Origin of Plate 77 stamps

In view of the fact that the three stamps on the Victor Hugo cover showing a plate number 77 originate from plate 73, the spot light should now be shed on all the other accepted stamps in order to see if they actually originate from Plate 77 or from other plates as with those on the Hugo cover.

With this in mind below are some details on the only two possible origins of the genuine stamps.


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, examined and rejected the Plate 77 trial sheet. This sheet (and any others) should have been destroyed. Now if this trial sheet was the origin of the accepted Plate 77 stamps then it clearly was not.

Furthermore, Plate 77 was never registered or put to press and no sheets from it exist in the British Postal Museum. The existing and accepted Plate 77 stamps which originate from the rejected trial sheet must have been printed on or before the 7th February 1863, at least one year and two months before this issue went to press on 1st April 1864. Plate 77 was partially defaced on the 4th February 1864.

This trial sheet must have therefore 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.

If this imperf ‘Plate 77’ trial sheet was ‘perforated and gummed’ and ‘officially’ released to the public, then we must ask how was this trial sheet accounted for by the ‘security printers Perkins Bacon’ when every sheet printed from each plate from this issue was recorded against the Plate’s printing figures as per Inland Revenue document IR79/79.

Furthermore if this trial sheet is the source of the accepted Plate 77 stamps then all these stamps must show a pristine impression and of course, identically positioned and identically featured plate numbers and a Border-lattice that is identical on all of them.

However close examination of the the figure ‘7’s and the Border lattice-work on the accepted stamps will clearly demonstrate that this is indeed not the case. The detailed images on this site simply can not be ignored by philatelists who are serious students of this issue and of the printing methods of Perkins Bacon.


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)

Furthermore the probabilities of finding the existing and accepted stamps from a trial sheet released into the public domain together with the normal stamps would runs into the billions making the ‘trial sheet’ option a most unlikely source for them.

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 or incredible about altering a number on a plate. The Master engravers of the time were more than capable of carrying out this task.

This 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.

As for plate 73 which was stated by Christopher Harman RDP Hon FRPSL on behalf of the Expert Committee in his article in The London Philatelist as being “so well case-hardened” that it was “hard to effect” any “casual repair” to its “early state”, clear evidence exists that this plate was starting to show serious signs of wear as early as October 1864, less than six months after being put to press. Please see the “Plate 73 Connection” link on this site.