The 1937 Coronation Stamp of King George VI: Cylinder 2
IntroductionPrinting the Coronation stamp was never easy. To begin with, the King didn't approve the final design until after the deadline for starting production of the stamp should have begun. Timing for the production of the Accession and Coronation issue was so tight that only three Accession issue stamps were to be ready in time and the commemorative issue was restricted to the one stamp, and that was designated value 1½d so that it could continue to serve for the standard letter post until the new 1½d was produced.
The Coronation issue, being a different size needed its own printers and two in a little-used workshop were allocated. Making a cylinder for rotogravure printing was a very complicated procedure with the transfer of the image onto the cylinder literally touch and go. The failure rate was about 50% and the makeready involved delicate chrome-plating of the final cylinder. 17 cylinders were completed. With the exception of cylinders 6 and 7, each was used once, apparently with stops and starts (these resulted in the philatelic states), before being replaced by the next cylinder, being put to one side until such time as it might be cleaned and rechromed and used again. From the hundreds of flaws found on the cylinders, constant and ephemeral, it is apparent that conditions in the workshop were less than ideal.
These flaws caused great excitement among stamp collectors and many collections were devoted to gathering the flaws. A small selection of 18 flaws are listed in the SG specialised catalogue from the 300 or so distinct constant flaws. Collectors often collected matched pairs of used stamps with identical flaws as evidence of constance. Few of the flaws were identified to cylinder as this required use of whole panes of stamps. Knowledge of the flaws and their location on particular cylinders permits identification of the many unidentified quarter panes that are usually available.
Cylinder 2 is the first cylinder in the series. It has a good set of collectable constant flaws including the remarkable claw on the Eagle's leg and the cut away base to the number 2. The no stop pane is extemely hard to find, if not downright rare. Most of the stop pane was sent to be overprinted and is comparatively common.