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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Printings of the 4d Mauve Queen Victoria Keyplate Definitive Watermarked Crown CA 1884-1886

Today's post continues my examination of the stamps of the second Crown CA Issue of Lagos, with the 4d Mauve. Between July 1884 and December 1886, 41,760 stamps were dispatched to the colony in 11 different printings as follows:

  1. July 8, 1884 - 58 sheets of 60, or 3,480 stamps. 
  2. September 24, 1884 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  3. December 16, 1884 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps
  4. April 21, 1885 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  5. July 13, 1885 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  6. September 29, 1885 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  7. December 29, 1885 - 62 sheets, or 3,720 stamps.
  8. March 29, 1886 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  9. June 30, 1886 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  10. October 12, 1886 - 76 sheets, or 4,560 stamps.
  11. December 13, 1886 - 80 sheets, or 4,800 stamps.
As you can see, the last two printings are slightly more common than the others, but by and large the printings are all roughly the same in terms of scarcity. Interestingly, the printing quantities are almost exactly the same for all shipments, as the 2d slate. In only a few shipments did the quantities differ, and they never differ by more than 1-2 sheets. All other things being equal, we can expect most of the existing mint examples on the market today to come from the last three printings. This was a fairly heavily used stamp due to the postage rates at the time, so used examples should be more common than mint for all the printings. 

It may not be possible to positively identify all 11 printings, but I am going to attempt in this post to give it a shot using all the information that I can glean from careful study of the cancellations, shades, paper and gum as well as what I have learned from my study of the 2d, 6d, 1/- values that I have studied so far. From these two stamps, I know that:

  • All the printings made after April 1886, i.e. the last three printings should come with the colourless double gum that causes the mint stamps to curl vertically. This gum will be smooth and not crackly.
  • Printings made between July 1885 and March 1886 will tend to have the smooth, toned single layer of gum that does not cause the stamps to curl, but is not crackly. This would correspond to printings five through eight. 
  • Printings prior to July 1885, i.e, the first four printings, will be found with crackly gum, or will be found without any gum at all. 
  • Most copies with CDS cancels dated after 1888 will generally be from the last three printings, as will copies cancelled with the 9-bar oval killers. In the case of the 2d slate that I studied last week, I found that the 9-bar killers were confined almost entirely to the last printing. I'm not sure whether that will be the case here, but we'll see.  
  • Although the 8-bar oval obliterator was in use until 1897, my expectation is that most copies cancelled with it will have come from the first 8 printings (i.e. before March 1886).
  • The very first printing should have a smooth, thick gum that gives the paper a very stiff feel. 
To identify the printings, I will be working with 12 mint and 59 used examples of this stamp.

Results of the Sort

As was the case when I sorted the 2d stamps I initially identified 12 different shade groupings, which I consolidated into 11 groups on the basis of two of those groups being very similar to the other. So, once again, I believe that I have all 11 printings, though the assignment to specific printings is much more difficult, as I do not have a single CDS used example! Generally speaking, most of the characteristics of the early, mid and late printings were consistent with the other stamps I have studied so far. I did have one copy of the mint 4d with the same gum and stiff paper that I have come to regard as the first printings, which further supports the notion that this gum is genuine. However, I also have one mint example,with a thin, smooth colourless gum that is very reminiscent of the crown-CC stamps. I have not yet encountered this on the crown-CA stamps of this period, and I have no idea where to assign it in the sequence, so for now I have placed it as the second printing, since this does not conflict with my classifications of the 2d, which had the crackly gums starting with the third printing. One thing that I did notice that was different with regard to cancellations was that the 9-bar oval killers were not limited to the last printings. In fact, this cancellation type appears much earlier, though its use becomes more and more commonplace as time wears on.

In terms of shades, the first printings are a slate violet with a definite bluish undertone, which then becomes progressively paler and reddish until the last printings are closer to shades of mauve or lilac. The colour unfortunately does appear to be susceptible to fading as I have several examples, both used and unused, which I am fairly confident have faded over time. I have done my best to assign them to the correct groups, though I would caution readers that they may not be correct, and they may yet change.

So without further ado, what follows is my best guess at which printings are which. Much of the ordering is conjectural and is based on the assumption that the shades of colour follow a natural progression that changes incrementally. However, this may or may not be the case in actual fact.

First Printing - July 8, 1884

The first printing of this stamp has a head plate that is closest to slate-violet on the Stanley Gibbons colour key, except with a definite bluish undertone. The duty plate colour is very close to the head plate colour, except that it lacks the bluish undertone, being much closer to the true slate violet. The gum as I have stated earlier is thick, smooth and colourless, giving the paper a very stiff feel.

I have one mint, and one used example of this printing. Here is the mint example:


Note the definite bluish undertone, and how the letters "Four Pence", while very close to the head plate colour, are just a bit less bluish. Now here is the used example:


The colour on this stamp is every so slightly less bluish than the mint copy, but it is closest to that stamp than it is to any of the others. The cancellation is an 8-bar oval killer, which is perfectly consistent with its's classification as an early printing.


