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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Printings of the 4d Lilac and Black Queen Victoria Keyplate Stamp of Lagos - Part Three

Last week I looked at the printings made from the third state of the plate, for the 4d lilac and black Queen Victoria Keyplate stamp of Lagos. This week, I am going to segue a bit and look at the half-penny provisional overprint, which appeared in August of 1893. By way of background, the quantity of halfpenny stamps that were sent to the colony in 1893 was badly mis-judged to the point where, by August 1893, there was a severe shortage of half-penny stamps. So, to alleviate the shortage, over the next six months or so, a quantity of 4d stamps were surcharged with the words "Halfpenny". According to Pemberton, a well known philatelist from the 1930's there were six separate printings of the surcharge, which were made over the six month period before fresh supplies of the halfpenny were received from London. So it is quite likely that there was one printing per month from August 1893 until about February 1894. The total quantity of stamps surcharged is not known with certainty, but it has been suggested in Ince's work that it was approximately 20,000 stamps. What is also not known is which printings were used for the surcharge.

I have a fairly significant quantity of the surcharge on hand, and it would seem to be a useful exercise at this point, to take these stamps and match them up to the printings that I have identified so far. By doing so, I can safely conclude that the stamps without the overprint that share the same characteristics will have been printed before February 1894. This should help isolate those printings that were made between February 1894 and March 1895, since none of those stamps will have a corresponding surcharged example. Furthermore, by studying the printings made over the six month period of the surcharge, it may be possible to identify printings of the 4d that were specifically attributable to the period from August 1893 to February 1894. In this case, I would expect to see a surcharge that always exhibits the same characteristics in terms of plate wear and shade.

So my first step in studying these, before I attempt to match them to the other printings that I have already identified, will be to study the surcharges themselves and attempt to group them into the six printings identified by Pemberton. That will be the focus of this week's post.

First Printing - Made From A Setting of Two - July 1893

In the first printing, the surcharge consisted of repeating pairs of two distinct surcharges. In both cases, the words "Half Penny" are 16 mm long, the space between them is 1.5 mm, and the bars obliterating the words "four pence" are 16.75-17 mm long and placed one above the other in such a way, that neither juts out significantly from the other on either end. The difference between the two surcharges in each pair is as follows:


  • On the first surcharge there is no serif at the top of the left hand side of the "E", while the "P" is set slightly lower than the "E". 
  • On the second surcharge, the cross bar at the top of the 'L" slopes down at left. There is virtually no serif to the right of the foot of the right hand vertical stroke of the "H". 
Both of these surcharges are found on printings 1-3, so any single stamp with either surcharge, can be from any of these three printings. It is only on pairs or larger multiples that a definite conclusion can be made as to which exact printing the stamps are from. 

However, let's take a look at some examples of each of these surcharges:

First Surcharge


In my collection, I have a total of 16 stamps displaying this surcharge type. Eleven are mint, and five are used. The scans below show each group of four stamps more closely:



Here is the bottom row of mint examples. Note the similarity of the shades of the first three stamps.


Here is the second row of mint examples from the bottom left. Again, all stamps but the third, which is badly tropicalized are of similar shade.




The top row of used examples. The first stamp from the left bears an October 3, 1893 Lagos CDS, which opens up the possibility of this being from either the first or second printings. The second stamp from the left is cancelled with a lovely August 12, 1893 Lagos CDS, which places it squarely in the first printing, in all liklihood, as the earliest known use for this issue was August 2.



These four stamps are all examples of the "kiss print", in which the letters of the surcharge show partial doubling, due to movement of the type. They are not true "doubled surcharges", but many collectors mistakenly identify them thus. I will show examples of the true double and triple surcharges, which as you will see are a completely different creature. 

Second Surcharge

I have four examples of this surcharge on single stamps, as shown below:


This mint example shows the very clear lack of lower serif at the bottom right of the "H".



This stamp is the first clear example of a doubled surcharge, showing a clear and distinct second impression of the words, and slight doubling of the bars, just visible at the top right. 



Here are two used examples, the left stamp being cancelled August 29, 1893, which likely identifies this as an example of the first printing. 

I have been able to identify two blocks from this scarce printing, by virtue of the fact that the stamps show both types of surcharge in a repeating pattern of surcharge 1-surcharge 2. In addition, both blocks show some doubling of the surcharge on one or more stamps. In the first block, the doubling is more in the nature of a kiss print, through there is doubling of the bars. In the second block, there is a clear doubled surcharge, showing distinct doubling of all the letters. 

Here is the first block:


A lovely block of 6 from the upper right corner of the sheet, showing the "current number" in the selvage, which places this printing from before 1891, as the use of current numbers was abandoned after that date. 



Here is a close up of the last two stamps in the second row, clearly showing both surcharge types. The third stamp in the block is one of the types, which proves that the setting consisted of pairs rather than triplets, and thus this is from the first printing. Note how there is a circular flaw in the surcharge bars in both stamps on the right. A close up of this can be seen below:



Finally, the two stamps on the end of the block both show very slight doubling of both the letters and the surcharge bars. However, in my opinion, the doubling is not strong enough to constitute a true double surcharge variety, as listed in Gibbons. Here is a close up of those two stamps:



Now, here is the other block:



This time it is a block of six from the lower right of the sheet. Again, the three stamps show very clearly the repeating pattern of surcharge 1-surcharge 2-surcharge 1 that is characteristic of the first printing. 


Here is a close-up of the upper right stamp in the block. Here there is a spectacular doubling of all letters and both bars. This is a true "double surcharge". 

Second Printing - Made From the First Triplet Setting - August/September 1893

In this printing, the stamps were surcharged in a pattern of surcharge 3-surcharge 2-surcharge 1, in a repeating pattern, in that order. Now, surcharge 3, has all the characteristics of the basic surcharge, but also with, the "H" set slightly lower than the "A". Unlike the first two surcharges, this third surcharge occurs only on this printing, so singles so identified, can be attributed to this printing. 

I have four examples of this surcharge, all of which are used:


The pair and the single in the middle are both dated January 1894, which is well within the date range given by Pemberton for this printing. The pair however is very curious because it does not correspond to the previously identified types. Let's take a closer look at it:




The first thing that stands out about it is that the surcharges are not in the same position vertically, which suggests that this pair shows the end of one overprint forme and the beginning of the next in the setting. The right stamp is clearly the third surcharge, as one can clearly see that the "H" is slightly lower than the "A". But the stamp on the left shows no abnormalities in the letters at all, which as we shall see is characteristic of the seventh surcharge. However, there are no documented instances of a setting consisting of the seventh surcharge and the third surcharges together. This suggests quite strongly that there may have been a seventh printing made of which this might be an example. 

Third Printing - Made From The Second Triplet Setting - September/October 1893

In this printing, the setting is made up of surcharge 4-surcharge 1-surcharge 2 in a repeating pattern. According to Pemberton, this printing is believed to be the most common. The key distinguishing characteristic of surcharge 4 is an irregular shaped blot of ink inside the "E" between the top of the letter and the central tongue. This surcharge occurs in the fourth printing also, so it is not possible to assign singles to this printing with absolute certainty. 

Let's take a look at the single stamps that I have identified with surcharge 4:


Here I have 19 regular mint examples of this surcharge, three with doubling of the surcharge, and one with an inverted "V" in place of the "A". The mint examples show a range of shades, which indicates that stamps from several printings made to 1893 were used for the surcharge. I also have six used examples of the regular surcharge, which will be shown below. The number of examples with this surcharge is the largest, which does support the notion that the third printing was indeed, the most common of the six documented.



Here is the first group of mint examples. Note the general misplacement of the letters in relation to the surcharge bars. The more misplaced ones are more likely to be from the third printing, than they are from the fourth printing.


Here is the second mint group of four stamps. Note the slippage of the typeface for the "H" in the second and fourth examples. 


Here is the third group of four mint examples. These are all relatively clean and unbattered, which indicates that they are very likely from this third printing.



Here are the next three mint regular stamps. Here there is a wide range of shades and a considerable amount of slippage in the typeface of the first example on the left.


And the last four of the regular mint examples. The typeface is fairly clean for the first and fourth examples, and quite battered on the second and fourth examples. This would suggest that the first and third examples are likely from the third printing.


Here are three examples that all show some degree of doubling of the surcharge. The first two show no doubling of the bars, and only partial doubling of the letters, but the doubling is far enough upward that it is more spectacular than the usual more common kiss prints. The third used example has a distinct second impression of the entire words, as well as very slight doubling of the bars. This used example appears to be cancelled either in October or November 1894.


Here we have a used example that shows incomplete lettering in the "A", "L" and "F" of "Half". The "A" actually resembles an inverted "V" as there is no crossbar to the "A". It is the only such example that I have seen in all my surcharged stamps. 




Here are my six used examples. What is curious about these is that the two stamps are both dated in August 1893, which suggests that this printing was made much earlier than I thought. However, in both these examples there is slight slippage of the typeface in the upward direction, so that what appears at first to be the characteristic irregular dot of colour in the upper part of the "E", may in fact be the crossbar of the "E" which has been doubled and shifted upward, in which they may be kiss print examples of the seventh surcharge. The third example at the top is dated October 1893, which is about what I would expect for this printing. The other two used examples on the to row are both cancelled with barred oval obliterators, but it is not possible to be certain if they are 8 or 9-bar. The last example at the bottom right is a late usage, cancelled with the wider Lagos CDS, dated February 20, 1901. 

I have one mint block of four in which all four stamps appear to be surcharge 4. However, according to Pemberton's studies of this stamp, the fourth surcharge is supposed to be followed either by surcharge 1, 5 or 6. So the existence of this block is somewhat of a mystery:



Fourth Printing - From the Third Triplet Setting - October/November 1893

In this printing, the setting consists of surcharge 4, 5 and 6 together in a repeating pattern. However, the order in which these surcharges appear is not known. What is known is that the typeface is generally the most battered in appearance, though it usually perfectly centered over the bars. The distinguishing characteristics of surchages 5 and 6 are as follows:

  • Surcharge 5 has a smudged dot in the centre loop of the "P". 
  • Surcharge 6 has almost the same characteristics as surcharge 2, except that the letters "N", "N" are spaced wider apart than normal. Normally, the tops of the two "N's" almost touch, whereas with this type, there is an actual space between them. 
Surcharges 5 and 6 only occur on this printing, so any single stamp with this surcharge is from this printing. 

Let's take a look at my examples of surcharge 5:


The dot inside the P is very clear on all but the last stamp, where it is fainter. However, with a magnifying glass it is clearly visible.



Here are my two used examples, both of which appear to be cancelled with 8-bar oval obliterators.

Now, let's look at surcharge 6. I only have two used examples as shown below:



The stamp on the right is cancelled with an 8-bar oval obliterator, but the left stamp is cancelled with a November 19, 1894 Lagos CDS, which is consistent with this being a later printing.

I have one used pair which consists of surcharge 4, followed by surcharge 1 as shown below. Pemberton had originally asserted that this printing was supposed to consist of surcharge 1-surcharge 2-surcharge 4 in a repeating pattern, but that the actual type used was surcharges 4, 5 and 6 in an indeterminate order. However, the existence of this pair would seem consistent with Pemberton's original findings, and would suggest that it is from the fourth printing:



Fifth Printing - From Last Triplet Setting of 16 mm Spacing - November/December 1893

In this last printing, the entire setting consists of surcharge 7, in which the letters show no abnormalities, apart from the occasional broken letter, or the usual kiss prints and doubling. 

Here are the examples in my collection, including a used strip of 6 on piece, a mint block of 6, and a used block of 8:


I have eleven mint singles and eight used singles. The scans below, show each of these groups of stamps more closely:




Here are the first four mint examples. The third stamp is badly faded, but note how the shades of this group are generally paler, or duller than the earlier printings. This suggests that these were made from later printings of the 4d.


Here is the second group of mint examples, with the middle two being kiss prints that show some doubling of the letters.



Here are the last three mint stamps, with the middle example showing a clear kiss print also.



Here are the first four used examples. The first CDS example is cancelled in 1894, but the second one is dated August 1893, which again suggests that this printing may have actually been made concurrently with the others.



Here in this group of four used stamps, we have dates ranging from September 1893-December 1893. So again, it is possible that this printing was made quite a bit earlier than I thought.



Here is a nice used strip on piece. Used examples of this setting were not known when Pemberton published his findings in the mid 1930's. 


Here is a nice mint block of 6, from the left side of the sheet, showing incomplete "LF" of "Half" on the lower right stamp.




And finally, a nice used block of 8, cancelled with four strikes of a 9-bar oval obliterator. 

The last item I have from this printing is perhaps the most spectacular. It is a mint strip of three showing bad slanting of the surcharge, as well as doubling, including two separate and distinct sets of surcharge bars, on two stamps and a full double surcharge on the third stamp:



Sixth Printing - Made From a New Triplet Setting - December/January 1894?

On this last printing, the words "Half Penny" measure 16.5 mm wide instead of 16 mm. and the space between the words is 2 mm instead of 1.5 mm. The bars of the surcharge are not of even length. The setting is made up of three surcharges in a repeating pattern: surcharges 8, 9 and 10:

  • Surcharge 8 has a upper bar measuring 16.5 mm, and lower one 17 mm, with the later projecting slightly at each end.
  • Surcharge 9 has both bars 16.5 mm, with the upper one jutting slightly to the right.
  • Surcharge 10 has the upper bar measuring 17 mm and the lower one being 16.5, with the lower one overlapping slightly at the left, and the upper one overlapping at right. 
I have one mint example of each surcharge and two used examples of surcharge 9, one of which is a bona-fide triple surcharge. 

The scans below show each of these:


Surcharge 8. Note how the top bar protrudes slightly at the right. 


Surcharge 9 - here you can see the top bar protrude slightly at the right also, but with this type, the bars are the same 16.5 mm width. 



Here is the triple surcharge. The tripling involves both the bars and the words. The spacing of the impressions is very close, but it is distinct, as the close up scan shows:


You can see that there is a second impression located just below the first, and a third impression located above the first.



Lastly, surcharge 10, in which the top bar is longer than the bottom, and overlaps considerably on the right. 

These last five stamps are of the utmost rarity, given that there were likely fewer than 20,000 stamps in the entire issue and this post today has presented over 100 of them. Out of more than 100 stamps, only five were of this later setting - that is less than 5% of the total printing, so probably less than 1,000 stamps, distributed among 3 different types of surcharge. That triple surcharge may well be unique, or at least one of a very few in existence. 

This concludes my classification of the half-penny surcharged stamps into printings. Next week, I will attempt to match these stamps up to the printings of the 4d that I have identified thus far to see if I can narrow down the dates of some of them. 












Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Printings of the 4d Lilac and Black Queen Victoria Keyplate Stamp of Lagos - Part Two

Today I continue my examination of the printings of the 4d lilac and black Queen Victoria definitive from Lagos, with the printings made from the third state of the plate. In this state, there is an almost complete loss of detail in the hair at the back of the head, and merging of the top 3 or five hairlines at the top of the head, and the first 2 or three lines of hair within the jewels of the crown.

Group 3 - Printings 17-31 Made From the Third State of the Plate - June or July 1891-March 1895

In this group of printings, mint and used examples are fairly evenly matched, and on the used, the barred oval obliterator cancels predominate, though there are a few early CDS's. I have one cover from this period, and one large mint block of 12 of the last printing in the group.

Seventeenth Printing


The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's dull mauve, but without the brownish undertone that the dull mauve swatch has. It is a perfect match in terms of the overall intensity, and general tone. The other lilac swatches contain far too much red tone to match this colour. So I would call this dull mauve. I have five mint examples as shown above, and four used examples as shown below:



These appear to be cancelled with predominantly 8-bar oval obliterators, and one example of the wider Lagos CDS that became popular in the late 1890's (i.e. after 1896).

Eighteenth Printing



The colour of this printing is almost identical to the seventeenth printing, but is just a touch darker. I do not have any mint examples, but just the above three used examples. The stamp on the left appears to have been canceled with a 9-bar oval, but it is hard to say for sure. The stamp on the right bears the smaller 20 mm Lagos CDS. The date on this is somewhat indistinct, but it is likely before 1897, as there are very few instances of this cancel after 1896. The middle stamp, which unfortunately has a vertical crease, is cancelled with a fantastic 23 mm Lagos CDS from January 19, 1899. Given that these printings are supposed to encompass the period to 1895, this is likely another example of a late usage.


Nineteenth Printing




The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's dull purple, but is just a bit paler. I only have the one mint example, which unfortunately has a small diagonal crease in the lower left corner. 

