The Printings of the 4d Lilac and Black Queen Victoria Keyplate Stamp of Lagos - Part One
According to Ince, the first printings were dispatched on March 31, 1887 and the last ones on August 19, 1901. 258,540 stamps were printed, of which 107,880 were sent back as remainders and destroyed in 1903. This is a little more than half the number of 2d stamps that were issued, and like that value, almost half of the total issue quantity was remaindered. This suggests that:
- Most of the mint stamps will be from the last few printings made after 1898. Mint stamps of those first printings prior to 1891 should be quite scarce, while most of the used stamps will be from this period.
- Most of the later printings will be mint, with fewer used examples.
- Barred oval cancels should dominate to about 1897 and then after that we should see mostly CDS's.
On this printing, the head plate colour is closest to Gibbons's deep dull purple, but is just a touch lighter. I have one mint example and one used example, as shown above. The used stamp shows a very interesting plate flaw in the Queen's hair, just at the back, near the bottom of the chignon. A close up scan is shown below:
It is a donut flaw, resulting very likely from damage to the plate. It is the only example that I have come across in all the stamps of this, or any other Lagos series, which suggests that it was quickly repaired. I have seen a similar flaw, affecting the earlobe on the 4d violet, but this is not in the same position as this flaw. It is quite rare and spectacular for a De La Rue stamp, given that most De La Rue issues show very few flaws in general.
On this printing, the head plate colour is very close to Gibbons's deep rose lilac, but is just a little bit duller. I have one mint example, and four used examples, all of which are canceled with barred oval obliterators. All of these appear to be 8-bar, except for the stamp at the left, which is a 9-bar oval.
The colour of this printing is an almost perfect match to Gibbons's deep dull purple. I have one mint example and two used examples. The used stamp on the left is cancelled with one of the earlier types of Lagos CDS, and is not common on this value, and the stamp on the right is cancelled with a strike of an 8-bar oval obliterator.
The colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's dull mauve, but a little deeper. I have three mint, and three used examples. One of these is postmarked with what appears to be a foreign cancellation of unknown origin, though the "ermann" in the name suggests a German steamship cancel, which is quite desirable for this. The other two are cancelled with what appear to be 9-bar oval obliterator cancellations.
The colour is the same as the eighth printing above, that is a cross between deep rose lilac and deep dull purple. It is quite possible that this is the same printing, as it has become apparent that not all subjects on the plate wore evenly. However, I have included it here as a separate printing due to the fact that these stamps are not as crisp and there are five of them. Four of these are mint and one is used, with an 8-bar oval cancel.
The colour of this printing is very close to deep, dull purple and the fourth printing, except that there is a very slight bluish undertone.
I have two mint stamps, and two used. The used stamp on the left is cancelled with what appears to be a 1903 Lagos cancel, making it another late use. The stamp on the right is cancelled with a London ship-letter CDS dated August 11, 1890. This is the only example of a London ship letter cancel I have come across on any Lagos stamp, or indeed any Nigerian stamp. So I know it is very scarce. Any dated CDS prior to 1892 is very scarce on this issue.