Friday, April 20, 2012

Queensland 1d stamp duty article

Ken Scudder wrote an article entitled Queensland: The 1d Stamp Duty of 1878-79 in Philately from Australia, December 1993, pp. 110-11. (He later made a few corrections which need to be read in conjunction with this article and can be found here). Here it is.

This ld Duty stamp was the first stamp to be produced in Brisbane following the decision to surface-print stamps from electrotype plates. It appeared in mid-l878 and was followed in 1879 by the ld, 2d and 4d postage stamps. Two ld dies were supplied by William Bell, of Sydney, one for the Duty stamp and one for a postage stamp. William Knight, the Chief Engraver of the Lithographic Branch, who was responsible for stamp production, manufactured the printing plates.

A.F. Basset Hull, in Vindin’s Philatelic monthly, 20 February 1894, wrote regarding the die for this Duty stamp: "From this die Mr Knight prepared 120 electros, arranged in 12 horizontal rows of 10 stamps." Ever since, writers have assumed, quite wrongly, that 120 separate electros were used for the printing plate.

A study of this stamp shows that, just as for the postage stamps which followed, William Knight used a working die of a "group of four" to produce 30 electros to form the plate of 120 subjects.

This fact was first suggested in Australian Colonials, No. 6 of November 1986. Help was requested to corroborate the findings and to formalise the positions of the four types. Since then numerous letters have been sent to collectors of Queensland, all to no avail. This article, then, is written with the aim of presenting the findings to a wider audience and in the hope of finalising the type positions within the "group of four". All that is required is the finding of a stamp with side marginal line watermark and its correct typing.

Study has shown that this stamp fell into four types, which for now may be called A, B, C and D. In the Australia Post archival collection are several plate proofs of this 1d Duty stamp - a horizontal strip of three, a vertical strip of three and three singles, all in a very pale brown colour; also several singles in violet, near to the issued colour. The horizontal strip comprised Types D—C—D, and the vertical strip Types C—B—C. Since then a block of eight has been acquired (two vertical columns of four). This further confirmed the positioning of the types.

The only marginal line watermarks so far seen are two Type D's in the writer's collection. These are from the bottom row.

When the two strips of three are positioned together, we get the types laid out as in the diagram below. If the usual type layout is followed of I and II over Ill and IV then, with Type D occurring on the bottom row, this type must be either III or IV, and similarly so must Type C. It therefore follows that the "group of four" is either AB over DC or BA over CD, and all we need now to complete the picture is that elusive left or right side marginal line watermarked stamp.

There are several original die flaws which occur on all stamps seen to date. These flaws, together with the generally poor quality of these stamps may well have helped to hide the type flaws of the "group of four" working die, leading them to remain undetected until this time. On the other hand, it may be due to the general lack of interest in Duty stamps.

Since the original article, the descriptions of the flaws has been revised for greater clarity and is now presented as follows:

(i) Break in lower frame between "E" of "ONE" and "P" of "PENNY".
(ii) Cross on top of crown extends up through, but not above, the top frame. The left arm is well—formed and the right arm more defined than in the other types.
(iii) Both top frame corners have almost square notches in them.

(i) Left frame is split centrally near the top for 1 to 1.5rmn. Hidden when overinked.
(ii) Top left frame corner has slight upward projection.

(i) The small solid triangle in the lower right corner is badly misshapen and joins the bottom frame.
(ii) Top right corner of frame is notched, but not as squarely as in Type A.
(iii) Centre of top left spandrel design is broken, leaving a dot to the right.

This has no good distinguishing flaw. However, apart from the absence of the flaws of the other types, one minor flaw is worth mentioning:
(i) May have a small white pimple on the top of the "P" of "STAMP". ;

(i) Break in the upper outer line of the top right spandrel, sometimes inked over.
(ii) Break in the inner line of the value tablet at lower left, where the angled line joins the horizontal line.
(iii) A swelling of the horizontal line below the left leg of the "N" of "ONE".
(iv) 4-5mm long hairline attached inside the right frame line, from the lower right corner upward.

 In June 1994 of the same journal, on p. 39, he provided this update:

The final chapter relating to the type layout of the "group of four" of the working die used for the production of the electros for the plate, may now be written.

Within weeks of the article on this stamp appearing in the December 1993 Philately from Australia, the writer made a lucky acquisition of some 50 of these stamps. This contained three stamps with the elusive side marginal line watermark — a right side single and a left side vertical pair.
The types as described in the December 1993 article are now known to be:

Type I Type B
Type II Type A
Type HI Type C
Type IV Type D

These are now illustrated.

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