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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Plate Blocks and Winnipeg Tagging on the Wilding and Industry Definitives 1954-1967

Today's post will address two significant aspects of this much under-estimated issue: the plate blocks and the Winnipeg tagging varieties. This was the first issue to employ any form of tagging and as such it ushered in the age of automation of the postal system.

Winnipeg Tagging

On January 13, 1962 these stamps were issued with an overprint of phosphorescent bars, which was intended to be used in experiments with Sefacan mail sorting machines. The idea was that the machine would scan the envelope looking for the stamp. When it detects the phosphorescent chemical it would orient the letter in the correct position so that the canceler could apply the cancellation. This would represent a huge labour savings for the post office, who had employed postal clerks to sort and cancel mail by hand.

The following block from the next issue shows this tagging clearly:


As you can see the tagging shows up as light yellowish vertical bars. Under long-wave UV light these bars glow bright bluish white, and this glow persists for a few seconds even after the light is switched off. They do not react at all to short-wave UV though.

The tagging was applied to the first five values of the set that were in use in 1962. With the exception of the 4c, all values were overprinted with the vertical bands running down the perforations, so that each stamp has a band on each side. The 4c was overprinted with a single band in the centre to denote its status as a second class stamp. Many varieties and errors exist with respect to the placement of these bands including stamps with only one band, or stamps with double application of the bands, or even triple tagging. In addition some experimentation had to be done to determine what the optimal amount of taggant was to apply to the stamps. So you will notice differences in the intensity of the taggant. On some stamps the bands will be very light -almost invisible in fact, while on others they will be a deep yellow - though not as deep as the bands found on the Cameo Issue.

In addition to these varieties, there could also possibly be stamps with the tagging printed on the gum by mistake. I have never heard of any being found, but that is not to say that one may not surface eventually. Also, there has not been any study that I know of that has looked at the width of the bands themselves, or the spacing between them to determine whether any variations exist. I know that both types of varieties do exist on the Cameo and Centennial Issues, so it is not inconceivable that they could exist here as well. The band on the 4c measures 3.75 mm wide on the stamps I have examined and on the others it measures 8.5 mm wide (over both stamps) with a 12.5 mm space between the bars.

So in terms of collecting the tagging, you have at least 4 possible varieties of each stamp:

1. The normal bands
2. Variations in band intensity
3. Misplaced bands
4. Double or triple bands

This was replaced in 1962 starting in early November with the 5c Cameo, which means that these stamps had a very short period of usage - generally about a year. They were also only sold in Winnipeg, so that commercially used examples are hard to find. One relatively challenging pursuit is to collect singles or blocks with CDS town cancels, as the stamps when used as intended will have only Winnipeg machine cancels. Most Winnipeg CDS cancels, especially those from January 13 come from famous Winnipeg dealer Kasimir Bileski, who would have had many of the stamps cancelled at the post office to fulfill the demand for used examples.

The only value that exists in plate block form is the 3c, which comes on both plate 1 and 2. The other values only exist as blank trimmed corner blocks of 4. All of the tagged stamps except the 3c are printed on vertical wove paper (I'm not sure why the 3c isn't) and Unitrade lists fluorescent and hibrite paper varieties on the 1c value only, and plain, dull paper on all the others. I'm fairly confident that these varieties must exist on the other values as well.

Finally, the lack of a 6c orange tagged stamp tends to suggest that the period of usage for the 6c orange ended well before 1962. As a matter of fact, this stamp is only found on horizontal wove paper, which suggests that it may have ended as early as 1958.

Plate Blocks

There is an absolutely staggering number of possible plate blocks that can be collected on this issue as the number of plates used for each value was as high as 20, as follows:

1c - 12 plates including a narrow selvage variation of plate 8. Plate 10 are blank.
2c - 20 plates including narrow versions of 7, 8 and 9. Plate 10 are blank.
3c - 2 plates
4c- 19 plates including a narrow version of 12. 13 and 14 are blank.
5c - 19 plates. Plate 14 is blank.
6c - 2 plates
10c - 5 plates
15c - 4 plates
20c - 4 plates including a narrow version of plate 2.
25c - 2 plates

The blank plates were issued between November 1957 and May 1958 when the post office temporarily discontinued inscription blocks. Plates after these ones typically were on the vertical wove papers, while those before are on the horizontal wove papers. No comprehensive study that I am aware of has tackled the shade and paper varieties that exist on these blocks, and it is this aspect of collecting the plate blocks in addition  to variations in selvage width and the inscriptions themselves that would make the scope balloon out exponentially. Without any varieties at all there are 89 different plates, or 84 if you exclude the blank plates. There are 4 positions for each plate, for a total of 336 basic blocks. So it is easy to see how vast this can become when you add shades and paper varieties.

