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Evolution of British Stamp Perforation 1840 to 1880
Its Origins, Development and Application
Introduction - This unique exhibit results directly from the original research for my book1 (recognised as the standard work on the subject) and my other published work2, including major contributions to the Specialised catalogue3. This work has transformed our understanding of the pioneering perforating activities of the Inland Revenue (IR) Stamping Department and made it possible, for the first time, to give an authoritative account of the dawn of stamp perforation.
Purpose of the Exhibit - To explain the origins and development of stamp perforation in Great Britain. The emphasis is on the Stamping Department's central role in perforating British stamps. (Significant numbers of overseas stamps were also perforated but the constraint of 5 frames necessitates restricting coverage to British stamps).
Scope -- The exhibit begins with the early experiments and trials, and continues with the introduction of official perforation. Within that context, the exhibit examines important technical issues: evolution of pin (or registration) marks; perforation implications of sheet layout and separation; and aspects of machine development.
Importance -- Stamp perforation was invented, proved, nurtured and developed as an integral part of stamp production in Great Britain. Its subsequent worldwide adoption is testimony to the global importance of the subject, and therefore of this exhibit.
The Challenge -- To construct from scratch a structure and exhibit that rectifies past neglect of this important subject - something never previously attempted - and to show that scope remains for fundamental new research even on the classic stamps. Relevant material has been identified and used to tell a comprehensive story. Whilst the significance of some items is obvious, others could not have been identified without my research - the rare 1875 experimental pinning cross and the corrected Type 2 hybrid pin marks on the issued Plate 2 stamps are cases in point. Every important aspect of the subject is illustrated in the exhibit using the highest quality material available, but for 'first day' and other usages and certain key items choice about condition is very limited.
Material Highlights -- In general, it is unnecessary to repeat the details given in the Title page. The exhibit illustrates all the relevant items from the earliest unofficial experiments onwards through the introduction and establishment of official perforation.
Of special interest are the exceptional group of Post-trial Archer Plates 107, 108 and 1164; the perforated Prince Consort Essay in red (one of only four recorded copies); the rare Bemrose experimental roulette (the only examples in private hands existing on US stamps), and the abnormal officially perforated stamps5. Usages of the perforated stamps are well illustrated and include the unique 'First Day' cover to the USA as well as rare combination covers6.
References - The key text is Ref. 1. W.A. Wiseman's series 'The Henry Archer Story' (Gibbons Stamp Monthly, Vol. 28, Nos. 5-8) is useful background reading (though technically flawed). Authoritative coverage of other aspects is in the list below.
- Simpson, R.C. & Sargent, P.J., Stamp Perforation: The Somerset House Years 1848 to 1880.
- Simpson, R.C., 'Napier Perforating Machines: The 1874/78 Modifications' GB Journal Vol. 36, No.2, 1998.
- Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Specialised Stamp Catalogue Volume 1: Queen Victoria, 15th Edition, 2008
- Simpson, R.C., 'The Post-Trial Archer Plates', GB Journal, Vol. 45, No. 6, 2007.
- Simpson, R. C. & Sargent P. J., 'Perforation of the De La Rue Printed Abnormals of Great Britain' The London Philatelist Vol.116, No. 1349, 2007.
- Simpson, R.C., 'Combination Covers', GB Journal, Vol. 46, No. 6, 2008.