Today's post will deal with a very highly neglected, but very beautiful group of stamps: the second postage due issue of 1930-1932. The postage dues in general are a very neglected field, probably because of the fact that they are located far in the back of most peoples albums. As we shall see, the five basic designs that were in use between 1906 and 1982, when postage due stamps were in use, provide an excellent basis for a challenging specialized collection that is off the beaten path.
This issue is very similar to the first issue and displays an impressive range in shades for all five values in the set. Some of the values like the 1c and 2c were produced in vast numbers, while others like the 5c and 10c were produced in surprisingly low numbers. In addition to shades, there are at least two different kinds of paper and at least four different kinds of gum. Today's post will look at these in detail.
This issue was printed by the British American Bank Note Company (BABN). I believe they were printed in sheets of 400 which were then cut into panes of 100.The Stamps and Quantities Issued
1c deep dull reddish lilac.
Replaced May 5, 1934.
2c deep dull reddish lilac.
Replaced December 20, 1933.
4c deep dull reddish lilac.
Replaced December 12, 1933.
5c deep dull reddish lilac.
Not replaced. Reissued in 1948 when rates warranted.
10c deep lilac.
Replaced December 20, 1933.
As you can see, the numbers issued were very, very low compared to other stamps at the time, and some scarce stamps such as the 5c are highly undervalued given that they are scarcer than the 50c Bluenose or the dollar values of the Scroll and Arch issues.
Points of Interest
There are fewer directions to take a collection of this issue in, since there are no coils, no booklets, only 1 plate for each stamp and no OHMS issues. However, as we shall see, there is still plenty of scope for a specialized collection:
1. Shade varieties.
2. Paper and gum varieties.
3. Plate blocks.
4. Imperforate varieties.
5. Proof material
6. Postal history, cancellations and used multiples
I will now discuss each of these in further detail.
Unitrade lists two basic shades of each value in the set: dark violet and dull violet. It values both shades equally on every value. I find their nomenclature a bit misleading, as there are very few stamps I have seen that would match either the dark violet or dull violet swatches on the Stanley Gibbons Stamp Colour Key. Instead, most of the shades on this issue are shades of lilac and shades of plum. What Unitrade calls dark violet is actually deep lilac and the "dull violet" is really either deep dull reddish lilac, or deep dull plum. The scans below show the various shades that you might run across on these stamps.
On the left we have deep dull reddish lilac, while on the right is deep dull violet. As you can hopefully see, the stamp on the right is distinctly bluish compared to the one on the left. The stamp on the left is Unitrade #J6i, while the right stamp is #J6. But if you hadn't seen both these stamps together, you could easily make the mistake of classifying the stamp on the right as J6i and not J6.
On the left we have deep lilac and on the right, blackish lilac. These are both very similar shades, but are not quite the same and they in turn are similar to the deep dull violet above.
On the left we have deep bluish lilac, while on the right is deep dull plum. If you compare the deep bluish lilac with the deep dull violet, deep lilac and blackish lilac, you will see a lighter, more bluish, milkier shade. The deep dull plum is very similar to the deep dull reddish lilac, but again it is redder and lighter.
This is deep reddish violet. Once again, it is both bluer and milkier than the other colours shown above.
Paper and Gum Varieties
The mesh of the paper is not very obvious on these stamps, which makes it difficult to notice that all the values actually exist on both horizontal wove papers and vertical wove papers. I do not know which combinations of shade and gum varieties are found with each, and this, I feel would be an excellent candidate for a detailed study. The best way to correctly identify the papers is to very gently and carefully bend the stamp between two fingers and see which direction the paper bends most easily:
- Vertical wove paper will bend easily from side to side,
- Horizontal wove paper will bend most easily from top to bottom.
The gum shows the usual range of variation that we see on the stamps of this period. In terms of colour we find everything from light cream to dark brownish yellow. In terms of evenness of application, we find most gum is evenly applied, though there is a type that shows a distinct mottled appearance. Finally in terms of sheen, we see gum that gives a satin sheen, gum that has a semi-gloss sheen and gum that shows a glossy sheen. I believe that all of these variations are fully collectible as they indicate variations in either the chemical makeup of the gum, or the method by which it was applied. The scans below show some of the various types:
Light cream with a satin sheen.
