Lot 70A Canada #34 1/2c Black Queen Victoria, 1870-1897 Small Queen Issue, A FNH UL Inscription Block of 15 Second Ottawa, 12.1, Newsprint Like Wove, Showing Full Offset of 15 Stamps on Back and Baloon Flaw at Position 32
A FNH UL inscription block of 15 of the 1/2c black Queen Victoria from the 1870-1897 Small Queen Issue. This block shows a constant balloon flaw on position 32, consisting of a large dot in the lower margin, just to the left of centre. I know it is constant, because I have sold two other stamps now with the exact same flaw. Now we know it's position on the sheet. Position 42 also has a dot in the lower left corner, which the Second Ottawa Printings are not supposed to have. Finally there is a full offset of 15 stamp images on the back, under the gum, which are shifted downward and to the left. This example is a Second Ottawa printing on newsprint like wove and is perf. 12.1.
The Small Queens were printed first in Ottawa and are known to specialists as First Ottawa printings. These cover the printings made from 1870 to 1872, when a fire destroyed the Ottawa plant and necessitated a move to Montreal. The values so printed were the 1c, 3c and very first printings of the 2c and 6c. These printings are generally identified by a combination of perforation, paper texture and shade. In terms of paper, the paper tends to be either very soft, like the Duckworth paper 9 or 10 used on the Large Queens, or it is very thick and fibrous, in the case of some printings of the 1c and 3c. In terms of shades, the 1c stamps tend to be red-orange or orange, the 3c stamps are either rose, deep rose, copper red or Indian red, the 2c stamps are deep green and the 6c stamps are yellow brown. In terms of perforation, the First Ottawa printings are usually 11.9 x 12, 12, or 12 x 12.1.
The Montreal printings cover the period from 1872 to the Autumn of 1888, when another fire forced the printing to be relocated back to Ottawa. They can be further broken down into three periods: the early Montreals from 1872 to about 1874, the mid-Montreals from 1875 to 1880, and the late Montreals from 1881 to 1888. The late Montreals can be further divided into pre-1886 printings and post-1886 printings. The early Montreal printings will usually have stout horizontal wove paper, and will be perf. 12, 12.1, 12.2 or some compound of these. The only values to come from this group will be some printings of the 1c, 2c, 3c, and 6c. In terms of shades, the 1c stamps will generally be either a shade of orange, yellow orange, red-orange, deep red orange or yellow. The 2c stamps are grass green and the 6c stamps continue to be shades of yellow brown. 90% of the 1c, 3c and 6c stamps will have a plate position dot in the lower left corner, and the 6c may have 2 or 3.
The mid-Montreal period is where we begin to see the appearance of the 11.5 x 12 perforation, or 11.6 x 12 and 11.75 x 12. All three measurements correspond to what Unitrade lists as 11.5 x 12. This period also includes perf. 12, 12.1, 12.2 and compounds. The new values to appear during this period are the 5c and 10c. Again, 90% of the 1c and 3c stamps, and a few 2c stamps will have the plate position dot at lower left. Paper during this period is usually either stout vertical or horizontal wove. In addition to the usual shades of yellow found on the 1c, there is also a very bright pale lemon yellow and an ochre-yellow. Most 2c stamps are grass green, 3c stamps are orange-red, 5c stamps are pale or deep olive green, 6c stamps are brown and 10c stamps are either dull rose lilac or pale milky rose lilac.
The pre-1886 late Montreal printings will continue to show the positon dots in the lower left corners of most 1c and 3c stamps. Paper during this period tends to be less stout, and can be horizontal or vertical wove. In terms of shades, lemon yellow dominates the 1c stamps, grey black or silvery black dominates the 1/2c, which is the only new value to appear in this period. Bluish greens appear on the 2c, and the 3c stamps become a duller red, or duller orange red. The 10c stamps are magenta, the 6c stamps are deep brown and the 5c stamps are slate green, being paler than the earlier printings. New plates were made in 1886 and so, the post 1886 printings show clearer detail, especially in the corner ornaments. The positon dots now appear at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock in the portrait medallion. However, they are often buried in the shading lines and can be difficult to see. The paper tends to be softer and poorer quality, or thinner. Again it can be horizontal or vertical wove
At this point it is worth mentioning what, in my opinion is the acid test for Montreal versus Second Ottawa printings: the finish of the paper on the printing side. All of the Montreal papers will have a smooth finish on the printing side, when viewed under 10x magnification, whereas Second Ottawa paper, with one exception will appear rough, with stray and loose fibres being visible. Perforations in the late Montreal period will include very few 12's, being mostly compounds of 12.1, 12.2 and 12.25. In Autum 1888 to the end of 1888 is a transitional period known as the Montreal Gazette period. During this period the stamps were printed at the Montreal Gazette, while BABN readied its printing works in Ottawa. Printings made during this brief period are perf. either 12 x 12.25, or 12.25 x 12 and are on thin, soft vertical wove paper. The 3c shades are rose carmine and deep rose carmine.
The Second Ottawa period begins in 1889 and runs until 1897 when the Maple Leaf and Diamond Jubilee stamps replace this issue. It can be divided into two periods once again: Pre-1891 printings and post-1891 printings. Pre-1891 printings will continue to show position dots in the portrait medallions as before, whereas post-1891 printings will not. These printings will have a somewhat worn appearance, but will have the same perforations and shades as the late Montreal printings, making them harder to identify. Here, dated cancels are of some help, but again the rough paper texture under magnification will be of some help. The most common paper used is a poor quality brownish or greyish wove that resembles newsprint. However, a smoother, whiter paper was introduced in 1893, and the 1c, 3c, 20c and 50c stamps can be found on this paper. In terms of shades the 1c stamps are bright yellow, deep yellow or orange yellow, the 2c stamps are dull green, or deep green and the 3c stamps are vermilion or orange vermilion. The 5c stamps are grey or purple grey, the 6c stamps are chocolate or chestnut, and the 10c stamps are brown red or deep rose pink. New plates were again made in 1891 or 1892, so that printings made during this period appear crisp, and can be easily mistaken for Montreal printings. However, the shades are all wrong, as are the papers, which is how you can identify them, as second Ottawa printings. It should be noted that the 8c, 20c and 50c were issued during this period. In terms of the late period shades the 1/2c stamps are intense black, the 1c are deep yellow, the 2c are deep green, the 3c are deep vermilion. The 5c are brownish or purple grey, the 6c is red brown and the 10c stamps tend to be dull rose, salmon and salmon-pink.
Unitrade values this at $525. The block offered here grades 70.
Paper Freshness: 5/5
Absence of Visible Paper Flaws: 5/5
Perforations: 10/10 and 6/10