A Review of Repaired Penny Black Plates
IntroductionPurpose and Scope
The purpose of this display is to show some of the key aspects of the very first postage stamp printing. Many books have been written on this subject; this short review shows some of the most interesting plates and aspects. The scope is the plates from which stamps were repaired and printed in both black and red.
The stamps from the first line‑engraved plates are amongst the most studied in philately. The printers had no experience of using the large steel plates required to produce a sheet of 240 stamps, learning as they went, so the first months (May 1840 to late 1841) is a rich area to research. Even after more than 180 years, new discoveries are being made.
This display is formed of the plates from which both black and red prints were made and repaired, namely la and b, 2, 5, 8, 9, and 10, and my display is an attempt to show some of the more interesting varieties of these plates.
Plates 3, 4 and 6 and 7 wore quickly, and even though plate 6 was repaired twice, all were withdrawn prior to printing in red.
Plate 11 is also not included as it was not intended to be used for black printings and having started printing in red, only 700 black sheets were printed over 2 days. Unlike the other plates discussed here, black prints only exist in the first state.
The scarcity of items varies considerably. In the case of plate 5, over 80,000 red prints were made, whereas some of the 'provisional' printings of 1841 (print records show they existed) are so rare that currently no images are known to exist.
1. H. Osborne, British Line Engraved Stamps – Repaired Impressions, 1949
2. J.W.M. Stone, Repairs of the 1841 One Penny Plates 1‑40, revised Apr 2007
3. Stanley Gibbons, Queen Victoria Volume 1 Part 1 Specialised Catalogue 1st edition, Nov 2020
4. Alan Druce, Perkins Bacon Great Britain Line‑Engraved Postage Stamp Printing 1840‑1846
5. K. Statham, The Essential Guide to the GB Line Engraved 1d and 2d Stars 1840‑1861, 1995