The Duckworth Paper Types on the Large Queens - 1868-1870's

Collectors of the Large Queens often have trouble distinguishing between the ten paper types that were used to print these stamps. Although the Duckworths in their book about the issue go into great detail to help collectors identify the papers, the Unitrade catalogue gives no information whatsoever to assist collectors in this regard.

The purpose of this post is to try to shed some light on the subject of how to identify and distingush between these types of paper.

I want to emphasize that I am NOT an expert on Large Queens and I am still learning about these papers myself. I am fairly confident about my descriptions of all the paper types except for 7 and 9, which I may have backwards. I just see so few stamps on these papers that my descriptions here can only be taken as conjecture. I do not own an example of number 9, so I don't illustrate it here. However, I did once have an example and can describe it here.  If you have an example and would like to send me a scan of the back, I would be delighted to add it to this article. I wanted to publish this now because I feel that an imperfect article is better than no article. I can at least up date it as more scans become available.

The Thin Papers - Duckworth Types 1 and 2

Duckworth Paper 1

Paper 1 has a slightly translucent appearance from both the front and back when placed against a black background. It is not a particularly thin paper when measured, as it is generally 0.0032" thick when measured with a micrometer, making it just as thick as most of the papers used for the preceding Cents Issue. One distinguishing feature of this paper though is the absence of any clear mesh: paper 8, the thick soft blotting paper is the only other type that shows no clear mesh. However, it is smooth and highly opaque. This paper is greyish and has a rough appearance. 

Duckworth Paper 2

Paper 2 as you can see has a softer appearance than does paper 1. Like paper 1, there is a translucent appearance, with a portion of the design being clearly visible through the paper. Paper two has a clear horizontal mesh pattern, as do papers 3, 4 and 10. What distinguishes paper 2 from the others though is that it is less than 0.003" thick when measured with a micrometer. This example here measures 0.0025".

Both of these papers are what the Scott and Unitrade catalogues are referring to when they list the stamps of this issue on thin paper.

The Normal Papers - Duckworth Papers 3 and 4

Duckworth Paper 3

This paper has a distinct horizontal mesh when examined closely, although the fibres are quite closely spaced, so that the horizontal striations do not stand out as clearly as they do on paper types 4 and 10. This is probably one of the most commonly encountered horizontal wove paper types on this issue. It measures 0.003" thick when measured with a micrometer. 

Duckworth Paper 4

This paper is distingushed from paper 3 by the fact that the horizontal striations are highly visible and form a uniform pattern in the paper. It lacks the smooth appearance of paper 10, being neither smooth, nor rough in appearance. Like paper 3, it usually measures between 0.0025" and 0.0035" thick. 

The Laid Paper - Duckworth Paper 5

This paper has several distinguishing characteristics. The first are the horizontal lines that are visible, especially when the stamp is immersed in watermark fluid, as in the second photograph above. Another is the very smooth finish that shows no obvious mesh pattern. Finally, this paper is thicker than the other common papers, measuring 0.0035".

The Watermarked Bothwell Paper - Duckworth Paper 6

The distinguishing characteristic of this paper is the vertical striations that are very clearly visible, even without watermark fluid. Any watermarked stamps with the Bothwell watermark are on this paper. This paper is thicker than the other types, measuring between  0.003" and 0.004" thick.

Duckworth Paper 7 - The Ivory Thin Paper

The distinguising characteristic of this paper is how white it appears in comparison to papers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. There is some horizontal mesh, although it is much less obvious than in the other papers just mentioned. Finally, it is thin, just like papers 1 and 2, measuring 0.0025". It is a fairly scarce paper that is only found on the 1c, 2c, 6c and 12.5c values. At the present time, neither Scott or Unitrade list it separately.

