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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. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sorting The Remaining Printings of the Lagos Queen Victoria Keyplates 1887-1903

After many, many weeks spent looking at the Queen Victoria issues of Lagos in detail, we come to what is arguably the most challenging of all the Queen Victoria Issues of Lagos: the Crown CA issues of 1887-1903. With most stamps of the colony being supplied on an almost quarterly basis and a period of nearly sixteen years between 1887 and the appearance of the King Edward VII issues in 1903, this means that there could be well over 40 different printings of many of them. The issue then becomes: is it actually possible to sort these printings and identify each one, and if so, how do we go about it?

Fortunately there are many clues at our disposal and tools of logic that we can use to break the task down and make it more manageable.

You have already been introduced to the 1/2 green and 1d carmine stamps, which continued to be printed during this period, but it would be appropriate to introduce the remaining values that were issued to replace the monocoloured stamps of the previous issue. I will then discuss some of the attributes of the stamps that can help shed some light on when the various printings were made, and how these can be utilized to break the sorting of these stamps into a manageable task.

The Stamps, Issue Dates and Quantities


2d mauve and blue. 
First dispatch - March 31, 1887.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901.
448,800 stamps sent.
244,260 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 204,540 stamps.



2.5d ultramarine.
First dispatch - April 15, 1891.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901.
428,040 stamps issued.


3d mauve and chestnut.
First dispatch - December 19, 1890.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901.
143,820 stamps sent.
85,800 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 58,020 stamps.


4d lilac and black.
First dispatch - March 31, 1887.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901.
258,540 stamps sent.
107,880 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 150,660 stamps.


5d lilac and dark green. 
First dispatch - December 30, 1893.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901.
92,160 stamps sent.
57,540 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 34,620 stamps.


6d mauve and claret.
First dispatch: March 31, 1887.
Last dispatch: August 4, 1900.
86,340 stamps sent.
23,400 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 62,940 stamps.



7.5d mauve and carmine.
First dispatch - December 30, 1893.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901.
55,620 stamps sent.
32,760 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 22,860 stamps.



10d mauve and yellow orange.
First dispatch - December 30, 1893.
Last dispatch  - August 19, 1901.
43,380 stamps sent.
23,100 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 20,280 stamps. 


1/- yellow green and black.
First dispatch - March 31, 1887.
Last dispatch - August 4, 1900.
86,460 stamps sent.
26,220 reminders destroyed.
Net issue: 60,240 stamps.


2/6d deep green and carmine. 
First dispatch - March 31, 1887.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901.
28,260 stamps sent.
18,060 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 10,200 stamps.


5/- green and ultramarine.
First dispatch - March 31, 1887.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901.
28,320 stamps sent.
18,900 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 9,420 stamps.



10/- green and deep violet brown.
First dispatch - March 31, 1887.
Last dispatch - August 19, 1901
24,720 stamps sent.
13,620 remainders destroyed.
Net issue: 11,100 stamps. 

As you will have noticed from the above dates, not all of these stamps were issued at the same time. Therefore, it becomes possible to divide the near 16 year period from 1887-1903 into shorter time periods which can be studied more carefully. The stamps issued after 1887 are:

  • The 3d mauve and chestnut, issued December 19, 1890.
  • The 2.5d ultramarine, issued April 15, 1891.
  • The 5d, 7.5d and 10d, which were all issued on December 30, 1893. 
Thus, if we can identify characteristics bout these stamps that are related to when they were printed, we can use or knowledge of their characteristics to identify other stamps from the series that were issued around the same time. So we could potentially divide the period from 1887 to 1903 into the following sub-periods and study each one separately:

  1. March 31, 1887- December 19, 1890.
  2. December 20, 1890 - April 14, 1891. 
  3. April 16, 1891 - December 30, 1893.
  4. December 31, 1893 - late 1900.
  5. 1901-1903.


Plate Wear and States of Plate 1 and 2

Of all the characteristics that are of use in helping sort the printings, the degree to which the plates wore is probably the most useful, as a single plate, plate 1, was used to print all the stamps until late 1900, when it was retired. It was replaced by plate 2. Thus, as the printings progressed, the degree of fine details visible in the design, got to be less and less until by late 1900, the printing impressions were very coarse. Then, after plate 2 was introduced, the printing impressions become super crisp and detailed again, which is how we can identify printings from those plates.

By the end of 1886, plate 1 is just beginning to show the very first signs of wear. But to understand what different degrees of wear look like, one has to begin looking at what the unworn plate looked like. Thus stamps from plate 2 are our starting point.

Plate 2 - 1901-1903



Here is a close up of the vignette of a 1/2 green from plate 2. The whole appearance is crisp, with no merged or blurred lines. Specifically:


  1. The horizontal shading lines of the background are of even thickness and do not touch one another. 
  2. All the shading on the face, cheek, bust and neck are full and crisp. 
  3. There is completely clear detail in the hair at the back of the head and in the chignon.
  4. The hair at the top of the head is clearly defined, with no merging lines. 
  5. The horizontal shading lines in the crown are all clearly visible and do not merge into one another. 



Early State - 1887-1891


The above scan shows an example of what plate 1 looked like towards the beginning of 1887, when it was showing it's first signs of wear:

  1. The horizontal shading lines are still clear, but are clearly thicker in some parts than in others. 
  2. The fine lines of the hair in the back of the head are no longer clearly visible. Instead the area below the ribbon at the back of the head is almost one solid mass of colour. 
  3. Most of the detail in the chignon is still present, although there has been some merging of  few of the lines. 
  4. There is some merging of the hair lines at the very top of the head. 
  5. The finer horizontal shading lines inside the crown are not as clear as they were in the original state of plate 1. 



Intermediate State -1890-1894




The above two scans show what I call the intermediate state of the plate. This is the state that the plate was in when the 3d was issued in December 1890 and the 2.5d was issued in April 1891. The overall impression is even coarser than before and specifically:

  1. The horizontal shading lines in the background are beginning to show some actual wear, as well as a thickness that is definitely uneven now, which has the effect of making the lines appear closer together. 
  2. There is distinct merging of the shading lines in the upper half of the hair on top of the head and the lower half behind the jewels of the crown. The middle detail is still somewhat clear and visible. 
  3. There is now virtually no detail visible in the hair at the back of the head that resides below the diagonal ribbon.
  4. There is still some detail visible in the hair that makes up the chignon, but it is less clear than in the early state, particularly at the back and the lowest curl.
  5. The horizontal shading lines in the upper part of the crown are still separate and distinct, though they are thicker than in the early state, while there is some merging together of the shading lines in the bottom part of the crown. 


Late Intermediate - 1893-1898


This is the state of the plate when the 5d, 7.5d, and 10d stamps were issued. This is similar in apperance to the intermediate state, but now the wear has progressed to the crown itself, with the shading lines in the lower part of the crown being almost completely merged together in one solid mass of colour. The other area on which the wear appears is the hair at the back of the head above the diagonal ribbon. In the intermediate state, there is still some detail visible, but here, it is almost completely gone, with the patch of hair appearing as one solid mass of colour. 

Late State - 1898-1900


This state does not correspond to the issuance of any particular stamp. The wear at this stage has continued to affect the horizontal background shading lines, which appear even closer together than before. It is now starting to affect the hair above the Queen's ear, which although still relatively clear, is less distinct than before. The wear has also continued to affect the hair on top of the head, on which very little detail is visible now. 

Very Late State - 1900-1901


This is the last state that we see plate 1 in. The appearance of the printing is very coarse now, with visible breaks in shading lines throughout the design. The amount of detail visible in the design is similar to the late state, but it all has a much coarser appearance, and is very distinct. 

So it is by looking at what state of the plate a stamp corresponds to that will be of the greatest help in helping decide what period to assign the printing to. The shades of the head plate and duty plate will be useful in separating one printing from another, but they won't really help assign a printing to a specific date, or date range. 

Cancellations

The next most useful characteristic that will help assign printings are the cancellations. One thing that must be borne in mind though, is that the green and lilac inks were doubly fugitive, which means that they run when exposed to water. So unless used stamps were floated very carefully off the envelopes to which they were affixed, most will have head plate colours that have faded. The duty plate colours will not fade though, so when sorting we have to keep in mind that the head plate colour may not necessarily be uniform in the stamps of a group assigned to a particular printing. 

There were some cancellations in use during this period that did not make their appearance until after 1887, while others ceased to be used before 1903. In this regard they can help narrow the range of dates to which a particular printing can be assigned down. 

The following cancellations were in use during the period:

  1. 9-bar oval killer was in use until about July 1897. According to Ince, the last known date is July 12, 1897. So most stamps that can be positively identified as having this cancellation should be from before this date. 
  2. 8-bar oval killer with thick bars was in use until about April 14, 1899 according to Ince.
  3. Lagos W. Africa CDS in a circle measuring 21 mm in diameter and with a 4 mm space between the "L" of "Lagos" and "W" was in use from July 2, 1887 until about November 12, 1895 according to Ince. 
  4. Lagos W. Africa CDS in  circle measuring 21 mm in diameter and with a 3 mm space between the "L" of "Lagos" and "W" was in use from August 31, 1891 to July 2, 1896, according to Ince. 
  5. Lagos W. Africa CDS in a circle 24 mm wide. Various time code letters (none, A, B, C) were used in different periods, but this cancel was in use from June 28, 1887 until December 12, 1904, according to Ince. 
  6. Lagos W. Africa CDS in a circle that is 23 mm to 23.5 mm wide. This was in use from January 20, 1897 until October 20, 1904, according to Ince. 
  7. Other village CDS cancellations were generally in use from July 9, 1899 to October 1905, according to Ince. 
  8. Another variation of the 9-bar oval was used at Ibadan from September 25, 1899 according to Ince. You will likely need to see a full strike to positively identify it, s it is 0.5 mm wider than the more common type that was in general use above. The standard oval measures 26.5 mm by 19.5 mm, whereas this one measures 26.5 mm by 20 mm. 
  9. Finally, a 10-bar oval measuring 29 x 24 mm was in use at Ibadan from August 14, 1898 onwards according to Ince. 
Approach to Be Taken In Sorting This Issue

So now that we have discussed the different states of the plate and the cancellations, it is appropriate to outline a game plan for tacking the different printings of this issue:

  1. The first step will be to identify the plate 2 printings. According to Ince, only the 1/2d, 1d, 6d and 1/- should exist from this plate. However, given that the first printings of the 1/2d and 1d from this new plate were dispatched on August 19, 1901, the same date that many of the last printings of the other values were sent, I would not rule out the possibility that some of the other values were printed from plate 2 as well. I would say confidently that any stamp showing very clear detail with no signs whatsoever of plate wear is likely from plate 2, regardless of what the official sources say. 
  2. Take the 5d, 7.5d and 10d stamps and sort them by the degree of plate wear, and then by shade, or by shade first and then degree of plate wear. These stamps represent printings from December 1893 onwards. Use the cancellations on used examples, in conjunction with the degree of plate wear to order them into printings. 
  3. Take the 2.5d stamps and repeat the same process as above, but attempt to match the degree of plate wear of the different groups of this stamp to those of the 5d, 7.5d and 10d stamps above. Any examples showing less wear than the above stamps should be from between April 1891 and December 30, 1893. 
  4. Take the 3d stamps and repeat the same process as above. Any stamps showing less plate wear than the clearest 2.5d stamp will likely have been made in the five month window between December 1890 and April 1891. It is unlikely that you should see much difference in plate wear during such a short period, but if you do, this is where those stamps will fall. 
  5. With the ordering of the printings of each of the above stamps, it should now be possible to sort the remaining values being the 1/2d, 1d, 4d, 6d, 1/-, 2/6d, 5/- and 10/- in the same way. My expectation is that you will find very few mint examples of the early printings of these values and that most of your early printings will be used, and cancelled with an 8 or 9 barred oval. So in sorting these, I would start by separating the CDS used examples from the barred ovals and then sorting the different duty plate colours. Then, I would look at the different degrees of plate wear, and attempt to match the printings I identified up with known printings of the other values I have already sorted. 
So this outlines the approach I will be taking in the next several weeks as I go through the various printings. Next week's post will be about the plate 2 printings made between August 1901 and 1903 when the stamps were replaced by the King Edward VII issues. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The First Printings of the 1d Carmine Queen Victoria Keyplate of Lagos 1884-1886

Today's post continues the long and arduous journey into the printings of the halfpenny green and 1d carmine stamps that I started last week. While last week's post dealt with the halfpenny green, today's post will look at the 1d carmine. As stated at the beginning of last week's post, there were a whopping 49 printings of this stamp made between 1884 and 1902. Eleven of these were made between July 1884 and December 1886. It is my goal with today's post to identify as many of those eleven printings as I can.

The stamps issued before 1887 should be identifiable from a number of characteristics, that we have now become familiar with on other stamps issued at this time:
  • Any stamp cancelled with an 8-bar oval killer will likely be from before 1887.
  • Any mint stamp that either has no gum, brownish gum or crackly gum is likely to be from the period before 1887.
  • The last three printings before 1887 will have the later double gum and these will be more difficult to identify with certainty.
  • In addition, as was discovered in my last post, the plate 1, should show very little wear through to the end of this period, with most if not all, of the shading lines in the Queen's hair, as well as the back of her head being clear and distinctly separate from one another. The signs of wear to the plate manifest themselves as a thickening of the fine details in both the hair and diadem, as well as a merging together of the separate shading lines. On the most worn examples toward 1900, the hair, diadem and especially the back of the Queen's head appear as one solid mass of colour. After 1900, plate 2 was introduced, and the impressions go back to being as clear, and sharp as the early printings, except that all the other characteristics with respect to paper, gum and shade are all off. So clear, unworn examples that have the earlier 8-bar oval killers should be from this period. 
Today's post will attempt to identify and describe the eleven printings of the 1d carmine that fall into this brief period from 1884-1887. The eleven printings totaled 41,760 stamps. This was roughly 2% of the total printing of 1d stamps. So needless to say, these stamps are relatively scarce. However, I have been fortunate to have a very large number of mint an used stamps at my disposal to study. Over a year ago, I sorted them into what I felt were all the different printings. I identified 89 different groupings - way more than there were printings. So while I most likely do have all 49 printings, it is clear that at least 40 of my groupings would have to be combined with one another in coming up with 49 final groups. 

Today's post will examine those stamps that I believe may have come from the first eleven printings, which were made as follows:

  • First printing - July 8, 1884 - 55 sheets, or 3,300 stamps.
  • Second printing - September 24, 1884 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps. 
  • Third printing - December 16, 1884 - 57 sheets, or 3,420 stamps. 
  • Fourth printing - April 21, 1885 - 58 sheets, or 3,480 stamps.
  • Fifth printing - July 13, 1885 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  • Sixth printing - September 29, 1885 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  • Seventh printing - December 29, 1885 - 62 sheets, or 3,720 stamps.
  • Eighth printing - March 29, 1886 - 61 sheets, or 3,660 stamps.
  • Ninth printing - June 30, 1886 - 60 sheets, or 3,600 stamps.
  • Tenth printing - October 12, 1886 - 75 sheets, or 4,500 stamps. 
  • Eleventh printing - December 13, 1886 - 82 sheets, or 4,920 stamps. 
As you can see all the printings except for the last two are more or less the same in terms of scarcity. 

The first characteristics I am looking for among the stamps that I have sorted are:

  • Any dated CDS cancel prior to 1887.
  • Any 8-bar oval killer cancel.
  • Any mint stamp that has brownish single gum.
  • Any mint stamp having crackly or slightly crackly gum.
  • Any stamp having a deep or dull shade, as the later printings tended to be both deeper and brighter.
  • Any early looking stamp with a very clear printing impression. 
The rest of the post describes the stamps that I have found that seem to possess the above characteristics.

Stamp 1


What stands out about this stamp is the colour, which is different for both the head plate, and the duty plate. The head plate colour is very close to pure carmine on Gibbons' colour key, while the duty plate colour is slightly paler, perhaps being rose-carmine. The hair and diadem shows the very first signs of plate wear, which I believe probably places this sometime in 1886. This would be consistent with some of the early printings of the next period (1887-1900) that I have seen in this deep colour. It is also cancelled with an 8-bar oval killer, which is consistent with it's classification in this period.

