GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

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emason
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GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by emason »

GB QV 2d Blue (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide


Introduction
This is just a short simple guide to the early twopenny blues issued between 1840 and 1858 and how to tell them apart. They were printed from only six plates (1 to 6) and determining which of these a particular stamp was printed from varies from the straightforward to the tricky. Having scans of the plates is useful, but it is possible (most times) to plate them without resorting to comparing the check letter positions.

All are Die 1 heads and can be put into three groups, namely:

1. Plates 1 and 2 imperforate (no white lines).
2. Plates 3 and 4 imperforate (with white lines).
3. Plates 4, 5 and 6 perforated (the ‘2d perforated stars’).
Image
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Plates 1 & 2 imperforate (no white lines)

Plate 1 was in use from May 1840 to July 1840. (s.g. DS1 - DS6A)
Plate 2 was in use from July 1840 to February 1841. (s.g. DS7 - DS9)
Image
Plate characteristics
Plate 1 and 2 are both imperforate, with the die 1 head and small crown watermark. The check letters are alphabet 1.

The NW corner
On plate 1 the left side of the NW corner is weak (thin) on all stamps.
On plate 2 they are stronger (thicker).
Image
The NE star
On plate 1 the 11 and 12 o’clock rays of the NE star are complete on most stamps.
On plate 2 they are shortened on all stamps.
Image
Exceptions: Most stamps from the lower two rows of plate 1 (SB-SL and TA-TL) show shortened rays similar to those of plate 2, but the weak NW corner of plate 1 should resolve confusion.
Image
“TWO” defects
The “TW” of the value letters of plate 1 are joined in rows A to E and M to P. Additionally, the “O” of “TWO” is either flattened or indented on its upper right in some of these stamps.
Image
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Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by emason »

Plates 3 & 4 imperforate (with white lines)

Plate 3 was in use from February 1841 to December 1849. (s.g. ES10 to ES12)
Plate 4 was in use from December 1849 to February 1854. (s.g. ES13 to ES17)
Image
Plate characteristics
These two plates are both imperforate, with the die 1 head and small crown watermark. The check letters are alphabet 1. Both plates have the addition of white lines below “POSTAGE” and above “TWOPENCE”.

The NW star
On plate 3 the NW star is normal with all the rays mostly intact.
On plate 4 the 8 o’clock ray is missing, and the 7 and 10 o’clock rays often are quite faint giving the star a ’lopsided’ appearance.
Image
The side lines
On plate 3 the strength of the left and right sides lines are quite different, with the left side line complete and the right side noticeably weaker.
On plate 4 the left and right side lines are more evenly matched being similarly slightly weak.
Image
Identification of plate 3 is made simpler if cancelled with a Maltese cross as the use of this was discontinued in 1844, five years before plate 4 came into use. Also, if the stamp is on cover and dated before December 1849 it must come from plate 3.

[Note: Plate 4 has the famous ‘spectacles’ variety. At some time, the plate sustained minor damage in the form of a fine scratch on impression “B-H”, stretching from the queen’s eye to her ear, giving the illusion of her wearing spectacles. Thus the imperforate “B-H” exists both with and without ‘spectacles’.]
Image
-----“-----
Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by emason »

The twopenny blue ‘perforated stars’ Plates 4, 5 and 6

The 2d blue ‘perforated stars’ were introduced in March 1854 and issued until the 2d blue ‘plates’ were introduced in July 1858. There were three plates (4 to 6), two perforations (16 and 14), two watermarks (small and large crown) and three alphabets (1 to 3). Fortunately, there are only limited combinations of these features.

Of these features, only the alphabet is unique to each plate: Plate 4 - alphabet 1; plate 5 - alphabet 2; plate 6 - alphabet 3.
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Plate 4 perforated

Plate 4 (perforated) was in use from March 1854 to July 1855, and is the only 2d plate to have been issued both imperforate and perforated. Two perforations were used – Perf 16 (s.g. 19/20 – F1) and Perf 14 (s.g. 23 – F2).

Plate Characteristics
This issue has the same plate characteristics as its imperforate counterpart. The check letters are from alphabet 1. This plate is particularly noted for its many blurred patches from the plate progressively corroding during its lifetime.
Image
Note the corrosion blurs around the check letter squares in all three stamps in the above image.

[Note: The perforated “B-H” exists only with the ‘spectacles’ variety.]
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Plate 5 perforated

Plate 5 was in use from July 1855 to July 1857. (s.g. F3 to F6)

Plate characteristics

The check letters are from alphabet 2. The NW star has the same 8 o’clock ray flaw as plate 4.

Plate 5 was the only plate to have been printed on both small crown and large crown watermarked paper. It was also perforated 16 and 14, and all four combinations of perforation and watermark were in concurrent use.
Image
F3 (SC 14) - small crown, perforated 14 (s.g. 23a)
F4 (SC 16) - small crown, perforated 16 (s.g. 20a)
F5 (LC 16) - large crown, perforated 16 (s.g. 27)
F6 (LC 14) – large crown, perforated 14 (s.g. 34)

Without reference material (or the ability) to distinguish between alphabets 1 and 2, it is difficult to tell a plate 4 stamp from a plate 5 small crown watermark stamp, as both had the same perforations, and the same missing 8’clock ray of the NW star. The obvious difference between plate 4 and plate 5 is the use of alphabet 2 check letters for the latter.
Image
Note the larger check letters of alphabet 2 on the plate 5 example above.

