Printings of the 10/- Green and Brown Queen Victoria Keyplate Stamp of Lagos - 1887-1903
According to Ince, the total number of stamps printed and sent to the colony between March 1887 and August 19, 1901 was 24,720, of which 13,620 remainders were sent back to London in 1905 for destruction. This leaves a net issue quantity of 11,100 stamps, which makes it slightly less scarce than the other two high values.
This stamp, being half a pound, would have seen very little postal use indeed, and consequently, genuine used examples are genuine rarities. One has to be very careful of altered halfpenny stamps that have had the words "Half Penny" erased and the new value "Ten Shillings" drawn in. One also has to watch for fake cancellations on mint stamps. I have examples of both, that I unfortunately bought as genuine items originally, that I will illustrate here, just to show you how good the fakery can get.
This is the only high value I have found so far that has a printing from plate 2 that I am able to confirm, on the basis of both the clarity of the printing impression and the fresh and colourless gum that is characteristic of the printings made at the turn of the century. I have printings from states 1 through 3 of plate 1, but I have not, so far seen any from states 4 and 5. This suggests that many fewer printings were made of this value, in larger numbers than was the case with the 2/6d and 5/- stamps.
All told, I have identified 14 printings of this value, which would, if all printings are represented here, be about 1 sending per year between March 1887 and August 1901, and would have amounted to an average of 1,765 stamps per shipment. By the time this stamp was issued, there were at least 11 operating post offices in the colony, if not more, so this would amount to less than 170 stamps per post office, which is not very many. In actual fact, the Lagos GPO would have had a larger allotment than the smaller offices, so that most post offices probably received fewer than 100 stamps.
The actual demand for these was far lower though, judging by the number of late usages and the absolute rarity of used examples, relative to mint. I have found exactly one faded used example with a manuscript cancellation, which suggests to me that even though they were authorized for revenue usage, that very few were authorized for this purpose.
I will now discuss these 14 printings in depth. One of the last printings contains a spectacular partial double print of the duty plate caused by movement of the type, which I had thought might be a faked stamp. But after carefully checking the colour and the stamp surface, I am of the opinion that it is a legitimate variety. Before I get into the specific printings I want to show you two examples of what to be wary of when buying these stamps: the altered 1/2d stamps and fake cancellations.
1/2d Stamp Altered by Erasing the Value and Repainting
As stated in all my earlier posts, the first state of the plate is characterized by nearly all of the fine detail in the hair, jewels and diadem being clearly visible and with little to no merging of the hairlines at the top of the head, and most detail of the hair at the very back of the head visible both above and below the diagonal ribbon.
The head plate colour of this printing is very close to Gibbons's deep dull green, but is just a bit deeper. It is not quite deep enough, or grey enough to be the deep grey-green. The duty plate colour is a perfect match to Gibbons's deep brown.
I have one very nice mint example shown above, and one faded used example, which I have ascribed to this printing, due to the fact that the plate details match, as does the duty plate colour. The cancellation is somewhat of a mystery, as it does not appear to be one of the regular Lagos barred oval obliterators. However, it could be an example of the 10-bar ovals that were in use in Ibadan.
The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's grey-green, but is paler. The duty plate colour is very close to Gibbons's blackish brown.
Group 2 - Printings 3-7, From the Second State of the Plate - 1890 to 1894
In the second state of the plate, the detail is similar to the first state, except that there is a slight loss of sharpness to the detail and the beginning of some merging of the hairlines, though very, very little.
The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's grey green, but is quite a bit paler. It is not bluish enough to be the dull blue green however. The duty plate colour is closest to Gibbons's sepia shade.
I have three mint examples and one nice used example as shown above. The used stamp is very slightly faded, but still has about 85-90% of its original colour, which is pretty good for a used stamp of this nature. It is cancelled with a nice strike of a 24 mm Lagos CDS, dated February 2, 1899.
The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's deep dull green, but there is a hint of blue to the colour. There is not enough though to make it a match to the deep blue green. The colour is actually a blend of the deep dull green and the deep blue green. The duty plate colour is very deep brown.
I have the very nice mint example shown above, and what appears to be a fiscally used example with a manuscript cancel. It is quite severely affected by water, as the colour is bright yellow green. I have assigned it to this printing because the duty plate colour matches the other stamp, and it is from the third state of the plate.
The head plate colour of this printing is very similar to the seventh printing in that it is a pale version of Gibbons's grey green. The duty plate colour is deep sepia.
I have two very nice mint examples, the second of which is never hinged, and two nice used examples. The first one is canceled with a 24 mm Lagos CDS, dated February 22, but I cannot read the year. The other example is cancelled with a somewhat weak strike of a Lagos 8-bar oval obliterator.
The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's dull blue-green, being an almost perfect match. The duty plate colour is deep sepia.
The head plate colour of this printing is definitely dull, but it lacks the bluish undertone required for the dull blue green. At the same time, it is much paler than Gibbons's deep dull green, but deeper than Gibbons's dull green. I would therefore call it the deeper dull green, which denotes that it is not as deep as the deep dull green. The duty plate colour of this printing is also deep sepia.
If you look carefully, you can see that the "E" had been struck twice and the "T" is crooked relative to "E".
Fourteenth Printing, From Plate 2 - 1901-1903
This printing has been identified as being from plate 2 on account of the complete lack of plate wear in the design, and the fact that the gum and paper are consistent with other printings made, of other denominations around this time. All of the finer detail is completely visible, in the hair, the crown and the medallion, which is only possible at this time for printings made from a new plate, as plate 1 was so worn by 1900 that most of the finer detail in the design is obscured.