Stamps 2 and 3



This mint stamp does not have any gum, which makes it difficult to place, but what does stand out is the clarity of the hair and diadem, which shows practically no sign of plate wear. This means that it either has to be one of the early printings, or it has to be one of the very last printings made from plate 2. The colour is too close to rose carmine and carmine to be one of the later printings, as the later printings are deeper and brighter. The head plate is printed in rose-carmine, while the duty plate is printed in carmine. 


Here is a used example, with an October 9, 1886 CDS cancel, so it could be from any one of the first 9 printings. However, it is most likely to be from either the eighth or ninth printing. 

Stamp 4


This stamp, postmarked on January 28, 1888 is printed in bright carmine, with just a touch of rose, for both the head plate and the duty plate. The hair and diadem shows the first signs of plate wear, which suggests, together with the cancellation date, that this is from the eleventh printing, sent out on December 13, 1886, or possibly the tenth printing, sent on October 12, 1886. 


Stamps 5 Through 9


This stamp has distinctly crackly gum, which based on the other values I have examined is from one of the four printings made before July 13, 1885. The head plate is printed in rose-carmine,while the duty plate is printed in bright carmine. The hair and diadem do show a bit of plate wear at the back of the head, which tends to suggest a later printing out of these four. So my best guess is that this is from the fourth printing sent out on April 21, 1885.


These three used examples are printed in the same shades. The middle stamp shows more plate wear than the mint stamp above, and may actually be from the 1887-1900 period. The two end stamps are cancelled in that middle period, but both have the clarity of detail associated with the earlier printings. As I have written many times before, it is entirely possible for a few stamps from the April 1885 printing to be cancelled as late as 1890 or 1892. Stamps received by the post offices are usully sold on a last-in-first out basis, as new sheets received are simply placed on top of the old ones and the stamps are sold from the top sheet on the pile. Thus it is possible for a postal clerk to have a sheet or two from an earlier printing that sits at the bottom of the drawer and doesn't get sold completely before the next shipment arrives. Of course some clerks might put the old sheets on top if they had already started to sell from them, but I'm guessing that if a sheet was intact, that they likely wouldn't place it on top of the pile.  I'm not sure how many post offices there were in Lagos at this time, but I'm guessing with a printing of 60 sheets or so, that each post office probably received 2 or 3 sheets,
each quarter.

Stamp 10


I think this one is probably the eleventh printing, sent out on December 13, 1886. The gum is the creamy double gum from the post April 1886 printings, and the hair and diadem is very clear, showing just the first signs of wear in the form of slight merging of the shading lines at the top of the hair and at the back of the head. This rules out its classification as a late plate 2 printing, so that leaves us with one of the first eleven printings. The gum characteristics indicate that it must come from either the tenth or the eleventh printing. The shades are completely different from stamp 4, with the head plate being deep rose carmine and the duty plate being printed in bright crimson. 

Stamp 11


This stamp is a bit rubbed on the surface, which makes it difficult to assess the degree of plate wear. However, it appears to be a fairly early state of the plate. The gum is what compels me to place it in this period as it has a clearly crackly gum that places it among one of the first four printings made prior to July 1885. The colour of the head plate is a slightly deeper and duller version of rose-carmine, while the duty plate is printed in bright carmine.

Stamp 12


This stamp has a smooth, somewhat toned, single gum, which places it in the period between July 1885 and March 1886, so that it likely comes from either the sixth, seventh or eighth printing. Both the head and duty plate are printed in a deep shade of rose.

Stamp 13


This mint stamp has the slightly crackly gum associated with the July 1885 printing, that I have seen on the 2d stamps that I have examined. This example shows very slight merging of the shading lines in the middle of the hair and at the back of the head. Both the head plate and the duty plate are printed in rose-carmine. 

Stamp 14


This example does not have all it's gum. However, the gum that it does have is the smooth, thick gum that I have seen on the very first printings of the 2d, 4d and 6d. All of the details of the diadem and hair are clear, with no merging of the shading lines at all. The ink of the duty plate shows the characteristic patchiness that I have seen on the first printings of the 2d, 4d and 6d as well. So I think this is the very first printing from July 8, 1884. The head plate is printed in rose-carmine, while the duty plate, although very close in shade, lacks the bluish undertone, being a bright carmine. 