Second Printing - September 24, 1884

I have a single mint stamp and three used stamps that I feel belong to this printing. The mint stamp has a thin, smooth colourless gum, which is very similar to the gum found on the early crown-CC issues. The colour of the head plate is closest to dull violet on the Gibbons colour key, but again, there is a bluish undertone to the colour. The duty plate is again very similar in appearance to the head plate, but upon close examination it is almost a pure bluish violet, without the dullness that the head plate colour has.

Here is my sole, mint example:


Note the prominent circular printing flaw above the Queen's ear. This is the only Lagos stamp that I have seen with this flaw, which leads me to believe that it may either not be constant, or it was constant, arose from damage to the plate, and it was corrected soon after it was discovered. I would welcome input from any collector that has seen this flaw on other stamps.

Here you can also clearly see the overall bluish tone of the colour and the fact that the words "four pence" are clearly deeper and brighter than the remainder of the stamp.

Here are the three used examplesL


The stamp in the middle looks redder because the paper is discoloured. However, if you look at the ink under a loupe, it is closer to the other two stamps shown here than it is to any of the other stamps in the study. Therefore, I have included it as part of the second printing. Finally, all three examples are cancelled with 8-bar oval killers, which is consistent with their classification as early printings.

Third Printing - December 16, 1884

The one mint example of this printing that I do have had very little gum left on it. However, the gum that was remaining on the back is crackly. In addition, the colour is close enough to the first two printings, that it made sense to classify it as the third printing. Both the head plate colour and the duty plate colour are dull bluish violet.

Here is my mint example:


Note the uniformity of colour between the words "four pence" and the rest of the design. 

I have 11 used examples that match this shade. Here they are:



All of these stamps are cancelled with the earlier 8-bar oval killer, which is consistent with their classification as early printings. 

Fourth Printing -  April 21, 1885

Starting with the fourth printing the colour gets milky. I have one mint and two used examples of this printing, which I have assigned on the basis of the gum, and the fact that the colour of this printing is the deepest, and is the closest to the earlier printings. However, I must emphasize that this does not mean that this printing looks similar to the first three. It doesn't at all. The head plate colour is closest to slate-violet on the Gibbons colour key. However, the colour is paler than the slate-violet swatch. In addition, there is still a definite bluish undertone to this colour. The duty plate colour is the same tone, and almost a perfect match to the slate-violet swatch.

Here is my sole mint example:


Note how the letters "four pence" are slightly deeper compared to the rest of the design, but how they are the same overall tone.

Here are my two used examples:


On these two stamps, the head plate and duty plate colours are the same, so they could be a sub-group of this printing. I have classified them here as they are closest to the mint stamp. Once again, they are both cancelled with 8-bar obliterators, which is consistent with their classification as early printings.


Fifth Printing - July 13, 1885

I have two mint and three used examples of this printing. The gum on both mint stamps is crackly, through on one of the stamps, the cracks are so fine that you need a loupe to see them. Those characteristics are consistent with the 2d stamps that were printed on this date, so I have classified them here. The colour is similar in terms of intensity to the last printing, but there is no bluish undertone. The head plate colour is a paler version of the slate violet in the Gibbons colour key, but the duty plate colour is almost an exact match.

Here are the two mint examples:




The stamp on the left is slightly bluish compared to the stamp on the right, so it may actually be part of the fourth printing above. However, I felt that is was closer to this printing, so I included it here.

Here are the three used examples:


In all cases, the duty plate colour is deeper than the head plate colour. These all appear to be 8-bar oval killer cancels. 

Sixth Printing - September 29, 1885


This printing is where I begin to see serious fading of colour. I have two mint, one unused, and five used examples. The unused stamp is seriously faded, and is not very useful in terms of helping classify printings. Of the two mint examples, one has what appears to be the smooth coffee toned gum, while the other one has the crackly gum that we would expect for this period. The smooth coffee toned gum is consistent with the gum found on the other 2d stamps from this shipment, however the crackly gum is not. The colour this time is pale slate-violet for both the head plate and the duty plate.

Here are my two mint and one faded unused example:
 

I believe that the stamp in the middle is the true, unfaded colour. The stamp on the right is a little soiled and I think it is probably just a little faded. The stamp in the middle has the crackly gum, whereas the stamp on the right has the smooth gum. 

Here are the five used examples:


The stamp on the extreme left is, once again, severely faded. The others are all the true colour. The second stamp from the left shows a broken "R" in "Four". I do not know if this was a constant flaw or not, since I have only seen it on this colour of the 4d. 


Seventh Printing - December 29, 1885

This printing is where I first begin to see the appearance of the 9-bar cancel. For this and the next two printings, I have only used examples, comprising 21 stamps in total - so a good chunk of my stamps come from these three printings. The colour starts to become a bit more vibrant again, losing the slate tone, and becoming more bluish again. The colour of the head plate and duty plate are both closest to pale dull violet on the Gibbons colour key.

