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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Distinguishing the Six Printings of the 4d Rose Queen Victoria Crown CC Keyplate Perforated 14 (1876-1880)

Overview

Today's post will deal with the second most complicated value in this second Queen Victoria series, the 4d rose. There were six printings made between 1876 and 1880, which totaled 959 sheets of 60 stamps (57,540) as follows:


  • May 9, 1876 - 104 sheets or 6,240 stamps.
  • June 12, 1877 - 203 sheets, or 12,180 stamps.
  • August 28, 1878 - 250 sheets, or 15,000 stamps.
  • July 23, 1879 - 102 sheets, or 6,120 stamps.
  • November 26, 1879 - 100 sheets, or 6,000 stamps. 
  • November 18, 1880 - 200 sheets, or 12,000 stamps.
The above figures illustrate that while the second, third and last printings, are about equally scarce, the first, fourth and fifth printings are at least twice as scarce as all the others, and in mint condition, should be as scarce as the one shilling, of which 5.760 stamps were issued. 

One difficulty with this stamp is that the number of shade combinations for the head plate, and the duty plate, is greater than six, so some printings had more than one shade. It seems safe to assume that the printings that came in more than one shade, most likely are also those that had the greater numbers of stamps, i.e. the second, third and sixth printings. Generally speaking though, the overall tone of the ink should be more or less the same within a printing, with the main difference being the density or intensity of the printing ink. There are four main, basic colours for this stamp:

  • Burgundy - a deep wine red. It has a slightly bluish undertone.
  • Rose-carmine - a bluish rose.
  • Carmine-rose - a bluish pinky red. Rose predominates over carmine.
  • Rose - a pink, with no bluish or carmine undertone.
On some printings, the head plate and duty plate colours are matched, which suggests that the stamps were printed in a single operation from one batch of ink. Others have different colours for the head and duty plates, which suggests that they were printed in two different operations, from separate batches of ink. In those instances, the majority of the design was printed by the head plate first, and the words of value, were printed afterwards using the duty plate. 

This value was the only one in the series to exist with the watermark sideways. Ince's work does not definitively state which of the six printings these stamps are from. However, all the examples I have seen are line perforated, which would suggest that they are from the first four or five printings, as the sixth printing for sure comes only comb perforated. However, Ince does note that the stamps of other colonies that were produced with a sideways watermark and the perforation 14, were all produced between 1876 and 1880, so the dates are of limited help unfortunately. He has hypothesized that these were all the work of a single guillotine operator (the individual who cut the watermarked paper into sheets), which the dates would seem to support. 

Cancellations will be utilized to help classify the various printings. My expectation is that the first three printings should be cancelled mostly with the Lagos diamond barred grid killer, while the last three, should be found primarily with the barred oval grid cancellation.

First Printing - Dispatched May 9, 1876

I believe that the stamps from this printing are watermarked upright and sideways. The head plate and duty plate colours are the same, and the basic shade is a deep carmine-rose. All of the used copies of the sideways watermark that I have seen are cancelled with the Lagos diamond barred grid, which suggests that they must be from one of the first three printings. I have identified two basic shade groups of these stamps, and the deep carmine-rose is the scarcer of the two. Given that the first printing is twice as scarce as the second, I have concluded that the deep carmine rose is the first printing. 

The shade exhibits some variation in intensity as well as the amount of carmine in the shade relative to rose. However, none of the shades are distinctly bluish. 

The scans below show the front and back of an unused example with sideways watermark:


This looks much more bluish than it actually is in real life. Hopefully though you will see that it is much closer to carmine-rose than any of the other shades, when you look at the scans of the other printings. Note how the colour of the words of value (duty plate) is the same as the remainder of the design (head plate). If you look carefully at the corner perforations, you can see that they are not uniform, indicating that the stamp is line perforated.


Here is the back. This example has no gum, as do most of the few mint examples in existence. because the stamp was essentially printed sideways, the direction of the paper weave his horizontal, rather than vertical. The mesh however, is not obvious from the scan above, and that is consistent with the early printings. 

Let us take a look at a used example of the same stamp:


Here you can see that the shade is exactly the same as the mint stamp above. Again, the duty plate and head plate colours are the same, and the corner perforations are clearly not uniform, indicating that the stamp is line perforated. 


Again, the paper is horizontal, rather than vertical wove, but the mesh is not clearly visible, nor is the watermark. 

Now what about some examples showing the watermark upright? I have no mint examples, but several used examples, which match this basic shade group. Here are two of them:


As you can see, these two stamps are slightly deeper and duller compared to the stamps with sideways watermark, and in both cases, the head plate and duty plate colours match. The stamp on the right is a bit brighter than the one on the left, but these would seem to be from the same overall shade group. Note how both are line perforated, and cancelled using the Lagos diamond grid cancel.

