It is a vastly under-collected set to be sure, with most collectors relegating it to a single page in their albums. However, it is probably one of the most complicated definitive issues of this period, as we shall soon see. The complexity comes mainly from the vast number of plate blocks and booklets, but as with the previous two issues, there are also, shade, paper and gum varieties that add greatly to the complexity of the material.
This issue is also the first to include both overprinted, and perforated official stamps. By now the 5-hole perfin type is completely gone from production, leaving only the 4-hole type. In 1949, the perfins were abandoned in favour of OHMS overprints. These were however, only produced on the low values up to the 4c.
Finally, this issue was one of the first to be replaced in stages, rather than all at once. The first stamps to be replaced were the high values, which were supplanted by the Peace Issue in late 1946. The low values on the other hand remained in use until the Postes-Postage issue replaced them in November 1949.
The issue was designed by Herman Herbert Schwartz. The image for the portrait of King George VI was based on a photograph by Hugh Cecil Saunders. The vignettes for all stamps except the airmail special delivery stamps, and the special delivery stamp were engraved by Arthur C. Vogel. The vignettes for the airmail special delivery stamps were engraved by Joseph Keller, and the vignette for the special delivery issue was engraved by Silas Robert Allen. The frames for all stamps were engraved by Charles H. Milks.
The Stamp Designs, Issue Dates and Quantities Issued
This issue can be taken in all the usual directions by the specialist:
- Shade Varieties
- Paper and Gum Varieties
- Plate Blocks
- Imperforate Pairs and Other Imperforate Varieties
- Gutter Pairs and Foldover Errors
- Coil Stamps
- Booklet Panes and Complete Booklets
- OHMS Perfins and Overprints
- First Day Covers, Postal History and Cancellations
- Postal stationery
- Proof Material
At first this issue appears to suffer from an almost complete uniformity of colour. However, upon close examination, it becomes apparent that many values exhibit shade varieties that are anywhere from subtle to prominent. The 1c, 4c greenish black, 13c green, 14c green and 10c special delivery stamps exhibit near uniformity of colour. However, the other values can all be found with shade varieties that can be summarized as follows:
The colour varies both in terms of tone, as well as brightness. I have seen bright yellowish brown and bright reddish browns, and at the same time, I have seen, deep dull brown shades as well. The scan above shows some of these shades. Hopefully you can see that the stamp on the right is the darkest shade of brown, while the stamp immediately to it's left is the lightest. The difference between these shades is obvious. The first three stamps on the left are all very similar, but if you compare them to the stamps on the right, they are all darker than the lightest shade, but not as dark as the right hand stamp. Finally, if you stare at these three stamps for a while, while relaxing your gaze, you should start to notice very minute differences in the tones. Here is a scan showing the lightest, brightest shade I have seen, contrasted with the normal dark brown:
This colour is really claret, rather than rose violet, and it varies in terms of how much red, or how much brown is contained in the mix. On one end of the scale there is the deeper brownish purples, which are not bright, but rather are very brownish, deep and rich, like the stamp at the left. Then, as the amount of brown diminishes, and purple predominates, we get stamps like the third and fifth stamps from the left. On the other hand, there is the rosy claret, which contains very little brown, and is much closer to the rose violet. The lightest of these is the second stamp from the left, while the fourth stamp from the left , and the right stamp are both of similar tone, but slightly different intensities. I would actually venture to suggest that this colour exhibits the most variation of any stamps in the series, as it was the most commonly used stamp, and was in use from 1943 until it was replaced by the 3c Postes-Postage issue in late 1949.
This colour is really more of a carmine red, but it varies both in terms of how much blue it contains, as well as its brightness. The brightest shades, contain almost no blue, and are more of a scarlet, while the deeper, duller shades of carmine, are quite bluish by comparison. In the scan above, I show the paler, softer carmine reds on the first, third and fifth stamps from the left. The fourth stamp from the left is the deep carmine red, while the second stamp from the left is a slightly duller deep carmine red, printed on a rose-tinted paper. This tint is likely the result of improper wiping of the printing plate.
This colour is referred to by Unitrade as chocolate, but it is far too dark to be thus. It is more of an violet brown. It varies both in intensity, and tone. In the above scan, the stamps at left and right contain more purple in the mix than brown, while the two middle stamps contain less brown.
There are many variations of this colour, both with respect to the brightness level as well as the amount of red contained in the mix. In addition, it can be found in a deep bright bluish violet shade. In the above scan, the first two stamps are shades of bluish violet, with the left stamp being deeper than the one to its immediate right. On the left we have the violet shades that do not contain the bluish undertone. The stamp on the right is a slightly deeper shade than the stamp to its immediate left.
