Search This Blog

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Postal History and Postal Stationery of the 1911-1928 Admiral Issue

Image result for admiral issue covers

We are now getting close to the end of our detailed coverage of this wonderful Canadian stamp issue. The only topics left to discuss are the postal history, the issued imperforate issues, the part-perforate coils, the 1926 surcharges and finally the War Tax stamps. After this, it will be time to start tackling the King George V Issues of the remainder of his reign, which as I pointed out in an earlier post are horribly neglected by philatelists. Today's post will deal with two closely related topics:

1. The postal history of the Admiral Issue.
2. The postal stationery in use during the Admiral period.

Postal History

The Admiral Issue covered a period in which there were some major changes in postage rates. In 1915 the 1c War Tax was introduced, which was required to be paid on all domestic mail and mail to the United States. Thus the domestic rate for regular letters rose from 2c to 3c, while the rate for postcards and printed matter rose from 1c to 2c. In 1926, the War Tax was abolished, and the rates for each of those two services dropped back down to their previous levels again. In 1922, the special delivery rate increased from 10c to 20c and the registration fee also doubled from 5c to 10c. Finally in the 1920's the UK and non-UK surface rates were introduced: 3c per ounce to the UK and 8c per ounce to non-UK destinations.

These rates and changes in rates impacted the demand for various stamps in the series and influenced the manner in which they will usually be found on cover. This in turn drives what the main opportunities are for specialization in the postal history of this issue.

The most common stamps of this series were of course the 1c, 2c and 3c, which were used either for printed matter, postcards or single-weight letters to domestic or US destinations. Most of these are very common and worth little. However, it is possible to form a very nice collection of scarce town cancels when collecting these relatively common items. It is also possible to kick them up a notch by looking for fancy advertisements or corner cards on the covers themselves. Although these are generally not as intricate or fancy as the 19th century designs, there are still plenty of nice ones that can be collected like the one shown below:

Image result for admiral issue covers

or this:

Image result for admiral issue covers

The 5c dark blue and 7c yellow ochre will be relatively common stamps on covers to Europe, and local registered covers respectively. The registration fee was 5c until the 1920's, so usually the 7c stamp will be found either on it's own, or in combination with a 1c stamp, while the 5c stamp will most often be found on its own. The later 5c and 7c stamps will be found for entirely different usages. The 5c stamp will still occasionally  be found on cover to Europe, but most often you will see it in multiples to pay either registration or special delivery fees, or the 10c foreign letter rate that was in effect from 1921 until 1925. The red-brown 7c stamp I believe was issued for postage to non-UK destinations before the rate went up to 8c, which is what you will usually find the 8c stamp used for. Multiples of the 8c used to pay higher registration fees would not be common at all, as would multiples of the 7c. These are items to watch for. 

The 4c stamp would appear to have been issued mostly to pay the Empire letter rate to Commonwealth countries, plus the 1c War Tax, until it was abolished in 1926. Single usage will be very common, although most of the covers you are likely to see with this stamp will be to the UK. Covers to any of the smaller Commonwealth nations will be much, much scarcer, and worth quite a lot more than the Unitrade catalogue values would suggest. 

The three 10c stamps will be relatively common on cover, but how they will be found will depend on the period. The first 10c - the plum stamp, will have been used primarily to pay for special delivery, high value registration and on either bulk mailing receipts or parcels. It could be used to pay the double weight rate to Europe, which would be much less common, or the quintuple local rate, which would be very scarce. The second 10c stamp - the blue stamp, would be used mostly for registered letters, when the rate went to 10c, and would generally be found in combination with a 3c stamp. Single usage would generally be confined either to the single weight foreign rate, or the quintuple local rate. A much more common usage of these stamps is to be found in pairs for the 20c special delivery fee, or in larger multiples on bulk mailing receipts or parcels, though few will have survived on their original cover or parcel wrapper. The last 10c stamp, the bistre brown stamp would have been used mostly for local registered letters, as the foreign rate had now dropped to 8c. It will usually be found in combination with a 2c stamp. Again, multiples used to pay special delivery, or fees for bulk mailing receipts or parcels will be relatively common - though very few will have survived on cover.