Here are my 10 used examples:


Of these 10 stamps, four are definitely cancelled with 9-bar ovals. The stamp on the bottom right is likely mildly faded, giving it the greyish tone that it has. 


Eighth Printing -  March 29, 1886

This printing again has the head plate colour the same as the duty plate colour. It is the most vibrant of all the colours, being a pure bluish violet. I have five used singles and one very, very scarce used pair, which are shown here;


The only problematic stamp in this group is the lower right stamp, which is a bit reddish by comparison to the others. The duty colour is pure bluish violet though, and the head plate colour, while slightly reddish, is still very close to the other stamps. This is the reason why I have included it in this printing. The first two stamps are definitely cancelled with 9-bar killers, while the top right stamp could either be an 8-bar or a 9-bar. The pair and the other two singles appear to have been cancelled with 8-bar obliterators.


Ninth Printing - June 30, 1886

This printing is very similar to the eighth printing in the sense that the head plate and duty plate colours are both bluish violet. The difference is that the colour is just a bit paler than the pure bluish violet of the eighth printing.

Here are the four used examples that I have:


It is difficult to be certain about the stamp on the right, but the other three stamps are all cancelled with the later 9-bar oval killers, which is consistent with what we would expect of one of the last printings. 

Tenth Printing - October 12, 1886

I have three mint examples of this printing, all of which have smooth, slightly toned gum. It does not seem to be as thick as the double gum that we normally see from this period, so it is possible that this is actually one of the printings made between late 1885 and mid-1886, and that one of those is actually this printing. I have classified this printing here because the colour again undergoes a change whereby it becomes much redder, being closest to slate-lilac on the Gibbons colour key. The duty plate and head plate colours are almost identical, though some stamps show a duty plate colour that is slightly more slate than others.

Here are my three mint examples:


Note how much less bluish and greyish these stamps are compared to the earlier printings. I have ten used examples, which is consistent with the fact that this printing is slightly more common than the others. Here are those ten stamps:


The lower left stamp, although not attractive to look at, it a nice use of a foreign usage, being cancelled with the #466 killer of Liverpool or Manchester (I can't remember which). In all likelihood, this stamp was on a letter that was mailed aboard a ship and the cancellation was applied when that ship docked in the UK and the letters were taken to the local lost office. So it is a scarce and interesting item, despite the heavy postmark. Except for the first stamp and the stamp just mentioned, all the others are cancelled with the 9-bar killer, which is completely consistent with what we would expect for a printing this late. 

Eleventh Printing - December 13, 1886

This printing has the head plate being printed in slate-lilac, while the duty plate is either deep lilac on some stamps or deep violet on others. I have three used examples:


All three of these stamps are cancelled with 9-bar obliterators. The stamp on the right has a slightly more bluish duty plate colour than the one in the middle, but in my opinion, both are closer to the deep lilac swatch on the Gibbons colour key than they are to the deep violet swatch. 

This concludes my examination of this value from the second crown CA series. I have now seen enough examples of the gum from this period as well as the cancellations, that I should be able, over the next two weeks to identify the printings of the halfpenny and 1d stamps that were made during this period, as opposed to those made after 1886. My posts over the next two weeks will attempt to identify these stamps. 


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Printings of the 2d Slate Queen Victoria Keyplate Definitive Watermarked Crown CA 1884-1886

Today's post is where we begin to delve into some of the more difficult values of the second Crown CA Issue of Lagos - i.e. those having more than 10 printings. The first of these that I wish to deal with is the 2d slate or grey. Between July 1884 and December 1886, 41,760 stamps were dispatched to the colony in 11 different printings as follows:


  1. July 8, 1884 - 58 sheets of 60, or 3,480 stamps. 
  2. September 24, 1884 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  3. December 16, 1884 - 56 sheets, or 3,360 stamps
  4. April 21, 1885 - 61 sheets, or 3,660 stamps.
  5. July 13, 1885 - 61 sheets, or 3,660 stamps.
  6. September 29, 1885 - 63 sheets, or 3,780 stamps.
  7. December 29, 1885 - 61 sheets, or 3,660 stamps.
  8. March 29, 1886 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  9. June 30, 1886 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  10. October 12, 1886 - 76 sheets, or 4,560 stamps.
  11. December 13, 1886 - 80 sheets, or 4,800 stamps.
As you can see, the last two printings are slightly more common than the others, but by and large the printings are all roughly the same in terms of scarcity. All other things being equal, we can expect most of the existing mint examples on the market today to come from the last three printings. This was a fairly heavily used stamp due to the postage rates at the time, so used examples should be more common than mint for all the printings. 

