The immense popularity of these stamps in high grades and the resulting significant price discrepancy between stamps in very high grades and those in lower grades means that very few of these stamps will have survived in intact sheets of 100. Nearly all have been broken up by dealers to supply collectors wanting nice single stamps. The only sheets that I have either seen or have been aware of over the past several years are:
- A complete sheet of the 1/2c brown black with the re-entry was sold by Brigham Auctions in their sale of Mr. Brigham's complete sheets.
- A complete sheet of the 1c was once shown to me by Bob MacGillvary of the former Stanley Stamp Company in Vancouver. This would have been back in 2000 or so.
- A complete sheet of the 5c was being sold by City Stamp Montreal either last year or the year before.
Unitrade notes that any imprint multiple, even a pair is scarce and commands a premium of 50% over the price of the corresponding single stamps, so collecting anything with an imprint will prove to be quite a challenge. Fortunately, the number of plates used is reasonably low, so the number of items you need to obtain in order to form a representative collection of this issue's plate multiples is not high.
Plates Used and Location of the Imprints
From my examination of the half-cent sheet that was sold in the Brigham sale, it would appear that the imprint was located only in the top margin between stamps 5 and 6. This would suggest that a pair would be sufficient to obtain the full imprint. However, Unitrade does note that some imprint blocks need to be 8-10 stamps to obtain the full imprints on some sheets, which suggests that on some of the sheets, the imprint extends across four of five stamps. I think this is a boilerplate paragraph that has been placed under several issues in the catalogue because I have not yet seen a plate block of this issue where the imprint extends across more than two stamps. Even in Gary Lyon's retail inventory, where he is selling a complete set of plate blocks, they are plate blocks of 4, not 8, and certainly not 10. This would explain why they are so hard to find - because the only stamps 5 and 6 on the sheet can preserve the imprint.
The plates used for the stamps are as follows:
- 1/2c brown black: plate 1
- 1c blue green: plates 1-4. It appears that plates 3 and 4 had imprints at the bottom as well.
- 2c carmine rose: plates 1-4. It appears that plate 3 had the imprint at the bottom, and on plate 4, there is an inverted imprint at the bottom as well as at the top.
- 5c dark blue: plates 1 and 2. Plate 2 is very rare, and is valued at more than 8 x the price of plate 1.
- 7c olive green: plate 1 only.
- 10c violet: plate 1 only.
- 15c orange: plate 1 only.
- 20c dark brown: plate 1 only.
So it would seem that a complete set of plate blocks or pairs would consist of 15 blocks or pairs, if only 1 imprint is collected per plate, or 18 blocks or pairs if bottom, as well as top imprints are collected.
My next posts will deal with the remaining aspects of this issue, and then I will be ready to start writing about the 1911-1925 Admiral Issue.