Three years earlier in December 1934, this stamp was scheduled for release as a rotary issue. Due to cracks in the original die, a new die was hurriedly re-engraved and a flat recess plate created. The unwatermarked, perf 11 issue comes from these printings.
In 1936, this new die was regenerated on rotary recess plates, as originally intended. It became part of the definitive Robes issues, and was first printed and released in 1937. Watermarked paper is therefore from rotary printings.
The original layout first adopted for the Victorian Centenary issue of 1932 remained consistent for all rotary printings of this size stamp. Specifically, a 320-on printsheet of four post office sheets. Each PO sheet consisting of 2 panes 10 rows of 4, separated by a narrow interpane gutter.
The table indicates some notable design changes, and gives away a few clues to Ash's production methods.
The 1/6d Hermes described here, and the 1/- coil format lyre bird were both issued in late 1937. They were created two years earlier and scheduled for printing in 1935/36 as part of the first, unissued, zoological series. Both used the wide 42.5mm imprint that had been used on all stamps prior to the introduction of the zoo series. These are the only two denominations in the zoo / robes definitives to use the early imprint cliches, all other imprints, including the robes, are 38mm in length. See NSW Sesqui for other example of dual imprints issued the same month as this stamp.
As described in the overview, the zoological series was aborted twice before it was finally issued on the 3rd attempt. The reason being that the original series, scheduled for 1935/6 was cancelled due to King George V's death, then Windsor's subsequent abdication. In both cases, the king's head designs had to be re-created. Some designs of course were fauna, specifically the lyrebird, and were not affected by various royal mishaps.
Ash took the fist opportunity to replace the 1/6d emergency flat plate and re-release it as part of the zoo / robes definitives.
The 1/- small format lyre bird was simply another early transfer, copied directly from the large lyre flat plate.
The imprint width reflected the current stamp size of two stamp widths. The 42.5mm imprint was that used for the KGV 's . It was immediately apparent on the coil sized 1/- lyrebird that this was an inconvenient length. The imprint for coil sized stamps was altered to 38mm to again fit two stamp widths. 38mm became the imprint size for all zoologicals and robes definitives, including later issues of this and the 1/-.
The reason why the robes issues, also of identical size and layout to the 1/6d, only appear with a small imprint is because they were all pictorials of the reigning monarch. Earlier plates, if any, with different Monarchs probably had the wide imprint, but were destroyed.
Also, and in common with the lyrebird, the imprint position is unusual. Exceptional in fact, as it appears in the right hand corner of the right pane. The only stamp to do so in Australian philately. While this is in keeping with the experimentation of imprint position that was occurring at the time, it is such an extraordinary, and unique position for an imprint that it was probably a deliberate marking by Ash to distinguish the difference between this, and the earlier rotary plates that he also made of the same design (but did not issue). It is well worth noting that when Ash created a subsequent set of electros for the 1/6d, while the imprint size changed to the new imprint cliches then in use (38mm), the position remained on the right.
Sheets A,B,C,D are identified by registration circles in the respective corners of the printsheet.
A single plate #1 (upper left corner) is recorded.