Origin of Plate 77 stamps

In view of the fact that Plate 77 and the proof sheet from it were both rejected over one year before this issue went to press then there can only be two origins for the accepted stamps showing a plate number 77.

 

 

Origin 1-
From the Plate 77 Trial Sheet

 

Plate 77 was rejected by Ormond Hill as per a letter sent to Perkins Bacon dated 7th February 1863:

Somerset House
7th February 1863
I am very sorry to be under the necessity of rejecting the two Postage plates on account of the irregularity of the placing of the heads.
I am glad to hear that you have discovered the cause of the defects and are taking prompt measures to prevent their recurrence.
The width of the sheet could not be altered without entailing very expensive alteration in the perforating machinery. And the length could not be increased by more that I-8th of an inch, which giving only I-160th in each space, would be inappreciable….
I am &c., &c.,
(signed) O. Hill
Messers Perkins & Co.

We can safely assume that Ormond Hill must have handled and rejected the Plate 77 trial sheet. This sheet (and any others) from this plate should have been destroyed. If this trial sheet was not destroyed then it would be one origin from which the accepted Plate 77 stamps ‘may’ have come from.

Plate 77 was never registered or put to press and no sheets from it exist in the British Postal Museum. Plate 77 was partially defaced on the 4th February 1864 before this issue was put to press.

If this trial sheet was he origin then this sheet must have been held back for over one year by ‘someone’ who knew its value, three known mint examples AB and BA and AC were removed with scissors and the remainder released to the public after the issue date of 1st April 1864. A bizarre and as such  an ‘illegal’ thing to do!

If however this imperf trial sheet was ‘officially’ released in error then it would have had to have been ‘perforated and gummed’ and ‘officially’ released to the public on or after April 1864. How then was this trial sheet accounted for by the ‘security printers Perkins Bacon’ when every sheet printed from every plate from this issue was recorded against the Plate’s printing figures as per Inland Revenue document IR79/79.

Furthermore the probabilities of finding the existing and accepted stamps from this trial sheet which ‘may’ have been released to the public would run into the billions making the ‘trial sheet’ option a most unlikely source for them.

Close examination of the the figure ‘7’s and the Border lattice-work on the accepted stamps clearly demonstrate that they differ substantially from each other and are not the impressions expected from a pristine trial sheet.

These differences can not be dismissed and brushed aside as ‘printing vagaries’. They are far too major to be explained as such.

 

The Border lattice-work comparisons and the shape and position of the plate number 77, both of which are illustrated on this site, provide unassailable evidence that this origin is now in serious need of reconsideration or convincing explanations.

 

 

Origin 2-
From re-engraved impressions on other
Plates from this issue as with the three stamps on the Victor Hugo cover

 

The fact that the three Plate 77 stamps originate from plate 73 points seriously at the possibility that all the other accepted Plate 77 stamps showing a Plate number 77 could have been similarly produced by re-engraving on other plates from this issue.

In fact there are serious inconsistencies in the shape and position of the plate numbers and the lattice work as demonstrated in this paper which cannot be so if these stamps did originate from a pristine Plate 77 trial sheet which was produced from ONE roller impression. (Origin 1)

The three stamps on the Victor Hugo cover showing a plate number 77 have been scientifically demonstrated to be untampered with and originate from plate 73.

This must points to the fact that the plate was re-engraved with the new number ‘77’ and later corrected by re-entry to its original number ‘73’. Please refer to the ‘Plate 73 Connection’ link on this site.

There is nothing impossible about altering a number on a plate. The Master engravers of the time were more than capable of carrying out this task which could have been done by either manipulating the surrounding metal and shaping it into a figure ‘7’ or by inserting a plug and engraving the number over it.

Both procedures have been successfully carried out in the laboratory.