Cayman Islands 1912-1920 King George V Key Plates Stamps

Seven of the thirteen values employed for the Imperium style series were little used and had a single printing only. The supply of these seven values lasted until the issue was superseded in late 1920. Four new values, the 1/2d, 2d, 2/- and 3/-, were added to the existing series for the Georgian issue.

Sheets were not numbered.

The 1/2d, 2d, 2/- and 3/- printing of March 1912 was made from plate la when the plate still had both top and bottom plate numbers. The 1/2d was the only Caymans value to be printed from both plate la and plate lb.

An Specimen copy of the 1/2d has been seen with an additional ULTRAMAR overprint (applied by the Portuguese postal authorities). It must be assumed that the other three values of this March 1912 printing, as above, were similarly overprinted. This is a very late usage of this overprint, the only King George V example of any colony seen, although presumably others exist.

After the printing of December 1912 the majority of later printings were supplied guillotined by De La Rue into 60-set sheets, and the colony paid for the work involved. All marginal pieces seen from the December 1912 printing (the 1/2d, 1d, 4d and 6d) have the left and right outside margins trimmed to about 4 mm from the edge of the stamp. It is believed this additional guillotining was performed in the colony.

The Cayman Islands - Their Postal History, Postage Stamps and Postmarks (p47) mentions a double frame line at the left on positions 55 to 57 of the right pane (RP 10/1 and 10/3) of the 1/2d. A sheet seen confirms that this is a constant variety, but it is the result of poor 'make-ready' of the plate rather than a plate flaw (illustrated in Chapter 3).

The 5/- printing of May 1914 was made on yellow paper with orange specks on the back, the only Caymans value printed on this type of paper.

Plate number copies from the three printings of the 10/- value, on white back, blue-green and pale olive back paper respectively, are amongst the scarcest of any colony. Only forty-two copies can exist of the white back, twenty-six of the blue-green and thirty of the pale olive.

Cayman Islands 10s. deep red and green on blue-green (olive back), SG. 52c, lower right corner marginal block of four stamps with plate no. 5. This rare fine unmounted mint block of four was sold at Grosvenor Auction in 2005 for ?280 plus buyer's premium

The entire printing (420 panes of 60) of the 21/2d for Reqn.38/16 was overprinted 'WAR STAMP 21/2d' T. 14 in Kingston, Jamaica (one pane of 60 was spoilt and destroyed).

Similarly all 850 panes of 60 of the 21/2d supplied for Reqn.94/16 were overprinted with T.15, also in Jamaica, but five panes of 60 were spoilt and destroyed. At least one of these two printings featured single perforation holes in the interpane gutter (Type B perforation).

Reqn.46/17 for the 2'Ad WAR STAMP is missing from the Day Book index (Book AC p242).

On 4th November 1918 the Crown Agents wrote to De La Rue concerning Reqn.46/17

"We enclose herewith a specimen of the type which was approved for the Cayman Islands11/2d WAR STAMP. Although no written evidence exists we believe that after this plate was prepared and a certain number of stamps had been printed from it the plate was destroyed and a new plate prepared in a different size of type.

This second plate was used for the actual supply of these stamps for the colony and the specimens sent to the G.P.O. were from this plate. Unfortunately all the stamps which were sent to the colony were not of the second type as a copy has been submitted to us of the first type which was obtained from the Cayman Is in December 1917. We have to request that you will inform us how many sheets were printed before it was decided to destroy the plate and what precautions were taken to ensure that the wrong stamps were not sent out."

De La Rue replied on the 7th November

"... When a sheet of stamps was submitted for approval after the preparation of the plate, we found the figure 11/2d did not obliterate the 21/2d value sufficiently, and we thought it better to slightly strengthen the figures: we accordingly had a die made so as to obtain a more satisfactory result in this respect.

There would be only three or four sheets pulled from the condemned plate, and instructions were given to the printers for these to be defaced. We must express our regret if inadvertently the printers omitted to cancel all the sheets printed from the first plate as instructed "

The small quantity supplied from the wrong overprint plate were the scarce SG 55. Aguilar and Saunders in The Cayman Islands - etc. (p83) state that seven panes (of 60) had been received in Georgetown.

On 31st March 1919 the Crown Agents sent De La Rue a sheet of the 1/2d WAR STAMP which had been stained by the interleaving, a sample of which was also enclosed. In their reply of 17th April De La Rue regretted that they had found "... the terra cotta colour is not stable ...".

On 20th May 1919 De La Rue received, via the Crown Agents, an enquiry from Ewens Colonial Stamp Market concerning the size of the 1/2d WAR STAMP overprint on the first stamp of the last row on the right pane, which appeared to be smaller than those on the remainder of the sheet. They replied the following day

"... The printer in affecting the register of the overprint, must have slightly bruised the electro causing the overprint lettering on the stamp to appear smaller. We must regret the defect was not observed. The plate has been rectified"

This WAR STAMP overprint plate was also used for the Montserrat 1/2d, the St Kitts 11/2d and the Virgin Islands 1d and 3d.

