Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Queensland Swan Song

Geoffrey Adams wrote an article "A Queensland Swan Song" in the London Philatelist, with part two appearing in vol 102, November 1993. The first sideface issues were covered on p. 316:

1879-80 Issue - SG128 to 145

This issue is interesting because the printing plates were the first to be home produced by Queensland. It was comprehensively studied by President Butler of the Royal Philatelic Society, London in 1980. There are two dies of 1d and 2d stamps, and both dies are found se-tenant on the same sheet. Each printing plate built up with a number of matrix groups of 4 which are individually identifiable.

SG131, 4d mint, with the first watermark, is a very rare stamp which I have never seen.

The 1d 'QOE' variety was thought to be limited to Die II stamps but a copy has been found on a Die I stamp with the second watermark. This has a Caboolture postmark of the normal type and the stamp shows no sign of having been tampered with.
The 1 d Die II 'QOE' variety on the burelĂ© paper must be scarce. My only copy has a Brisbane GPO embossed oval cancellation. The 2d stamp with the second watermark has been found imperf between x perf 12 in a vertical pair.

There is a variety on the 6d stamp known as the 'Flag' variety; missing shading lines in front of the Queen's chin have been replaced by solid colour in the shape and appearance of a flag. The Halfpenny on Id surcharge (reading upwards) was carried out on 170 sheets, so the total number of the 'QOE' variety on the surcharged stamps will be 170. A 'specimen' block of 6 has been found with 'specimen' inverted and a double perforation between the top row and the selvage.

Surprisingly, none of the 'specimens' seen has been on stamps with the first (SG Type 5) watermark. Some of the halfpenny stamps were used on bundles of newspapers travelling by train and sometimes these received a scrawly blue pencil cancellation instead of the normal Post Office cancellation.
During this period Queensland, in common with the other Australian states, experimented with aniline or chemical dyes for red or mauve stamps in place of the usual vegetable dyes. This trial was not followed up and detection requires the use of ultra violet light.

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