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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Printings of the 1/- Orange Queen Victoria Keyplate Definitive Issue of Lagos Watermarked Crown CA 1884-1886

Overview

Today's post will look at how to distinguish the six printings of the 1/- orange definitive of Lagos that was in use between 1884  and 1887 when it was replaced by the bi-coloured black and yellow green definitive stamp.

The six printings were dispatched as follows:


  • First printing - July 8, 1884 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Second printing - December 16, 1884 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Third printing - July 13, 1885 - 62 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,720 stamps.
  • Fourth printing - December 29, 1885 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Fifth printing - June 30, 1886 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Sixth printing - October 12, 1886 - 68 sheets of 60 stamps - 4,080 stamps. 
It will immediately be apparent that the quantities dispatched for each printing were roughly the same, so I would expect that in a given group of stamps taken from random sources, that I should have roughly the same numbers of each printing, as they are all of approximately equal scarcity. 

In distinguishing the printings, I expect the shades, to be of primary importance followed by the gum characteristics. Recalling that the practice of double gumming began in April 1886,  I would expect the first four printings to be singly gummed, while the last two should be doubly gummed. 

Dating the various printings should be made much easier by the fact that dated CDS cancellations started coming back into use around 1884. Several used stamps of this issue are found with late dates into the early 1890's, though I can safely attribute most of these to the last, or second last printings. The 8-barred oval killer and 9-bar killers should be useful in helping to separate the last printings from some of the earlier and intermediate ones as well. 

So my plan is to sort the mint and used stamps that I have separately, and then to match the mint stamps with the used examples. Once I have done this, I will attempt to assign the groups of stamps I have identified to the different dates using the cancellations on the used stamps. 

I have 35 mint and 35 used examples to work with in sorting the printings. 

The Printings

My initial comparison of the stamps led me to identify more than six groups. However, five of these were sufficiently close to one another in terms of their overall appearance that I now believe they likely all come from the same printing, which I have assigned as the first printing, on the basis of the gum, which is crackly, like the first printings of the other crown CA stamps. Then, the other shades fell pretty neatly into five other groups. The cancellations did not turn out to be nearly as useful as I had hoped in assigning the various printings to a date sequence. Instead I relied on:

1. The assumption that the shades follow a logical progression and that two printings that are a similar shade, but differ in terms of gum characteristics for example, would be adjacent to one another on the timeline.

2. The characteristics of the gum, i.e. whether it was crackly, whether it appeared to be smooth, toned single gum, or whether it appeared to be the less toned, smooth double gum that was introduced in April 1886.

These characteristics turned out to be sufficiently useful that I believe I was able to correctly identify all six printings. 

The orange colour exhibits considerable variation from a bright reddish orange that varies in terms of how much yellow is included in the colour, to a dirty yellow orange, to a deep brownish red orange, and finally to a deep brown orange. On some of the printings the duty plate and the head plate colour are identical, and then on others, the duty and head plate colours are completely different, and these differences are readily apparent even without the use of a 10x loupe, as we shall see. 

First printing - Dispatched July 8, 1884 

As I stated above, the orange shade of this printing exhibited several minor variations, resulting in five subgroups. However, all of them are the closest thing to pure orange of any of the six printings, though some of the groups show either a slight hint of red, yellow or brown to the orange. However, in no case is the hint so marked as to make one feel that the shade is a "red orange" "yellow orange" or "brown orange". The gum on the mint examples of these stamps is always clearly crackly in appearance, even without the use of a loupe. The paper often shows faint vertical mesh and the watermark is usually very clear without the use of watermark fluid as we shall soon see.

Shade Group 1

The first shade group is a deep reddish orange that is neither bright, nor dull. At first glance, the duty plate and head plate colours appear to be the same, but under a loupe, you will be able to see that the orange of the duty plate is just every so slightly paler than the head plate. I have four mint and ten used examples that fall into this group. Lets take a look at the mint ones:


The scan is a bit deceiving because it makes these look slightly brownish when they are not. The third stamp from the left looks more the pure orange colour that this group is. Notice how the words of value (duty plate) appear to be the same colour as the rest of the stamp (head plate). Now here are the backs showing the gum:


It is difficult to see the crackliness of the gum on these, because the cracks are fine, but they are definitely there and visible without a loupe. On these mint examples, there is no obvious mesh visible, nor is the watermark very clear. 