It may not be possible to positively identify all 11 printings, but I am going to attempt in this post to give it a shot using all the information that I can glean from careful study of the cancellations, shades, paper and gum as well as what I have learned from my study of the 6d and 1/- values. From these two stamps, I know that:

  • All the printings made after April 1886, i.e. the last three printings should come with the colourless double gum that causes the mint stamps to curl vertically. This gum will be smooth and not crackly.
  • Printings made between July 1885 and March 1886 will tend to have the smooth, toned single layer of gum that does not cause the stamps to curl, but is not crackly. This would correspond to printings five through eight. 
  • Printings prior to July 1885, i.e, the first four printings, will be found with crackly gum, or will be found without any gum at all. 
  • Most copies with CDS cancels dated after 1888 will generally be from the last three printings, as will copies cancelled with the 9-bar oval killers. 
  • Although the 8-bar oval obliterator was in use until 1897, my expectation is that most copies cancelled with it will have come from the first 8 printings (i.e. before March 1886).
To identify the printings, I will be working with 19 mint and 57 used examples of this stamp. 

Results of the Sort

After careful comparison, I was able to divide the stamps into 12 groups, with the third being, in my opinion, a close variation of the second group. Thus, I do believe that I have identified all eleven printings. However, I do not have quite enough information to assign each printing to a definite date within the sequence of printings. The best I can do is assign a group of printings to a group of dates and give conjectural dates within each group. The other thing is that two of my groups contain used examples only, so it is quite possible that they belong to different printing groups than the ones that I have assigned them to. 

The colour of this stamp varies considerably. There are two basic colours: slate and slate-grey. The slates vary from a deep bluish slate to a deep greenish slate, while the slate-greys vary in terms of whether they have a primarily greenish, or a primarily bluish cast. 

Groups 1-5 - The First Four Printings - July 1884 to April 1885

This group I have identified primarily by the crackly gum on the mint examples and the 8-bar oval killer cancels on the used examples. I have one mint example, which has the stiff paper and smooth gum that I saw on the first printing of the 6d, so I have placed it in this group. I had previously thought that the 6d stamp was re-gummed, but I have now seen enough different stamps with this characteristic that I no longer believe the gum to be inauthentic. I think this is simply the gum used on the very first printings, which appears completely different from the other printings. One of the printings I only have two used examples of, so it may not actually belong to this group. But I have added it here because both examples are cancelled with the 8-bar killer and I have mint examples of all the printings in the intermediate group, when the 8-bar cancel was being phased out. 

The First Printing - July 8, 1884

Here is the only mint example in my stock of the stamp that I now believe to be the first printing:


The gum on this stamp is smooth and colourless, but it gives the paper and perforations a very stiff feel, which is what made me think that the first stamp I saw it with was regummed. However, I have seen it now on the 6d, in a shade that I am pretty convinced is the first printing of that stamp, as well as this stamp. I only have the one example, which is consistent with the expectation that mint examples of the first printing, being less than 10% of the total printing, would be very scarce. So I am pretty comfortable assigning this as the July 1884 printing. 

The colour of both the head plate and the duty plate are a bluish slate. 

The Second Printing - September 24, 1884

The two stamps that I have for this printing that I have are both used, but I have assigned them here on the basis of the fact that the head plate colour is almost identical to the first printing above. However, the duty plate colour is a pale slate grey that contrasts quite sharply with the head plate colour:



Notice how pale the words of value are in relation to the rest of the stamp.

The Third Printing - December 16, 1884

I have identified two very closely matched shade groupings, which I believe to be from this printing. Both are so close to one another that I doubt you will see any difference between them from the scans that I post. Both have very crackly gum on the mint stamps, and all of the used examples are cancelled with 8-bar killers. In both cases, the duty plate and head plate are the same and can basically be described as slate. The first group is a slightly more bluish slate than the second, which is slightly more greenish. However, both are much paler in overall appearance compared with the first two printings above.

Group One:

Here are the mint examples of the first group from this printing:


Notice how the head plate and duty plate colours are the same. You can even see that the gum is crackly by seeing the tiny gum wrinkles that are visible in the paper when the stamps are viewed from the front.

Now here are four used examples:




Group Two

From this group I have three mint examples and eight used ones. Here are the mint stamps:



Again, you can see the cracks in the gum from the front of the stamps on the left and right. The colour of these stamps looks more or less the same as the first group above. 

Now here are the used examples:


Fourth Printing - April 21, 1885

This printing has gum which is much smoother than the previous printing, but it is still crackly in comparison to the later and intermediate printings. Although the head plate and duty plate colours appear to be the same at first glance, you will see if you look closely that the head plate is a light bluish slate, while the duty plate colour is a deep grey that lacks the bluish cast:


The example on the left shows two constant plate flaws that I have seen on other 2d stamps of both the earlier and later printings: 

  • A frame break above the "T" of "Two", and
  • The upper bar of the first "E" of "Pence" and the upper left of the "N" of "Pence" are both truncated at an angle.
Groups 6-9: The Second Four Printings - July 1885 to March 1886

The main basis that I have used to assign printings to this group is the gum. Prior to April 1886, the gum was applied in a single layer, so that mint stamps usually lie flat when exposed to air. Starting in April 1886, De La Rue began the practice of applying gum in double layers due to complaints that they received from the colony that the stamps were not sufficiently gummed. This double layer of gum often causes the stamps to curl when exposed to the air, and this is how I have come to identify them, as the actual appearance of the gum itself does not differ that much from the single layer gum. Most of the cancellations on the used stamps assigned to these groups are either the 8-bar oval killer, or the dated Lagos CDS cancel, many of which are dated well after these printings were replaced by later ones. That is not all that surprising, given that stamps are usually sold on a last-in-first-out (LIFO) basis, and that earlier printings can get stuck at the bottom of the pile at the post office, being sold only after the newer ones run out. 