Now, let's look at the back of the left stamp: 



Again, there is no obvious mesh visible on the back, nor is the watermark clear. 

Second Printing - Dispatched  June 1, 1877

This printing is generally in shades of rose-carmine, rather than carmine rose, so there is generally slightly more carmine in the shade, which means that the stamps are slightly bluish in tone compared to the first printing. Like the first printing, all the used examples I have seen are cancelled with the Lagos diamond barred grid, and all the stamps are line perforated.

I do not have any other mint sideways watermarked stamps, but here are two used examples in the rose-carmine shade:



Hopefully you can see a definitely deeper and slightly more bluish tone to these two stamps, as compared to the stamps of the first printing. 

Here are the back scans:


The first stamp shows no obvious horizontal mesh, but on the second stamp, you can just make out feint horizontal mesh if you look closely. In neither case is the watermark obvious. 



I am fortunate to have one mint example of this printing with the upright watermark, and several used examples. Here are the front and back scans of my only mint example:


This is close to the colour of the first printing, but it is more bluish than the first. Note again that the head plate and duty plate colours are the same. 

Here is the back, showing the clear, colourless gum that was used on the stamps of this period. 


Now, for some used examples that show some of the variation that can be found in the rose-carmine shade:


The stamp on the left is the most bluish of the three. The middle stamp is the same general tone as the one on the left, while the stamp on the right is less bluish. Most, but not all used examples in my stock bear the Lagos diamond grid cancel. I do have one example, shown at right, that is cancelled with the 9-bar oval barred obliterator.

Let's take a look at the backs:


Here we can begin to see some variation in the papers, with the two on the right (which were on the left above), having the earlier smooth paper, with obscure watermark and mesh. The stamp on the left (right above) shows feint vertical mesh, and the watermark is much clearer.  

Third Printing - Dispatched August 28, 1878

The colour of the stamps from this printing is a deep rose, with no bluish undertone. Occasionally, it can be found in a dusty rose, but it lacks the intensity and bluish tone of the earlier two printings. Again, the head plate and duty plate colours match. In the line perforated stamps, it is the most common of the first three printings, and it was the sheer number in my stock compared to the other printings that led me to classify it as this printing. About three quarters of the used examples that I have seen are cancelled with the Lagos diamond barred grid cancellation, while the other half have the barred oval grid cancel. I have one mint example and several used examples in three different shade groupings, which I will show below. 

Here is my only mint example:


Notice how pale this colour is compared to the stamps of the earlier printings, as well as how it is not generally bluish in overall tone.


Looking at the back, we can again see the colourless gum used on these printings, the feint vertical mesh, and the feint impression of the crown-CC watermark. 

Here are two used examples in the first of three shades of the deep rose:


Here we have a deep rose that is dull, but not bluish. The example on the left has the Lagos diamond barred grid cancel, while the one on the right is cancelled with the barred oval grid. Both stamps are clearly line perforated, because of the uneven corner perforations.


The backs of these two stamps show the smooth, vertical wove paper, with no visible mesh, and the watermark only barely visible. 

Here are two more, in another shade variation:


These stamps are much closer to the pure deep rose in that they are not dull like the ones above, but are there is still a little bit of variation in tone, with the left stamp being slightly bluish compared to the one on the right. But it is not bluish compared to any of the earlier printings. Again, both stamps are line perforated, and both cancellation types are represented.



On these two stamps, the watermark is a little more visible, but there is no obvious mesh visible once again. 

Finally, I have one stamp in a dusty rose shade, with the barred oval cancel:


Once again, you can see that the duty plate colour matches the head plate. The stamp is line perforated, and on the back, neither the watermark, nor the vertical mesh is readily visible. 



Fourth Printing - Dispatched July 23, 1879

As best I can tell all the printings starting with this one are comb perforated. This is despite the fact that the other denominations printed at this time are all line perforated. I came to this conclusion because I have found three basic shade groups in the comb perforation, with two of these being equally scarce, and the last one being much more common. Given that the comb perforation equipment was acquired in 1878, it is plausible that the comb machines were used to perforate this value, and the line machines continued to be used for the 1d and 2d values that were printed at this time. All of the used examples I have seen of the next three printings, without exception, are cancelled with the barred oval grid cancel.

The basic colour of this printing is burgundy and pale burgundy. The burgundy is very distinct and completely unlike any of the other printings. Once again, the head plate and duty plate colours are the same. 

I have no mint examples, and only two used stamps, one of each shade:


The stamp on the left is the burgundy, while the one on the right is pale burgundy. They are not bluish in tone, but just a very deep, rich red, like a glass of red wine. If you look at the corner perforations, you can see that this time they are uniform, which indicates that they are comb perforated. 


