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Terms and Definitions

Some terms and definitions can be most confusing. The following are some terms with brief explanations

Make-ready.. In the early days of my collecting I had to assume make-ready was a mysterious substance that was poured over the plate or something worse. make-ready is a term that describes the attempt by the printer to push up certain regions of the plate from the back, and make it ‘ready’ for printing. In providing pressure on certain regions of the plate, then that part of the plate is printed 'stronger' on the paper. This in turn reduces the effect of shallow impressions or poor areas of the overall printing plate. Each time the printer got ready to print a particular denomination, he (or his apprentices) had to go through this tedious process.

Jubilee lines.

On flat plate printing, the plate is 'scraped' of excess ink on each successive press into paper. This scraping naturally would wear the cliches (images) away if left unattended. De La Rue first introduced bronze guard rails onto the edges of a plate (or around a block of plates) to reduce this effect in 1888. This happened to be Queen Victoria's Jubilee year, and the lines first observed at that time have been known as jubilee lines ever since. Partly because, at the time, they were thought indeed to be some additional decoration to celebrate the Queen's reign. Since then however it is a term of convenience.

When present, they appear around at least two edges of the printed sheet, sometimes solid, sometimes dashed, at the whim of the printer. They are however often, and exceptionally useful, in detecting the introduction of new plates, and, determining plate positions.


The term cliche has come to mean a single stamp impression. In context, it might mean the stamp itself (on the sheet), or more accurately, a single stamp image on the plate. Neither are strictly accurate! A cliche was a single die-impressed mould which subsequently was grouped up with identical cliches into a forme to produce an electroplate.


The individual (generally lead-mould) cliches are arranged into a 'forme' (eg 12 rows of 10). This 'forme' is then grown from, electrolytically, to produce an electro (or a series of electros)

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