Now, let's take a look at the used examples:


Again, the cancellations make some of these look browner than they actually are. In all cases, the duty plate colour is a pure orange that is slightly paler than the head plate. Most, if not all of these appear to have been cancelled with the 8-bar oval killer, though at first glance, the second stamp from the left in the second row appears to have been cancelled with the 10 bar oval killer used at Ibadan. However, this killer was not introduced there until 1898, based on the other examples of this cancellation that have been found on cover. Upon closer examination of the cancellation on this stamp, it appears that there are actually 2 overlapping strikes of the 9-bar killer. None of these cancellations are wholly inconsistent with the classification of these as coming from this printing, though the 9-bar killer would suggest late usage of this stamp relative to the others. 

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


Here, the paper does not show any clear mesh, as would be expected of printings from this year, but the watermarks are very clear. 

Group 2

Here the shade is a deep bright orange. The duty plate colour appears slightly deeper than the head plate colour even without the use of a loupe. I have one mint and one used example. I'll start with the mint one:


Notice how the duty plate is slightly deeper than the head plate, and how the entire shade is a deep bright orange that does not appear either reddish, yellowish or brownish.

Here is the gum side of that stamp:


The crackliness of the gum is a bit more visible on this stamp, particularly toward the bottom of the scan. This example bears the signature of the European expert A. Brun. 

Here is the single used example that I have:


Again, note the deep bright shade and the slightly deeper duty plate colour. 

Here is the back side of that stamp:


Unfortunately this example is thinned at the bottom left, but we can see again a clear watermark. However this time the paper does show a faint vertical mesh. 


Group 3

The shade of this group again is a deep bright orange, that is ever so slighly brighter than group 2. The duty plate and head plate of the stamps in this group are exactly the same shade. I have no mint examples, but two used examples:


Notice here how the duty plate and head plate shades are exactly the same. Both stamps are cancelled with 8-bar oval killers, which does not contradict their classification as early printings. Now let's take a look at the back of these two stamps:



Both stamps show clear watermarks and faint vertical mesh. 

Group 4

The shade in this group is also deep bright orange, but with a very slight hint of brown. Again, the duty plate and head plate are the exact same shade. I have three mint examples of this shade and no used examples. Here they are:


Note the very slight hint of brown to the orange, and the fact that the head plate and duty plate shades are identical. 

Here are the backs of these three stamps:



One of these is unused and has no gum, while the stamp on the right has very little of the original gum remaining. The stamp in the middle has very crackly gum however. 

Group 5

The shade of the stamps in this group is a paler bright orange, that is neither reddish, brownish or yellowish. The duty plate colour appears at first to be the same colour as the head plate, but on closer examination, is very slightly paler than the head plate. I have no mint examples, but I do have four used examples, all of which are cancelled with strikes of the 8-bar oval killer:


Hopefully you can see that these are paler than the other stamps, but not so pale as to move from the bright orange classification to yellow orange. 

Here are the backs:


Here the paper shows no clear mesh and the watermarks are barely visible. Thus, it would seem that the first printings show quite a bit of variation in the paper. This variation is consistent with what I saw in the third printings of the 3d chestnut stamp which were sent out at the same time as this stamp.

Second printing - Dispatched December 16, 1884 

The shade of the stamps from this printing show some variation, but all the shades are a pale orange, which is occasionally yellowish or brownish. One distinguishing characteristic is that the gum of the mint stamps is crackly in appearance, and the duty plate shades are slightly paler than the head plate shades. I have one mint example, and six used ones. The used stamps all appear to have been cancelled with strikes of the 8-bar oval obliterator. 

Here is the single mint example, which is a pale brownish orange:


Note the slight brownish hint to the orange, the slightly pale and dull appearance, and the fact that the duty plate colour is slightly paler than the head plate colour. 

Here is the back of this stamp:


You can hopefully see that the gum has a slight crackly texture, and the watermark is not clearly visible.

Let's look at the used examples:


Here we can see the slight variations in the shade, with the two left hand stamps on each row being a slightly more yellowish orange, compared to the others. The third stamp from the left in the top row and the second stamp from the left on the bottom row are more of a very pale orange, while the second and fourth stamps from the left in the top row have a very slight brownish cast to the orange. 