The three high values will be most commonly found on bulk mailing receipts bar none. Covers of any kind with these stamps will be very scarce to rare, as the only rate for which a 20c stamp would be required would be the special delivery rate after 1922, and there was a special delivery stamp issued for that purpose. Generally these would be found either on parcels or very valuable registered letters for which a substantial amount of insurance was purchased.

Postal Stationery

This period is a very rich one for the collector of postal stationery as the full range of postal stationery products were available during this period including:

1. Printed Envelopes.
2. Postbands and Wrappers.
3. Postcards.

Generally speaking the postal stationery products were designed to be used locally, so the denominations are limited to 1c, 2c and 3c rates. The only exception is the 10c registered envelope that was issued during this period. By and large, mint items are much more common than commercially used, as most of this material would have been thrown out at the time of its use. Some of the most expensive and scarce items are postally used. Occasionally items were uprated for foreign use or other uses which were not intended. These are much more desirable and worth keeping an eye out for. I will now discuss each class of postal stationery product in more detail, identifying the collecting possibilities in each:

Printed Envelopes

Image result for admiral issue postal stationery

These featured an embossed relief portrait of King George V, surrounded by a looped design as shown above. They were generally issued in two sizes, which have persisted until today: the #8 envelope (165 mm x 99 mm) and the #10 envelope (241 mm x 105 mm). There are some special order envelopes that were issued as well to private businesses that are distinguished by their different sizes. So the size differences are the first major vein of specialization possible with these envelopes. The second major way in which these can be collected are the various die types used for the embossed stamp impressions themselves. There were five different dies used on this issue, though not all of them are found on each denomination. Finally, many of the 3c envelopes on hand were surcharged back down to 2c in 1926 when the War Tax was abolished, and some of the envelopes are found with precancels and return notices. Unitrade lists the following:

  • 6 different envelopes in dies 1 and 2.
  • 4 different envelopes in die 4.
  • 22 different envelopes in die 3.
  • 15 different envelopes with surcharges.
  • 11 different envelopes with die 5. 
The last of these, the die 5's are technically not Admirals because they weren't issued until 1931, when the Arch issue was in use. However, collectors may wish to include them as they were the same basic design as the other envelopes. It must be borne in mind that the Unitrade listings are very simplified in the sense that they do not list:

  • Minor shade varieties in the inks used for the stamp impressions.
  • Errors in the actual embossing itself.
  • Double impressions of the stamps, or stamps inside the envelopes.
  • Paper varieties of the envelopes themselves. 
All of these could be included to expand this into a very extensive collecting area in its own right. Catalogue prices for most of this material are very low in relation to actual scarcity, as is the case for nearly all of the postal stationery. 

Post Bands and Wrappers

These are the first postal stationery items to feature the issued Admiral stamp design. They were issued to pay the printed matter rates on newspapers and magazines and were generally wrapped around the item to be mailed. For this reason, the condition of used examples is generally not very good, and nice clean items will be very scarce. Because they were only issued for the postage on local printed matter, the rate is only 1c, and so they are found only in green for items issued before 1922 and orange for the later ones. Unitrade lists both a post band and a wrapper in each colour. Wrappers are much larger than post bands and generally measure 152-203 mm x 336-381 mm, while the post bands are 121 mm x 241-279 mm. With die type differences the total number of Unitrade listings for these are 11 items.


This is easily the most complicated aspect of the postal stationery for this period. There are several variations that allow for specialization including:

  • Cards printed on stock for use in mimeograph machines. 
  • Up to 19 different inscriptions on the cards themselves. 
  • 4 different die types: 1, 1a, 2 and 3.
  • Precancels
Once again, the listings are simplified in that they do not deal with shade varieties. 1/2c cards were introduced for use by businesses sending unaddressed, householder rate admail. Otherwise, with one exception, being a 6c surcharge for foreign UPU use, all postcards were 1c and 2c rates. Unitrade lists 68 different basic items. So a complete collection consisting of one mint and one postally used item would consist of 136 items. One suggestion for expansion is to try and get one postally used example from each province, which would increase the size of the collection by 9 x 68 = 612 items. If that isn't challenging enough, you could add major cities in each province:

