Monday, April 23, 2012

Another Queensland 1st sideface 1d. stamp duty article

Queensland: The Second Type Crown Over Q Paper and the 1d Duty Stamp Of 1878-79 by Ken Scudder in Philately from Australia vol 48 no 2, June 1996, pp. 38-9

A recent acquisition tuned out to be the original sheet of paper sent from the Lithographic Office of the Treasury, Brisbane, to De La Rue, in London, as a sample of the sheet size and of the watermark positioning required for the new electrotype postage stamps of 1879. This has been verified by reference to a copy of the sheet on film in the De La Rue records from the Australian Joint Copying Project held by the La Trobe Library, Melbourne.

On 18th December, 1878 the Queensland Government Office in London asked De La Rue to quote for 210 reams of postage stamp paper, to be supplied bound in books of 500 sheets, with "the Water Mark to be the same as that now used in postage stamps". Enclosed with the request, was a sheet of plain paper, upon which was printed a sheet of the 1d Duty stamp issued in the second half of that year.

This sheet, 15⅛" x 9¼", had written on the back, in red crayon, "Size of Sheet" underlined, and below, "Water Mark to fall in Centre of Stamps". On the front was a plain butt above the printed stamps, with, at the top, "Binding" inverted written in pencil, and at the top right, sideways looking to the left, "500" written twice, in red crayon, once on the butt and once on the top of the sheet. The vertical margins between the stamps were also lined in with pencil, but not the horizontal margins. The markings in pencil were most probably made at De La Rue’s.

William Knight, the Government Engraver at the Lithographic Office had previously made the recommendation that the same kind of paper and watermark be used for both postage and duty stamps. The new sheets were as requested in size and watermark layout , however, the watermarks were not an exact duplication of that then current. The Crown was different, and so, slightly, was the Q, giving what is now known as the Type 11 "Crown over Q" watermark. Also included in the watermarking was an enclosing single border line around the stamp watermarks, and at the top in the butt, in letters 11 mm high and some 185mm across, was "QUEENSLAND STAMP DUTY".

As it happened, it was not until 1892 that this paper was used for duty stamps; although it may have been so used a few months earlier in the first printings of the Bradbury Wilkinson high value stamps on this paper, though the date of this event is uncertain. Other than that it was used solely for the printing of postage stamps to 1907, when it was phased out on the introduction of the Commonwealth paper.

This proof sheet of the 1d Duty stamp is printed in a very pale purple shade. It must have been a very early printing as the lack of make-ready is quite apparent, with many blank areas throughout, making it obvious that the plate was made up of "groups of four" electros. In fact, it is very surprising that this particular sheet was sent at all, and particularly so to De La Rue who were printers of high standing. It is very obvious that at that early stage in the introduction of printing from electrotype that Knight was having some considerable problems.

In view of the fact that perfectly good proof sheets of the 1d postage stamps were produced in August 1878 it is hard to see why such a poor sample was handed over as late as December. One may only conclude that it was sent to the Queensland Government Office in London before August but that the request to De La Rue to quote for the new paper was delayed awaiting the Postmaster-General waiving his objection to the reduction in the sheet size from 240 set to 120 set. This he did on 26th August. However, this does not fully explain the delay to the 18th December 1878, or why this sheet was not replaced but, perhaps, this last fact was just an oversight.

Unfortunately, Knight is not the only one to have problems, as an examination of the composition of the "groups of four" on this sheet shows that this author is also in trouble. In the June 1994 issue of Philately rom Australia, the article on this 1d Duty stamp read: "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." This has now turned out to be not so as the top and bottom pairs need to be transposed.

Referring to the illustrations in the article; Types I and 11 shown there are at the top of the "group of four" and should be re-classified as Types III and IV. Likewise, the bottom two types should be at the top as Types I and II.

The Type descriptions, as given in Philately from Australia, Dec.1993, remain the same. The only change is that now, Type A is Type IV; Type B is Type III; Type C is Type I; and Type D is Type II.

The problem arose simply because of the lack of stamps with marginal line watermarks. Two stamps with bottom line marginal watermarks classified as Type D‘s, having no distinguishing flaw, turned out to be two Type A's with overinked lower frames, thus hiding the main distinguishing features of this type, the break in the lower frame.

Perhaps one may be allowed to console oneself with the saying, "The person who never made an error never made anything". One can only try.

The date of issue of this 1d Duty stamp is uncertain. It is reputed to have been "Mid 1878", although the earliest, pen cancelled, dated copies seen and held by the author are 14th and 28th November 1878. We should be pleased to hear of any earlier dated copies.

No comments:

Post a Comment