From Line Engraved to Surface Printed - The 1879 and 1880 Tenders
IntroductionIn the 1870's the appearance of new solvent chemicals had the Post Office perturbed that postmarks could be removed from the inks of the low value line engraved stamps. They needed more fugitive inks. In 1878 Perkins Bacon who held the contract, did some trials of printing with such inks. The result was not satisfactory. It was then decided that the current low values should be printed by the safer and more efficient surface printed method.
In 1879 seven printing houses were asked to tender for a new 1d stamp and in 1880 some were also asked to tender for the remaining ½d, 1½d and 2d stamps. The result of the tender process was a forgone conclusion as De La Rue had been printing higher value surface printed stamps for over twenty years. Nevertheless a number of the printing houses did a lot of work producing dies, trial printings and so on, much of which is the material currently on the market.
The cancellation of the Perkins Bacon low value line engraved contract meant the end of designs that had lasted for almost 40 years. A new 1d stamp was issued on 1st January 1880 and the other three values followed in October and November that same year. All now printed by De La Rue.
The exhibit opens with the unsuccessful 1878 fugitive ink trials by Perkins Bacon on a 1d line engraved stamp. Shown are examples of work done by several of the printers who were asked to tender. There are head proofs, a die proof and a hand painted essay from De La Rue, the winners of both tenders.
On the 1879 tender McCorquodale's efforts are shown with a proof and a number of blocks. Charles Skipper and East produced a Ceres head stamp but they mainly worked on the current Inland Revenue stamp design. Perkins Bacon with Ridgeway produced many designs and plates. A Plate 1 full sheet in green on star watermark paper is thought to be one of only three in existence. The Ridgeway head die proofs are scarce.
The 1880 tender has interesting items from Perkins Bacon including die proofs and a composite paste-up, die proof colour trials and numerous strips and blocks.