  • For BC that would include Vancouver, and Victoria at a minimum. 
  • For Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton.
  • For Saskatchewan, Regina and Saskatoon.
  • For Manitoba, just Winnipeg.
  • For Quebec, Quebec City and Montreal.
  • For Ontario, Ottawa and Toronto with Oshawa, Brampton, Mississauga being other possibilities.
  • For Yukon and Northwest Territories just Whitehorse and Yellowknife - these will be VERY tough.
  • For New Brunswick  - St. John, Fredericton and Moncton.
  • For Nova Scotia - just Halifax. 
  • For Prince Edward Island just Charlottetown. This again will be VERY challenging. 
So if you add in major cities, you will be adding between 68 x 7 = 476 and 68 x 10 = 680 more items, bringing your total collection to between 136 + 612 + 476 = 1,224 and 136 + 612 + 680 = 1,428 possible items! That is a very extensive collection and would likely take a lifetime to assemble. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Complete Booklets and Booklet Panes of the 1911-1927 Admiral Issue

Image result for admiral issue complete bookletsImage result for admiral issue complete booklets


Today's post will examine the different booklets and booklet panes that were in use during the life of this popular series. The Admiral issue has the distinction of being the first issue to introduce booklets in two different basic language formats: French and English. This dual language format would continue until the introduction of bilingual booklets in the 1940's during the life of the War Issue. As we shall see, the French booklets were issued in much lower numbers than the English booklets, making them very scarce today.

All the booklets of this issue consisted of a plain front and back cover, generally in the same colour as the stamps inside, with an engraved coat of arms and either the inscription "Canada Postage" or "Timbres Poste". The booklets were bound, in most, but not all all cases by a strip of coloured tape, which was always in a darker version of the colour of the stamps inside. Over top of this would be a single staple to hold everything together. I believe that the width of the staple bar was generally 17 mm. In all cases, the booklets would contain between 2 and 4 panes of different stamps, with a face value adding up to 24c. They were always sold at 25c, so there was a 1c premium over the face value of the stamps - a kind of fee for the added convenience of having stamps to carry around. Inside each booklet would be a page containing information about current postage rates. These pages are known to philatelists as "rate pages". They are usually printed in a particular font style, and this style could and often did change during the lifetime of the issue.

Also, wet and dry printing differences will come into play whenever a particular booklet includes stamps that were in use during the transition from the wet printing process to the dry process. In addition, for the 1c and 2c stamps, the early printings were on horizontal wove, rather than vertical wove paper, so that the shrinkage that occurred caused the stamps to appear short and squat rather than tall and narrow. Finally, the covers would occasionally be overprinted when the postage rates changed, with a warning notice to that effect.

The Unitrade catalogue lists 8 basic booklets, but with variations in the covers, the printings and rate pages, the number of listed varieties balloons to 30 collectible booklets in the English format, and 23 in the French format. I'm sure that one could probably add shade varieties in both the stamps and possibly the covers to this as well, but these are not listed in Unitrade. The Standard Catalogue of Canadian Booklet Stamps by Bill McCann, states that all booklets of this issue exist with gummed and ungummed tabs, which further increases the number of collectible varieties.

Production Method

The booklet panes inside the booklets were printed in large sheets, each containing a number of panes, with two major blocks of panes which were inverted in relation to one another. The requisite number of sheets would be assembled together along with the rate page sheets, interleaving to prevent the stamps from sticking together, or to the covers, and then the covers. The binding tape was added in vertical columns and then the staples. Finally, the booklets would be guillotined apart. Because of this process, it is common to find miscut panes where the panes have very small outside margins.

Because of this, and due to other factors, such as the ease of creasing the covers, staining the covers and the tendency of the staples to rust over time, it is challenging to obtain booklets in pristine condition. Most booklets one comes across are generally only fine.

