You make some interesting and valid points; some that I have been mulling over in my mind in the last few weeks.
Some further comments:
1) that if the Perkins Bacon records say the plate was not registered then surely no registration sheets would have been printed.
Yes, there had to be. Ormond Hill had to be looking at something in order to determine that the plate was not laid down properly for perforating. If he did not have a printed sheet in front of him, then the only other way he could have decided this is if he had gone to Perkins Bacon and viewed the actual plate - from which it would have been significantly more difficult to make this determination. It is well documented that sheets were pulled off new plates, prior to them being registered, for submission to Somerset House.
4) far easier to change a 177 to a 77 which is often done.
easily debunked as faked, see here (about two thirds down):
The only way would be to alter the plate by hand which would not be difficult for a skilled engraver
I do not believe this could be achieved by hand recutting; there is far too much steel that would need to be repositioned (so to speak) to change a 3 to a 7 for it to have been an operation by hand. And then hand cutting them back to a 3 after the error was realised....almost impossible in my opinion. Much more likely, if one subscribes to this theory, that the original roller for 77 was employed.
I understand the plate underwent repairs towards the end of its life.
Correct. The operative words here being 'towards the end of its life'. The Perkins Bacon records confirm plate 73 went for repair on 31 Jan 1868, when 67 'heads' were re-entered. The subject cover is dated 1865. If such an operation occurred, it must have been very early in the life of 73 as it was put to press on 1 March 1864.
I assume the plate 77 stamp brought around to you, was lettered LL and owned by a collector whose initials are JP? If so, the RPSL cert is dated 14 Dec 1914 and numbered 4900. As you imply, I wonder if such scrutiny of these was around then, and if it's really a 77 at all!
The theory that an error occurred in an operation of some sort on plate 73, and that this was noticed quickly and corrected, is of course entirely plausible at first look. However I believe two things militate against this being possible:
1. For the number known to have survived, the number of sheets printed before correction of such an error must have been extremely
small. Certainly less than 50, probably less than 20, even less than 10. I'm not sure I believe this is possible.
2. I have been told, but have not seen, that stamp BA of plate 73 has different checkletter positions to the plate 77 BA in the British Library - a scan of which is posted earlier in this topic. Graham, if you have a copy of stamp BA plate 73, perhaps you could post a nice big scan please to confirm this. If what I have been told is correct, then the scenario of a quickly corrected error must
have happened to (at least) two plates. This of course, makes this unlikely series of events doubly unlikely than it already was! Nevertheless, as I have always said, and as you ask, I keep an open mind; but it must be shown what other plate every accepted/currently known plate 77 is from
, by reference to the checkletters. I would assume this will be covered in the next part of the article.
What if all these numbers were created deliberately from a few impressions on retiring plates so that someone could have a complete set of numbers. After all I am led to believe that the 1d plate printed in black was done for young Royal collectors.......
I am certain that I have read details of where George V bought his plate 77. If the above is so, and some were created for Royal collectors: 1) Why did George need to buy his? and 2) Why are the other unregistered plates not in the Royal Collection as well?
I know that my earlier posts on this topic have been quite negative, perhaps even overly so. The position of devil's advocate must surely be played here. I'm sure Abed knew he would come in for criticism - it's all part of the process.
One final word, that believe it or not, may actually help Abed's case. Has he seen the short article in the GBPS Newsletter of May/June 2002, where a collector shows a stamp that has - as clear as day, no question about it - plate 194 on the right side and 104 on the left? And the reply in the next issue from another collector, who went through all his plate 104s and 194s and found that quite a few of the 194s also had this? As I say - could help Abed's case. Or could simply prove that the 'plate 70' you know of in Spain is just a 76 or 79.