Generally speaking, all the printings in this group are variations of slate, as we shall see.I am not sure of the exact order of these printings. I can be fairly comfortable about the placement of the eighth printing, due to the fact that the gum loses its toned appearance and resembles the gum of the last printings, but is only a single layer. However, my assignment of the fifth through seventh printings is purely conjectural. 

Fifth Printing - July 13, 1885

This printing has a very slight crackliness to the gum, but you have to use a loupe to see it. Without a loupe, it looks like a smooth coffee-toned gum. The colour of both the head and the duty plate is a bluish slate, which is very slightly greenish compared to the bluish slate of the first printing. I have one single mint example and eight used examples (of which I show 7). Here is the mint example:


Notice how the colour of the head plate and duty plate are identical. 

Here are the used examples:



Sixth Printing - September 29, 1885

Again, the gum on this printing is coffee-toned, and appears smooth, with very fine cracks being visible under a loupe. The colour of both the head plate and duty plate are a pure slate that is neither greenish, nor bluish. I have three mint examples, and two used ones from this printing. Here are the mint examples:



If you compare these stamps to the fifth printing above, you should be able to see that these are definitely less bluish in comparison, and slightly lighter as well. 

Here are the two used examples:



Seventh Printing - December 29, 1885

This printing I assigned on the basis of one used example, which was dated January 19, 1886. However, it is possible that this is actually the September 1885 printing, and the above printing is actually this one. It really depends on how long it took the shipment to reach the post offices in Lagos. The largest proportion of used examples in my stock appear to come from this printing, and it is here that we first start to see widespread use of the Lagos dated CDS cancel again. The gum on these stamps is completely smooth, and although slightly toned, is much lighter than on the previous two printings. One of the used examples shows the same truncated "E" and "N" in "Pence that I introduced on the fourth printing above, which proves that the variety is constant. 

The colour of the stamps from this printing is slate once again, but this time it has a very greenish cast compared to the earlier printings. I have two mint examples and 16 used examples (of which I show 14 here). 

Here are the mint examples:


The greenish cast is very subtle and not that obvious from the scan. However, it is much more apparent when you compare the physical stamps to one another. The example of the left shows a second constant plate variety that goes all the way back to the very first 2d stamps from 1874: the damaged "T" in "Two". This flaw consists of a large void in the vertical stem of the "T" and it was never corrected, as I have found examples from the next 1887-1903 issue as well as nearly every other issue since the first one in 1874. 

Here are the used examples:


The middle stamp in the second row shows the truncated "E" and "N" of "Pence". The second stamp from the top is the dated example that served as the basis by which I assigned the stamps to this printing. 

Eighth Printing - March 29, 1886 

I only have one mint example of this printing. The gum is now the creamy colour that dominates the later part of the crown CA period and is completely smooth. It is only a single layer though, which is why I have assigned it to this printing. The head plate colour is more or less the same slate as the seventh printing. However, the duty plate colour is a paler greenish slate:


Notice how the words of value are noticably paler than the remainder of the stamp. 

Groups 10-12 The Last Three Printings - June to December 1886

These last three printings are difficult to assign, but I have identified the mint examples by the double layer of creamy gum, and the used examples by the fact that all of them appear to be cancelled either with a CDS, or a 9-bar oval killer, which replaced the earlier 8-bar cancel. In terms of colour, the ninth printing is a deep slate for both the head and duty plates. Starting with the tenth printing, the colour begins to change to slate-grey for the head plate, with the duty plate remaining the same deep slate. Finally, the last printing has both the head plate and the duty plate being slate-grey. 

Ninth Printing - June 30, 1886

For this printing, I have a single mint example and four used stamps. One of the used stamps shows the damaged "T" in "two" that I discussed under the seventh printing above. Here is my single mint example:



Here are the used examples:


The second stamp from the left has the damaged "T" of "Two".

Tenth Printing - October 12, 1886

I only have two used examples of this printing. I have assigned the two stamps to this printing due to the fact that the duty plate colour is the same deep slate as the ninth printing, while the eleventh and last printing is entirely slate grey. Here they are:


Hopefully you can see from the scan that the head plate colour is much greyer than the previous stamps, while the duty plate colour is still slate, which stands out against the paler head plate colour. 