The Basic Booklets, Pane Layouts and Quantities

There were two basic layouts of stamp panes for these booklets:

  • Panes of 6
  • Panes of 4 stamps plus two labels
The two layouts are shown below:

Image result for Admiral booklet Panes

The panes of 6 were used for:

  • The 1c green.
  • The 1c yellow-orange.
  • The 2c carmine.
  • The 2c yellow green.
The panes of 4 plus 2 labels were used for:

  • The 1c yellow orange.
  • The 2c yellow green.
  • The 3c brown.
  • The 3c carmine.
These were combined and issued in the following booklets, with issue quantities:

  • 1c green booklet containing 4 panes of 6 - 4,453,000 English & 200,000 French.
  • 1c yellow-orange booklet containing 4 panes of 6 - 981,225 English & 163,750 French.
  • 2c carmine booklet containing 2 panes of 6 - 9,139,000 English & 169,000 French.
  • 2c yellow green booklet containing 2 panes of 6 - 5,123,425 English & 431,325 French.
  • 3c brown booklet containing 2 panes of 4 + 2 labels - 1,600,000 English & 200,000 French.
  • 3c carmine booklet containing 2 panes of 4 + 2 labels - 3,027,00 English & 168,000 French.
  • 1c yellow, 2c green & 3c brown booklet containing 1 pane of 4 + 2 labels each - 600,000 English & 75,000 French. 
  • 1c yellow, 2c green & 3c carmine booklet containing 1 pane of 4 + 2 labels each - 1,791,000 English & 86,000 French. 
Looking at these issue quantities and considering the catalogue values, we can see that some of these are wildly undervalued: most notably all the French booklets and the last two combination booklets in either language. I suspect that the main reason for this is lack of demand relative to other scarce varieties. No printed album on the market provides any spaces for complete booklets so there is little demand from general collectors, and all the booklets are listed in the back of the catalogue, so that they tend to get overlooked in general. However, the above quantities show that even the most common booklets are still much scarcer than most stamps, and we can expect that the survival rate for intact booklets would be much lower than for the corresponding sheet stamps. Thus for those collectors looking for an area of the philately of Canada that offers much upward potential due to scarcity, the booklets would be one of my top picks. 

Issue Dates

The approximate issue dates for the booklets are:

  • 1c green English booklet containing 4 panes of 6 - March 1913
  • 1c green French booklet containing 4 panes of 6 - April 28, 2016
  • 1c yellow-orange booklet containing 4 panes of 6 - December 1922 - both languages.
  • 2c carmine English booklet containing 2 panes of 6 - January 1912.
  • 2c Carmine French booklet containing 2 panes of 6 - April 1916.
  • 2c yellow green booklet containing 2 panes of 6 - December 1922 - both languages. 
  • 3c brown English booklet containing 2 panes of 4 +2 labels - March 1922.
  • 3c brown French booklet containing 2 panes of 4 + 2 labels - late 1922. 
  • 3c carmine English booklet containing 2 panes of 4 + 2 labels - December 1923.
  • 3c carmine French booklet containing 2 panes of 4 + 2 labels - May 1924. 
  • 1c yellow, 2c green & 3c brown English booklet containing 1 pane of 4 + 2 labels each - July 1922.
  • 1c yellow, 2c green & 3c brown French booklet containing 1 pane of 4 + 2 labels each - December 1922.
  • 1c yellow, 2c green & 3c carmine booklet containing 1 pane of 4 + 2 labels each - December 1923 in both languages. 
Variations in Rate Sheets

There are four basic types of rate page sheets that can be found with these booklets:

  • Large Type I - these were generally 4 pages of rate text printed in serifed letters. The total width of the text lines is 43 mm. 
  • Small Type I - these are the same as above, except the font is smaller, resulting in text lines that are 38 mm wide instead of 43 mm. 
  • Small Type II - this is the same as small type I except for a change in the wording under the heading "Merchandise" to "For Canada see Parcel Post in Postal Guide. For the United States 1c per oz. or fraction thereof." Here the text is generally 36 mm wide. 
  • Sans-serif capitals - as small type II, except on the first page. Where the war-tax rate was in effect, the wording on the page will read "On drop letters 2c first oz. (War Tax included)".
On the rate sheets for the booklets containing stamps issued in 1922-1923, i.e. the 1c yellow orange, 2c yellow green and 3c carmine there are usually slogans found, and the text of these slogans can either be 3.5 mm high (small) or 7.5 mm high (large). 

The basic progression of types is as follows:

  • The earliest booklets have large type I rate pages, and no overprint on the cover. 
  • Then some of the 2c booklets have small type I text, and again no overprint on the cover.  I do believe that some of the 1c booklets are found thus, but Unitrade does not explicitly say so.
  • Then  some of the 2c booklets have small type II text and no overprint on the cover. 
  • Then the front covers of both above types were overprinted with a rate change notice. These overprints were hand-stamped diagonally in violet.  
  • Then the small type II rate pages with sans-serif capitals appear that contain the War Tax information on the rate pages, so that no overprint on the front covers is required. 
  • Then the rate pages appear with the slogans inside. 
Booklets With Large Type I Rate Pages

Although not made explicitly clear in Unitrade, McCann states that the large type I text is found on the first printings of both the 1c green and 2c carmine booklets. The 1c green booklets are found in two shades: blue green and deep blue green and both are the squat printing. As stated in my posts about shades, the so-called blue green shades are really shades of Myrtle green and bottle green if you are using the Stanley Gibbons colour key for identification.  The 2c carmine is also found  in shades of rose-carmine. However, there are two sizes of design: 17.7 mm x 21.5 mm and 18 mm x 21 mm, of which the later is regarded as a quat printings. The normal printings are usually 17.7-17.75 mm x 21.5 m, so that the difference is generally that the vertical measurement of the squat printings is 0.5 mm less than normal. The deep bright rose reds and scarlets that are commonly seen are the later printings. Both the 1c and 2c booklet panes must be on horizontal wove paper and not vertical wove. Otherwise they are likely fakes that have been made by reassembling the more common panes with genuine covers and rate pages into new booklets. 

Booklets With Small Type I Text on the Rate Pages

The small type 1 text is found on the intermediate printings of the 1c green and 2c carmine booklets. This time, the paper is vertical wove and the dimensions of the printing are the 17.7 mm x 21.5 mm. The green stamps are generally yellow green at this point, or just plain green, while the 2c shades are the deep bright rose reds and scarlets. The 2c booklets can be found with the rate-change notice handstamped on the front cover. 

Booklets With Small Type II Text on the Rate Pages

Again, the booklets found thus are the 1c green and 2c carmine booklets. The comments regarding paper, printing dimensions and shade made above apply here as well. The 1c booklets from this group can be found with the rate change notice overprint on the front cover. 

Booklets With Small Type II Text and Sans-Serif Capitals on the Rate Pages

This type is found on the all the booklets except for the 2c carmine. In the case of the 1c green booklets, there is usually no War Tax information included on the rate pages. Instead, this type is found with the rate-change notice on the front cover for the 1c green booklets with this text type. The very last printings of the 1c green booklets however, do have the War Tax information on the rate pages. All the remaining booklets are found with War Tax information on the rate pages. Further variations that can be found in this group:

  • The 2c yellow green booklet with no binding tape on the outside covers.
  • The 3c brown booklet can be found with a black coat of arms.
  • The first combination booklet containing the 3c brown can be found with a bright blue cover and dark blue binding tape. 
  • The same booklet as above, but with no binding tape. 

Booklets With Sans-Serif Text and Slogans on the Rate Pages

These types of rate pages are found on all booklets containing 1922 type stamps:

  • 1c yellow orange - 4 panes of 6.
  • 2c yellow green - 2 panes of 6.
  • 3c carmine - 2 panes of 4 +2 labels. 
  • 1c +2c + 3c carmine combination booklet. 
All of these exist with both the small and large text, and in each case, they are found in both English and French versions. The only exception is the 2c yellow green with the large capitals which seems to exist only in English. 

All of the 1922 type 1c booklets and the 3c brown booklet panes are wet printings only. The 2c yellow green is found both wet and dry, while the 3c carmine is dry only. What isn't clear is whether all the different types of 2c yellow green booklets exist in both wet and dry versions. This would make a good study project for a specialist. 

