to the colour. The duty plate is again very similar in appearance to the head plate, but upon close examination it is almost a pure bluish violet, without the dullness that the head plate colour has.
Here is my sole, mint example:
Note the prominent circular printing flaw above the Queen's ear. This is the only Lagos stamp that I have seen with this flaw, which leads me to believe that it may either not be constant, or it was constant, arose from damage to the plate, and it was corrected soon after it was discovered. I would welcome input from any collector that has seen this flaw on other stamps.
Here you can also clearly see the overall bluish tone of the colour and the fact that the words "four pence" are clearly deeper and brighter than the remainder of the stamp.
Here are the three used examplesL
Third Printing - December 16, 1884
The one mint example of this printing that I do have had very little gum left on it. However, the gum that was remaining on the back is crackly. In addition, the colour is close enough to the first two printings, that it made sense to classify it as the third printing. Both the head plate colour and the duty plate colour are dull bluish violet.
Here is my mint example:
Fourth Printing - April 21, 1885
Starting with the fourth printing the colour gets milky. I have one mint and two used examples of this printing, which I have assigned on the basis of the gum, and the fact that the colour of this printing is the deepest, and is the closest to the earlier printings. However, I must emphasize that this does not mean that this printing looks similar to the first three. It doesn't at all. The head plate colour is closest to slate-violet on the Gibbons colour key. However, the colour is paler than the slate-violet swatch. In addition, there is still a definite bluish undertone to this colour. The duty plate colour is the same tone, and almost a perfect match to the slate-violet swatch.
Here is my sole mint example:
Fifth Printing - July 13, 1885
I have two mint and three used examples of this printing. The gum on both mint stamps is crackly, through on one of the stamps, the cracks are so fine that you need a loupe to see them. Those characteristics are consistent with the 2d stamps that were printed on this date, so I have classified them here. The colour is similar in terms of intensity to the last printing, but there is no bluish undertone. The head plate colour is a paler version of the slate violet in the Gibbons colour key, but the duty plate colour is almost an exact match.
Here are the two mint examples:
The stamp on the left is slightly bluish compared to the stamp on the right, so it may actually be part of the fourth printing above. However, I felt that is was closer to this printing, so I included it here.
Here are the three used examples:
Sixth Printing - September 29, 1885
Seventh Printing - December 29, 1885
This printing is where I first begin to see the appearance of the 9-bar cancel. For this and the next two printings, I have only used examples, comprising 21 stamps in total - so a good chunk of my stamps come from these three printings. The colour starts to become a bit more vibrant again, losing the slate tone, and becoming more bluish again. The colour of the head plate and duty plate are both closest to pale dull violet on the Gibbons colour key.
Here are my 10 used examples:
Eighth Printing - March 29, 1886
This printing again has the head plate colour the same as the duty plate colour. It is the most vibrant of all the colours, being a pure bluish violet. I have five used singles and one very, very scarce used pair, which are shown here;
Ninth Printing - June 30, 1886
This printing is very similar to the eighth printing in the sense that the head plate and duty plate colours are both bluish violet. The difference is that the colour is just a bit paler than the pure bluish violet of the eighth printing.
Here are the four used examples that I have:
Tenth Printing - October 12, 1886
I have three mint examples of this printing, all of which have smooth, slightly toned gum. It does not seem to be as thick as the double gum that we normally see from this period, so it is possible that this is actually one of the printings made between late 1885 and mid-1886, and that one of those is actually this printing. I have classified this printing here because the colour again undergoes a change whereby it becomes much redder, being closest to slate-lilac on the Gibbons colour key. The duty plate and head plate colours are almost identical, though some stamps show a duty plate colour that is slightly more slate than others.
Here are my three mint examples:
Eleventh Printing - December 13, 1886
This printing has the head plate being printed in slate-lilac, while the duty plate is either deep lilac on some stamps or deep violet on others. I have three used examples: