In addition, this should mark the beginning of the end of the use of the earlier barred oval, and smaller 21 mm Lagos CDS postmarks. My examination of the 1/2d stamps from this period last week revealed that these early postmarks were still quite prevalent, and found on the majority of used stamps. So my expectation is that we will see the same thing with these stamps.
As it turned out I identified no fewer than what appeared to be 8 printings. Given that the total number of printings is known, this would mean that either some of the shades are really sub-shade varieties of the same printings, or some of my earlier printings were sub-varieties of printings made then. A careful look through the 8 groups of stamps identified here, revealed enough similarities that I can confidently group three of the identified printings with other printings, so that this group still consists of five printings. The mint stamps from the first group are all without gum, which suggests that this may be one of the printings that was waterlogged at sea. Ince documents this occurring with 10 sheets and 10 stamps of the very first printing that was received in April 1894.
This group of printings contains many noteworthy items:
- Another example of the rare inverted watermark in used condition.
- A used strip of five stamps, which is the largest used multiple I have seen of this value.
- Two constant or possibly constant plate flaws including the short first "N" in "Penny" and a broken "E" in "Penny".
The above stamps show the first of the three shade combinations found on this printing. In this first combination, the head plate and duty plate colours are identical. It does not really match any of the swatches on the Gibbons colour key, but is closest to the rose-carmine swatch, if the colour were paler and bluer.
These stamps show the second and third of the two shade combinations found on this printing. For this shade combination, the head plate shade is the same pale, bluish rose carmine that is found on the previous stamps. The duty plate shade however, is much darker, and is a very close match to Gibbons' carmine shade.
I have the two unused examples as shown above. The used example shown above, which is cancelled with a strike of an 8-bar oval obliterator, is printed in the third shade combination. In this combination, both the head plate and duty plate shade are slightly different, with the head plate colour being closest to Gibbons' rose carmine shade, but slightly paler, while the duty plate shade is an exact match to Gibbons' rose carmine.
The second stamp shown above shows an example of a spectacular constant plate flaw that I first encountered on the 1d lilac crown CA issue from 1882. It consists of a shortened first "N" of "Penny". Specifically, the upper right leg of the "N" is much shorter than the left leg. This is obvious even without the use of a magnifying glass. A close up scan is shown below:
The above scan shows the first group of stamps from this printing, which were printed in the first of two combinations of inks. In this group the head plate colour is a match to Gibbons's rose carmine shade, while the duty plate colour is a match to Gibbons' carmine shade.
I have only one mint example, and four used examples, as shown above. Two of the used stamps appear to have been cancelled with an 8-bar oval obliterator. The other two used stamps are cancelled with what appear to be weak strikes of the 24 mm Lagos CDS cancellation that began to come into use during this period.
I also have two nice lower right corner sheet margin singles of this shade combination as well, as shown below:
I also have a right sheet margin block, without jubilee line, which signifies that it is from plate 1, and showing portions of the "CROWN COLONIES" watermark that appeared in the right and left selvage of some sheets:
This scan shows the second shade combination for this printing, of which I have only the two mint examples shown above. The head plate colour is very close to Gibbons' bright carmine, while the duty plate colour is a spot on match to Gibbons' carmine lake.
Forty Fourth Printing
Like the previous two printings, this one also appears to consist of two closely related shade combinations.
This scan shows the first of the two shade combinations in which this printing is found. In this first combination, the head plate shade is closest to the bright crimson on the Gibbons colour key, except that the colour is a little lighter and slightly less bright. The duty plate shade is a match to Gibbons' deep carmine.
Here I have one sole mint example and nine used examples. Of these, two are manuscript canceled and the remainder are all cancelled with barred oval obliterators. The upper right stamp is clearly an 8-bar oval, while the others appear to be 9-bar ovals, based on the narrow width of the bars in the cancellation. The manuscript cancels may actually be ownership signatures. As explained in Ince, there was an established practice in many of the colonies to retain a stock of stamps at the post office, for established customers who live far away from the post office, so that the customers would not have to venture to the post office every time they wanted to mail a letter. The postal clerk would sign the stamps with the customer's name, so that the clerks would know that the stamps belong to that customer, and would affix them to incoming mail that was collected by the mail carrier. So it is possible that these cancellations are actually examples of those markings. In any event, manuscript cancellations are quite scarce and seldom seen on these stamps.
The above scan shows the second shade combination in which the stamps of this printing are found. In this group, the head plate and duty plate colours are identical, and is closest to Gibbons' bright carmine shade.
I have three mint examples and one used example, which appears to have been cancelled with a 9-bar oval obliterator from Lagos.
Forty Fifth Printing
In this printing, the head plate colour is closest to Gibbons' bright carmine, but is a little paler than the Gibbons swatch, while the duty plate colour is closest to Gibbons' deep carmine. I have four mint examples of this printing as shown above.
The second stamp from the left shows another plate flaw involving the duty plate, which may or may not prove to be constant. It consists of a clear break in the middle of the vertical bar of the "E" of "Penny". A close up scan showing the flaw clearly is shown below:
The above scan shows three used examples that I have from this shade combination. Two appear to be cancelled with the 21 mm Lagos CDS cancels, the middle stamp looks like an 8-bar oval obliterator.
Forty Sixth Printing
This last printing in the group is also the one for which I have the largest number of stamps, which is to be expected, given that the number of stamps sent to the colony increased with each subsequent printing after the shortage of low value stamps that occurred in 1893. Interestingly, very few of the stamps in this group are used, with the vast majority being mint.
There are two closely related shade combinations for this printing as well, with the first one shown by the stamps in the top row, and the second, by the stamps in the bottom row. The stamps in the top row are printed in much deeper shades than the stamps in the bottom row. The head plate colour of these stamps is closest to bright crimson on the Gibbons colour key, while the duty plate colour is very close to deep carmine, but is slightly brighter, so deep bright carmine.
For the stamps in the bottom row, the head plate colour and duty plate colour is a slightly paler version of bright crimson.
This scan shows two used examples of the first shade combination. The stamp on the left appears to be canceled with a strike of a 9-bar oval obliterator of Lagos, while the stamp on the right is cancelled with another manuscript cancel, that is dated July 26, 1900, which is about 3 years later than this period ends. I cannot quite read the cancel, but it appears to be "ojbiu" or "ofbiu". Neither place is reported in Proud, so I would greatly welcome any assistance that my readers can provide as to the origin of this cancellation. I am particularly interested as this may be a provisional cancellation from when Southern Nigeria became a colony and before hammers became available to all the post offices in the region. Most of these cancellations are dated in 1900, so this one may be one of those.