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Between the covers

My bias (and emphasis) is on plate layouts, imprints, monograms, and electros. Rotary versus Chambon ‘plates’ . I go to a great deal of effort to use a picture in preference to a word.

I avoid the discussion of shades. They do not contribute enough to the total picture to warrant inclusion There are some very rare exceptions to this where without them, the understanding of the stamp’s history would be forfeit. (The KGV 1d red is not one of these exceptions). Colours, and most specifically, shades, are in the eye of the beholder. Each individual sees colour differently and shades vary according to the prevailing light conditions. To describe something as 'Gooseberry Red' is not helpful. The shade of a stamp varied on the plate! This is particularly true of ‘deep impressions’ where substantial ‘make-ready’ was used to beef that portion of the plate. Shades varied between sheets of different paper from the same inkpot ala KGV 1d surfaced and unsurfaced papers.

My avoidance of discussing shades of colour should not be taken as a criticism for collecting them. Clearly, the 4d Kangaroo is in a shade of orange, and arguably, a shade of yellow! , together with color changelings. (Stamps that, with age and exposure to light will, change color). The emphasis of this handbook is on the plate manufacturing process. Stamps that varied in shade in the same printing (many do), don't contribute to the handbook's intent and leave a collector with a feeling of never, ever, being 'complete'.

In the main texts, as far as possible, I avoid most discussion on varieties, be they flaws or, re-entries. By definition, each unit on every plate could be so described with it’s own unique character. The trouble with many publications is the imbalance. So much space is taken up with this area, it is at the exclusion of a bigger picture. There simply isn't space left to describe the issue. The collector is generally left with the impression that if he doesn't possess the 13 shade variations and a copy of each variety , he cannot possibly be ‘complete’.

There are many enough plate flaws and varieties that are important in detecting changes of plate or monogram or both. These are important to this handbook. The rest, as interesting visually as they might be, are not.

I avoid any variety whose sole attribute is ‘spectacular’. It must have meaning to the whole. Misplaced perfs, or lack of them, are spectacular. They are not philatelically significant. Anyone can  have a bad hairdo kind of day and a hangover to suit. Even John Ash.

This compendium arranges the stamps by, denomination, watermark, and colour, rarely by date and watermark group, which would normally be found in a catalogue. Over the years I, and dealers I supply my notes to (particularly in Australian States issues), have found this method far preferable in locating the stamp that’s between the tweezers. I therefore make no apologies.

Finally, a word on electros. By convenience, some descriptions are worded ‘plate’. That is both correct and misleading. An electro is of course a printing plate, but, a plate is nowadays deemed to mean ‘steel plate’, on which a die or its derivatives have been directly impressed. An electro is created indirectly via electrolysis, sometimes using a plate as its base (but not on the kangaroos). In every single case, for all Kangaroos, whether the term plate or electro is used, they are unconditionally electroplates. In the later KGV’s electro and steel plate differentiation have markedly different results.


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