Eleventh Printing - December 13, 1886

I assigned my one mint copy and eleven used examples to this last printing on the basis of the fact that this is the only printing that contained no slate at all, and for which both the head plate and duty plate were the same slate-grey colour. If you look closely at the colour, you will begin to see a slight greenish cast to the colour as well. Here is my sole mint example:


Unfortunately, it does have a horizontal crease, but it shows the pale colour quite nicely, and you can see that the head plate and duty plate are both the same colour. 

Here are my eleven used examples:



All of these appear to have been cancelled with the later 9-bar oval killers. 

This concludes my examination of this value. Next week, I will look at the 4d mauve, which had the same number of printings. After this is done, I should be sufficiently comfortable identifying these early printings, that I can begin to tackle the 1/2d and 1d stamps, which are challenging due to the fact that they were re-printed so many times after 1886. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Apology to My Readers - There Will Likely Be No Post This Week

I have to offer my sincere apologies to my readers this week, as my time got away from me yesterday while writing my post for my other Canadian Philately blog. I was writing an update to a post I did about the 1937 Long Coronation Issue of Newfoundland, and what started as something I thought would take a few hours, took me until 3:30am to complete. Unfortunately it is income tax season here in Canada, and I still have a bit of work that I do in that respect, so the rest of my time this week is spoken for. Consequently, I very much doubt that I will have time to write any post this week, for which I am very sorry. If I do get a few hours towards the end of the week, I may start on the next value in the series. However, in the meantime, if you wish to read my post about the 1937 Long Coronation Issue, you can access it here:

http://canadianphilately.blogspot.ca/2017/02/the-1937-long-coronation-issue-of.html

If you have never paid much attention to the 1937 Coronation issue, you may find this article quite interesting. King George VI's coronation was held on the same date that Edward VIII's was supposed to have been - just 6 months after the abdication, which meant that the Crown Agents had to scramble to get the issue together and out to every crown colony in time. I'm amazed that they were able to pull it off.

Anyway, I will be back next week with a new post about the 2d slate Queen Victoria stamp of Lagos.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Announcing the World's First Bed and Breakfast Aimed at Philatelists!





As many of my readers are now aware, my partner Steph and I recently moved from Toronto to historic Saint John, New Brunswick as we had a dream of operating a Bed and Breakfast, in conjunction with my stamp business. We bought a lovely 140 year old house located in the west side of the city, which used to be a Bed and Breakfast. We decided that it would be a fabulous idea to operate it as a Bed and Breakfast with a twist: it will be the first Bed and Breakfast that I know of, which is aimed at providing a quiet and cozy, stamp filled getaway for those of you philatelists looking to immerse yourself in your stamps, while having all your needs catered to.

We offer two guest bedrooms, each with their own self-contained bathroom, so that you can be assured of complete privacy in your room. Our room rates range from a low $95 per night for our Rose Gold Room, to $105 per night for our large Grandma Green Room. You can bring your stamps with you and sit in our comfy office, at a large table, with excellent lighting, and access to all the equipment you could want or need to aid you in your study: watermark trays and fluid; a signoscope; micrometers, ultra-violet lamps, instanta gauges, colour keys and so on. You will have access to our bar and coffee and tea station at all times, so that you can sip a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of spirits while you work. We provide a tasty range of fresh baked goods throughout the day as well, so you never have to go hungry while you are here. We will also provide you with most any philatelic literature that you request to have available during your stay.

If you do not wish to bring stamps with you during your stay, then you can always browse our extensive, specialized stock of Canada and British West Africa material from the comfort of our office. Our Nigeria stock is one of the most extensive in the world, and contains many rare items.

During your stay you will have access to me and we can discuss any philatelic topic that you wish to discuss. Our basic package for $100 includes all the accouterments described, plus a 10% discount on any of our stock items, plus a scrumptious breakfast. We can recommend a variety of restaurants for lunch and dinner. For those wanting the ultimate, pampered experience, we offer an unlisted deluxe package, which includes lunch and a gourmet dinner with your choice of drinks for each day of your stay.





We are situated on a large corner property, with a large yard, where you can relax with a book and a drink, while you are not working on your stamps. New Brunswick, and Saint John itself offer a wide range of physical attractions that you can visit during the day, that are all within driving distance. Some of the attractions that are well worth the day trip to visit are pictured below:

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Here we have Hopewell Rocks Park where there are some of the highest and most rapidly rising tides in the world. It is located just 2 hours away from Saint John to the east of the city. When the tide is out, you can venture well past the rocks, and when it is fully in, the water level will be well above the heads of the people that you see on the beach in the above picture.

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Then there is the Hartland Bridge, which is the oldest and longest covered bridge in the world at 1282 feet long. It is also located 2 hours away from Saint John, but to the north.

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For those who like to golf, there is the Royal Oaks Golf Club in Moncton, which is an hour and a half to the north-east of the City.