Collecting Possibilities

In addition to collecting one of each of the 53 listed booklets in Unitrade, one can also study the text of the rate pages looking for additional unlisted types. It is conceivable that there may be hitherto undiscovered type differences. Another avenue for expansion is to look for shade variations of each of the basic stamp colours. As stated above, the scope of the 2c yellow green booklets can be expanded with wet and dry printings. 

Finally, a real challenge would be collecting the complete panes used, used on cover and the single stamps with nice socked-on-the-nose CDS town cancels in period. Although the number of English booklets issued was quite high for the 1c green and 2c carmine and the resulting number of stamps was quite a bit larger, this still works out to far fewer stamps than were issued in sheet format. Only a small percentage of these will have survived, and of these, only a fraction will have nice CDS cancels. Indeed, one could concentrate on just this aspect of the issue and form a very fine collection over a lifetime. 

    Monday, June 13, 2016

    Marginal Markings of The 1911-1928 Admiral Issue


    One aspect of the Admiral issue that has become of widespread interest to specialists concerns the marginal markings that appear on the stamp sheets. There are three general categories of markings that are to be found on the sheets that were printed:

    1. Plate inscriptions, which appear in the top centre margin of the sheets. 
    2. R-Gauge and pyramid guide lines which appear at the sides.
    3. Lathework patterns found in the bottom margin of several sheets. 
    This post will look at these in more detail.

    Plate Inscriptions

    Early printing of the 2c showing the order number at left and the plate number at right.

    Image result for admiral plate block

    Late printing of the 10c showing the print order to the right of the inscription. 

    Close to 200 different plates were used to print the low values and many plates were still used for the higher values. This creates the possibility of collecting either complete plate blocks of 8, or plate strips that show the full or partial inscription. Given the number of plates and shades to be found on each value there must be at least 1,000 different possible plate inscription pieces for the series. While there have been many very strong Admiral collections offered for sale at auction in recent years, I cannot recall any that came even close to completion in this area. Furthermore, this is an area for which the pool of available material is constantly decreasing, at least in the case of the well centered blocks, which are often broken up to supply collectors with very fine never-hinged singles. So it represents a huge challenge for the budding specialist. 

    The appearance of the inscriptions changed during the life of the issue and tracking these differences could be a project in itself. The earliest wet printings had he order numbers to the left of the Ottawa inscription, and earlier order numbers struck out. The plate number was in fancy coloured numerals as well, similar to the Edward VII issue that preceded this issue. By the time the printing method had changed from wet to dry, the appearance of the inscriptions changed from "Ottawa No." to "L.B.C Ottawa No. A #". 

    I do not know if it is possible to obtain a complete collection of all plate inscriptions, since no complete collections have been sold, but I would expect that with patience and determination, you should be able to locate at lest half of them - particularly if you are prepared to accept less than stellar centering, as most blocks and multiples are not well centered. 

    R-Gauge Blocks


    The R-gauge inscription is found in the upper side margins of certain values from the dry printings of the second colours. It is very scarce, and is always collected in blocks of four. It is usually found right below the arrow cutting guides. Unitrade lists this type of inscription for the following values:

    • 2c yellow green.
    • 3c carmine.
    • 3c carmine part perforate coil.
    • 3c carmine imperforate. 
    • 5c violet.
    • 10c blue.
    • $1 orange.
    For some reason these multiples are difficult to find well centered, with the result that Unitrade only lists most of them in fine condition. The 3c carmine stamps are an exception, where all three versions are listed in very fine condition. The 2c and 3c carmine are both very affordable, but the others are all very expensive, costing between $500-$4,000 each. 