On the back, we can just barely make out the vertical mesh, though it is by no means clear. The watermark is also just barely visible. 
 

Fifth Printing - Dispatched November 26, 1879

On this printing, the colour of the head plate is a deep, bright rose, while the duty plate is printed in a slightly paler bright rose. This is the only printing in which the duty plate and head plates are a different colour. Again, I have no mint examples, but I do have quite a few used examples, three of which are shown below:


You have to look carefully, but if you look at these stamps long enough you can see that the words "four pence" are a lighter rose than the rest of the stamp.



Looking at the backs, you can just make out the vertical mesh, and on 2 of the three stamps, the watermark is clearly visible. 

Sixth Printing - Dispatched November 18, 1880

This last printing is in a shade of carmine rose. It is not bluish, nor is it a pure rose. It is a good balance between pure rose, and pure carmine. The duty plate and head plate are both the same colour. 

I have one mint example and several used examples to show you here. There is some variation in the intensity of the shade, but not much variation in the tone. 

Here is my only mint example:


Note how the colour is a good balance of rose and carmine, being neither one or the other. You can see that the stamp is comb perforated and the colour of the head plate and duty plate are the same. 


Hopefully you can see that the gum on this example is thicker and creamy compared to the earlier colourless gum. It doesn't really show up in the scan, but it has the same slightly crackly appearance as the 3d chestnut, which was printed at the same time. 

Now for the used examples:


Here you can see some slight variations in the shade, but all of them are very similar. They are all comb perforated, and the duty plate and head plate colours are the same.



The backs all show very feint vertical mesh and watermarks are visible on three of the four stamps. 

That concludes my discussion of this complex value. At this point, I have covered the bulk of this second Queen Victoria Issue. The only values left are the 6d and the 1/-, which are much more straighforward. These will be the subject of next week's post. Then I will be ready to move on to the Third Queen Victoria Surface Printed Issue. This issue was printed using the same colours as before, but the paper is watermarked crown CA. The issue was in use from 1880 until 1884, when the colours were changed. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Distinguishing the Four Printings of the 3d Red-Brown Queen Victoria Crown CC Keyplate Perforated 14 (1876-1880)

Overview

Today's post will look at the printings of the third value in the second Queen Victoria series of 1876-1880: the 3d red-brown. This stamp overall, is the second scarcest of the six basic denominations, with only 30,120 stamps being printed over four different printings.The last of these, and the only one to be comb perforated, is also a separately listed stamp in Stanley Gibbons, due to the fact that the colour, which is chestnut, instead of the normal red-brown, is a very distinct and different colour.

This leaves really only three printings, which all came from the first three London dispatches of stamps for this issue, which were:

May 9, 1876
June 12, 1877
August 28, 1878

All three of these are line perforated, so the characteristics that we will be relying on to separate them will be:


  • Shades, particularly differences between the colour of the head plate and the duty plate (words of value).
  • Cancellations - those from the first two printings should be cancelled predominantly with the Lagos diamond barred grid killer, while the last one should be cancelled with primarily the barred oval killer. 
  • Paper differences. We should generally see no obvious mesh in the paper, with the watermark being barely visible. Papers that show a clear watermark or clear vertical mesh are suggestive of later, rather than earlier printings. 

First Printing - Dispatched May 9, 1876

This printing is the second scarcest of the four printings made, with 105 sheets of 60 stamps, or 6,300 stamps. The stamps of this printing are identified by two attributes:

  • All the used examples that I have seen are cancelled with the Lagos diamond barred grid cancel. 
  • The colour of the head plate is a milky red brown, while the duty plate is a deeper, richer red brown. 
  • The watermark is more clearly visible on this value for some reason than other values of the set printed at this time, but the mesh, while visible, is not obvious. 
The scans below show the front and back of two used examples in my stock. I do not, unfortunately have any mint examples:


Hopefully, you can see here that there is a milkiness to the red brown of the head plate. Also, the red brown of the head plate is redder than the red-brown of the duty plate (words "Three Pence"). 


Another example showing the same milkiness to the main red-brown colour. The duty plate ink is a bit less intense here, but it is still darker and more vibrant than the colour of the head plate. 

Let us take a look at the backs:


Here we have vertical mesh that is just barely visible, similar to other stamps from the set that were printed at this time. You can just make out some portions of the crown-CC watermark, but it is not completely clear.


On this stamp, the paper appears smooth, without clear mesh. The watermark is also less visible on this particular example. 

Thus there are some minute differences in the paper, even within this first printing. Therefore I feel that the best attributes to rely on in order to identify this printing are the colour, and the cancellation on used examples. Both these examples are cancelled with the Lagos diamond barred grid. 


