Below is an article by Roy Gault that first appeared in the August 2013 edition of our Bulletin and gives the background to this survey:
THE MOST PERFINNED STAMP IN THE WORLD?
AN UPDATE - 20 years on!
In The Perfins Bulletin for April 1993, Joseph Laura listed 2,060 (approx) perfins found on the 2¢ red Washington head (Scott #332 and related issues). This is the result of an admirable long term project but I was intrigued by the comment
“In all probability no other stamp issue in the world has had as many different patterns used on it as this one does.”
That was how my Bulletin article published in B266 (October 1993) started, with me fully expecting to finish the New series of Illustrated G.B. Perfin Catalogues by the year 2000. The best laid plans of mice and men … ! But here I am, still in at the wicket, with just the 1st Edition C’s to complete, and 2nd Editions for the letters “J” and “W”.
My original prediction that the 1d definitive of King Edward VII would beat the ubiquitous 1d Lilac of Queen Victoria was based on having checked only 1,568 dies of the then current total of 21,450 (roughly 7.3%). Now that I’ve looked in detail at just over 23,000 dies (roughly 96% of the 23,984 G.B. dies now known) the roles have been reversed. Harry Skinner, you were right all along!
I can now state with confidence that the 1d Lilac of Queen Victoria, in use from 12th July 1881 through to the end of 1901, can be found with the most Perfin patterns in the world, currently standing at 6,978.
By comparison, the 1d definitive of King Edward VII, in use from 1st January 1902 through to 22nd June 1911, has only been found on 6,560.
Figures correct to 28th June 2013
When all’s done and dusted in a couple of years time, the top 10 most prolific G.B. stamps found with Perfins are likely to be those listed in the table below - current figures shown, all will increase in due course.
Stamp value & description
QV 1d Lilac
G6 Dark Colour
G6 Dark Colour
G5 Downey Head
The mention of the Queen Victoria 1d Lilac brings to mind the piece I wrote for the late Bill Shields regarding his great interest in what he called THE stamp, published in B319 (August 2002).
The issue was the direct result of an act passed in 1881 that required a single stamp to perform both postal and fiscal requirements. This was achieved by including the words ‘and Inland Revenue’ after the word ‘Postage’ which had appeared on postage stamps from 1840.
The 1d Lilac was issued on 12th July 1881 with 14 dots in each corner - Die I. This die was only in use for five months before being replaced on the 12th December 1881 by Die II with 16 corner dots.
The question Bill asked was ‘how rare are perfins on the 14 dot variety of the 1d Lilac?’ To answer this he started to compile a list of those known on the 14 dot variety from information from as many sources as possible. In 2002 the total stood at just 50 dies, although he fully expected the final figure to be 150 - 200 dies.
Sadly, Bill died in March 2008, but his list has always been maintained by me in my capacity as the Perfin Society Catalogue Editor. Bill would be more than pleased to know that the list now extends to some 364 different dies, virtually double what was originally envisaged.
Figures are correct to 28th June 2013 - 6,978 for all 1d Lilacs.
In his ‘History of British Security Stamps’, published in 1968, Charles Jennings states ‘more than 7,000 different [Perfin] dies are known’ for the 1d Lilac stamp, so there must still be a fair few more to discover.
For completion, the figures for the 1d Inland Revenue stamp and the 1d Venetian Red (SG166) are as follows:
1d Inland Revenue
1d Venetian Red - SG166
Details of the individual dies involved for all of these issues
can be found by clicking on the following links: