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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Printings of the 5d Lilac and Dark Green Queen Victoria Keyplate Stamp From Lagos 1894-1901

Overview

The 5d lilac and dark green keyplate stamp of Lagos was one of three stamps that was first dispatched to the colony on December 30, 1893 and was issued to facilitate the payment of registration fees on parcels. The other two stamps were the 7.5d and the 10d. The 5d paid for indemnity up to 12 pounds, while the 7.5d paid up to 24 pounds and the 10d paid up to 36 pounds of value.

These three stamps should provide some important reference points to help us distinguish the printings of the other values, since they were in use for only a portion of the total period from 1887 to 1903. According to Ince, a total of 92,160 stamps were printed of the 5d, and 57,540 unsold remainders were destroyed in London. So the issue quantity was fairly limited, and suggests that there were probably nowhere near 4 printings per year that the stamp was current. The last shipment was August 19, 1901, which mde for a total period of use of 7 years and eight months. There were thus many fewer than 31 printings! How many there were is a question I will attempt to determine with this post. I am fortunate to have 93 mint and used singles as well as one mint block of 4 available for study. By looking carefully at the degree of plate wear, as indicated by the clarity of the hair and diadem, as discussed in my previous posts, in addition to the shades of the head and duty plates, I should be able to identify with a fair degree of accuracy how many printings there were, and approximately when many of them were made.

Preliminary Results

On my first sort of these stamps, I was able to separate them into six groups, with the sixth being stamps that were so heavily cancelled or rubbed as to not be useful as the true degree of plate wear could not be accurately assessed. The next step is to go through each of these groups and further sort them by shade and a more detailed assessment of the wear if warranted. It is also possible that this process will result in some reclassifications between printings, as it must be recognized that not every subject on the printing plate will have worn to the exact same degree. Therefore this method is really just a preliminary sort to begin breaking down the stamps into manageable groups.

After sorting for shades, which were very similar between the groups, I was able to organize the stamps into five groups, each of which had between 2 and 5 printings as follows:


  • Group 1, being the earliest printings appears to have two printings. I have only one dated used example. The date is not legible, but if I look very closely at the last numeral of the date, I can just make out the slope of  "4". This is consistent with these printings being from 1894.
  • Group 2, being the next most recent printings appears to have three printings. None of the six used examples from this group had dated cancellations. All were postmarked with what appear to be 8-bar oval obliterators. 
  • Group 3, consists of four different printings. Both used examples in this group come from the same printing, with one being dated August 29, 1895 and the other being dated April 13, 1897. 
  • Group 4 consists of four printings also. Most used examples in this group are dated between August 1899 and May 1902. 
  • Group 5 consists of five printings. Only one of these is used and it is cancelled with an 8-br obilterator. The lack of used examples is consistent with these being from the very last printings.
Thus there would appear to be 18 different printings, which is entirely plausible for the total number of stamps printed. Many of the shades in each of the groups are very close, if not indistinguishable from those in other groups. So it is possible that there may actually be fewer printings than this, but I think that the differences in plate wear with each group are significant enough to suggest their classification as different printings.

Lets now take a closer look at the stamps in each group. Unfortunately I do not have a sufficient number of dated used examples to positively date each printing, so my designations "first printing", "second printing" and so forth must be taken with a grain of salt. 

Group 1 - Printings 1-2




The defining characteristic of the printings in this group is that the show the state of the plate in what I would call its intermediate state. In this state, nearly all of the detail in the hair above the crown is visible as separate Wavy lines. There is some merging of the first three lines at the very top of the hair, but all the other lines are visible. In addition, there is some detail remaining in the hair at the very back of the neck, both above and below the diagonal ribbon.  We are also just beginning to see merging together of the fine horizontal shading lines located in the bottom band of the crown, in between each of the jewels. 

First Printing


The head plate of this printing, which I actually believe is the true first printing, based on the single 1894 dated example, is a slightly paler version of the dull purple swatch on the Stanley Gibbons colour key. The duty plate colour is closest to Gibbons' deep blue green swatch. 

Here is a group of all eight of the stamps from this printing that are currently in stock:


As you can see the colours are uniform throughout the group. The cancel on the single used stamp is difficult to read, but with care you can just make out the "4" in "1894. So the cancel is from June 1894 - six months after the first shipment was sent. 

Second Printing



The head plate colour of this second printing is similar to the first except that it is both paler and redder. It is actually closest to the reddish lilac swatch on the Gibbons colour key. The only difference is that the colour is a bit duller than that swatch on the key. The green colour of the duty plate is identical to the first printing, being a deep blue green. 

