Goose June 2008
Queen Victorian issues
Adapted from a talk and paper given at the Faringdon by Malcolm Barton.
It is a curious fact that although the Study Group has come to Faringdon for ten years,
no one has pointed out that these Victorian stamps on display this evening were printed in Faringdon.
I think I had better read that again; there is something wrong with the punctuation.
Although the Study Group has come to Faringdon for ten years no one has pointed out that
these Victorian stamps were printed in ….. Farringdon Street, London.
With two ‘RRs.’ At least you are not going to forget that now!
In the 1920s Bradbury Wilkinson moved from Farringdon
Street to New Malden Surrey. This is the only original research I can claim as my own.
Much of the pioneer work on this issue was carried out by Charles Glass and you will find
important articles in Upland Goose Volumes 3 to 7.()
It is also a curious fact that Ronnie Spafford also always knows more than this author
knows. It was exactly the same when writing a book on the 1891 Provisionals; Ronnie came up with important new information
just in time. This time, it is new and quite shocking information, unknown to
me at any rate ten days ago, and that you will be given this evening ; Thanks Ronnie.
It is also a fact that any author cannot carry out much research into Falkland
Islands stamps without access to Stefan’s catalogue and all his records; thanks Stefan. However there has
been a curious tradition at this weekend for the author to point out that Stefan (how can one put it?)- has not always got
it right! More of that anon, for first of all I want you to imagine Geoff Barber standing at his Victorian desk in 1878 and
writing in his best copperplate hand to his New Issue clients. “I am sorry to announce that the 1878 issue for the Falkland Islands has been delayed; it is running approximately twenty years late. I am very sorry for this delay. But if you would like to pay now, I should be very happy. Your obedient
This display has been spread out to give you a sense of time, of twenty four years between
the first printings and the last.
On October 16th 1877 the Earl of Carnarvon, Secretary of State for the Colonies
wrote from Downing Street to tell the Falkland Islands Governor Callaghan that application had been made for the Falkland
Islands to become a member of the General Postal Union on January 1st 1878, (renamed the Universal Postal Union
in 1879). One of the reasons for the application being refused was a basic one. Part of a letter dated November 7th,
signed by Wm. Page of the General Post Office in London to R. G. W. Herbert Esq., of the Colonial Office, reads:-
“It has just been discovered that postage stamps are not in use in the Falkland
Islands, and the Postal Administrations of the Union attach great importance to the Article in the Postal Union Treaty which
stipulates that payment of postage can be effected only by means of postage stamps valid in the country of origin, it appears
to Lord John Manners that the absence of postage stamps in the colony would be a fatal bar to its admission into the Union..”
Meanwhile help was at hand. Mr Herbert received a despatch requesting 1d and 6d stamps,
not from the Falkland Islands postmaster but from the Falkland Islands Company. The hand
of the enterprising Colonial manager F. E. Cobb can be seen here. There exists a memorandum, initialled but illegible which
almost certainly originated from the Crown Agents dated December 3rd
1877 and sent to Mr Herbert. I hesitate to read it out:-
“Mr Herbert, for a cheap stamp such as we are getting made for the Transvaal
which would be quite good enough for the Falklands – the cost would not be too great, say Die and Plate for two values
1d and 6d about £10, - cost of printing, paper, etc., 1/-- per 1,000 stamps.”
“Cheap,” “quite good enough,” and putting the Falkland Islands
second to Transvaal. That is quite shocking! The printer of these “cheap” stamps
was Bradbury Wilkinson. It was a time when Bradbury Wilkinson was expanding and looking for new business. The Bradbury family
had moved into security printing of banknotes in intaglio following an increase in the forgery of unengraved banknotes in
the mid 1850s. The introduction of intaglio or recess printing on banknotes reduced instances of forgery presented to various
authorities from over 29,000 in 1820 to 52 in 1873. William Wilkinson had taken over the management of the firm when Henry
Bradbury died in 1860. Bradbury Wilkinson carried out no work on postage stamps until 1871 when they made the plates for the
stamps of Hyderabad, which were then printed locally. Victorian
engravers were extremely skilful; one has only to examine the popular engravings of many contemporary paintings. Herbert Bourne
who was responsible for the head of Queen Victoria was just
such an engraver and he worked for a number of firms.
His head of Queen Victoria
appears to have first been used on the revenue stamps of Griqualand West in 1876. The capital of that South
African Province was Kimberley of diamonds fame. This was followed by revenue and postage stamps for Transvaal of gold fame. One almost has to thank Cecil Rhodes for the first Falkland
stamps. There is one consolation. The Falkland Islands 1d and 6d stamps engraved and printed by Bradbury Wilkinson were released
a few weeks before the Transvaal stamps and therefore can still claim to be the first postage
stamps put on sale which were produced by Bradbury Wilkinson.