Yellowish cream with semi-gloss sheen.
Mottled deep cream with satin sheen.
Brownish yellow with satin sheen.
Deep yellowish cream with satin sheen.
The difference between brownish yellow and deep yellowish cream can be quite subtle, but one can find gum that is even darker than the brownish yellow above.
Generally speaking the light cream gum and yellowish cream gum with satin sheen dates from the 1930-31 period, while the brownish yellows and mottled creams date from the 1932-33 period. The yellowish cream and deep yellowish cream gums tend to be from the 1933-34 period as a general rule. My conclusion is based on matching these gum types to those found on the commemoratives issued from 1932-34 and the early printings of the Arch Issue stamps that were not issued past 1931.
Unlike other issues where the plate blocks are collected as corner blocks, this issue is very different. The sheets contained no inscriptions whatsoever, except for a reversed "1" in the top margin between columns 5 and 6. On the 5c, this number is found on both the top and bottom margins. Only one plate was used for every value, so this means that there was only one possible block of 4 per sheet of 100. On the 5c, every one of the four panes of 100 would have a block, but on the other values, these blocks occur only on the top two panes. This makes them very scarce, as the maximum number that could have existed at the time of printing was thus:
- 1c - (5,334,000/400) x 2 = 26,670 blocks
- 2c - (10,758,000/400) x 2 = 53,790 blocks
- 4c - (2,443,000/400) x 2 = 12,215 blocks
- 5c - (523,000/400) x 4 = 5,230 blocks
- 10c - (309,000/400) x 2 = 1,545 blocks
Of course the number of blocks actually surviving after the panes were split up by postal clerks must be very small, perhaps as little as 5% of the above quantities. And bear in mind that includes blocks that are poorly centered or with gum problems. I would imagine that the number of VFNH blocks in existence is probably 1-2% of the above quantities, or even less, which explains why they are so expensive in Unitrade. In fact, they may be quite undervalued when one considers their true scarcity.
There were no imperforate pairs produced of any value of this issue. The only imperforate variety known occurs on the 10c, where one sheet was discovered with no horizontal perforations. As Unitrade notes, the vertical perforations were positioned at a slight diagonal angle, resulting in the majority of extant pairs being badly off-centre. The worst of these is still worth approximately $750 according to Unitrade, while the best pairs are worth $5,000.
In terms of proofs, the BNA Proofs website lists two stamp sized die proofs of each value, or 10 die proofs in all. One proof of each value exists in violet, initialled "PJV" and dated "Janu 3 1930" and one proof of each value exists in black. They are all very rare, with three reported examples of each one. Generally, the violet proofs sell for $2,000 each at auction, while the black proofs are valued at $1,000 each. Of course, these amounts are approximations of what they last brought at auction. In reality, you may find yourself paying much more than these amounts when they come up for sale again. However, the number of proof items is very manageable over a lifetime of patient searching.
Postal History, Cancellations and Used Multiples
The 5c and 10c stamps had no specific domestic single usage, as a single use would have to correspond to a 2.5c and 5c deficiency in postage respectively, since the deficiency was always assessed at double the amount. So the only way these are found used is usually in multiples, or in conjunction with other values. Collecting all values on cover can be quite challenging, through postcards can often be found with them. Generally speaking:
- The 1c value can be found on redirected local first class letters to a non-local address, or on undeliverable third class mail.
- The 2c value would generally be found on shortpaid letters or postcards, where the deficiency was 1c. So given the re-introduction of the war tax in 1931, we would expect to see many of these on covers from late 1931 or 1932, where the old rates were still paid instead of the new ones.
- The 4c would be found on local first class letters where no postage was paid at all.
Cancellations are tricky on these, as most postage due stamps were cancelled with crayon or pencil markings. The prices in Unitrade for used stamps do not do them justice at all, nor do they reflect the true scarcity of in-period CDS town cancels. If you look at the used prices in Stanley Gibbons for these, they are much higher. Collecting CDS used examples of these stamps and any used multiples you can lay your hands on is likely to prove over the long term to have been an excellent investment.