The Low Plate Numbers


The above picture shows an example of these blocks. They are identical to the Karsh issue in their size, the style of lettering in the inscriptions and the presence of order numbers on the lower left positions. In addition many of the lower left and lower right positions contain a minute guide dot in the lower selvage. The typical selvage width of the normal sized blocks is 13 mm on the sides and 17 mm on the top and bottom. Narrow versions measured 5 mm on the sides and 10.5 mm on the top or bottom for the low values. On the higher values, the normal width was 14 mm on the sides and 14.5 mm on the top or bottom. The narrow version of the 20c measures 8.5 mm on the top or bottom and 5 mm on the sides. 

The order numbers that I have seen so far are:

1c plate 1 - 633
1c plate 9 - no number
2c plates 1, 2 and 3 - 632 (3.5 mm spacing between numerals)
2c plates  4 and 5 - 682 (1.5 mm space between numerals)
2c plate 6 - 682 (1.5 mm and 2.5mm space between numerals)
2c plate 7 - 969 (2.5 mm and 3.0 mm space between numerals)
2c plate 8 - 1129 (3 mm space between numerals)
3c plates 1 and 2 - 634 (2.5 mm and 3 mm space between numerals; 3.0 mm and 3.5 mm)
4c plates 1, 2, 3 - 631 (1 mm and 1.5 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 4, - 676 (2 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 5 - 676 (4.0 mm and 5 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 6 - 676 (4.5 mm space between imprints)
4c plates 7, 8 - 815 (2.5 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 9 - 1061 (1.5 mm, 2 mm and 2 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 10 - 1061 (1 mm and 1.5 mm space between numerals)
4c plate 11 - 1170 (4.0 mm, 4.0 mm and 4.5 mm spacing between numerals)
4c plate 12 - 1170 (4.0 mm, 3.5 mm and 3.75 mm spacing between numerals)
5c plate 1 - 629 (narrow spacing)
5c plates 2 and 3 - 629 (wide spacing)
5c plates 4 and 5 - 677 (wide spacing)
5c plate 6 - 677 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 7 - 782 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 8 - 782 (wide spacing)
5c plate 9 - 782 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 10 - 850 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 11 - 850 (wide spacing)
5c plate 12 - 1062 (narrow spacing)
5c plate 13 - 1062 (wide spacing)
6c plates 1 and 2 - 665 (narrow spacing)
10c plate 3 - 1214 (narrow spacing)
10c plate 4 - 1214 (wide spacing)
15c plates 1 and 2 - 572 (wide spacing)
20c plate 1 - 980 (wide spacing with a dot after the "0")
25c plate 1 - 957 (wide spacing)

Check back regularly for updates to the above listing.

The low plate numbers for each value were:

1c - plates 1-10
2c - plates 1-10
3c - both plates 1 and 2
4c- plates 1-12
5c - plate 1-14
6c - both plates 1 and 2
10c - plates 1-5
15c - plates 1-3
20c - plates 1-3
25c - both plates 1 and 2

The High Plate Numbers

These blocks are from the later printings made after 1958 and are shown above. There are several characteristics that distinguish them from the earlier plate blocks:

1. The selvage is wider on both sides. On the low values the typical width is 19 mm on the side tabs and 15.5 mm on the bottom or top tabs. On the 20c the typical width is 14 mm on the top or bottom tabs and 19 mm on the side tabs.

2. Although the inscriptions have the same font of lettering, the inscriptions are placed much closer to the edge of the selvage.

3. There is no vertical inscription with plate number and order number on the lower left positions.

4. Both blocks from the right positions can be found with guide dots. However, instead of appearing in the bottom selvage tabs, they appear in the right tabs, as a result of the rotation of the printing plates.

5. On the 20c value the inscription appears vertically in the side selvage tabs, whereas on the lower plates it appears in the top or bottom tabs.

6. All of these blocks are printed on vertical wove paper.

This group of blocks includes all of the rare paper varieties on this issue and is thus very challenging to complete.

The plates covered by this group of blocks are:

1c - plates 11 and 12.
2c - plates 11-20
4c- plates 13-19
5c - plates 15-19
15c - plate 4
20c - plate 4

Your options to form a specialized collection of plate blocks from this issue, thus include:

1. Paper varieties on both groups of blocks, being different types of dull paper and non-fluorescent paper on the low plates, as well as smooth and ribbed papers, and dull, non-fluorescent and various fluorescent papers on the high plates.

2. Differences in the order numbers of the lower left blocks of the low plates including different numbers and spacing varieties of the numbers and distance between the inscriptions and the numbers.

3. Differences in the presence or absence of, and positioning of guide dots in the selvage with respect to the inscriptions.

4. Possible differences in the widths of the inscriptions.

5. Possible significant differences in selvage widths. I would expect variations of 1 mm or so due to the variations inherent in the guillotining of these blocks. However more than a 2 mm variation should be considered significant and studied further.

6. Shade varieties on all values.

7. Used plate blocks with proper, in period cancellations.

With 336 basic blocks, if you assume that there are at least 5 collectible varieties of each plate between all the above, then you have a scope of at least 1,680 blocks!

That concludes my discussion of the Winnipeg tagged stamps and the plate blocks. Tomorrow's post will deal with the booklets and the coil stamps from this issue.

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