Twentieth Printing


The head plate colour of this printing is a very distinct deep dull purple, which is much deeper and richer than most of the pale colours that thus value is normally found in. I only have the one used example. However, it is cancelled with a lovely strike of an October 7, 1892 20 mm Lagos CDS.

Twenty First Printing


On this printing, the head plate colour is closest to Gibbons's reddish lilac, but is both slightly paler and duller. It does not have the brownish tone of the dull mauve, and is too lilac to match the dull purple. I have the two mint examples shown above including one with specimen overprint. As stated in other posts, it is well known that the specimens were distributed over the life of the issue, and that one cannot assume that a specimen overprint is from the very first printing. 


Twenty Second Printing


This printing is very similar to the last, but the colour is just a little paler, and more reddish. I have the two mint examples shown above only.

Twenty Third Printing



The hear plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's reddish lilac, but is just a little paler. I have one mint example, and one used example, which appears to have been cancelled with a 9-bar oval strike. 

Twenty Fourth Printing



The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's dull mauve, but without the brownish undertone which that shade has. I have only the used example shown above, which is cancelled with an 8-bar oval obliterator.


Twenty Fifth Printing


On this printing, the head plate colour is closest to Gibbons's lilac shade, but with a little grey added to the colour. It has a definite bluish undertone that the other shades examined so far do not have. 

I have only the used example shown above, which appears to be cancelled with a 9-bar oval obliterator. 

Twenty Sixth Printing


The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's slate lilac, but is just a little paler. I have no mint examples, but just the three used examples shown above, all of which are cancelled with a barred oval obliterator. The two stamps on the end are cancelled with 8 bars, while the stamp in the middle is cancelled with 9 bars.


Twenty Seventh Printing


The head plate colour of this printing is closest to Gibbons's reddish lilac, but is perhaps, just a little bit deeper. I have the three mint examples of this printing as shown above, as well as one example on a registered cover to Bavaria, which is dated August 6, 1895.



Below is a close-up scan of the stamp, where you can see that the colour matches the three mint examples:



Twenty Eighth Printing



The colour of this printing is a perfect match to Gibbons's reddish lilac. I do have the two mint examples shown above, which unfortunately have defective perforations, and one used example. The used example is cancelled with an 8-bar oval obliterator.

Twenty Ninth Printing



This printing is very similar to the last, in that the colour is a near perfect match to Gibbons's reddish lilac. However the colour of the stamps in this printing are a little milkier than the colour of the 28th printing. I have two mint examples, and one single used example, which is canceled with what appears to be a 9-bar oval obliterator.

Thirtieth Printing



On this printing, the head plate colour is closest to Gibbons's dull purple, but is just a little paler than the Gibbons swatch. I only have the above used example, which is cancelled with a lovely strike of a 20.5 mm wide Lagos CDS cancel, dated March 16, 1894. 

Thirty First Printing


On this printing, the head plate colour is closest to Gibbons's plum, but both slightly paler and duller. I do not have any used examples, but instead this fantastic mint block of 12, representing two complete rows of the sheet, though I am not sure which rows. There is no upper or lower selvage, which suggests that it is from between rows 2-9.

A close up scan of the third stamp from the left in the top row is shown below:



As you can see, there is some merging of the top hairlines and very little detail left in the hair on the back of the head, which is characteristic of this state of the plate, as discussed. 

In addition, this block contains a very spectacular plate flaw - perhaps the best one of the entire period since 1874 - a double frame break, consisting of a large diagonal gash at least 2 mm wide that affects both the outer frameline at left, and the inner frame that normally encloses the value tablet. Much smaller breaks are generally considered highly desirable, but this one is exquisite! The close up scan is shown below:



I do not know if this was a constant flaw or not, but I assume that it was. I haven't seen it on any other 4d stamp, or indeed any other Lagos stamp from this period, which leads me to conclude that it either results from damage to the plate that occurred to the plate during this period, which was quickly repaired, or it results from foreign matter falling onto the paper during printing. 

This brings me to the end of my review of this group of printings, which covers the period to March 1895, approximately. Next week, I will examine the 1893 halfpenny provisional surcharge, which is thought to have been applied to some 20,000 stamps, which were either on hand from before 1893, or were made for overprinting. Studying these and matching them to the printings already identified will help identify those printings from this group that were made between 1891 and 1893.