The 5d lilac and dark green keyplate stamp of Lagos was one of three stamps that was first dispatched to the colony on December 30, 1893 and was issued to facilitate the payment of registration fees on parcels. The other two stamps were the 7.5d and the 10d. The 5d paid for indemnity up to 12 pounds, while the 7.5d paid up to 24 pounds and the 10d paid up to 36 pounds of value.
These three stamps should provide some important reference points to help us distinguish the printings of the other values, since they were in use for only a portion of the total period from 1887 to 1903. According to Ince, a total of 92,160 stamps were printed of the 5d, and 57,540 unsold remainders were destroyed in London. So the issue quantity was fairly limited, and suggests that there were probably nowhere near 4 printings per year that the stamp was current. The last shipment was August 19, 1901, which mde for a total period of use of 7 years and eight months. There were thus many fewer than 31 printings! How many there were is a question I will attempt to determine with this post. I am fortunate to have 93 mint and used singles as well as one mint block of 4 available for study. By looking carefully at the degree of plate wear, as indicated by the clarity of the hair and diadem, as discussed in my previous posts, in addition to the shades of the head and duty plates, I should be able to identify with a fair degree of accuracy how many printings there were, and approximately when many of them were made.
On my first sort of these stamps, I was able to separate them into six groups, with the sixth being stamps that were so heavily cancelled or rubbed as to not be useful as the true degree of plate wear could not be accurately assessed. The next step is to go through each of these groups and further sort them by shade and a more detailed assessment of the wear if warranted. It is also possible that this process will result in some reclassifications between printings, as it must be recognized that not every subject on the printing plate will have worn to the exact same degree. Therefore this method is really just a preliminary sort to begin breaking down the stamps into manageable groups.
After sorting for shades, which were very similar between the groups, I was able to organize the stamps into five groups, each of which had between 2 and 5 printings as follows:
- Group 1, being the earliest printings appears to have two printings. I have only one dated used example. The date is not legible, but if I look very closely at the last numeral of the date, I can just make out the slope of "4". This is consistent with these printings being from 1894.
- Group 2, being the next most recent printings appears to have three printings. None of the six used examples from this group had dated cancellations. All were postmarked with what appear to be 8-bar oval obliterators.
- Group 3, consists of four different printings. Both used examples in this group come from the same printing, with one being dated August 29, 1895 and the other being dated April 13, 1897.
- Group 4 consists of four printings also. Most used examples in this group are dated between August 1899 and May 1902.
- Group 5 consists of five printings. Only one of these is used and it is cancelled with an 8-br obilterator. The lack of used examples is consistent with these being from the very last printings.
The duty plate colour remains unchanged at deep blue green and the head plate colour is similar to the dull purple in Gibbons' colour key, but it is just a touch more reddish. Here are the three examples that I have in stock:
The duty plate colour is still deep blue green. The head plate colour has become more reddish again and is now closest to pure reddish lilac on the Gibbons' colour key. Here is the above stamp next to my only used example:
On this printing the duty plate colour reverts back to the deep blue green of the earlier printings. The head plate is dull purple, but is slightly deeper and more intense than on the earlier printings. The scan below shows the five examples of this printing that I currently have:
- Group one stamps would appear to be from early to mid 1894.
- Group two stamps would seem to be from late 1894 to mid 1895.
- Group three stamps would seem to be from mid 1895 to about the end of 1897.
- Group four stamps would appear to cover the period from, 1898 to the end of 1899.
- Group five stamps would appear to cover the period from 1900 to the the last shipment in August 1901.