The 6d value was printed in blue-green which in the long run was to prove to be an unfortunate
choice as it was to clash with the green colour recommended by the U.P.U. for ½d values in 1891. However contemporary 6d values
for similar colonies such as Antigua and Montserrat in the West Indies which also ran their postal services on just two values,
were also in blue green, and it was perhaps a decision made by the Crown Agents.
Carnarvon wrote to Governor Callaghan on December
“I have the honor (sic) to inform you that having received a representation from the Falkland Islands
Company on the subject of providing the Colony with a distinctive postage stamp and having been advised by Lord John Manners
of the desirability I have directed the Crown Agents to take immediate steps for procuring the material necessary for providing
your Government with stamps of 2 denominations viz 1d & 6d in value. I presume that 2 kinds will be sufficient …”
Governor Callaghan replied on 14th
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship’s despatch No
22 of 6th December last regarding the desirability of providing this colony with distinctive Postage Stamps. I
am glad the proposal has received your Lordships approval.
The Postmaster (George Travis) informs me that the stamps which would be required here would
be 1d., 6d., 1/- and 5/-. Packets are sent occasionally by the Falkland Islands Company and Messrs. Dean weighing about 30oz
for which a small supply of 5/- would be convenient.()
The 6d stamps would be the most in use and next to that the 1/- stamp. The 1d stamp
would not be used except on Foreign letters of which very few are forwarded from the Colony (). Letters are not forwarded by the government to the various parts of the Islands and there
is no local postage charge.”
Sir Michael Hicks Beach of the Colonial Office replied to Governor Callaghan:-
“In addition to the 1d and 6d stamps the Crown Agents have been instructed to
procure 1/- stamps but I have not thought it necessary to authorize the issue of the five shilling class.” The
“five shilling class stamp” was to wait for 20 years.
Question. Why was the accepted design allowed to be taller than the definitive
stamps produced by De La Rue with the result that they did not conform to the Crown CA watermarked paper and a well centred
watermark is unusual?
There seems to be a simple explanation for this; the 1878 design was prepared to be printed
on a thin paper made by R. Turner of Chafford Mills in Kent and was never
intended for Crown CA watermarked
paper. We know that Turner’s own watermark appears on some of the revenue stamps and the Falkland
Islands 4d issues in 1879, but that was not intended and we are running ahead of ourselves.
There is a tendency to lump the first four values together when there are in fact three
dates involved. The 1d and 6d sheets printed at the same time both have bottom and left hand margins imperforate, whereas
the Governor’s order for the 1/- later in 1878 has imperforate margins, bottom and right. Bradbury Wilkinson used Bemrose
rotary line perforators and as Charles Glass explained in his article the use of different operators and different machines
might lead to variations. However as far as the first four stamps are concerned no marginal variations have been reported.
Each single sheet was horizontally and vertically perforated separately. It must have been very time consuming.
Similarly Charles Glass recorded variations in shade within the sheet. He reported that
in the Guard book in almost every case the North West diagonal
half of the sheet was lighter than the South Eastern corner.()
The Falkland Islands were admitted as a member of the General Postal Union with effect
from January 1st 1879, together with British Honduras, Newfoundland and British Colonies on the
West Coast of Africa. In the same month the GPU announced a reduction in postage rates from April 1st 1879, and correspondence flows again. March 24th 1879 Governor Callaghan to The Right Honourable Sir M.E. Hicks-Beach Bart., M.P. The Colonial Office:-
“With reference to your circular of 25th January 1879 notifying certain
changes which will take place on 1st April next in the rates of postage and condition of correspondence between countries in the General Postage Union, I have the honour to inform you that these will render
necessary the issue of a Four-penny stamp for the use of this Colony.
I shall therefore, be obliged by your authorising the Crown agents to take the necessary
steps to procure a supply of these stamps.
I have etc.
Y. F. Callaghan.”
The new 4d stamps were sent down to the Colony on July 29th 1879 and put on
sale in September, four 1d stamps presumably having to pay the new 4d rate from April 1st 1879 until the 4d stamps
became available. The 4d value was printed by a different method altogether from the other three using a pantograph which
is illustrated in Grant. The study of this has not attracted much attention since the formation of the Study Group although
a study was published in which almost every 4d stamp can be plated. This is useful as all margins were imperforate and some
expensive stamps have been ‘improved’ by re-perforation.
Question. What happened to the
Bradbury Wilkinson Archive sheets of these four values when the Archives were sold off by De La Rue? Charles Glass certainly
saw them and described the sheet of the 4d as being badly cut with the edges far from parallel with the stamp frames’.()
We need to press on. We can ignore the 6d and 1/- stamps for which there was comparatively
little demand for some years; for over twelve years it was the other two values that supplied the main needs of the colony.
In 1882 a reprint of just 10,000 of the 1d and 20,000 of the 4d value was ordered by The
Falkland Islands Post Office and a decision presumably was taken by the Crown Agents to carry out the printing on the Crown
CA paper. This watermarked paper was not an ideal fit as the standard De La Rue stamps were ten rows of six as opposed to
the Bradbury Wilkinson layout of six rows of ten. A watermarked sheet designed for four sheets of a De La Rue printing was
only sufficient for three Bradbury Wilkinson sheets, and that involved incorporating the central CROWN AGENTS lettering in
the centre of the sheet, although the smaller border lettering of CROWN AGENTS FOR THE COLONIES at the side of the sheet did
not impinge on the stamps.
Specks of colour on the reverse have proved to be a useful aid to recognising the 1882
1d printing. Both stamps have perforated margins all round for the first time. Surprisingly the 1d is not particularly rare
in mint condition, and it is the 4d that is particularly hard to find and identify. Both stamps have a narrow selvedge, upright
watermark, and three years were to pass before new printings were required. Some of the stamps are found with watermark varieties
as no great importance was attached to this at the time. On the 1d there is a flaw on the Queen’s cheek on row 2 number
4 which can be traced through all printings although its existence has yet to be reported on the original 1878 1d.
The printings of the 1d and 4d in both 1885 and in 1887 were printed sideways on the watermarked
paper, again 20,000, which became the standard order. The reason for printing
the stamp with sideways watermark is not known but the result was that they became squarer and less attractive stamps for
the printed paper shrank as it dried. Sideways watermarked stamps can be spotted without the need to turn them over. No particular
attention was paid to the position of the watermark, and varieties are not unusual. The 1887 4d sheet in the Bradbury Wilkinson
archives had a Reversed watermark. This time the smaller side border letters CROWN AGENTS FOR THE COLONIES appeared on some
of the stamps the letters of course being upright which cause some collectors and dealers to misidentify them. More interestingly
the presence of two sets of border lettering prove that the original watermark sheet must have been twice the size as has
normally been illustrated and from an original single sheet six sheets of stamps could have been printed. This seems to have
implications for all stamps printed at this time, De La Rue included, that the dandy roll of watermarks was twice the size
we thought. The author likes to think it has implications for the illustration in Stefan’s catalogue too! The 1885 printing
has perforated margins all round but the 1887 printing has imperforate margins all round which is a great help as there are
intermediate shades that cannot easily be allotted to a particular printing. For some reason the 1885 1d is much more common
mint than the 1887 1d.
One can understand why the next reprint was for 20,000 of the 4d value in 1889 as it was
the most common denomination in use. The watermark reverted to upright, and all four margins are imperforate. The fact that
28 out of the 60 stamps have an imperforate margin is a great help in separating the 1889 printing from the printing of 1882,
and the 1895 printing. Charles Glass reported a sheet of this 1889 printing with perforated margins and Royal Certificate. It is just possible that this sheet was perforated on a different machine but it is
more likely it was from the 1895 and its shade matched the 1889. The UV lamp today would prove the point.
1891 is the most interesting year of all because postage to and from the Falkland Islands
within the British Empire was reduced from 4d to 2½d. Other colonies in a similar situation
had in the past either overprinted current stocks with a ‘2½’ or bisected 1d stamps either vertically and overprinted
with a ½d (Dominica and St Vincent) or diagonally (such as Jamaica.) This just may have influenced the Acting Postmaster Frederick Sanguinetti
as he had been seconded to the Falkland Islands from Jamaica
for a year. He also found that stocks of the 1d stamps were low for a reduction in postage and these had to be reordered too.
Sanguinetti relied for bisects on the remaining stock of the 1887 1d with its imperforate
margin, although a very few examples exist from the earlier 1885 printing which would be bottom margin copy with guide dot
Sanguinetti, who had many other duties other than Acting Postmaster, left the order for
new ½d and 2½d values very late, and as he and the Governor chose values in orange and brick red the order led to further
correspondence and delays. That was quite extraordinary.
The simple lessons to be learnt from 1891 are as follows.
1. The ‘½d’ surcharge or overprint was soon abandoned as unsurcharged bisected
stamps were accepted by the receiving post offices without any problems. When Sanguinetti wrote a letter to his bank in Jamaica he did not bother to surcharge the bisect.
