1896 (Dec) pair of cut down die proofs for the new unified 1s design (type 21), each in black on glazed card, the first stamp-size from the original die ('Die 1') which had to be rejected when it cracked in the hardening process, the second from the replacement die ('Die 2') with margin at foot endorsed in M/S 'Die re-engraved to take place of above which cracked in hardening' and erased date '28.12.96'. The two dies differ most obviously in the 'G' of 'SHILLING', which has a blunt serif in 'Die 1' but a pointed serif in 'Die 2', but close examination under magnification shows that the second die is a completely new engraving with EVERY DETAIL OF THE FRAME FOLIAGE AND SHADING VISIBLY DIFFERENT, although the swan vignette is clearly from the same master die. A unique and absolutely fascinating pair, documenting a type of minor disaster which is rarely known to have occurred, with the 'die 1' proof exhibiting a prominent white line (the crack!) in the foliage by the swan's tail, which is not evident in the only other known proof from this die. Ex De La Rue archives, with the endorsed proof illustrated on p.6530 of 'The De La Rue Collection'. Lister as BW W3DP(1) and W3DP (2.A.), but without recognition of the crack evident on the former. (cat A$5700 in 2004). [Is stamps in this design were not actually issued until April 1907].

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