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About 10 minutes away from us, by car, there is a large covered market in downtown Saint John, where there is a large selection of organic produce and artisan goods.

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Carlton Martello Tower, is located about 400 metres away from our property, and offers a beautiful view of the city. It dates from the War of 1812, and was built as a fortification to defend the city against outside hostilities.

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The main street downtown offers a lovely array of shops and restaurants that lead down to a picturesque waterfront.

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The reversing falls, located in the city, are a series of rapids where the Saint John River empties into the Bay of Fundy. The tides of the bay force the water to flow in the opposite direction to the current when the tide is high, which is a unique phenomenon, and well worth a look.

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These three pictures all show the Irving Nature Park, which is the second largest park in the province. It is located approximately 10 km from our property, and is easily accessible by car in about 5 minutes.

We believe that New Brunswick is one of Canada's best kept secrets, and we are confident that once you experience it for yourself, you will agree. The temperatures here during the summer months are always between about 20 and 25 degrees Celsius, which is ideal.

If you want to check out our website, and learn more, you can get there by clicking the following link:

https://www.thecosycottageinn.ca/

We are accepting our first bookings in mid-May 2017.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Printings Of The 6d Olive Green Queen Victoria Lagos Keyplate Issue Watermarked Crown CA 1884-1886

Overview

Today's post will pick up where last week's post left off with how to distinguish the six printings of the 6d olive green definitive of Lagos that was in use between 1884  and 1887 when it was replaced by the bi-coloured mauve and claret definitive stamp.

The six printings, which were released at the same time as the 1/- orange, were dispatched as follows:
  • First printing - July 8, 1884 - 58 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,480 stamps.
  • Second printing - December 16, 1884 - 62 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,720 stamps.
  • Third printing - July 13, 1885 - 60 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,600 stamps.
  • Fourth printing - December 29, 1885 - 61 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,660 stamps.
  • Fifth printing - June 30, 1886 - 58 sheets of 60 stamps - 3,480 stamps.
  • Sixth printing - October 12, 1886 - 76 sheets of 60 stamps - 4,560 stamps. 
It will immediately be apparent that the quantities dispatched for each printing were roughly the same, although the last printing had a quantity about 30% higher than the other printings. 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, except the last one, where I should have a bit more. 

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 57 mint and 28 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, several 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 two the last two printings, on the basis of the gum, which is the toned, smooth double gum of the last two printings. Then, the other shades fell pretty neatly into four other groups. The cancellations did turn out to be useful for identifying the second printing, as I had one early CDS with what appeared to be an 1885 date. But by and large, the cancellations were not as useful for separating the other printings as I had hoped they would be. As was the case with the 1/- 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. That didn't really happen here though. What did happen is that I would have two printings with the same type of gum, but different shades.

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.

3. My general observation, from experience, that the first printings are always scarce to rare in mint condition, but abundant in used condition, as most would have been used for postage. The later printings are always much more common in mint condition, and much scarcer used. So I used the relative quantities of mint and used stamps to help me decide on the order of the printings. 

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

The olive green colour exhibits considerable variation from a bright, almost sage green, containing no brown, to a very brownish olive green, and finally a yellowish brown olive green. 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.

Unlike other posts, I am not going to show back scans of every single stamp, as they do not give much more information than what we can glean from the shades, the general characteristics of gum and the cancellations. Instead, below is a scan showing the three different kinds of gum as found in the second, fourth and sixth printings:



As the scan clearly shows, the early crown CA gum is visibly crackly, and quite different in appearance from the later gum, which is completely smooth, and is often toned as well. The middle stamp is the single gum from the fourth printing, while the stamp on the right is the double gum from the sixth printing. In terms of appearance, the single and double gum look more or less the same. The only difference is that the double gum is thicker, and it tends to cause the stamps to curl from side to side.

First printing - Dispatched July 8, 1884 

I have a single mint example with disturbed gum that is in a shade completely unlike any other stamp in my stock. The colour is a pure deep sage green, that contains no hint of brown, nor any hint of yellow. The duty plate and head plate colours are identical, even under a 10x loupe. I believe this to be the first printing, merely because of how rare it is. Here is a scan of this single mint stamp:



Sage green is a greyish green, and you can see from this scan that the colour is definitely greyish, and that there is no brown here whatsoever, nor is there any yellow present in the colour. The gum was not crackly, but the perforation tips were gum soaked, which leads me to believe that this stamp was either regummed, or the gum has been sweated. Still it is a very rare stamp, as it is the only one out of 85 stamps in my stock to have this colour.

Second printing - Dispatched December 16, 1884

The second printing and third printing are very similar in shade, but it is the sheer abundance of used examples from this printing that led me to assign this to the second printing, as well as a single cancelled example with an early CDS that had an unreadable date. With a loupe, it just looks like it might be an 1885 date. The letters in "Lagos" are the wide type that are characteristic of the early CDS's as opposed to the CDS cancellations of the late 1880's and early 1890's, which had narrower letters.

