The 1937 Coronation Stamp of King George VI: Introduction to Cylinder 7
IntroductionThere seems to be no doubt that Cylinder 7 was the most-used of all the 17 cylinders for the Coronation stamp that went into production. Cylinder blocks from this cylinder are commonly available and marginal blocks showing the Colon Flaw are almost always on offer. What is not generally appreciated is that the cylinder was cleaned and rechromed more than any other and most of the signature flaws were corrected at one or other of these operations. There were seven distinct printings and no doubt there are distinct states within at least some of the early printings. For convenience and ease of management, each printing is treated here as a distinct and complete state.
The stamp is well known for having a very large number of printing flaws and it was once very popular to collect the flaws on used singles and build a collection of matched pairs. Few of the flaws were identified to cylinder and so were of little help in a study of the complexity of the stamp, nor in understanding the comparative scarcity or othennrise of material. As part of the analysis of the stamp in general, as large an amount of mint material as possible was collected over a period of some thirty years and every printing flaw found to be constant was carefully recorded.
Similarly, well over a thousand first day covers were amassed and the stamps carefully examined. A significant number of flaws were found and identified to cylinder. The results were striking. First, it became clear that every cylinder had been used and the stamps included in the great distribution to every post office in the Kingdom in time for sale on the day of issue. The shock was that 40% of the flaws appeared to come from Cylinder 7. Two factors must temper this conclusion. The first is that Cyl.7 has an above average number of constant flaws that would give it a weighting in the calculation. The second is the law of small numbers says that the smaller the number in a calculalion, the greater the likelihood of unusual results. Even so, the data does strengthen the apparent reality that Cylinder ? produced more stamps than any other cylinder.
Studying that amount of material brought to light the mention of a transfer shift in the GB Journal in 1958 and it turned out that the first cylinder to be numbered 7 had suffered a transfer shift and after a very short production run was trashed and remade. Add to lms that material from the last couple of printings is very difficult-to-rare and we have on the one hand the commonest cylinder of the 17, and the rarest. And it is the latter that leaves this study incomplete, and makes it a great opportunity for further study and greater contribution.