Friday 24 July 2020

Country definitives: shades of grey, and other colours

When the Gibbons Great Britain Concise catalogue appeared this year I mentioned that the new Scotland 2nd class stamp listing that had appeared in Gibbons Stamp Monthly had had it's description changed in line with what we all knew rather than what had been mentioned by John Deering and misinterpreted by most readers.  Heads on both were shades of grey, not metallic silver.

A blog reader comment  pointed out that there was a new listing for the England 1st class stamp from the Visions of the Universe booklet which also gained a separate number (EN53a) due to its shade, which is described by Gibbons as 'Venetian Red', with the sheet stamp being 'Indian Red'.

Not for the first time, we had Cartor printing significantly different stamps in the prestige books to those that are in sheets. 

I mentioned in June that there were new printings of some country definitives and I have now had time to examine these, and compare with previously issued stamps.  I think Gibbons' catalogue editor will have some thinking to do!

Scotland 2nd class
The first Cartor printing with the new font was 27/12/2017, cylinder C1.
The second printing was 27/08/2018, from cylinder C2.
The third printing is 16/04/2020, back to cylinder C1  (Column 1 in a grid of 2x2.)

The first two printings are very similar in shade of blue, and the head, which is the light- (or silver-) grey: SG159.   The third printing is markedly different, with the blue much darker, and the head also qualifying for the description 'dull-grey' applied by the editor to SG159a.  But is the blue dark enough to mean yet another new stamp, ie three in total?

The stamp from the James Bond PSB (left) compared with the new sheet printing:

I suspect we will see a further amendment to the catalogue indicating that this stamp also exists from sheets.

England 1st class
As mentioned above, the 1st class stamp from the Visions of the Universe PSB is listed as EN53a, Venetian Red.  The original sheet printing is no longer available from Tallents House, which will be why it was necessary to have a new printing on 25/06/2020. 

This stamp, from Cylinder C2, is also Venetian Red!  (Column 1 in a grid of 2x2.)

Again, the catalogue will have to indicate that this is not only from the Visions PSB. 

However, what the catalogue doesn't mention is that the head on the stamp from the Visions PSB (shown in the centre below) is lighter than that on the sheet stamp.

Is it lighter enough to qualify as 'silver-grey' as in the original Scotland 2nd class above?  Do we have three different stamps here?  I'm not sure that it is light enough: the editor will have to decide how specialised the Concise is going to be in the absence of a Specialised catalogue.

England 2nd class
This stamp hasn't appeared in a prestige book so the 2018 sheet issue (EN52) is the only one with the new font.  As with the 1st class, the original 2017 printing is out of stock at Tallents House, so this also has a new printing on 25/06/2020.

When it was issued in 2018 I mentioned that the white denomination made "the 2nd class England stamp join the top value for Northern Ireland in having a face value that is almost impossible to determine."

The new C2 printing (col 2 from the 2x2 grid) certainly changes that!

Over the years the shades of this stamp have got lighter, and in the case of more recent printings, yellower or creamier.  This printing takes us back almost to the shade of the original 2001 printing:

As with the Venetian Red 1st class, this must have a new sub-number, probably EN52a.

Wales 2nd class
The latest printing of this stamp on 16/04/2020 is a good match for the original 26/12/17 printing.  It's slightly yellower (ie less red), but within the normal tolerances for printing.

Scotland 1st class
When it was issued in the Visions of the Universe PSB, I said that this stamp was a good match for the original 2017 sheet printing (issued 2018).  But I perhaps overlooked the head.  It is lighter grey than the original - is it different enough to have a separate listing?  (Or does it just look lighter because the background is slightly darker?)

Other country stamps
The 1st class Wales stamp was issued in the Visions PSB but unlike the Scotland and England stamps, the head and denomination are reversed out (ie white), so the only difference is the slight shade (slightly less yellow)- we await the sheet reprint with interest.

Similarly there are no new printings for Northern Ireland stamps yet which, given reports of their scarcity at post offices in the province, is not surprising, but they could come.  Watch this space!


  1. Ian do you know if the England 2nd class EN52a will only be available from post offices, TH, etc? Getting one is going to be difficult I think?

  2. Thanks for the info Ian, a great help.


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