Here is a scan showing all six examples in my stock:


I had originally assumed that any example with a specimen overprint had to be from the first printing because I had envisioned that any distribution of stamps to member countries of the UPU would be done only when the stamps were first issued. However, I have seen examples from later printings with specimen overprints also, which leads me to believe that they were also given out for other reasons as well and could come from any printing. However, it is possible that this group is actually the first printing, while the first group above is actually the second printing.

Group 2 - Printings 3 -5



On this group of printings, we begin to see very slight merging of other lines of the hair at the top of the head. If you look at the crown, you will see that there are four large round jewels at the tips, and i between those are two thistles and a shamrock. Dividing the hair lines into those around the rear thistle and the shamrock, or above those two ornaments provides a useful way of describing how the plate wear affects the hair. On this group of printings we see slight merging of the lowest two or three hairlines that are located around the shamrock and the rear thistle. The lines above these ornaments are still clearly defined, and there is still detail visible in the hair at the back of the neck, both above and below the diagonal ribbon. 

Third Printing


The duty plate colour of this printing has not changed, and is still deep blue green. The head plate colour contains just the slightest hint of brown, being closest to dull purple on the Gibbons colour key. 


These are three of the six examples currently in my stock. All four of the used examples are cancelled with 8-bar oval killers. 

Fourth Printing


The duty plate colour remains unchanged at deep blue green and the head plate colour is similar to the dull purple in Gibbons' colour key, but it is just a touch more reddish. Here are the three examples that I have in stock:




Fifth Printing


The duty plate colour is still deep blue green. The head plate colour has become more reddish again and is now closest to pure reddish lilac on the Gibbons' colour key. Here is the above stamp next to my only used example:




Group 3 - Printings 6 Through 9




In this group of printings, the hair at the back of the neck below the diagonal ribbon is almost a solid mass of colour with almost no white detail visible at all. There is still a small amount of detail visible in the hair above the ribbon, but it too is very close now to becoming a solid mass of colour. The lowest two or three hairlines that are surrounding the shamrock in the crown are almost completely fused together on these printings and the hair lines surrounding the rear thistle are almost totally one solid mass as well, with some detail generally only visible to the left of this shamrock, but occasionally on the right of it as well. Most of the horizontal shading lines in the lower band of the crown are still visible, though they are still beginning to merge together. 

Sixth Printing


The green of the duty plate of this printing for the first time is paler, and without the bluish undertone, being closest to plain deep green. The head plate colour is a dull purple that is quite pale by comparison to the other dull purple shades. 


Seventh Printing


The head plate of this printing is dull purple on Gibbons' colour key, while the duty plate is deep blue green. Here is a side by side scan of the above stamp with the only used example that I have. 



Eighth Printing


The head plate colour of this printing dull purple, as was the case with the sixth printing. However, the green of the duty plate is darker, and with more of a bluish undertone. In fact it is closest to the deep bluish green swatch on the Gibbons colour key, not to be confused with deep blue green, which appears slightly brighter and less bluish. 

The scan below shows the four examples that are currently in my stock, with two of them being used between August 29, 1895 and April 13, 1897. 




Ninth Printing



On this printing the duty plate colour reverts back to the deep blue green of the earlier printings. The head plate is dull purple, but is slightly deeper and more intense than on the earlier printings. The scan below shows the five examples of this printing that I currently have:




Group 4 - Printings 10 Through 13




On these printings, the merging of the hairlines at the top of the Queen's hair have advanced so that now instead of the top two to three hairlines being merged together it is now the top four or five. The hair behind the very last jewel of the crown has largely merged together. The hairlines surrounding the shamrock up to about half way up the shamrock have almost completely merged together. There is now only a narrow band of hair on top of the head that shows all the detail. Several of the fine horizontal shading lines in the lower band of the crown have now merged together. 

Tenth Printing


On this printing, the duty plate colour is the deepest pure green shade that is on the Gibbons colour key, which is Myrtle green. The head plate colour is closest to reddish lilac on the Gibbons colour key, but is quite a bit deeper. 

The scan below shows all ten examples in my stock. Unfortunately the cancellation date on the one used single I have is not readable, so that I cannot date this printing. 




Eleventh Printing


This printing is most distinct in the sense that the duty plate green is the most bluish green imaginable. It is closest to the deep turquiose green swatch on the Gibbons colour key, but I would say that it is actually a little bit darker. However it has the same strong bluish undertone. The head plate colour is closest to grey lilac on the colour key, but is a little more reddish. 

Here are all ten used examples that are currently in my stock. Interestingly, I do not possess any mint examples:



These are mostly dated between 1900 and 1901. However, given that there are still at least another five printings after this one made before August 1901, I would think it highly unlikely that this printing was made after 1898 or 1899. I think that most of these were simply used 2-3 years after being made available for sale. 

Twelfth  Printing


The duty plate colour of this printing is a deep green with no bluish undertone, closest to deep green on the Gibbons colour key. The head plate colour is closest to dull purple. 

The scan below shows the six stamps I have in stock. The single used example is cancelled in August of 1899, so it is likely a printing made either in 1898 or 1899. 



Thirteenth Printing


The duty plate colour of this printing reverts back to the deep bluish green shade. The head plate is a reddish grey-lilac in that it matches neither the reddish lilac or the grey-lilac swatches on the gibbons colour key. It is close to both, but with either rose added in the case of the grey-lilac swatch, or grey added in the case of the reddish lilac swatch. 

I currently have eight mint and two used examples in my stock, though unfortunately neither of the two used examples show a readable date:


Group 5 - Printings 14 Through 18



In this group of printings most all of the finer detail in the lower band of the crown and the hair bove the crown is gone. The hair at the back of the neck, both above and below the ribbon is one sold mass of color, with only the tiniest amount of white visible. 

Fourteenth Printing


In this printing the duty plate colour is closest to blue green on the Gibbons colour key. It is quite a dull colour by comparison to the other shades. The head plate colour is a pure dull purple. 


Fifteenth Printing


I have only one solitary example of this printing. On this printing, the duty plate colour loses the bluish undertone, being closest to the pure deep green swatch. The head plate colour is a deep dull purple. 


Sixteenth Printing



On this printing the duty plate colour once again is closest to deep green and the head plate colour is closest to dull purple. However, the purple contains the slightest hint of blue to the tone. 

Seventeenth Printing


The duty plate colour of this printing moves away from pure deep green and takes on a slight bluish tone, being deep blue green. The head plate colour is closest to dull purple on the Gibbons colour key. 

The scan below shows the three examples that I have in stock, with the middle stamp being my only used example from this entire group. 




Eighteenth Printing



The duty plate colour of this last printing is the deepest blue green which is called deep bluish green on the Gibbons colour key. The head plate colour is closest to grey-lilac, being just a little more reddish than the swatch. 

I have eight mint examples of this printing, all shown below:



From the almost complete lack of used examples, it would appear that very few of the stamps from the printings in group 5 were ever used. There were 57,540 unsold remainders according to Ince, that were destroyed after 1903. This represents more than half of the total printing. So it would seem that very few of the stamps sent with the last five shipments of stamps that were sent to the colony were ever used. 

Preliminary Conclusions

Although I do not have a sufficient number of dated used examples to precisely date each of the potential printings I have identified, I can assign each of the groups to approximate date ranges based on the cancellations seen and other information gleaned from the stamps as follows:

  • Group one stamps would appear to be from early to mid 1894.
  • Group two stamps would seem to be from late 1894 to mid 1895.
  • Group three stamps would seem to be from mid 1895 to about the end of 1897.
  • Group four stamps would appear to cover the period from, 1898 to the end of 1899.
  • Group five stamps would appear to cover the period from 1900 to the the last shipment in August 1901. 
This concludes my examination and discussion of the 5d lilac and green Queen Victoria Keyplate stamp of Lagos. In the coming weeks, I will repeat the process for the 7.5d and 10d stamps. This should help provide a solid reference point, which I can then build from when the time comes to look at the 3d and 2.5d values, which were first issued in late 1890 and 1891. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Plate 2 Printings of the Lagos Queen Victoria Keyplates - 1901-1903

Overview

According to Ince, plate 2 was first brought into use for the printings sent out on August 19, 1901, and was used to produce a second printing that was sent out on August 29, 1902. According to him, it was only used to print two printings each of the halfpenny and 1d, as well as one printing each of the 1/- and 6d. However, given that the other values had printings sent out on August 19, 1901, it seems quite likely that the very last printings of the 2d, 2.5d, 3d, 4d, 5d, 7.5d, 10d, 2/6d, 5/- and 10/- were also made from this plate. To settle this question once and for all is the first step in sorting the remaining printings of the Lagos Queen Victoria Keyplates that were made between 1887 and 1903.

Ince notes a few characteristics of these printings to enable positive identification:


  • Continuous jubilee lines in the sheet margins, where no jubilee lines appear on the earlier printings. 
  • Plate numbers in all four corners of a sheet, as opposed to just two corners.
  • A printing impression that is completely clear and shows no signs of wear whatsoever. 
  • Thicker duty plate lettering on the 1/2d and 1d.
The second characteristic is of little practical use, as there are no intact sheets in existence that I am aware of.  The most useful characteristic by far though will be the clarity of the printing impression, as any printing from plate 2 will show none of the wear that the plate 1 printings exhibited by this time. I will then rely on shade differences and the other characteristics to separate the two printings where there were two printings made. 

The Halfpenny Green




The above scan shows the first printing made from plate 2, which was sent out in August 1901. The colour is an unmistakable deep green, whit stands in sharp contrast to the dull, and greyish greens found on the printings from the 1890's through to 1900. You can see the continuous green jubilee line that Ince mentions in his work that borders the stamps in the sheet, and is a clear characteristic of stamps printed from plate 2. On this printing, the head plate and duty plate colours are both the same. 


Here is a close up of the vignette of a stamp from that block. Here you can see that all the detail of the hair and diadem are clear, with no signs of plate wear. The horizontal background lines appear even and evenly spaced. 

The next scan shows a block of 16 of the second printing from plate 2 that was sent on August 1902:


Again, the colour is deep green for the head plate. However the duty plate is an even darker Myrtle green. Note the thick bold letters of the duty plate. 


The 1d Carmine





This scan shows what I believe to be the first printing of the 1d carmine from plate 2, showing the plate number and characteristic jubilee line. The head plate and duty plate colour is different for both printings made from plate 2. On this printing, the head plate colour is a bright carmine, with very little bluish undertone, while the duty plate colour is deep crimson, with an almost aniline quality.


Here is a close-up of one stamp from the block above. Again, substantially all of the detail of the hair and diadem is crisp and clear, with no sign of plate wear. 



I believe this block to be the second printing of the 1d that was sent to the colony in August 1902. The duty plate colour is still deep crimson, but this time the head plate colour is a carmine that contains more of a bluish undertone. 

2d Mauve and Ultramarine

In examining close to 100 examples of this stamp, I was not able to find any that exhibited the clarity that would normally be associated with a plate 2 stamp. There were some that were close to what we would normally associate with plate 2, but they were much closer to the early state of plate 1 and they had the colours and gum that placed them in the period from about 1887 to 1890. So my preliminary conclusion is that there were no plate 2 printings of this value. 


2.5d Ultramarine

I looked at well over 130 examples of this stamp in search of one that could be from plate 2. I found one that shows very clear detail, as well as gum characteristics consistent with printings made in August 1901. I don't feel that it can be an early printing from 1891, as the colours don't seem consistent with that period, and the vignette would have shown more signs of wear by the time the very first printings were made in 1891:




This is a pale ultramarine, and appears at least to me, to have been a printing made using the larger duty plate. It has the thin, smooth cream gum normally associated with printings from this period.


Here is a close-up of the vignette that shows the same clarity of detail that we just saw in the 1/2d and 1d stamps. It is therefore plausible to me that there was a printing made in August 1901, and that this is an example of it. 

3d Mauve and Chestnut

Out of almost 90 mint and used examples of this stamp, I was unable to find any that possessed the crispness and clarity of  a plate 2 stamp. Thus it would appear that there were no printings of this stamp from plate 2. 

4d Mauve and Black

I have close to 80 mint and used examples of this stamp. Out of them all, I was only able to locate one that I feel could be the August 1901 printing, and could have come from plate 2:


Like the earlier stamps, this one has the thin cream gum that the other stamps have. It is not quite as crisp, but it is much crisper than any of the stamps I looked at, including the specimens, which would have been produced in 1887. 


As the close-up scan shows, this is not quite as crisp as the other scans, so there is a possibility that it is an 1887 printing. However, I think there is a good chance that it is actually an August 1901 printing. 

5d Mauve and Dark Green

In examining over 60 mint and used examples of this value, I was not able to find an example that showed the clarity that I would normally associate with a plate 2 stamp. Thus, my tentative conclusion would be that there were no plate 2 printings of this value. 

6d Mauve and Aniline Magenta


According to Gibbons, this printing was released in October 1902, which would have corresponded with a dispatch date of August 1902, so it was likely the second printing made from plate 2, which would suggest that there may have been a first printing from August 1901. The defining characteristic of this printing is the duty plate colour, which is a bright aniline magenta (Ince calls it carmine). There is some slight variation in the intensity of the mauve frame plate colour, though not quite enough to suggest a different printing.


The above is a close-up of the vignette of one of the stamps that shows that nearly all the detail of the hair and diadem is clearly visible and shows no signs of plate wear. 

I did manage to find one stamp, which may well be an August 1901 printing from plate 2:


The duty plate of this stamp is  purple, which is moving towards the aniline magenta, and the lettering is certainly thicker than the lettering normally seen on the earlier printings. The head plate colour is a paler mauve. The gum is thin and colourless - similar to that seen on the other stamps.


As this close-up scan shows, there is not much difference between the degree of clarity here, and the August 1902 printing shown above. Thus, I feel it is safe to conclude that this is an example of the August 1901 printing, and is more than likely made from plate 2. 

7.5d Mauve and Carmine

In examining over 50 mint and used examples of this value, I was not able to find an example that showed the clarity that I would normally associate with a plate 2 stamp. Thus, my tentative conclusion would be that there were no plate 2 printings of this value. 

10d Mauve and Yellow Orange

 In examining over 50 mint and used examples of this stamp in my stock, I was not able to find an example that shared the characteristics of the other stamps for plate 2. The closest I was able to find, which might be a plate 2 is this stamp:


What suggests to me that this might be plate 2 is the depth and freshness of colour, combined with the clarity of the design. All the other stamps I examined of this value, along with the other stamps issued at the same time, being the 5d and 7.5d, showed definite plate wear. This is the only one that shows very little sign of wear, and the merging of lines that is apparent could simply be due to heavy inking. The gum is consistent with printings made during this time, which is another factor that suggests that it may be a plate 2 printing. 


 As you can see from this close-up scan, there is some very minimal merging of shading lines at the top of the head, but any and large, the detail is very clear, and is much, much clearer than what would usually be seen from stamps printed in 1893, as evidenced by the fact that it is clearer and crisper than the earliest printings that I examined of the 5d and 7.5d stamps. So there is a very good chance that this is an example of the August 1901 printing made from plate 2.


1/- Yellow Green and Black




This example of the 1/- in shade of  dull yellowish green and black is clearly an example of a plate 2 printing. I was only able to find one printing from this plate, which leads me to conclude that August 1901 was the date of the last printing. I don't show a close-up scan, as you can see very clearly from this scan that all of the finer details are visible and clear. 

2/6d Green and Carmine



Here is an example of the 2/6d in a shade of dull green and carmine. The clarity of the printing impression, combined with the characteristics of the gum, suggests quite strongly that this is an example of the August 1901 printing, and that it likely was made from the new plate 2. 


As you can hopefully see from the close-up scan shown here, the clarity of this stamp is on a par with the known plate 2 examples of the halfpenny and 1d. 

5/- Green and Ultramarine


Again, after looking at over 20 copies of the 5/- that are in my stock, I was able to find one that I feel may well be an example of the August 1901 printing. Once again, the degree of clarity of the printing impression suggests that it is indeed from plate 2 and not plate 1.



Admittedly this is not as crisp as the known plate 2 printings of the 1d and halfpenny, but it is just as clear. For sure, if this is not the 1901 printing, it would have to be from 1887, which is a possibility, though I don't consider it likely. 

10/- Green and Brown


This example of the 10/- has the same deep green colour of the halfpenny and a very deep and vibrant violet brown, which does suggest to me that it is an example of the August 1901 printing. The gum is certainly consistent with that of the known plate 2 printings. 


Again, this close up scan of the vignette shows the same degree of clarity and crispness that is associated with the other plate 2 printings. 

Conclusion

I believe based on the above stamps and my examination of the other values that plate 2 was used for all of the August 1901 printings, with the exception of just a few of the values, being the 2d, 3d, 5d and 7.5d, and it is possible that they exist and I simply do not have them. One of the reasons why they may be so difficult to find is that they made up the bulk of the remainders that were destroyed, so that they might actually be scarcer than the earlier printings, despite being printed in larger numbers. One of the reasons why prominent students like Ince believe that only the 1/2d, 1d, 6d and 1/- were issued thus might be that these are the only denominations for which they were able to find plate blocks showing either the plate number, or continuous jubilee lines. The other values are probably just too scarce to have survived in these kinds of multiples. Nonetheless, I do think that most of the values of this set were printed from this new plate. 

This concludes my discussion of the plate 2 printings from August 1901 to 1903. Next week, I will be looking at the printings of the 5d mauve and dark green, made from 1893 to 1901.