Second Printing - Dispatched June 12, 1877

106 sheets of 60 stamps, or 6,360 stamps were produced in this second printing - just 60 more stamps than the first printing. 

In this printing, the colour of the head plate and duty plate are more or less identical, and the colour is a deeper, red brown that is not quite as milky as the first printing. The used examples that I have seen are mostly cancelled with the Lagos diamond barred grid, but I have examples that are also cancelled with the barred oval killer as well. 

I have one single mint example in stock, and here is a front and back scan:


Here you can see that while the head plate colour is close to the last printing, the duty plate colour is identical to the head plate, which was not the case on the first printing. 


This stamp has the usual colourless, matte gum that is characteristic of this period. The mesh is not visible, nor is the watermark clear. 

Lets take a look at two used examples:



There is some very slight variation in the basic head plate shade, with the stamp on the left, being every so slightly redder than the one on the right. However, what stands out and indicates that these are from the same printing is that the colour of the duty plate is the same as the head plate. Here you can see that both types of cancellation can be found on the stamps of this printing. 

Third Printing - Dispatched August 28, 1878

This printing is the most common of the four, with 191 sheets of 60 stamps, or 11,460 stamps being printed. 

On this printing, the head plate colour and the duty plate colour are also identical, but they revert back to the light, milky colour of the first printing. I have attributed this to the third printing based on the sheer number of stamps in my stock that match this description compared to the other stamps. 

I have two mint examples in stock, and I will show you one of them here:


If you compare the colour on this stamp to the others I have shown so far, you will see very clearly that it is lighter and milkier. 


Here is the back of the stamp, showing the usual colourless, matte gum. Once again, neither the vertical paper mesh, nor the watermark are very clear. 

Here are some used examples:


Here is an example cancelled with the Lagos diamond barred grid. 



And another example, this time cancelled with the barred oval grid. 

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


On this stamp, the paper is soft and shows no clear mesh, just like the earlier printings. The watermark is more clearly visible here. 


On this example, the vertical mesh is obvious and clearly visible. Also, you should just be able to make out the full watermark, which you generally cannot do on any of the earlier printings, without watermark fluid. 


Fourth Printing - Dispatched November 18, 1880

This last printing is the scarcest of the four, with exactly 100 sheets of 60 stamps, or 6,000 stamps being printed. 

As I stated at the beginning of this post, all the stamps of this printing are comb perforated and the head plate colour is chestnut instead of red-brown. Chestnut is basically an orangey brown, which lacks the red tone. On the vast majority of the stamps I have seen, both the head plate colour and the duty plate colour are the same chestnut colour. However, I have also seen some examples on which the duty plate colour is red-brown, rather than chestnut, clearly being printed in two operations from different batches of ink. This suggests that although Ince's work only lists four printings of this stamp, there may well have been a fifth printing, made sometime between late 1878 and late 1880, which is very plausible, given that all the other printings were generally made within a year of one another. The gum on mint examples is much thicker, whiter and often appears crackly. Finally, every single used example I have handled is cancelled with the barred oval killer. 

Here is a mint example of the printing made using the same chestnut ink for the head plate and the duty plate:


At first glance, this may look similar to the other stamps, but here is a top to bottom comparison:

   

Although similar, there is an unmistakable, orange tone to the colour of the chestnut stamp shown on the right. Also note the comb perforation of the chestnut stamp compared to the line perforation of the red brown. 

Now, let's take a look at the back of this chestnut stamp:




The gum on this example is affected by toning, but you can see that there is no visible mesh and the watermark is almost entirely hidden. 

Now here is a used example of the same stamp:


Note the orange tone to the brown, the comb perforation, and the barred oval grid cancel.


Here the mesh of the paper is just visible, though the watermark is not obvious. 

Finally, I have a mint example of a stamp printed from two different batches of ink, and clearly in 2 operations:


Here you can clearly see the contrast between the orange tone of the brown used for the head plate, and the dark reddish brown of the duty plate. The letters themselves are also badly out of alignment with the value tablet itself, which clearly establishes that the words of value were printed separately from the rest of the stamp, by feeding the sheets through the press a second time. 


On this example, the gum is not toned, and does not look significantly different from the gum used on the earlier printings. However, it is whiter, thicker and does have a slightly crackly appearance. None of these attributes show up that clearly in a scan unfortunately. The mesh and the watermark are much clearer in this example, which does support the notion that it may come from a printing made after 1878, but before 1880. 

This concludes my discussion of this value. Next week we will look at the 4d rose, which is the most complicated of the stamps in this issue. There were six printings just like the 2d blue, but there is a much greater degree of variation in the shades of the 4d rose, as we shall see.