That was as early as May 1891.
2. It is very likely that any surcharging on the new supply of 1891 1d red brown which arrived
in June was done as a favour, and the surcharge has usually been applied after the stamp had been affixed on the envelope.
20,000 of the 1d red brown were supplied with all four sheet margins imperforate. These were the last stamps in this issue
to have any imperforate margins.
3. There was of course an immediate demand from overseas collectors and dealers for the provisional and but orders were refused, that is
until sufficient supplies of the new ½d and 2½d values had been received (and after the value of bisects had been invalidated
!) This is the source of the majority of bisects today.
4. The surviving covers tend to have unsurcharged bisects on them not because they were originally
in the majority but because soaking off a surcharged bisect to stick in an album made more sense than sticking in an unsurcharged
5. It was unfortunate that the Kosmos steamship Neko with supplies of the ½d and 2½d sank
in a Channel collision on July 2nd. It is not true that the stamps were lost in the collision. The ½d and 2½d stamps
she was carrying arrived in Stanley, but in a sticky pulp,
and replacements had to be ordered.
6. Documentary evidence in the Falkland Islands Company Archives that a small supply of the
new values had already arrived on a previous sailing has yet to be accepted.()
The new values from 1891 onwards are so familiar to us that it is easy to overlook that
there was a design change for the new values. For the new values the numerals in the corners have been replaced by rosettes,
and the white oval around the head is now wider at the side than at the top, compared with the original in 1878. There is in addition a Bradbury Wilkinson Imprint below the bottom row.
The May 1891 printings of the ½d and 2½d were of 20,040 i.e. 334 sheets, and currently
the only known survivors were from the Bradbury Wilkinson Archives.
A further printing of 19,920 i.e. 332 sheets of each value were supplied in August 1891.
An order made through the Falkland Islands Company on behalf of a General merchant in London back in May for £10 worth of
½d stamps, that is for 80 sheets a quarter of the whole printing was finally
supplied in November. It is hardly surprising to find a third order for both values being printed in November 1891 and delivered
in January 1892. At the same time 334 sheets of the 1d stamp printed in October 1891 arrived in shades of orange red brown
to brown, and 332 sheets of the 6d value in orange-yellow arrived to replace the 6d blue green of 1878, the shade of which
was too similar to the ½d value and which now became obsolete; Schlottfeldt the Kosmos Agent was selling the original 6d stamp
from his own stock at three times face value until 1900. The ½d value is found in a range of blue green shades but the third
printing of the 2½d is not in a chalky ultramarine but is described as dull blue. A glance at the shade of the block from
the Bradbury Wilkinson archives shows that it is not a particularly dull blue, although it is quite possible that the sheet
came from the beginning of the printing. Mint copies are undervalued, and need to be separated from the pale ultramarine its
nearest rival by ultra violet light.
Later in 1892 the popularity of the lowest value with collectors was finally recognised
and 666 sheets in a green shade were delivered in June 23rd
1892 together with 332 sheets of the 1d in a deep and attractive reddish chestnut shade.
1893 there were no new printings delivered in 1893 and collectors have now acquired just
six of the final ten values in the set. (Geoff Barber is a patient man.)
The 1894 delivery was unusual with round figures of sheets delivered; just 300 not 330+
something sheets of the 1d this time, in a distinctive orange brown with reversed watermark, 200 sheets of the 2½d in shades
of Prussian blue watermark normal. Shades are mentioned because there was a time when few certificates were given to this
printing. Dr Stone who examined the Archive in 1929 found no filed stamp of the Prussian blue shade which is surprising. There
are blocks with and without specimen on display. Today the whole of the printing is more or less accepted as being worthy
of its description although it has meant that used examples are quite common and overpriced. Only 50 sheets of the 4d value
were delivered in a shade once described as ‘pure grey black’ now ‘brownish black’ and with watermark
reversed. Perhaps we can put down the unusual size of order to a new Postmaster, Charles Fraser, who was in charge of the
Post Office from March 1892 to November 3rd 1894.
However later in 1894 on October 19th there were more traditional deliveries,
666 sheets of the ½d in a deep yellow green shade, and 332 sheets of the 1d in a claret shade much closer to the original
printings but with a white gum and usually a reversed watermark. There were also 332 sheets of the 2½d value in a bright ultramarine
shade all of which appear to have been with reversed watermark.
