The Penny Lilac – The Stamp


A new Customs and Inland Revenue Act of 1881 required a unified 1d stamp for postage and revenue. The penny lilac stamp in double fugitive ink was produced in a remarkable three months. The 1d Inland Revenue stamp was the probably the basis for the design and ink. The penny lilac was in use unchanged for over 20 years and was the principal stamp of commerce and social correspondence. Over 30 billion stamps were produced from 142 plates.

The Exhibit

The rapid production of the penny lilac stamp had to have had an existing item which can easily be modified. It is suggested the Inland Revenue stamp could have fitted the bill. The reason for the production of a second die is Illustrated by two die proofs.

There is a good representation of interesting items from both dies. Mention is made of ink 950 a reddish shade.

A part sheet of 120 stamps, and a smaller part sheet of specimen overprints in a bluish shade. They help illustrate plate production and perforating.

The printers De La Rue had strike books. Shown are three unique die proofs.

There are some examples of printing on the gummed side, printed on both sides/offset and folds. There are also examples of perforation errors and plate damage.

The printers started adding control letters to plates in 1884. There is a good representation of these. The O over N control correction is shown.

The penny lilac die was used for various trials and stamp committee work. These included coloured paper. The Ayr cancelled item on red watermarked paper is not explained. Perhaps a wrong date. Underprints include OUS on cover and 'Pears Soap'.

Finally, there is a reproduction with official ink. The penny lilac is one of several such stamps thought to have been produced for stamps albums.


Frame 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Die I Stamps With Fourteen Dots In The Corner
  3. The One Penny Lilac Design
  4. Die II Stamps With Sixteen Dots In The Corner
  5. Die II complete pane of 120 stamps
  6. See sheet 5
  7. Specimen Stamps from Die II
  8. Die Proofs from the De la Rue Archives
  9. Die II Stamps - Printing Problems
  10. Die II Stamps - Printing Problems
  11. Control Letters
  12. Control Letters continued
  13. Committee Book. Advertising and Security
  14. Some Unusual Penny Lilacs
  15. Protection Of Plate Edges
  16. Die II Stamps And A Reproduction