Printings of the 1/- Green and Black Queen Victoria Keyplate Stamp of Lagos 1887-1903 Part Two

This weeks post continues my discussion of the printings of the one shilling green and black surface printed stamp of Lagos with the printings made from the third, fourth and fifth states of plate 1, as well as the printings from plate 2. As best I can judge, these would have been sent to the colony starting in about February or March of 1894. The plate 1 printings would appear to have run up to about 1901, when plate 2 replaced plate 1. According to Gibbons, plate 2 does not come into play until 1902, and Ince suggests that there was only one printing, but I have seen three different shades of the green, which leads me to think that there may have been as many as three printings made from this plate.

Group 3: Printings 16-22 From the Third State of Plate 1 - Feb/March 1894 to The End of 1899

As stated in all the previous posts which discuss the printings of the other denominations, the third state of the plate is characterized by two things:


  • Merging together of the top 3-5 hairlines at the top of the Queen's head.
  • A loss of most or all of the fine detail located in the bun of hair at the back of the head immediately to the right of the ear, both above and below the diagonal ribbon.
However, the rest of the design is fairly clear. The horizontal shading lines of the medallion will still be of more or less uniform thickness and the horizontal shading lines in both the band of the crown and the jewels of the crown will still be visible and not merged together. 

I have identified only 7 printings in this group, which suggests that the demand for this stamp decreased quite a bit after 1893, as it would seem that on average, only 1 or 2 shipments were now being sent to the colony, whereas the stamp was being sent more frequently than before. 

The colour of the head plate starts off as a definite deep dull green, which eventually acquires a more and more bluish cast to the green, but never becomes blue green per se. Used examples are genrrally cancelled with either a Lagos or Ibadan 9-bar oval killer or a 21 mm Lagos CDS. There are a few examples cancelled with the larger 24 mm Lagos CDS toward the end of the series. 

Finally, like the earlier printings, the green colour is highly susceptible to fading through exposure to water. The dull green colour first turns blue green and then gradually fades to yellow green, until at the most advanced stages of fading, the colour is almost bright yellow, with a hint of green. I have a fair number of used examples that show various levels of fading, and will call attention to this as I go and at the end of this section, when I show the most severely faded examples. 

Sixteenth Printing


The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's deep green, but this colour is a bit paler than the Gibbons swatch. It does however lack the dullness that the deep dull green possesses. I have one single mint example as shown above, and four used examples as shown below:



The stamps on the top row all have colour that is more or less true to the original, which indicates that these examples have not been seriously affected by water. The bottom stamps have all been slightly faded by water exposure, but not to the point that they cannot be classified as part of this printing. I have attributed these to this printing, largely on the basis of the barred oval and Lagos Government Telegraphs Cancellations. The stamps on the top row are all cancelled with strikes of the 21 mm Lagos CDS cancellation dated between May 16, 1894 and September 24, 1895. Only the first stamp shows the "W. Af" portion of the cancel, and the distance between the letters of this cancellation is 3 mm.


Seventeenth Printing



The head plate colour of this printing a almost an exact match to Gibbons's deep green, except that there is just the slightest hint of yellow to this colour. I have seven mint singles of this printing, as shown above and a block of three as shown below:



Eighteenth Printing



The head plate colour of this printing is very similar to the last printing, being an exact match to Gibbons's deep green. The colour is just a touch deeper than the colour of the seventeenth printing. I have two mint singles as shown above and a right sheet margin block of 4 showing a partial "Crown Agents" watermark in the margins.




Nineteenth Printing




The head plate colour of this printing is almost identical to the seventeenth printing, but this colour is just a touch duller. Like the previous two printings, I have no used examples, and only the three mint examples as shown above.


Twentieth Printing



The head plate colour of this printing has lost the yellowish undertone that was present in all the other printings just discussed. Indeed, this colour is an almost perfect match to Gibbons's deep dull green. Again, I have no used examples of this printing, and just the two mint examples shown above.


Twenty First Printing



On this printing, the colour is similar to the twenty first printing, but the colour here contains more blue than the last printing, so that it is no longer a close match to Gibbons's deep dull green. Instead, it is closest in tone to Gibbons's dull blue green, but deeper. So I would call this the deep dull blue-green. This is the first printing since the 16th printing where I have both mint and used examples. In terms of mint, I have five singles, including a specimen overprint, and a left mint sheet margin block as shown below:




The two used examples in my possession are shown below. 


The stamp on the left is cancelled with a strike of a 21 mm CDS, of what is most likely Lagos. The stamp on the right has a severe thin on the front of the stamp unfortunately, which has taken off a good portion of the design. It is one of the last identifiable, non-faded used examples I have seen, which appears to have been cancelled with an 8-bar oval obliterator. 


Twenty Second Printing




The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's dull green, but deeper. However, it is not as deep as the deep dull green as shown on the colour key. It is actually about mid-way between these two shades in terms of intensity.

