Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Three Cents Issue of 1871

(Above) 1871 "Three Cents"

About two years after the appearance of Sarawak's first stamp which bore the post-humous portrait of the first Rajah, a new stamp depicting the head of Sir Charles Brooke was issued to the public. The exact date of issue is not known, although it must have been early in January 1871 as the following Order was published on January 23rd:

'No more of the old stamps are to be issued from the Treasury, and a notice is to be sent around to the effect that the old stamps will be null and void after March 31st, 1871. Those that possess old stamps can exchange them for new.' - Order by H,H, the Rajah

The Design
The stamp illustrates a portrait bust of the second Rajah framed in a thin colorless circle against an engine-turned serif capitals. In each corner is a square containing the initials C.B.R.S, reading from top left to bottom right and signifying Charles Brooke, Rajah, Sarawak. Flanking the circle at each side is a vertical rectangular tablet ornamented with a design of diamond-shaped embellishments which the corner spandrels ear an engine-turned design. The head of the Rajah faces towards the left of the stamp. The whole design is more square than its predecessor and has an overall measurement of 23mm x 19mm.

Method of Production
The production and printing of this stamp was, like its predecessor, entrusted to Messrs. McLure, McDonald & McGregor of 37, Walbrook, E.C. & Glasgow. The methods employed were, in every way, similar but whereas a single printing stone was used for the 1869 stamp, no less than three were required to produce the large number of stamps of the 1871 issue, as it is believed that a total of 250,000 were printed. Only a small proportion of these can ever have been used for postal purposes, although a considerable number were utilized at much later dates for the production of provisional stamps, both in 1892 and 1899.

(Above) 1871 "Three Cents", Block of 4

They are all different!
There are a lot more to talk about with regard to this stamp, with the many flaws and varieties (different stones, plates and dies used during production). Looking (closely!) at my block of 4 above will tell you they are all different in their little ways - unlike other stamps which are all the same (usually) coming from the same sheet.

I will try to explain. This stamp was printed by 3 stones, each composed of 2 panes of 100 subjects. So there are 600 (!!) varieties. Every single stamp can be plated, meaning that each of the 600 positions has a unique and distinguishing set of lithographic flaws that distinguish it from all the others. The Stanley Gibbons Catalogue (the world's most used and well-known catalogue, which I have used for the valuation of my stamps, as per written about in my previous blog entries) recognizes only a few of the 600 varieties, although everyone one of the 600 varieties is unique and of equal philatelic significance. The Stanley Gibbons Catalogue chooses to list only the very few varieties that are very obvious and have been mentioned in the philatelic press for more than a century.


No comments: