Friday, March 23, 2012

Queensland First Sideface - Paper, Watermarks, Colours and Perforations

These stamps were printed using an electrolyte process. When the proof plates were being prepared a large order was sent to De La Rue in London for a new paper that had just been developed for electrolyte printing (De La Rue Crown Q (2nd Type) Paper). However this paper did not arrive in time and so existing stamp paper stocks (Crown Q (1st Type) Paper) were used instead.  For further information on the Crown Q (1st Type) Paper see here.

An example of misaligned perforations

1,000 sheets (120,000 stamps) of the 2d were issued from10 April 1879, followed by 1052 (126,240 stamps on both dies. The first and second proof plate sheets had 88 stamps of Die 1 and 32 of Die 2. Extrapolating this it means that of the 120,000 stamps; 88,000 stamps were die 1 and 32,000 were die 2.) sheets of the 1d from 15 May 1879 and the 4d was released from 6 June 1879. 120 sheets of the 6d (10,800 stamps) were released on 16 December 1879. The paper used was that used for the engraved Chalon stamps (Crown Q (1st Type) Paper), with the watermark Queens Crown 5 paper for 240 stamps, cut to the size of the new plates, which was for 120 stamps. The perforations were all done on a single-line machine gauging perforation 12. This was rarely done well.

Another example of a poor perforation

Yet another example of a poor perforation. Wmk 2nd Crown/Q 4d orange-yellow pair, SG #141, imperf horizontally due to mis-alligned perfs which are 4mm into the top of the stamps. Seen at Phoenix Auctions no 19 lot no 679

The colours were 1d brownish-red (a shade lighter than the proof), 2d pale blue, 4d orange yellow, 6d pale yellow-green.

The paper ran out before the new stocks had been received from England. A quantity of white handmade paper manufactured by T. H. Saunders and watermarked with his name and the date 1877 was procured and 12 scroll bands of interlaced wavy lines were lithographed in pale lilac upon it by the Government Engraver as a substitute for a watermark (the so-called burelé band or Moire on back as described by the Scott Catalog). The 1d and 2d postage stamps were printed on this paper - with the first issues being in early October 1879 - as well as the then current duty stamps. These bands differed considerably from those on the large fiscal stamps from 1871-76, which were narrow blue bands with rather wide spaces between the interlaced lines. The burelé band is not always easy to see as the ink is water soluble. At high magnification the burelé impression can sometimes be seen even if it is colourless and any unwatermarked stamp is likely to be from this printing. Further information on this paper can be found here.

The burelé band (Moire on back)

The burelé band (Moire on back) 

A 1d first sideface block of 4 with the burelé band. Seen in a private collection

A 1d first sideface pair with the burelé band. Seen on Ebay

A 1d  die 1 first sideface (SG 132) with the burelé band. Sydney 3 November 1879 datestamp. From my collection

The new paper ordered from De La Rue (De La Rue Crown Q (2nd Type) Paper) arrived shortly afterwards with the first printings occurring in October 1879. The burelé band (moire on back) paper continued to be used along with the new paper until stocks were exhausted the following month. It is believed that 60,720 1d stamps and 58,440 2d stamps were produced on the burelé band (moire on back) paper. The 1d “QO” variety also appears on this paper and no more than 506 stamps with this variety could have been printed. The same applies to the 2d “PENGE” and “QUEENSBAND” varieties, where no more that 487 copies could have been produced. It is believed that 22,800 copies of the 6d stamp were also printed on either burelé or unwatermarked paper but very few have been recorded. Copies of the 1 shilling on unwatermarked paper have also been recorded. More details for both the 6d and 1-/ here. The perforations were perforation 12 line. The new De La Rue Crown Q (2nd Type) paper was Watermark Queens Crown 6 and the perforations remained 12 line.

In November 1880 new supplies of ink were received and proofs of the stamps were submitted as follows: 1d bright vermilion, approved 21 November 1880, issued 7 March 1881. 2d deep blue, issued 2 March 1881. 4d deep yellow, issued 12 August 1881. 6d deep green, issued March 1881. 1 shilling deep violet, approved April 1880, issued 4 May 1881. 1,362 sheets (163,440 stamps) of the 1 shilling were printed on 5 different occasions. The shade of colour varies considerably from pale cold lilac to deep violet. The 1d can be found in a yellowish colour, caused by chemical interactions changing the colours.

So to sum up, three types of paper were used for the 1d and 2d stamps, the second unwatermarked paper being very scarce. One type only was used for the 6d and 1 shilling stamps and two types for the 4d. Unused 4d stamps with the first watermark are very rare. At least one sheet of the 2d stamp with the first watermark was printed with the watermark reversed, that is, the tail of the ‘Q’ points to the left instead of the right. Some 1d and 1 shilling stamps issued with the second watermark were printed with aniline inks and show up as yellow when viewed in ultraviolet light.

Dated copies of these stamps are difficult to find because the practice was to put the town numeral on the stamps and the datestamp on the cover. Genuinely unused single copies are scarce and multiples extremely scarce. On 1 January 1880 it was decreed that from then on postage and fiscal stamps would be mutually interchangeable. The 1d and 1 shilling postage stamps were extensively used for fiscal purposes. Many of these stamps have since had their pen or rubber cancellations removed in an attempt to produce ‘unused’ stamps. The ink used for printing the stamps is water fugitive to a greater or lesser degree depending upon colour and many peculiar shades now exist particularly of the 1d penny OO variety. Few so-called unused 1 shilling stamps are truly unused.

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