    Pyramid Guide Blocks


    Like the R-Gauge above, the pyramid guidelines are found in the centre right or centre left selvage of most of the values issued between 1922 and 1924, as well as the 3c brown. Their purpose was to mark the mid-point of the sheet. Consequently, very few of these markings have survived as the sheets have long since been broken up. Typically. they are collected in blocks of 4, though a vertical marginal pair will be sufficient to show the full marking. In addition to the sheet stamps, some of the booklet panes exist with these markings, as well as the later wet and dry printings of the first postage due issue. Unitrade lists the following values with these markings:

    • 1c orange yellow.
    • 1c orange yellow booklet pane of 4.
    • 2c yellow green.
    • 2c yellow green booklet pane of 4.
    • 3c dark brown.
    • 3c carmine.
    • 3c carmine imperforate. 
    • 4c olive bistre.
    • 5c violet. 
    • 5c violet on thin paper.
    • 10c blue
    • $1 orange
    Unitrade does not state exactly when these markings appeared, nor do they specify whether the markings exist for wet printings only, dry printings only or both. This would make a small, but challenging and important study. The fact that it is generally only found on stamps that were not issued earlier than 1922, nor later than 1924 (i.e. none for the 7c red brown, 8c blue and 10c bistre-brown) suggests that these markings were in use for plates laid down between 1922 and 1924. In terms of value, the 1c, 2c and 3c sheet stamps are very affordable, being in the $150-$300 range, but the others are all very expensive, again selling for between $1,000 and $5,000 each. 


    Lathework first appears in the bottom margins of most sheets printed late in 1916, right through to the end of the issue. The purpose of lathework was to allow the press operators to judge the quality of the printing at a glance, for the lathework pattern would be less clear if an insufficient amount of ink were applied to the plates. When it finally got to be too weak to see, it would signal to the press operator that it was time to re-engrave the plate, or otherwise re-enter the worn subjects on the plate. 

    The lathework itself consists of an intricate, engine turned pattern. Collectors who studied this issue began to notice that there were several different types of lathework, as well as varieties of the lathework, such as doubled patterns and inverted patterns. Thus the interest in collecting the different types of lathework was born. Lathework is typically collected as a marginal single, showing the pattern, or a block of four where the bottom pair shows the lathework. 

    Because of the nature of the pattern, there are different strengths known, with some types being almost unheard of in anything other than a very weak impression, while other types are almost always strong. Specialists have identified 10 different types of lathework:

    • Type A
    • Type B
    • Type B inverted
    • Type C
    • Type C inverted
    • Type D
    • Type D inverted
    • Type D1
    • Type D1 inverted
    • Type E special, which was discovered very recently. 
    The rest of this post will look at examples of several of these types along with a synopsis of which values are found with each type.

    Type A

    Image result for admiral type A lathework

    Notes on the Royal Philatelic Society's (RPSC) website indicate that this type was in use from January to March of 1917, though Unitrade notes that it first appeared late in 1916 on the War Tax stamps. It exists for only a small number of values as follows:

    • 10c plum.
    • 2+1c brown war tax.
    • 2c violet postage due. 
    Although the war tax stamp is relatively common with this type, the 10c plum and the postage due are both very scarce.  There are curently no known inverted examples of this type. Occasionally this type can be found doubled in the area where two successive bands of lathework overlap, and it can also be found with plate numbers under the lathework. It is usually full or 80% strength, except in situations where there are plate numbers underneath the lathework, in which case it is usually 40%.

    Type B and Type B Inverted

    Image result for admiral type A lathework

    The above image shows the regular type B lathework pattern. The upright pattern will show the curved white lines touching the inner top frame of the lathework band whereas the inverted pattern will show these lines touching the bottom frame of the pattern. Unfortunately, I was not able to find an example of the inverted type. According to notes on the RPSC's website, this type was in use from March 1917 to October 1920. Consequently it exists on most all of the early values and colours:

    • 1c green.
    • 2c carmine.
    • 3c brown.
    • 7c yellow ochre.
    • 10c plum.
    • 1c yellow part perforate coil, wet printing.
    • 1c yellow imperforate issue.
    • 2+1c brown war tax. 
    The inverted type is only known on the 3c brown and the 2+1c brown war tax stamps. Like type A, this type can be found doubled. Usually, it is either full strength or 80% strength. The notable exception is on the imperforate issue, where it is usually only found weak with 40% strength. It's use on the part perforate coils and imperforate issues is somewhat of an anomaly, given that these issues did not appear until 1924, long after the regular use of this type had ceased. 