Stamp 15



This stamp has the toned single gum that places it between September 1885 and March 1886. In other words, from either the sixth, seventh or eighth printings, just like stamp 12. The hair and diadem have clear, unmerged lines and are consistent with this period. The head plate is printed in deep rose-carmine, while the duty plate is printed in carmine-lake. 

Stamps 16 and 17


These two mint stamps have untoned gum, that appears to be a single layer, but could also be the later double gum. I think based on the similarity of the shades to stamp 12, that this is likely from either the sixth, seventh or eighth printing. The hair and diadem details are almost completely clear also. The head plate and duty plate shades are either a very deep rose, or a bright carmine that lacks the bluish undertone normally associated with carmine. 

Stamp 18



This used stamp is quite close to stamp 15 in shade, with the head plate being a little less intense than on stamp 15, and the duty plate being closer to pure crimson than to carmine-lake. Lake is a deep red that contains  very slight hint of brown, and while the duty plate of stamp 15 has this undertone, the duty plate of this stamp does not. This stamp is cancelled with a 9-bar oval obliterator. The hair and diadem show the very slightest hint of merging for some of the shading lines, so I would say that this stamp is from the same printing as stamp 15, and that this is the sixth printing that was sent on September 29, 1885. 

Stamps 19 Through 24


These mint stamps have the smooth cream gum associated with the later printings from this early period, but it does not have the thickness of the later printings from the 1887-1900 period. The shade of both the head plate any duty plate is very similar to stamp 10, and the hair and diadem show the very first signs of plate wear that places them in the eleventh printing, sent in December 1886. 

The next scan shows four used examples, which I think also come from this printing:


These appear to be cancelled with a mixture of 8-bar and 9-bar oval obliterators. The first and third stamps from the left appear to be 8-bar types, while the other two appear to be 9-bar cancels. 

Stamp 25



This used stamp is very similar to stamps 16 and 17, but with a very slightly bluish undertone to the carmine, but not so bluish that I would call it rose-carmine. I believe though that it comes from the same printing as these two stamps. It is cancelled with a 9-bar oval obliterator.

Final Conclusions

Despite having a lot of stamps to work with, I do not have all 11 printings. I am missing one of the first four printings. I have the first and I believe I have the fourth. I have one other stamp, which is either the second, or the third printing, but it is hard to be sure which. Then, it would appear that I have at least one example of printings five through eleven. In terms of ordering these in sequence, I would tend to look at the progression of shades, but it is difficult to be completely certain in this regard. 

With all this in mind, my best guess as to the ordering of the stamps that I have showcased here into a logical sequence is as follows:

  • First printing - July 8, 1884 - stamp 14.
  • Second printing - September 24, 1884 - stamp 11, I think based on it's similarity to the first printing. However, it could also be an example of the third printing.
  • Third printing - December 16, 1884 - could be stamp 11.
  • Fourth printing - April 21, 1885 - stamps 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
  • Fifth printing - July 13, 1885 - stamp 13.
  • Sixth printing - September 29, 1885 - stamps 15 and 18.
  • Seventh printing - December 29, 1885 - stamp 12.
  • Eighth printing - March 29, 1886 - stamps 16, 17 and 25., 
  • Ninth printing - June 30, 1886 - stamps 2 and 3.
  • Tenth printing - October 12, 1886 - stamp 4.
  • Eleventh printing - December 13, 1886  - stamps 10 and 19 through 24.
After much consideration, I do not now believe that the very stamp, stamp #1 belongs in this first period. It is very similar in shade to two or three other stamps that I have, which were cancelled before 1891. It is my belief that it is one of the earlier printings from the group of printings made between 1887 and 1900 when plate 1 was retired. 

So that brings us now to the end of the pre-1887 printings. The next series of posts will look at all the Queen Victoria stamps of Lagos that were issued between 1887 and 1900. Fortunately we are greatly aided in this regard by a number of factors. Next week's post will be an overview post which will discuss the approach that I will take in unravelling this very complicated period in which a lot of printings were made. I will discuss some of the peculiarities which I feel will help aid in assigning the printings to approximate dispatch dates and outline my overall approach that I will take in studying and writing about these stamps.