I have one mint and one used example as shown above. The used example shown here is curious. Although the cancellation appears to be a lovely strike of the scarce 24 mm Abeokuta CDS dated August 21, 1899, closer examination of the cancel reveals that it appears to have been drawn in with a wax pencil. Underneath there is evidence of a CDS cancel, that was most likely Lagos. But it does appear to have been altered to create a more appealing cancel.

Faded Used Examples


The above fifteen used examples have all been assigned to this state, on account of the plate wear. The examples on the top row show the mid-stage fading in which the colour has changed to a pale dull yellow green, while the middle examples are a very bright yellow green. Finally, the bottom examples show the most severe fading, in which the colour is a very bright greenish yellow, that is very pale. 

One stamp, shown in the middle row, second from the right is cancelled with an 1888 CDS, which is both scarce and clearly out of place. The degree of apparent plate wear placed it here, but it could easily have been mis-identified as the running of the ink has likely made the design appear much less clear than it would have appeared had the colour not been affected. Half the examples here are cancelled with barred oval obliterators, four appear to have been cancelled with 21 mm Lagos CDS's and the remaining examples are cancelled with the later 24 mm Lagos CDS cancellations. 


Group 4: Printings 23-26 From The Fourth State of Plate 1 - 1899 - 1900

Plate 1 had begun to show signs of serious damage by the end of the third state. I have seen many examples of stamps that appear to show significant corrosion to the plate, judging from the pitted and rough nature of the design detail. Consequently, there are very few printings of this value from the fourth state of the plate, as the plate quickly deteriorated to the fifth state. 

This state is characterized by the fact that most of the hairlines immediately above the crown and at the top of the crown have merged together, so that only a narrow band of hair detail in the middle of the head is now clear. The detail of the hair at the back of the head is all but gone, but the overall design has not yet acquired the coarse appearance of the fifth state of the plate. The horizontal shading lines in the band of the crown are just beginning to merge together.

The head plate colour displays the usual range of deep dull greens as the third state of the plate with none of them being distinctly bluish. 

I have identified four printings from this state of the plate. It would seem, from the dates seen on cancellations that this group appeared sometime between 1899 and the end of 1900.

Twenty Third Printing




The head plate colour of this printing is identical to that of the seventeenth printing: a deep green that contains just the slightest hint of yellow.

I have two mint examples as shown above, and one used example, which is cancelled with a 21 mm Lagos CDS. The date is not readable, but the "W. A" is visible and shows a clear space of 4 mm between the letters.

Twenty Fourth Printing


The head plate shade of this printing is tricky. It is close to the Gibbons' deep dull green in terms of its overall intensity. However, the colour is bluish compared to Gibbons' deep dull green. However, it is not blue enough to be a match to any of Gibbons's blue green shades. So I would call it deep dull bluish green. I have no used examples, and only the sole mint example shown above.

Twenty Fifth Printing




The head plate colour of this printing is a perfect match to Gibbons's deep dull green. Again, I have no used examples, and only the mint example shown above. 

Twenty sixth Printing


The head plate colour is closest to what Gibbons's dull blue green would be if it were both deeper and a little less bluish. It is too bluish and too deep to be a match to Gibbons's dull green and it is both too dull and too pale to match either the deep dull green or the deep blue green. 

I have one mint example and two used examples, both of which are cancelled with 24 mm Lagos CDS cancellations dated January 30, 1900 and February 25, 1900. 

Group 5: Printings 27-31 From The Fifth State of Plate 1 - 1901-1902

Apart from the plate characteristics, This group is characterized by the marked shift in colour, from the deep, dull green colour that has been dominant to a definite bluish green. The printings from this state are all easily identified by the generally coarse appearance. Most all of the detail in the Queen's hair has disappeared, and the horizontal shading lines of the medallion are now appearing to be of uneven thickness, almost merging into one another in places. 

I have identified five printings from this state of the plate, and these would appear, just based on the cancellations to have been released between late 1900 and late 1902.

Again, the inks are highly susceptible to fading through exposure to water, though all except one of the faded examples that I have simply become a paler and paler version of the dull green, rather than becoming yellowish. 

Twenty Seventh Printing


The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's dull blue green, but is just a bit greener and brighter than the Gibbons swatch. But it is not a match for any of the other shades. I have one mint example, as shown above, and three used examples, as shown below:


The stamp on the left is a lovely example tied to an original piece, likely a fragment of a registered letter, and cancelled with a crisp and clear strike of a Lagos 24 mm CDS dated March 11, 1901. The middle example is also cancelled with a 24 mm Lagos CDS - this time dated 1904. The cancellation of the right hand stamp is a bit of a mystery. It appears to be 24 mm wide, but it lacks the other features of the Lagos 24 mm CDS's and the outer rim appears to be too thick to be this type of cancel. However, it could just be an example that is heavily struck. 

Twenty Eighth Printing



The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's dull blue green. The intensity is more or less a match to Gibbons's swatch, but there is a fair bit more blue and grey in the colour. So I would call it a dull very-blue green. 

I have the sole mint example shown above, and two used examples as shown below.