The shade of this printing is almost an exact match for the yellow-olive swatch of the Gibbons colour key. It is still very green compared to the later shades, but compared to the sage green of the first printing, we are just beginning to see the first traces of brown in the colour. The gum on the mint examples that have gum is the crackly gum that is characteristic of the early printings. The duty plate and the head plate colours once again, are identical on this printing. I have 4 mint and 17 used examples of this printing. Here is a scan of the mint stamps:



Here you can see that there is definitely yellow and a bit of brown to the colour, and that the head and duty plate colours are the same.

Here are the used examples:


There is a full range of cancellations shown here, including some CDS's dated in 1892 and 1893, which suggests that this was not a value that saw a lot of use. There are several 8-bar and 9-bar oval cancellations, which hasn't been seen with this degree of balance on any issues before. The third stamp from the left on the second row is the potential 1885 date. You should clearly be able to see what looks like "Ju 19". If you look just under the "9" with a loupe, you can see what looks like a "5". These cancels were long gone by 1895, so the only logical guess is that this is an 1885 cancel. Since the next printing wasn't sent out until July, this means that this stamp must come from the first or second printings. Given that it is so different from the stamp that I have already assigned as the first printing, then it must be a second printing.

Third printing - Dispatched July 13, 1885

The third printing has the same type of gum as the second printing and the colour is very similar, being a shade of yellow olive. The main difference is that the head plate colour is slightly paler than the second printing, and the duty plate colour is every so slightly paler than the head plate colour. I have seven mint examples, including the famous value omitted stamp that was sold at the 1971 Danson sale, and two used examples.

Here are the scans showing the mint stamps:



It is a little difficult to see, but if you look carefully, you can see that the duty plate colour (i.e. the words "six pence") is slightly lighter than the rest of the stamp.

Here are the two used examples:


On these, it is much easier to see the contrast between the head plate and the duty plate colours.

Fourth printing - Dispatched December 29, 1885 

This printing is very similar in shade to the third printing, but is just a bit yellower. Like the second printing, the duty plate and head plate colours are the same. The main distinguishing characteristic is that the gum, is the smooth, toned gum of the later printings. It seems to be a relatively scarce printing, despite its initial dispatch quantity, as I have only a single mint example in my stock, and three used examples.

Here is the single mint example in my possession:


As you can see the colour is still yellowish, but the brown is really beginning to creep into the colour. Interestingly, it looks browner here in the scan than it does in the flesh. Note how the duty plate colour is the same as the head plate.

Here are the three used examples:


All three of these cancellations are the later types, with one being a 9-bar oval grid, which replaced the 8-bar type, and two 1893 Lagos CDS cancels, both dated August 30. Now that I look at the scan again, I can see that the left stamp is much greyer than the other two, which suggests that it actually should have been included with the second printing above, and not this printing.

So actually, I only have two used examples of this printing, both of which are on the right.


Fifth printing - Dispatched June 30, 1886

This shade is a definite shade of brown-olive. It is not as deep as the Gibbons brown-olive swatch, and a portion of the printing was made in ink that is closer to the olive green swatch than the brown olive swatch. The head plate and duty plate colours on this printing are identical. I have 15 mint examples, being roughly evenly split between the two shade variants, and three used examples.

Here are the mint examples from the brown olive group:


 and from the slightly less brown olive green group:


These both have the double gum, so I assigned them to the same printing, though it is possible that these belong with the fourth printing rather than this one. 

Here are the used examples:


These appear to be two 9-bar oval grids, based on the narrow width of the bars, and the later 1880's Lagos CDS. These are all later cancellation types, which is consistent with my classification of these as coming from the fifth printing.

Sixth printing - Dispatched October 12, 1886

Stamps of this last printing are distinguished by the double gum and the amount of yellow in the shade, which is more than any other printing. The colour is still closest to the yellow olive swatch on the Gibbons colour key, but in this printing, it is much yellower and browner than the stamps of the other printings. Once again, the head plate any duty plate shades are the same on this printing. As expected mint examples are common, and used stamps are very scarce, with 17 of my 20 examples being mint.

Here are some of the mint stamps:


Hopefully you can see that this colour is very yellowish and brownish compared to the other stamps. Notice how the duty and head plate colours are the same as well.

Finally, here are the three used stamps in my stock:


These appear to be 8-bar cancellations, but without the entire cancels being visible it is difficult to be sure. However, the shades match the mint stamps, and the gum on the mint stamps is such that these must be one of the last printings, if not the very last one. 

This concludes my discussion of the printings of this value. We have the 2d slate and 4d mauve, which had 9 printings each, and then the very complicated 1/2d and 1d to tackle afterwards. So I will examine the 2d slate next week, and then the 4d mauve the week after. Once I have identified and presented those, I will do a series of posts discussing how to approach the sort of these two very complicated Victorian stamps. That will then put us in position to start looking at the third Crown CA Issue, which was in use from 1887 until the King Edward VII stamps replaced them in 1903.