1895 is notable for an unnecessarily large order for the 4d value, 666 sheets which arrived
on June 24th and is found in many shades of Olive black. The stock lasted well into Edwardian times and full sheets
of this value are still not unusual to find. At the end of the year partly perhaps in response to the interests of philatelists
the first 2ds arrive on December 23rd, 332 sheets of them, and 326 sheets of the 9ds, (Bradbury Wilkinson records
that a few sheets were spoilt) together with 666 sheets of the sixth printing of the ½d, ‘virtually identical in shade.’
as Charles Glass described them when he examined the guard books. There were
also 332 sheets of the 1d in a new shade described by Charles Glass in 1979 as Venetian red with normal watermark. Gibbons
opts out by describing both the 1895 and 1896 printings as pale to deep, and Stefan goes for Deep Venetian red with reversed
watermark. There were 200 sheets of the 2d in a deep purple shade, and 333 sheets of the shilling value in a grey brown shade
and on watermarked paper for the very first time. Revenue from sales of stamps to collectors was now important and accounted
for 80% of the stamp revenue. It is not surprising that new printings of most values were ordered again in 1896.
At the end of November 1896 deliveries included just 300 sheets of the ½d described as
deep dull green. This has become a difficult stamp to identify and as the Archive block here shows a yellow green tinge to
it, one wonders whether it is worthy of a separate listing. 400 sheets of the 1d in a deep Venetian shade with reversed watermark
according to Glass, but as Venetian claret by Stefan.() 300 sheets of the 2d in a reddish purple shade, 300 sheets of the 2½d in ultramarine (but with normal watermark,) 200 sheets
of the 6d in a yellow shade, 300 sheets of the 9d, an ambitious new order, supplies of which remained available until the
end of Edward’s reign, and another printing of the 1/-, 200 sheets in a yellow brown shade.
For the first time for some years there were no shortages and no stamps were ordered in
1898 was a special year. Bradbury Wilkinson printed with some pride the 2/6 and 5/- high
values. It is extraordinary that they should prepare plates for a sheet of sixty. The plates were made of thin copper backed
on zinc and were notorious for cracking. The stresses during the rolling in process caused the 2/6 plate to crack and this
was repaired by knocking the plate up from behind. In the process the design was damaged and had to be burnished off in order
that a fresh impression could be made but parts of the previous impression remained on the plate. The crack line extends into
the design of the adjoining stamp. This can just be detected on the photograph. Dr Koefmann was the first to spot this and
wrote an article on the subject in 1956. The 100 sheets of each value were delivered on August 23rd 1898. A further 300 sheets of the 1d were delivered which Gibbons following
Glass’s recommendations describes as Venetian claret and Stefan as pale Venetian red. The 1d sheet is missing from the
Guard book, but the author believes that the Glass/Gibbons listing is correct. There was also a delivery of 600 sheets of
the 2d in a pale purple shade which is still common, and 300 sheets of the 2½d in a paler ultramarine shade; these were also
not recorded in the Guard book.
1899. An order for the 1d value had been overlooked in 1898, but Imperial Penny postage
was introduced at the end of the year. There was a serious shortage of 1d stamps. Fox Bay received no
1d stamps when the Post Office first opened in July. It was not until August
24th 1899 that the 1ds arrived, 2000 sheets of them in shades of pale red! There were also 1000 sheets
of the ½d in yellow green. This helps to explain why they are so common.
Queen Victoria died
in early 1901 but two further orders were delivered. 1904 sheets of the ½d in a pale yellowish green. The quantity is unusual
but Charles Glass found reference to the destruction of several sheets as a result of poor perforating. It would seem that
by subtraction 96 sheets were destroyed! There was a delivery of 500 sheets of the 2½d in a deep ultramarine at the end of
the year; this printing Glass recorded as missing from the Guard books on one visit but it was later found to have been incorporated
in the banknote guard books. The final printing in 1902 appropriately enough was for the 1d, 1000 sheets in an orange red
shade. The last two printings of 180,000 almost equal in number the previous eleven printings!
The popularity of Falkland Islands stamps owes much to
this providential link with Bradbury Wilkinson and the South African provinces of Transvaal
and Griqualand West. The Queen Victorian issue also remains a popular and rewarding issue, partly because it remains a demanding
Major R. N. Spafford. FRPSL Falkland Islands Philately:
The Earliest Days. The Canadian Philatelist. July- August 1999 (by kind permission
of Major Spafford it is the intention to reprint this seminal article in a future edition of the Journal).
Stefan Heijtz. Specialised Catalogue of the Falkland Islands.
Dr Dudley Stone F.R.P.S.L. New Data on
the 1d., 6d., 1/- and 4d. of the first issue. The London Philatelist 1934 p 58 – 64.
Dr H. Koefmann. 2/6 Fresh entry. Strand Stamp Journal. Nov. 1956. Charles Glass.
Upland Goose. Numerous articles.