An engraver’s sketch, drawn in ink, of the intended design.
At this stage, every detail is analysed – spacing, inscriptions, backgrounds and illustrations.
Rejected designs result in incredibly rare, unadopted proofs.
GB 1884 SG199var Proof
Very fine rejected die proof printed in green and pink on white glazed card showing Warren Williams’s unadopted design that was submitted to the stamp committee in December 1884 and January 1885. Very rare, Wiseman rarity L. The only other recorded example resides in the R M Phillips collection at the British Postal Museum leaving this as the sole example in private hands. Ex. Stothert & ‘Aureum’.
GB 1885 SG207var Mint
Superb example mounted on a small piece of white card and painted on buff paper in blue, lilac and Chinese white. Produced by DLR as possible designs for the forthcoming “Jubilee” issue. Unique.
See it here
Once every detail is determined, a metal die is engraved with the approved design.
A single impression is made, adding dimension and perspective to the hand-drawn sketches previously created.
SG117var 1870 1s Die proof
Superb example printed in brown on matt card (92 x 60mm) with corner letters and plate numbers void. Printed by De La Rue, for the 1871 London International Exhibition. Fantastic colour.
From the printer’s archive, these were impressions of the final die that were made to serve as an instructional manual or guide.
Annotations indicate plate numbers and other technical information. These unique pieces are an invaluable historical record for philatelists.
GB 1886 SG202var Proof
1886 3d "Jubilee" Die Proof. Very fine cut to size example from the DLR striking books, mounted on card (62 x 53mm) and annotated in manuscript "Aug 17- 240 Leads 11-1040/ Aug 24 240 Leads 12-1041/ Aug 31 240 Leads 13-1042". Unique. Ex. DLR Archive & "Aureum".
GB 1869 SG109var Pl.10 Proof
1869 6d Die proof Pl.10. Very fine cut to size example printed in black on white glazed card with void plate numbers and corner letters, mounted on part DLR striking book page with manuscript annotations “Feb-17th“ & “10-331“. A spectacular and unique die proof from the rare “Abnornal“ plate 10. Ex. DLR Archives.
In addition to determining new shades of ink, colour trials were used for many other reasons.
Some inks allowed postmarks to be removed, leading those stamps to be reused. Even health and safety was considered as early inks contained Leads or Chromium and safer vegetable-based inks were trialled.
The majority of these trials were kept for record purposes so only relatively few are available to collectors.
SG166var 1880 1d Colour trial
(Perf 14). Very fine unused perforated example printed in mauve on white gummed, Crown watermarked paper. Lovely fresh colour. Ex. “Verus”.
SG210var 1892 10d “Jubilee” Colour Trial
(Wmk. Inverted, Line Perf 14). Very fine top marginal perforated colour trial on yellow, gummed, Crown watermarked paper. Head plate printed in purple and duty plate in red. Ex. “Aureum”.
A first look at the impression of the whole printing plate.
With the design, colours and other details now chosen, the imprimaturs served as a record for printers to match every aspect of the approved stamp.
Imprimaturs offer collectors the chance to own the finest possible impression of the issued stamp. Plates wear out over time and the difference between a slightly worn impression and an imprimatur is notable.
SG17var 1854 1d red brown Pl.R1.
1d red-brown Pl.R1.
Superb unused top right-hand corner marginal imperforate imprimatur lettered AL, showing part sheet inscription and reserve plate number “R1”. Rare. Ex. Earl of Crawford & Ex Bates (1934).
SG150var 1876 1s Green Pl.14.
The unique current number “493” abnormal bottom corner marginal imprimatur lettered TL, wonderful fresh colour and fine original gum. A wonderful Victorian rarity, the only other current number example remains on the imprimatur sheet.
Ex. Beaumont, Latto.
Final designs often inspired change in the stamps that followed them, offering designers and issuers insight into ideas that captured public delight and awe.
Other times, they served as lessons on how the monarchy was seen.
SG137 1882 £5 Orange Pl.1
(White paper). Exceptionally fine and fresh unmounted o.g. left-hand marginal example lettered AC. Beautiful vibrant colour, very rare so fine.
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