Let's take a look at the back of these stamps:


Here we have the same degree of variation in the paper as the first printing, with some stamps showing a clear watermark, while on most stamps the watermark is faint. None of the stamps however show clearly visible mesh.

Third printing - Dispatched July 13, 1885 

The shade of this printing is very distinct, and it is the first printing in which the head plate colour is wildly different from the duty plate colour. The head plate is a distinctly dull orange colour, while the duty plate colour is a dull brownish orange. Without a loupe the two colours look similar, but under a loupe, they are completely different. This is the first printing to have the completely smooth, toned single gum.  I have one mint single, and a block of 9 mint stamps from this printing. Here is the mint single:


Note how the head plate and duty plate colours look similar at first, but then as your eyes adjust, you can clearly see that they are quite different. 

Here is what the smooth toned gum looks like:


On this stamp, the vertical mesh reappears and the watermark is faintly visible. 

Fourth printing - Dispatched December 29, 1885

The stamps of this printing have a similar dull brownish orange for the duty plate, except that it is a bit deeper and browner than the last printing. The head plate colour is a deeper orange and brighter orange compared to the third printing, but the stamps are still dull when compared to the stamps from the first printing. I have 12 examples of this printing, but they are all mint. 

Here they are:


It is a bit difficult to see the contrast between the duty plate and the head plate, but the dull appearance of the orange is very plain to see. Here are two stamps from this group, so that you can see the contrast between the duty and head plate colours more clearly:


Notice how the duty plate colour is definitely brownish compared to the rest of the stamp. 


Here are the backs of these stamps:


All stamps have the smooth toned gum that appeared on the last printing. None of them show clear vertical mesh, but the watermarks are all reasonably clear. 

Fifth printing - Dispatched  June 30, 1886

The shades of this printing are a deeper red orange for the head plate and a brownish orange for the duty plate, which is less brownish than the fourth printing. I have 11 mint examples (I will show 10 here) and one used example. 

Here are the mint stamps:


You should be able to see that these are definitely deeper than the stamps of the fourth printing, while being less dull. Once again, close up scans are needed to easily see the contrast between the head plate and duty plate colours:


Notice how the duty plate colours appear to be quiter close to the head plate colours at first. As your eyes adjust to the head plate colour, you will see that once again, they are quite different. 

These stamps are the first to have the double layer of gum. It can be difficult to identify this, but generally the double gummed stamps curl upwards and do not lie flat on the stockpage, whereas all the earlier mint stamps always lie perfectly flat. 

Here are the backs of these stamps, showing the toned double gum:


Again, with the exception of the upper right stamp in the top row, the watermarks are all reasonably clear, and the stamps do not show any clear vertical mesh. 

Let's take a look at the single used stamp from this printing:


This stamp unfortunately has a horizontal crease at the base, but it is a match in terms of shade to the mint examples shown above. The cancellation is only partially visible, but it would appear to be an 8-bar oval killer. Here is the back of that stamp:


Here we see very faint vertical mesh and a faint watermark.

Sixth printing - Dispatched October 12, 1886 

The shade of this printing is similar to the last, but has a distinctly brownish cast. The head plate and duty plate colours are more or less the same this time. I have four mint and 8 used examples. The used stamps appear to be cancelled with a mixture of 8-bar ovals, 9-bar ovals and some dated Lagos CDS cancellations, including one dated April 16, 1894, which is quite late. 

Here are the mint stamps:


Note how this shade is slightly brownish and how the head plate and duty plate colours are the same. 

Here are the backs:


These all have the toned double gum that the last printings had, and the watermarks are either faintly visible, or are clearly visible. None of the four stamps show obvious vertical mesh. 

Finally, here are the 8 used examples:


The variety of the cancels on these supports their classification as the last printings, since the CDS's do not become commonplace until the 1887-1903 issue. As expected the backs show clear watermarks and paper that does not show clear vertical mesh:


This takes me to the end of my discussion of the printings of this value. Next week, I will look at the 6d olive green, which had the same number of printings and were dispatched at the same time as these stamps. We shall see if all six printings can be identified and if they share the same general characteristics as to paper, gum and cancellation that we see here.