A Study of GB Low Value Definitives 1934 to 1971
By the early 1930s, the volume of post in Britain was so high that a faster and cheaper method of printing than Waterlow's letterpress method was required. Harrison and Sons had been printing foreign stamps by photogravure since 1923 and had had experience of this method. Thereby, eighty years ago, Harrisons regained the British Government contract to print GB low value definitives. Photogravure was to be used at Harrisons' new facility at High Wycombe, where double panes of 480 stamps would be perforated on the web. The first photogravure stamps were thus issued on 20 August 1934.
The exhibit demonstrates the design, methods and problems with printing the early GB photogravure stamps. lt shows cylinder flaws and multipositive flaws. While controls for accounting for stamp production had been around since Victorian times, the changes in control position and the problems with changing the control are shown, until the control's eventual demise in 1947. The £sd period 1934 to 1971 is shorter than the subsequent QEII Machin Decimals from 1971 to date.
Little attention seems to have been given to the importance of perforation. For a start it determined the eventual size of these stamps. However, the literature refers to numbers of different perforating machines. This exhibit shows that other than the existing Type 2 perforator only two more machines were employed using different combs for different applications, counter sheets, booklet panes and stamps for rolls. The examples from each machine type are deliberately followed chronologically from KGV to QEII. Some of the perforation varieties shown are very rare. For the hand fed sheet Type 5 perforation, single combs gave way to double combs, which became the norm during KGVI's reign. The continuous triple comb Type 6 perforator frequently shows a dislocation in the perforations every three rows, which does not seem to have been noticed before. This exhibit demonstrates all these variations.
Perforations are referred to as Perfs and Cylinders as Cyls throughout the exhibit. The comb diagrams come from Beaumont and Stanton's Postage Stamps of Great Britain Part 4 (B&S4).
Rare items are described in red and scarce items in green.
Scans are indicated by a different font.
Please note that this exhibit was put together for a South African exhibition. There are obvious comments, but these were aimed at the South African judges who know little about early GB photogravure.
The Postage Stamps Of Great Britain Part 4: The Issues of King George V, by K M Beaumont and J B M Stanton – Published by Royal Philatelic Society, London 1957
Great Britain Specialised Catalogue Volume 2, 13th Edition – Published by Stanley Gibbons 2009
Great Britain Specialised Catalogue Volume 3, 11th Edition – Published by Stanley Gibbons 2006
Great Britain Journal – Published by Great Britain Philatelic Society (GBPS)
King Edward VIII by A J Kirk – Published by GBPS 1974
British Stamp Booklets – by J Alexander and L F Newbury Published by GBPS 1990
George V and the G.P.O. – by D N Muir Published by The British Postal Museum 2010
Frame 1 – Counter sheet perforations are shown from Type 2 to Type 6B. Note the rare Type 3 and the dislocations in the Type 6.
Frame 2 – More perforation examples are shown as well as misperfs. Booklet perforation Type B3 is shown.
Frame 3 – Booklet perforations from B4 to B6 plus the beginning of Controls.
Frame 4 – Stamp design, cylinder numbers, and flaws, plus marginal rules.
Frame 5 – More cylinder flaws and advertisement booklet panes.