    Type C and C-Inverted

    Image result for admiral type A lathework

    The above image is an example of type C. Again I do not have an example of the inverted pattern, but it can easily be identified by the curve of the circular lines within the pattern which point upwards in the inverted version rather than downwards as the example shown above. According to the RPSC, this type was only in use from March of 1920 to January of 1921. I do  not think this is correct, as several of the values that were not issued until 1922 appear with this type. So I believe that this type was used well into 1922. This is a fairly scarce type with only a handful of values in the series being found with it:

    • 1c green
    • 1c yellow
    • 2c carmine
    • 2c green
    • 3c brown
    • 10c plum
    The inverted type is only known on the two 2c values and the 3c and is rare in every case. On the first colours, this is a rare type and is quite expensive ranging in value from $200-$1,250 for a fine hinged single. However, it is quite common on the 1c orange yellow and 2c green and is only worth between $60-$150 for a fine hinged single. This type is usually full strength to 80% strength when found. 

    Type D and D Inverted

    Image result for admiral type A lathework

    The above scan shows an example of type D lathework. It is most easily recognizable by the curved dark peaks that touch the upper frame of the pattern on the normal and the bottom on the inverted pattern. This was the type that was in  use the longest, being in use from November 1920 to December 1924 according to notes on RPSC's website. However, based on the fact that it is not found on the early low values like the 1c green or 2c carmine, suggests to me that it was not in use until 1922. One distinguishing feature of this type compared to all the others is that there is no outer frameline above the pattern. This is easily the most common type, being found on most of the values in the series:

    • 1c yellow orange
    • 2c green
    • 2c green on thin paper
    • 3c brown
    • 3c carmine
    • 4c olive bistre
    • 5c violet
    • 5c violet on thin paper (inverted only)
    • 7c red brown
    • 10c blue
    • 10c bistre brown
    • 20c olive green
    • 50c brown black
    • $1 orange
    • 2c green part perforate coil wet printing
    • 3c carmine part perforte coil wet printing
    • 1c yellow orange imperforate issue
    • 3c carmine imperforate issue
    • 2c on 3c carmine one line surcharge
    Inverted patterns are known on all values except for the 3c carmine, 7c red brown, 10c bistre brown, and the 20c-$1 values, as well as the imperforate issue and provisional surcharges. This is the type that covers the transition of printings from wet to dry, so many of the values can be found with this lathework in both wet and dry versions. Generally speaking where this is the case, the dry printings are the scarce ones, with wet being much more common. Most of the inverted patterns, although being worth a premium are not significantly more expensive than the normal type D. The strength of this lathework varies greatly with full strength being common on some stamps and others only haaving either trace strength, 20% or 40%. 

    Type D1 and Type D1 Inverted

    The above image shows type D1 lathework. It is similar to type D, except that there is an outer frameline bordering the main band of the pattern, which is absent on type D. Unfortunately I do not have a better image of this type, as it is so scarce. It is only listed on the 1c orange yellow as an upright pattern and on the 2c green as an inverted one. In both cases is is scarce to rare. It is not known in full strength, generally being somewhat weak, ranging from 40% to 80% strength. 

    Type E

    The above scan shows the only known example of type E lathework. It was discovered on a single used 3c brown stamp in the recent past, which does suggest that there may be other types, or that at very least this type may have existed on other values. 

    In addition to being able to collect all the basic types of lathework, wet printings, dry printings, shades and so forth. Many of these types can be found precanceled. There is not to my knowledge any definitive source that lists all the different known types for each of the known precancels. Compiling this list could be a lifetime project in itself. Finally, once you have the Admirals, you can expand this to include the postage dues and all the federal revenue stamps that were printed during this period, which also utilized lathework. 

    There is a website, DGL Philatelics, which gives an excellent summary of the known lathework types on the Admiral Issue, the postage dues, and finally all the federal revenues that are found with lathework. What is nice about this website is that it gives rarity factors for each type and stamp. You can access it via this link:

    This concludes my discussion of these three challenging aspects to this popular issue.