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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Official Stamps of the Karsh and Heritage Definitive Issue 1953-1963

Today's post will deal with the details about the official G overprints that are found on the Karsh Issue that were in use between 1953-1967.

The Overprint Fonts and Layouts

Fonts Used

                        14 Point Casson                                      14 Point Bold (Flying G)

As stated in my overview post, there were two fonts employed to overprint these stamps. The main one that was in use until late 1961 was the 14 point Casson font. This font has several characteristics:

1. The G is almost perfectly square in its dimensions, being 3.5 mm wide and 3.5 mm high, on the low values and 4 mm in both directions on the high values.
2. It is thickest in the main vertical curve mid way up the curve and the vertical stroke just below the crossbar of the G.
3. It tapers out at the two horizontal points, being thinnest at these two points. 
4. The G has a crossbar that is approximately 1.5 mm long.
5. There is a very slight hooked serif at the very top of the upper curve, and the upper curve itself ends in a point that is somewhat dull. 

Sometime late in 1961, the 14 point Bold font appeared on the 50c, as well as the 10c and 20c of the next Wilding series. It has characteristics that are entirely different and make it very distinct from the Casson font:

1. Like the Casson font, the G is perfectly square in its dimensions, being 4 mm wide and 4 mm high.
2. The main curve is not perfectly symmetrical in its thickness the way that it is on the Casson font. The main vertical curve is thickest at the bottom quarter. Like the Casson font, there is a thick vertical bar below the crossbar of the G.
3. Like the Casson font it tapers out at what would be two horizontal points, but on this font, only the top part of the G is horizointal. On the bottom part, it angles upward to join the point below the crossbar. It is this angling that gives it the appearance of a "flying G". 
4. The crossbar is the same length as on the casson font - 1.5 mm.
5. There is a very slight hooked serif at the very top of the upper curve, and the upper curve itself ends in a point that is somewhat dull. On the Fishhook G described below, the hooked serif is much smaller and flatter, resulting in an endpoint to the G that is much thinner and sleeker. 

Overprint Layouts and Spacings


I only have two plate blocks of the low values as shown here, but on both of them, the spacing between G's is the same: 18 mm in the horizontal direction, and 21.5 mm in the vertical direction. The G's also appear in approximately the same place, which is just above the Queen's left shoulder and below and to the right of the bottom of her hair. 

I do not know if a single setting was employed to print all 100 impressions of the G on these sheets, or whether a smaller setting was repeated to give 100 impressions. It would be necessary to study the spacings on several full sheets of the overprint to be reasonably certain of the answer to this question. 

What is the significance of this? It will dictate the nature of the types of varieties that can exist with the position and spacings between overprints on a multiple. If a single setting was used to print all 100 impressions and the spacings were consistent throughout, then there will be no possibility of any wide or narrow spacing varieties on large multiples. The only possible variety that could come from this setting would be a misplaced G where it is misplaced to the same degree on every stamp in the sheet. It is worth noting that after over 50 years, the Unitrade catalogue still does not list any such varieties on the low value stamps. 


I have only the 7c block shown above, and on this the spacing is 33.5 mm in the horizontal direction and 21.75 mm in the vertical direction. Again, I do not know anything about the settings employed for the overprint on the sheets of 50 larger format stamps. 

In terms of placement on the stamp, the normal G appears almost in the middle of an imaginary square space bounded at the top by the neck of the goose and at the left by the body. So a misplaced G would be anywhere near the actual head or the body. 

I have six plate blocks of the 20c value, one of which is shown above. The spacing on all of them is the same in the horizontal direction, being 34 mm. But I have found variation in the vertical spacing with 21.5 mm, 22 mm and 22.5 mm. There are very minute variations in the placement of the G, but generally it is located below the "20" just above the main apparatus in the mill and usually partially obscures the smokestacks. 

I do not currently have any plate blocks of the 14 point Casson font on the 50c, so I cannot comment on the spacing of the overprint. I will add this information once I obtain a plate block and can measure it. Alternatively maybe one of you can comment is you have one and can tell me what the horizontal and vertical spacings are. 

I do however have two plate blocks of the 14 point bold font, one of which is shown above. The placement is usually right in the middle of the thread comb, being occasionally a little to the left or right. The horizontal spacing on both blocks is 34 mm and 22 mm in the vertical direction. 

I have 15 plate blocks of this stamp, one of which is shown above. On all of them, the G appears in the middle of the portion of the mountain that is to the right of the totem pole. In the vertical direction, the spacing is 34 mm on all the blocks that I looked at, and  21.5 mm in the horizontal direction. 

 Variations in the 14 Point Casson Font

Despite the basic characteristics of the font being the same from stamp to stamp, there are definite variations in the thickness of the overall overprint as shown in the above scan where the leftmost 2c and 3c stamps have a noticeably thicker overprint than the two rightmost stamps. Whether or not this is due to progressive wear of the typeface or due to two slightly different sets of type being used is not entirely clear. I have seen similar variations on the next Wilding series as well, but not on the Cameo issue, which was only in use a very short time. This observation tends to support the notion that the above differences are due to wear, with the rightmost stamps being from the earliest printings and the leftmost stamps being from the later ones. 

I can't illustrate it here, but there is a constant variety known on this font that is found on the 50c, called the "Blunt G". On this, the horizontal crossbar is truncated right where it meats the vertical bar underneath it. This variety has been found to be a constant variety on all the stamps for which it has been found. So it is very unlikely at this point that it will be discovered on other values. However, you should still look closely at all your stamps, as others could exist that have never been discovered. 

Variations in the 14 Point Bold Font (Flying G)


The only major variety that has surfaced on this type of font is known as the "fishhook G". It is very rare, and so far it is only known to occur on the upper right pane in position 5 on the 50c light green. It is distinguished from the normal flying G by the fact that there is almost no serif at the top of the G, ans the crossbar of the G is almost entirely truncated where it meets the vertical bar.

Although I have not seen this variety on the 14 point Casson font, it could well exist and you should look carefully at all your stamps.

Concerns About Authenticity

Over the past few years there have been unscrupulous sellers on E-bay that have been altering cheaper unoverprinted sheet stamps by adding in O.H.M.S. and G overprints using a laser printer. At the same time in reaction to this there have been a very zealous group of e-bay members who insist that they can determine the authenticity of these overprints on the basis of a scan.

I would weigh in here and say that one cannot determine authenticity on the basis of a scan unless the overprint displays characteristics that make it obvious that it is not the 14 point Casson or bold fonts. Also, it is not always the case that the genuine overprints leave an impression on the gum. Occasionally they do in the case of the O.H.M.S. overprints that were printed on a certain type of paper. However, I have noted that on the horizontal wove paper that most commonly occurs on this issue, those indentations DO NOT occur and the gum side appears flat.

The only tip I can offer here is to look closely at the ink. The genuine overprint ink is jet black and has a shine to it when viewed at an angle in a strong light. However, it does not appear shiny when viewed dead on. On this issue, authenticity would only really be a concern on the rare varieties like the Fishhook G. The other stamps are not worth enough of a premium for most forgers to bother with, except possibly in used condition.

That covers all of the official stamps that were issued in connection with this series. Tomorrow's post will cover the proof material that is currently known in connection with this issue, and then on Thursday, I will write about the postal history and postal stationery. That will conclude my detailed posts on the 1953-1967 Karsh and Heritage Definitive issue.

1 comment:

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