The left example is another used stamp that is tied to piece, so that we can be pretty sure that the colour is original. It is tied by two strikes of a 24 mm Lagos CDS dated November 6, 1900. The right hand example is just a little affected by water, turning a bit bluer, but not seriously affected. It is also cancelled with a strike of a 24 mm Lagos CDS cancel, but the date is unclear. 

Twenty Ninth Printing




The head plate colour of this printing is very similar to the twenty eighth printing, but the colour is just a little paler. I have no used examples and just the single mint stamp shown above. 

Thirtieth Printing



The head plate colour of this printing is again similar to the 29th printing, but is also a bit paler than that printing, so that it is much closer in shade to Gibbons's dull blue green than either of the other two printings. I have no used examples of this printing, and only the three mint examples shown above. 

Thirty First Printing




On this printing, the head plate colour is of similar intensity to the 28th and 29th printings. However, there is a little less blue in the green, which makes it a more or less exact match to what the Gibbons dull blue-green would look like if it were deeper. So I would classify it as deep dull blue green.

Again, I have no used examples and just the two mint examples shown above. 

Faded Used Examples




The nine used stamps as shown above have all been assigned to this state on the basis of the plate wear. Based on the fact that all but one of the printings from this state are shades of dull blue green, it is likely that these were originally dull blue green also. As you can see the colour does not fade in quite the same way as the earlier printings in the sense that the colour does not become quite as yellowish. 

All of the examples shown here are cancelled with 24 mm Lagos CDS cancels, with some very nice strikes in the group. They are all dated between October 4, 1900 and April 5, 1904.

What should become very apparent now after looking at all these stamps is that:

  • Gibbons's nomenclature of the colours on this stamp is not quite correct. What they call yellow green is really the deep dull green. 
  • Gibbons's pricing of the blue green stamps is completely out to lunch and does not reflect actual scarcity at all. The mint prices for both shades are equivalent, even though the blue green stamps are ten times scarcer at least than the dull green. In used condition, the difference in scarcity is even more acute. I would go so far as to suggest that mint examples of the blue green should be worth as much as fine used examples of the dull green and the used examples of the blue green should be worth 2-3 times as much as the dull green. 


Group 6: Printings 32-34 From Plate 2 - 1902-1903

The printings from plate 2 are readily identifiable by the complete absence of any plate wear and the colour has reverted back to the dull green that was prevalent on the the printings made before 1900. All of the detail in the Queen's hair is visible, with no merging of the shading lines, and all of the detail in the jewels of the crown and diadem is visible as well. 

I have found three very slightly different shades, which lead me to think that there may have been as many as three printings from this plate, all of which would have been made and sent out to the colony between early 1902 and the end of 1903, as all remainders were sent back to London for destruction in 1905, and the Edward VII designs were issued in January 1904. 

Again, the green ink used is doubly fugitive, eventually fading to greenish yellow with more and more exposure to water. 

Thirty Second Printing


The head plate colour of this printing is close to the dull green shade, but it is deeper. However, it is not as deep as the deep dull green.  I have no used examples and only the single mint example shown here.

Thirty Third Printing


The head plate colour of this printing is closest to the deep dull green, but is just a touch paler. The paper contains thin vertical striations that almost give it the appearance of being printed on laid paper, which is sometimes found on other printings made from plate 2. I have no used examples and just the single mint example as shown above.

Thirty Fourth Printing


The head plate colour of this final printing is an almost perfect match to Gibbons's deep green. I have one single mint example and one used example as shown above. The used example appears to be cancelled with a very light strike of a 21 mm Lagos, CDS which had more or less fallen out of use by 1902, so its use here is curious. It is a very light strike, so it is hard to be sure that it is not a 24 mm cancel. There is a possibility that this used example is actually an example from the first state of the plate, made before 1890. This would certainly fit if the cancel is indeed a 21 mm CDS. For now though, I am content to include it here as a plate 2 printing.

I also have three more stamps that are mildly to moderately affected by fading:


The first of these on the left is cancelled with an indistinct CDS and it is possible that it is not a genuine cancel, but I suspect it is fine. The other two examples are quite faded and cancelled with December 24, 1902 and January 1904 Lagos CDS's. 

Again, it would appear that the plate 2 stamps are much, much scarcer than could be imagined. Gibbons does not even list them, but given how readily identifiable they are, they should be listed and priced accordingly - at even more than the price of the blue greens. I would say that mint should be twice the value of a used plate 1 dull green and used should be the same or even twice that price. These were exceptionally short lived, being in use for little over a year. The number printed and issued must have been extremely small - maybe as little as 3,000 or 5,000, and consequently, the number surviving today even smaller than that, as many unsold would have gone back to London as remainders for destruction in 1905. This would account for why there are so few of them in the stamps that I have, and it took me more than six years of daily buying to assemble these. 

This takes me to the end of my discussion of the printings of this value. Now I am left with the three high values, which I will deal with next, and then I can begin to tackle the remaining post 1890 printings of the halfpenny and 1d stamps. Next week's post will look at the 2/6d value. 

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