Possibly a close inspection of the NW star might be helpful as the rays of the plate 5 star seem slightly better defined than those of plate 4. But this is not a reliable plating aid.
Image
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Plate 6 perforated

Plate 6 was in use from July 1857 to July 1858, after which the “2d plates” were issued. It was printed only on large crown watermark paper, and perforated 16 and 14. Perf 14 (s.g. 35 - F7), Perf 16 (s.g. 36a - F8).

Plate characteristics
The check letters are from alphabet 3.
The white lines are slightly narrower than previous plates.
The NW star is normal, but there is an 11 o’clock ray flaw on the NE star which is shorter and fatter ray than normal.
Image
Image
-----“-----
The Alphabets
For reference, here are the letters “A” to “T” of the three alphabets.
Image
Image
Image
Image
Points to note
1. The letters of alphabet 1 are smaller than those of alphabets 2 and 3.
2. The letters of alphabet 2 are broader than those of alphabet 1.
3. The letters of alphabet 3 are taller and narrower than those of alphabet 2.

Perforated stars summary
Image
-----“-----
Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by jpeterson »

Thank you,Bill.

Very helpful, as always.

Kind regards,

John

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by Rog »

Very informative and well laid out, many thanks :D
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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by gavin-h »

Very useful piece of work, Bill.

Thanks for producing this and sharing here on Stampboards.

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by Alastair »

Excellent tutorial :!:

Thank you very much. :D :D

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by Finchley Chris »

Excellent. :)

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by DaveR »

Bill.

An excellent tutorial. I tried a while ago to produce something similar to sort out my little accumulation of 2d blues, but it was no where near as clear as yours - thank you.
Image
A couple of reference books I found that can be downloaded from Philatelics.Org - https://www.philatelicsannex.org/reference/reference.html - are -

Sir Edward Denny Bacon's "The line-engraved postage stamps of Great Britain printed by Perkins, Bacon & Co.; A history of their production during the forty years, 1840-1880" Volume I" - PDF File (16.2 MB)
Chas. Nissen & Co. Limited. 1920

Sir Edward Denny Bacon's "The line-engraved postage stamps of Great Britain printed by Perkins, Bacon & Co.; A history of their production during the forty years, 1840-1880" Volume II" - PDF File (16.2 MB)
Chas. Nissen & Co. Limited. 1920

H. Obsborne's "British Line-Engraved Stamps. Twopence Blue. Studies Of Plates 1 to 15" - PDF File (65 MB)
H.F. Johnson, London, 1948

Dave.

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by Ghost07 »

Superb as always Bill,

Mike

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by Barney99 »

A really awesome tutorial Bill and much appreciated.

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by emason »

Thank you all for your kind and generous comments.
Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by emason »

The 2d Blue Plate 5

It has been previously mentioned that plate 5 is unique in that it is the only 2d blue plate to have alphabet 2 check letters, and this feature is the only sure way of identifying stamps from this plate.

This is all very well for those who can recognise alphabets at a glance, but for those of us whose alphabet identification is a bit shaky, I believe there is another way.

What to look for
Have a look at these:
Image
Notice anything?
No? Have a closer look.
Image
There is a consistent pattern of blurs in the left margin and lower half of both star squares, and marks in ‘POSTAGE’ and the white line under it.

At first, I thought it was due to smeared ink, but this same pattern is present to a greater or lesser degree on every stamp printed from plate 5 and is also present on the imprimatur sheet.

Stamps ‘I-F’ and ‘P-H’ above with their imprimaturs below:
Image
There are also consistent marks, but to a lesser degree, in the white line above ‘TWO PENCE’.

This is part of the imprimatur sheet.
Image
Note particularly the vertical blurred lines to the left of each impression. This is repeated across the whole sheet, and every stamp shows a similar pattern of blurs and marks.

Comment
When every (or most) stamps on a plate show the same flaw (e.g. ray flaws) it is called a plate characteristic and is usually attributed to a defective transfer roller. But roller flaws normally show as white un-inked areas, e.g. missing rays and the ‘O’ flaw. Coloured blurs are usually caused by plate corrosion and are randomly scattered over the plate. This is not the case here.

A possible explanation is that a previously used and discontinued plate has been erased, ground down or otherwise ‘cleaned’, and been recycled to make this plate. What we could be seeing here are the ghostly remains of incompletely erased impressions showing offset under the new plate 5 impressions.

I haven’t seen any reference material which mentions these consistent marks and blurs being peculiar to plate 5; neither Osborne nor Gibbons mention these (to me) obvious recognition features.
-----“-----
Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by McGlen »

Bill, thanks for the excellent tutorial. Just stumbled across it and it’s enabled me to plate the small number of SG14’s I have including this strip from plate 3.
GB Twopenny Blue Sg14 plate 3
GB Twopenny Blue Sg14 plate 3
You have very kindly plated other stamps for me in the past and like many on this forum, I’m extremely grateful to you for sharing your knowledge.

Thanks again.

Glen

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Re: GB QV 2d Blue stamps (plates 1 to 6) – a simple guide

Post by emason »

McGlen wrote:
05 Oct 2020 04:22
Bill, thanks for the excellent tutorial. Just stumbled across it and it’s enabled me to plate the small number of SG14’s I have including this strip from plate 3.
Glen
I am pleased you found it useful.
Best wishes,
Bill

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