Distinguishing the Six Printings of the 1d Lilac Surface Printed Lagos Stamp With Crown CC Watermark and Perforated 12.5

Distinguishing the Six Printings of the 1d Lilac Surface Printed Lagos Stamp With Crown CC Watermark and Perforated 12.5

Today's post will hopefully provide some insights that will help you identify the different printings that were made of this first issue of Lagos between May 1874 and May 1875.

I find that the best way to proceed with these is to try and sort used stamps first, and then to match the mint stamps to the used stamps that you have classified, since there are very few clues that will definitively allow you to correctly classify the mint stamps.

In attempting to assign individual stamps to the six printings, I find it useful to look at three things:

1. Cancellations

2. Colours - particularly the colour of the value tablet, or duty plate in relation to the head plate.

3. Paper

I will briefly discuss how each of these characteristics can aid in identification and will then show you comparative scans of each of the six printings.


The very earliest cancellation used in early 1874 was a Lagos CDS that had only the date code, A, B or C and no year date. it looked like this:

The period of usage for this cancellation was so short in 1874 that one can usually safely conclude that any example bearing this cancellation is likely from the first printing. The numbers issued in each printing are so low, and the shipments were so frequent, i.e. every 2 or three months, that the likelihood of an early printing being used late due to being left in post office stock is quite low. Most stamps would have been either sold or used very soon after being issued. 
For this reason, we can also use another of the cancels to help identify the last printing. In 1876, the Lagos CDS was replaced by a barred diamond grid that had a large "L: in the centre. This type of cancellation is the most common one found on these issues, because it is also the one that was in use when more than half of the issued stamps were issued, which was the last printing, which was shipped to the colony on May 13, 1875. This type of cancellation looked like this:
If you see this cancel on any of the stamps of this issue, chances are very good that it is from the last printing shipped on May 13, 1875, or possibly the fifth printing, which was issued on February 3, 1875. It is not very likely that it will have come from any of the earlier printings. 
With those two cancellations dealt with, we are left with the Lagos CDS cancels which are dated between May 1874 and January 1876. The earliest dates I have seen are July 7, 1874, while the latest is January 29, 1876. The dates in most cases can be used to narrow down the group of printings from which the stamps came, but occasionally, they can provide absolutely conclusive proof. The dates given by J.F Ince in his work on the stamps of Lagos for the various printings were:
  • First printing - May 12, 1874
  • Second printing - September 14, 1874
  • Third printing - November 18, 1874
  • Fourth printing - December 14, 1874
  • Fifth printing - February 3, 1875
  • Sixth printing - May 13, 1875
The above dates are understood to be those on which the stamps were shipped to the colony, not the dates that they arrived. The commonly accepted issue date for the first printing of this stamp is June 10, 1874, or just under a month after shipment. The first dated examples I have seen are in July - another month later. Thus it is reasonable to suppose that:
  • First printings will be cancelled between June 10 and mid-October 1874.
  • Second printings will be cancelled between mid-October 1874 and late December 1874. Some might go as late as January 1875, but not too many. 
  • Third printings will be cancelled between late December 1874 and late January 1875, with a few maybe dated as late as early March 1875.
  • Fourth printings will be cancelled between late January 1875 through to approximately April 1875. 
  • Fifth printings will be cancelled between early April 1875 and mid-June 1875.
  • Sixth printings will be cancelled from mid-June 1875 and 1876 when they were replaced. 
The sixth printings were the most plentiful, with the supply being equal to the total of the first five printings. Those first five lasted almost a year. So it is reasonable to expect that the period of use covered by these last printings to be the better part of a year also. In addition, all other things being equal, one would expect most mint examples to have come from the last printing, and very few to have come from the first printings. 
Any stamp cancelled before September 14, 1874 and very likely October 14, 1874 must have come from the first printing, since the second printings had not yet been shipped. For dates after that you have to use conjecture and then the shades and papers to make a final determination. But a good first start is to sort your used examples using the guidelines above, and then to go through each group and look at the shades. 
Shades of Colour
The printings made of these stamps were very small so we would expect them to have been completed in  very short period of time, with probably only one or at most 2 press runs. What that means is that we should see very little shade variation, if any, within a printing, but could see considerable variation between different printings, as completely new batches of ink would have to have been prepared for them. 
Interestingly it would appear that De La Rue changed their method of production part way through this issue. The first printings show the duty plate (words of value) in the same colour as the rest of the design (head plate). This suggests that the stamps were printed from a single batch of ink in one operation. However, subsequent printings usually show the duty plate a different colour from the head plate. Sometimes these differences are very pronounced, and it is indeed surprising that Gibbons makes no mention of them in their catalogue listings. This isn't the only time that De La Rue has done this. Collectors of King George VI issues will recall that the definitives of Malaya showing King George VI's portrait among palm fronds were printed in both one and two operation runs. In fact there is evidence to suggest that they employed different production methods for many of the colonial issues. 
So generally speaking if you look at your sorted groups of used stamps, you should find all of them being more or less the same shade, with maybe one or at most two variations. Based on my study of these stamps, the shade combinations are as shown in the scans below:

The first printing in reddish violet. You can clearly see that the words of value are the same colour as the rest of the design. 
The second printing in reddish lilac & dull purple. If you compare to the first printing, you can see that the main colour is not as dark ad is milkier. If you look closely, you can also see that the words of value are a slightly different colour from the rest of the design, being duller and lighter. 
Here is a second printing cancelled October 20, 1874 - well within the date range proposed above for the second printings. 
The third printing in reddish lilac and deep reddish purple. The main colour is the same as the second printing, but the duty plate colour is much more reddish than the first two printings. 
This example is cancelled May 17, 1875 and is well within the date range we suggested for the fifth printing. However, the colour matches the stamp above and is quite different from other shades found on printings made later. So my best guess is that this is the third printing. 
The fourth printing in purple and deep mauve. Again, this is cancelled in \May 1875, which is in the period in which we would normally expect to find the fifth printing. The colour though is is much lighter and rosier than on the other printings. 
The fifth printing in slate lilac. This colour lacks the rosiness of the other shades. On this printing, the duty and head plates are the same colour. 
The fifth printing in a slightly paler shade of slate lilac.  This example is dated July 16, 1875, which places it in the period for the sixth printing. However, it matches other used examples dated May 1875, which is to early for the sixth printings. 
The last printing in reddish lilac and pale dull claret. This is a very distinct colour combination that is quite unlike an of the other printings. 
Here is a used example, with a little less red in the pale dull claret of the duty plate, and the characteristic Lagos diamond barred grid cancel. 
There appear to have been two kinds of Crown CC watermarked paper:
  • Paper which shows no clear mesh
  • Paper showing a feint vertical mesh
In general, the early printings tend to be on paper showing no clear mesh, while the later printings are on paper showing feint vertical mesh. The scans below show the differences:
An example of the first printing. No clear mesh is visible. 
An example of the fifth printing. If you look closely, you can see the fine vertical mesh in the paper.
This concludes my discussion of the 1d lilac Lagos stamp watermarked crown CC and perforated 12.5.
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