$1 Deep Blue
This colour is generally not a pure dark blue, but is usually either a steel blue, which contains some grey, or it is a Prussian blue that contains a greenish undertone. The shades are so similar that the differences are difficult to see in a scan. What I have done here in the above scan is to take a plate block of the deep dull blue shade, and lay a deep Prussian blue over top of the lower right stamp. Hopefully you can see that the lower right stamp in the above scan is greenish compared to the other three stamps. You have to look at it for a few minutes and allow your eyes to adjust, but the difference should become apparent as your eyes acclimatize.
6c Deep Dull Blue
This airmail stamp does exhibit some variation, from Prussian blues to steel blues, though the differences are very difficult to see in a scan. In the above scan, it should be apparent after a few minutes that the middle stamp is a brighter blue than the ones at the sides.
This second airmail stamp that was issued in 1943, and in use until 1946, exhibits quite a bit of variation, from steel blue to a dull greenish blue. Here we see the steel blue on the left, and the dull greenish blue on the right.
16c and 17c Ultramarine
The airmail special delivery stamps show quite a bit of variation in terms of how bright the ultramarine is, as well as how much violet is included in the colour. In the above scan of the 16c, we have from left to right: deep ultramarine, deep bright ultramarine and violet blue. The 17c is usually a lighter, softer shade compared to the 16c. The scan below shows some shades of the 17c, with the centre stamp being a deep aniline ultramarine, and the outer stamps being a deep ultramarine.
Paper and Gum Varieties
Although there are fewer paper and gum varieties compared to the previous two issues, there are enough to make this a very complicated issue. Interestingly, Unitrade completely ignores this aspect of the issue.
There are at least five paper types that I have seen in working with the stamps of this issue:
- A soft white vertical wove that shows a clear mesh when viewed from the back. This appears to have been used for all the early 1942 printings, as it generally is not found on those stamps which were not issued until 1943 or later.
- A soft, almost translucent wove paper that shows no clear weave at all. This paper often appears toned.
- A harder, thicker opaque wove paper that shows no clear weave at all. This paper was used on the latest printings of the low values made after 1946.
- A soft horizontal wove paper that shows very fine horizontal mesh when viewed from the back. This was used on the first coil stamps perforated 8 vertically.
- A horizontal ribbed paper, showing distinct ribbing on the gummed side, but not the face generally.
- A ribbed paper that shows ribbing on both the front and back. The first scan of the 1c shown at the beginning of this post illustrates this type of paper.
The gum on this issue shows a considerable amount of variation in colour, as well as the thickness of the gum and the sheen. I have seen at least ten types of gum on this issue:
- A brownish yellow gum with a high gloss sheen. I have seen this on the 10c brown, 10c special delivery and the 16c airmail special delivery. An example can be see in the second scan above on the second stamp from the left.
- A brownish yellow gum with a mottled appearance and a satin sheen, which I have also seen on the 16c airmail special delivery. An example is the fourth scan above.
- A cream gum with a satin sheen. This gum can be seen on the right stamp in the top scan above, as well as the end stamps on the second scan and the right three stamps in the third scan above.
- A cream gum with a semi-gloss sheen. I have seen this gum on the 17c airmail special delivery stamp.
- A deep yellow gum with a grainy texture and a satin sheen. An example of this gum can be seen in the first scan above, on the stamp on the left.
- A cream gum, with a patchiness and a satin sheen.
- A white gum with a satin sheen. An example of this gum can be seen on the middle stamp in the first scan above.
- A deep yellow-cream gum with a semi-gloss sheen. An example of this gum can be seen on the second scan above, on the third stamp from the left.
- A light brownish cream gum with a satin sheen. An example of this can be seen on the third scan above, on the left hand stamp.
- A yellowish, streaky gum with a satin sheen.
All the plate blocks of this issue are corner blocks of 4. There are no centre positions, and while a block can be more than 4 stamps long, it is not necessary, as the full imprints will be visible on a block consisting of 4 stamps. There are a staggering number of different plates, as follows:
- 1c green - 32 plates = 128 different blocks, plus 5 different cracked plates.
- 2c brown - 6 plates = 24 different blocks.
- 3c carmine red - 10 plates = 40 different blocks.
- 3c deep claret - 28 plates = 112 different blocks, plus 7 different cracked plates.
- 4c greenish black - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 4c carmine red - 47 plates = 188 different blocks, plus 9 different cracked plates.
- 5c Prussian blue - 4 plates = 16 different blocks.
- 8c bright lake brown - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 10c brown - 6 plates = 24 different blocks, plus 1 cracked plate.
- 13c myrtle green - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 14c dull green - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 20c violet brown - 2 plates = 8 different blocks.
- 50c bluish violet - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- $1 steel blue - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 6c airmail - 2 plates = 8 different blocks.
- 7c airmail - 5 plates = 20 different blocks, though plate 5 UL has not been reported as yet.
- 16c airmail special delivery - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 17c airmail special delivery - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 10c special delivery - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 1c green OHMS overprint - 2 plates = 8 different blocks.
- 2c brown OHMS overprint - 1 plate = 4 different blocks.
- 3c deep claret OHMS overprint - 2 plates = 8 different blocks.
- 4c carmine red OHMS overprint - 2 plates = 8 different blocks.
In addition to the different plate numbers and positions, some of the plates are known with cracks that show up as jagged lines in the selvage.
Order Numbers, Cutting Guides, Dashes and Position Dots
As is the case with many of the stamps printed by the CBN, there are various markings to be found on the plate blocks, which exhibit some variation, and are long overdue for a detailed study. The first of these are the order numbers, which appear on the lower left position. The CBN placed these on all LL plate blocks until the fall of 1957. I have seen different numbers, and different spacings between the numbers, which would indicate the use of more than one plate to print the inscriptions. Compiling a complete list of these numbers is no easy task, due to the very large number of plates that were used to print these stamps, and I have seen very few plate blocks of this issue. However, I will list what I have seen here, and will add to the listing, as I examine more and more blocks:
1c green plate 30 - #1170, closely spaced numerals (i.e. 2.5 mm apart).
1c green plate 31 - #1170, also closely spaced numerals.
2c brown plate 5 - #1121 with widely spaced numerals (i.e. 5 mm apart).
The small size stamps were printed in sheets of 400 which were then guillotined into four panes of 100 stamps each, while the larger format stamps were printed in sheets of 200 that were guillotined into four panes of 50. Lines were placed both horizontally and vertically inside the gutters that separated each pane to act as a guide for the guillotine. Ideally, the guillotine was supposed to cut along this line, splitting it, so that it wouldn't be visible on the resulting pane. However, this was often not achieved, with the result that blocks will often show a horizontal line, a vertical line, or both inside the selvage. The block at the left in the above scan is an example of a block that shows a horizontal cutting guideline at the top.
- 1c green, plate 31.
- 2c brown, plate 5 with widely spaced order number #1121.
On the CBN issues well into the late 1950's the lower positions of plate blocks often show one or more coloured dots inside the selvage. Starting in the late 1950's, these dots can also appear on the top positions, or in the selvage at the sides. However, on this issue they seem to be confined to the lower positions as follows:
- On the lower left positions, the dot is located under the "D" of "Limited" in the inscription.
- On the lower right positions, the dot is located under the "C" of "Canadian" in the inscription.
Imperforate Pairs and Other Imperforate Varieties
All the regular issue stamps of the series exist imperforate, and these are generally collected as pairs. Some of the coil stamps exist partially imperforate vertically, as a result of a missed strike by the comb perforator. The following varieties and the quantities produced are as follows:
- 1c green - 150 pairs.
- 2c brown - 150 pairs.
- 2c brown, vertical strip of 3, imperforate horizontally - 3 strips.
- 3c deep carmine-red - 150 pairs.
- 3c deep claret - 150 pairs.
- 4c greenish black - 150 pairs.
- 4c carmine red - 150 pairs.
- 5c deep blue - 150 pairs.
- 8c bright lake-brown - 150 pairs.
- 10c brown - 75 pairs.
- 10c brown, imperf. at right margin - 10 singles.
- 13c myrtle green - 50 pairs.
- 14c dull green - 75 pairs.
- 20c violet brown - 75 pairs.
- 50c bluish violet - 75 pairs.
- $1 steel blue - 75 pairs.
- 3c deep claret perf. 9.5 coil strip, imperforate at bottom. - 1 strip.
- 6c airmail - 50 pairs
- 7c airmail - 50 pairs
- 7c airmail - imperf at right margin - 10 singles from plate 4 LR pane.
- 16c airmail special delivery - 75 pairs.
- 17c airmail special delivery - 75 pairs.
- 10c special delivery - 75 pairs.
Gutter Pairs and Foldover Errors
The 1c green exists in a unique gutter block that resulted from a paper foldover error. It occurred where the stamps of one pane got folded over to the stamps of a second lower pane, so that when it was opened out, there are two vertical pairs with a full horizontal gutter in between. As far as I know this piece is still intact, and consists of two vertical strips for 4 with the gutters, and then two lower pairs attached to the left.
Then the 3c deep claret also exists in a horizontal gutter pair which came about due to a foldover error that prevented two panes from being properly guillotined. Twenty of these pairs exist.
This concludes the first post of three dealing with this very attractive and interesting wartime set. Hopefully after seeing just how much scope there is for specialization, some of you may be inspired to try your hand at collecting the issue in more depth.