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GREAT BRITAIN, PENNY BLACK AND SIMILAR TYPES

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1840 Queen Victoria, letters in the lower corners

Penny black 2 p blue 2 p blue Maltese Cross cancel

  1 p black (Penny Black)
  2 p blue

Image reproduced with permission from: http://www.sandafayre.com
(Non issued official stamp, 'VR' in the upper corners)

The 1 p is called 'Penny Black' it is the first stamp ever issued in the world. A 1 p black with the letters 'VR' in the upper corners was prepared as official stamp, but was never issued. These stamps have watermark 'Small Crown':

There are letters printed in the lower corners of the stamp. According to their position on a sheet of stamps (upper left is 'AA', then 'AB', 'AC' etc.), thereby creating 240 different stamps.

Value of the stamps

vc = very common
c  = common
*  = not so common
** = uncommon
*** = very uncommon
R   = rare
RR  = very rare
RRR = extremely rare
ValueUnusedUsedRemarks
1 pRRRR 
2 pRRRRR 
1 p VR in upper corners RRR Not issued

Note: even though a lot of stamps were printed, these stamps are still rare, since everybody wants to posess the first stamp of the world.

Forgeries etc:


I've been told that this is a photographic forgery


Forged envelope with orange 'ORMSKIRK AP23 1843' cancel and blue Maltese cross cancels containing two penny-blacks

There exists at least three stamps with similar design with inscription 'LUNDY'; 'ONE PUFFIN' in black or brown and 'TWO PUFFINS' in blue, they were issued for the island of Lundy (bogus issues). The letters 'J' and 'A' are in the left and right lower corners respectively.


(Lundy bogus stamps)


(forgery of this stamp, using the next issue and colouring the white lines blue,
zoom-out of top and bottom part)

I have seen a forgery of the 2 p blue stamp, made from the next issue (with white lines) by colouring the white lines blue, see pictures above.


('VR' forgery, made from a genuine stamp by adding the letters 'V' and 'R'?)


(London Exhibition Sheet, 'reproduced by the collotype process printed by Waterlow & Sons Limited')

In 1950 a souvenir sheet was issued in London for 'The London International Stamp Exhibtion'. On this souvenir sheet there is a 1 Sh Nova Scotia 1852 violet stamp, a Penny Black, a New South Wales 1 p red 1850, a Ceylon 4 p 1859 and a 4 p Cape triangle of 1853, it was reproduced by the collotype process and printed by Waterlow & Sons. I have seen all the cuts from this sheet offered as forgeries.


(Facsimiles of the Castle Museum York, I've also seen one with a red Maltese cross cancel on a piece of paper)

I've seen reprints of the 1 p black (General & VR issues) in unissued colours (green, orange, violet, red and brown). Apparently these reprints were authorised by the Lord Mayor of London to raise funds for the British Red Cross during World War II. They were sold at Lancaster House London between 6th & 11th May 1940 (printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd). All the reprints I have seen have the letter 'D' in the lower left corner and 'K' in the lower right corner:


(Reprints in fancy colours of the 'VR' issue and the normal stamp)

 

1841 Queen Victoria, letters in the lower corners

  1 p brown
  2 p blue (design changed slightly)

Black ink was used for the cancels of the 1 p black, but it was not satisfactory because inadequate cancels could not easily be detected. The ink for the cancellation was then changed to red, but could be readily removed with a solvent. Therefore, the stamp became red with a more fugitive ink, and the cancellation became black.

The 2 p now has two white lines below 'POSTAGE' and above'TWO PENCE'; shortly after the issue of the 2d stamp of 1840, it was noticed that the dark blue obscured the black cancel, therefore the stamp was lightened by placing the white lines.

The watermark on these stamps is 'Small Crown'. These stamps exist with a so-called 'ivory-head' the head is shining through on the back side of the stamp:

Ivory Head variety

Value of the stamps

vc = very common
c  = common
*  = not so common
** = uncommon
*** = very uncommon
R   = rare
RR  = very rare
RRR = extremely rare
ValueUnusedUsedRemarks
1 pRR* 
2 pRR*** 

 

1854 As 1841 issue, (letters in the lower corners), but perforated

  1 Penny  brown (red)
  2 Pence blue

The watermark is 'Small Crown' or 'Large Crown' for this issue. Two different perforations exist: 14 and 16 (exist both with both watermarks).

Value of the stamps

vc = very common
c  = common
*  = not so common
** = uncommon
*** = very uncommon
R   = rare
RR  = very rare
RRR = extremely rare
ValueUnusedUsedRemarks

Watermark 'Small Crown', perforated 16

1 pRR* 
2 pRRR*** 
Watermark 'Small Crown', perforated 14
1 pRRR 
2 pRRRR 
Watermark 'Large Crown', perforated 16
1 pRRRR 
2 pRRRRR 
Watermark 'Large Crown', perforated 14
1 p**c 
2 pRRR*** 

 

1858 Letters in all four corners, perforated

2 p blue

  1 Penny brown
  2 Pence blue

The watermark of this issue is 'Large Crown' (see picture above) and the perforation is 14. These stamps have plate numbers (although often very difficult to see due to cancels), the pictures below shows a stamp with plate number 225, it is hidden inside the left and right borders, the yellow arrows show the positions of the 2, 2 and 5 in the second image:

The arrows point to 2, 2 and 5

The plate numbers on the 1 p range from 71 to 225. Some platenumbers are rare, such as '77' and '225'. The plate numbers on the 2 p range from 7 to 15.

Value of the stamps

vc = very common
c  = common
*  = not so common
** = uncommon
*** = very uncommon
R   = rare
RR  = very rare
RRR = extremely rare
ValueUnusedUsedRemarks
1 p**c 
2 pRc 


Cancellations

all the stamps from 1840 to 1842 were cancelled as follows (so-called Maltese cross)



Websites

http://www.members.tripod.com/~pennyreds/yz.html

Great Britain Line Engraved Victoria Made Easy by Wm F Blank: http://www.kernunnos.com/Philately/GBQVLE.html, explanation of all the types of these stamps (recommended!).


Copyright by Evert Klaseboer

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