Duckworth Paper 8 - The Soft White Blotting Paper

The key distinguishing characteristic of this paper is that it is opaque. It is this opacity that gives the illusion of the paper being thick. As a matter of fact, it is not any thicker than any of the other stout papers being between 0.003" and 0.0035" thick. Another characteristic is that it has no immediately visible grain. It is very soft to the touch and very white. It is actually similar to the thick carton paper found on the 15c value, but thinner. It creases quite easily, as it is a brittle paper and stamps printed on this paper often have short perforations or unpunched or incompletely punched perforations, with "confetti" adhering to the perforations.

Duckworth Paper 9 - Soft White

This paper is similar to paper 7 and 10, but unlike paper 7, there is a very slight horizontal grain visible, but not so obvious as paper 10. It is extremely smooth and silky to the touch. It is not a thin paper, like paper 9a is.

Duckworth Paper 9a - Thin Tissue White

This paper is exceedingly rare, which is why I do not have an example to illustrate here. It's main characteristic is that it feels both extremely thin, white and resembles tissue paper in that there is no clearly discernible mesh pattern at all. The only other paper that is somewhat similar is paper 1, but the main difference between these two is that this paper is very white, just like types 7 and 9, wheras paper 1 is always toned. The second difference is that this is a very soft paper, whereas paper 1 is hard and crisp.

According to Unitrade, this paper is found on both 1c stamps and on the 6c. The only example I have seen that I had in my stock was on the 1/2c. I didn't know what it was at the time and wound up selling it to a knowledgeable collector who did for much less than I should have.

Duckworth Paper 10 - Smooth White Horizointal Wove

This is very similar to paper 4, in that the horizontal mesh is very obvious. The main difference is that the paper has a very smooth finish, whereas paper 4 does not. This paper feels very silky to the touch. All of the 1c orange-yellow and yellow stamps that I have seen are printed on paper 10. 

The Thick Soft Wove Paper

I found this paper on the half cent black and I believe that it is the thick, soft paper. Actually, it is quite rough in texture, but unlike the paper 1, it is not translucent and unlike the other Duckworth Papers, it does not show a clear mesh pattern. The thickness of this paper is between 0.0035" and 0.0045"thick, making it a full 0.001" thicker than the other normal Duckworth papers.

The scan below shows a side by side comparison of some of the types;

The above stamps are all 6c brown Large Queens. On the left we have paper 7, followed by papers 2, 10, 6 and finally 4.

That's my take on the Duckworth paper types. I would really appreciate any feedback that you care to give as I can then update this post with new information.


  1. you have an entry titled: "Duckworth Paper 9 - Soft White This paper is similar to paper 7 and 10, but unlike paper 7, there is a very slight horizontal grain visible, but not so obvious as paper 10. It is extremely smooth and silky to the touch. It is not a thin paper, like paper 9a is." -this is not accurate.

    According to the Duckworth (2nd edition 2008) paper 9 is separated into two types 9A and 9B which both are very thin (there is no 'basic' paper 9) The description in Duckworth is has somewhat ambiguous/non substantiated historical reports about paper 9B as far as details go. However i think it has been generally agreed that paper 9A is thin soft and white and fragile (white due to the china clay mineral that was added to the paper pulp as was for paper 8. The china clay silicate particles/powder can be seen under high magnification, 20x or more and also as tiny reflective flecks if held at various angles to a light source) The paper 9A is thin approx .0022-.0024" (i have measured,) with a 'fragile' appearance and does have a mesh vertical or horizontal that is quite obvious if laid on a black background or looked through to a lightsource . The fragile appearance is probably due to the clay mineral added to the pulp during paper manufacturing which lessens its strength substantially. The 6 cents for sure exists on both pl 1 & 2 and are the least rare. The 9A probably exists on the 1ct , 2ct , 3 ct according to the Duckworth description.
    The paper 9B very thin paper on various denominations is less fragile appearance wise according to Duckworth (perhaps due to less or none of the china clay is what i believe) measures .0022-.0024" and is generally later printings.
    The 1/2 cent is a whole different area of paper study as there are quite a number of thin & tissue thin papers for the 1/2 ct which is more part of the small queen era for period of issue and probably does not exist on 9A.


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