Cayman Islands 1917 War Stamp surch. type 14 11/2d. on 21/2d. variety missing stop after ''STAMP'' [R.1/4], SG. 53b. This unmounted mint top right corner plate number ''5'' block of six (3 x 2), was sold at Grosvenor Auction in 2009 for ?1000 plus buyer's premium

Cayman Islands 1917-20 War Stamps Issued Stamps 1917 (26 Feb.) 1 1/2d. (Type 14) on 2 1/2d. deep blue block of four with margin at right, showing grossly misplaced surcharge. Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?580 plus buyer's premium

Cayman Islands 1917-20 War Stamps Issued Stamps 1917 (4 Sept.) 1 1/2d. (Type 16) on 2 1/2d. deep blue, a superb lower right corner strip of three with plate number, SG. 55. Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?2700 plus buyer's premium

Three printings of the 3d from plate 8 were made in 1920. From plate blocks examined, four variations have been observed:

Key Plate Colour Duty Plate Colour Paper Shade Key Plate impression Notes
Deepish Purple Deepish Purple orange-buff clear, distinct
Pale Purple Purple buff clear, distinct
Purple Purple buff indistinct, mottled same printing ?
Purple Purple pale yellow indistinct, mottled

This is believed to be the order in which the printings were carried out, but it has not been positively established.

The dies and plates for the new recess printed design were ordered for Reqn.l 19/20, together with an order for supplies of the 1/2d, 3d, 1/- and 5/- values. On 14th October 1920 the Crown Agents informed De La Rue that a telegraph had been received from Jamaica requesting that 120 sheets (60-set) of the old (Imperium) design be printed and despatched as soon as possible. These were invoiced just over three weeks later, whilst the 3d of the new design for this requisition was not despatched until the following February.

Of the 3,063 sheets printed of the 2d plate 5 printing from Reqn.77/18, 595 sheets of 120 were overprinted '11/2d WAR STAMP' in Jamaica in February 1920. On 7th April 1920 a second overprinting was made, this time in red. The Cayman Islands - etc. (p83) states that these were subsequently destroyed (quantity unknown) and that only one copy is known to have survived.

Duty Plates

The 1/2d and 1d plates were made in 1900 for the Victorian issue. A 1/- duty with shaded value tablet was also made at this time but was not adopted. The 2'Ad, 6d and 1/- (unshaded value tablet) were added in 1901, followed by the 4d and 5/- in 1906/7 and the 3d and 10/- in 1908, all made as 60-set plates. When the 2d, 2/- and 3/- were added to the series in 1912 they were invoiced as 120-set plates, as was the final value, the 1/4d, also in 1912.

The proofs of the 1/4d, 1d, 21/2d, 4d and 6d marked "12 leads Nov 5" are believed to have been struck in November 1911, indicating the increase of these plates to 120-set. The evidence for the increase lies with De La Rue's Works Specimen File, where each of these values (and only these) is marked "120 set". No further proofs have been seen of the 3d, 1/-, 5/- and 10/- duty plates, and they probably remained 60-set.

The 1/2d and 1d colony name tablets made in 1900 have a long centre leg to 'M' in 'CAYMAN', whilst on all the other duty plate values it is shorter. The bar of 'A' is lower on the original die. A new colony name die was evidently made for the post-1900 plates.

Specimen stamps

Cayman Islands 10s. specimen stamps

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Specimens in strips of three, all tied by large red "postes et telegraphes/collection/de/berne/madagascar" circular handstamp

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Specimen stamps additionally handstamped "colonias" in red or violet by a Portuguese receiving authority

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Specimen stamps with additionally handstamp "specimen" and ticked in green by the Bechuanaland postal authorities

 

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue 5/- and 10/- overprinted "specimen" and showing variety broken "M"

 

Cayman Islands 1917-20 War Stamps Specimens 1919 (Feb.) 1/2d. green and 1 1/2d. on 2 1/2d. orange, both overprinted "specimen" and additionally handstamped "specimen" by the Bechuanaland receiving authority. Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?150 plus buyer's premium

Die Proofs

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Die Proofs Master with blank name and duty plate in black on glazed card (92x60mm.), unmarked. Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?6500 plus buyer's premium

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Die Proofs 1/4d. name and duty plate in black on glazed card (92x60mm.) dated "1 aug. 12". Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?550 plus buyer's premium

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Die Proofs 2d. name and duty plate in black on glazed card marked "before hardening" and dated "17 jan. 12". Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?580 plus buyer's premium.

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Die Proofs 2/- name and duty plate in black on glazed card (92x60mm.) marked "before hardening" and dated "17 jan. 12". Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?580 plus buyer's premium

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Die Proofs 3/- name and duty plate in black on glazed card (92x60mm.) marked "before hardening" and dated "17 jan. 12". Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?580 plus buyer's premium

Cayman Islands 1912-20 King George V Issue Die Proofs 3/- stamp-size in black and orange on glazed card. Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?250 plus buyer's premium

Cayman Islands 1917-20 War Stamps Proof 1917 (Sept.) proof of the Type 16 surcharge in black on wove paper, affixed to card (70x58mm.), dated "14 may 1917" and marked "Approved, WHM 16.5.17". Sold at Spink Auction in 2012 for ?2300 plus buyer's premium

Postal History 

Cayman Islands S.G. #55, 1917 ""WAR STAMP 1 1/2d"" Surcharge on 2 1/2p Deep blue, the rare type 16, a remarkable franking of a single and a horizontal pair of this most important surcharge type (along with a single of the type 15 surcharge), all tied to a small neat registered cover to Reading, England by ""Georgetown/Oc 9 17/Grand Cayman"" type 5 c.d.s., with ""R"" in oval handstamp and blue crayon registration ""label"" type R6, various transit and receiving markings on reverse, a cover of immense rarity as very few examples of the type 16 surcharges are known, and our research indicates that only two full covers and one cover front are franked with this surcharge, the other full cover, which bears only a single franking is used out of period (1919), so this cover is unique in the fact that it is the only cover bearing three examples, used in the right time period and completely intact. Sold at Spink Auction in 2008 for $11,775  plus buyer's premium

 

Bibliography:

  1. King George V Key Plates of the Imperium Postage & Revenue Design, Peter Fernbank, 1997.

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