King George VI - Grenada
Grenada is, philatelically speaking, one of the 'classic' colonies. Its nineteenth-century issues have immense prestige. Even the (relatively speaking) humbler area of King George VI boasts its own Grenada 'classic' issue, the De la Rue 10/-, which we will look at in some depth later on. It is one of those issues full of subtle complications which attracts the sophisticated collector. A moment's sideline; it has always intrigued me how many serious collectors of other issues have a 'sideline' in KG VI. Collectors of Rhodesia Double Heads seem to be particularly susceptible! The Bermuda keytypes and the Grenada 10/- are two areas which appeal to those who like their philately to be other than straightforward.
The lower values of the 1938 set are also of great interest. The ¼d was produced by Harrisons in photogravure, and went through seven printings. Although Commonwealth lists four, the principle difference is between the first printing and the rest. It has quite a bit of purple in the brown (which is more apparent in stamps which went to the colony) and has brownish gum, quite different from later printings. The November 1942 printing is usually described as chocolate-brown, but in reality has at least three shades. Chalky paper reappeared in 1950 in a bright, light shade with no purple.
The ½d to 5/- values were printed by Waterlow. There were lots of printings, with a major perforation change from 12½ x 12½ to 13½ x 12½. This is the sort of variation where it is usually possible to distinguish the different perforations by eye. However, I don't find this works very well with this issue, because the '12½' actually varies from 12.4 to 12.65. These different measurements are an aid to distinguishing printings. There are many good shades in the issue. The ½d value, for example, varies from a strong yellow-green to a strong blue-green, both colours appearing in each perforation. The problem is that there are a lot of intermediate shades and it is very difficult to allocate these! The most elusive of the ½ds is the blue-green perf 12½ x 13½ in used condition, which is very tricky indeed.
There are two other vertical-format stamps among the low values. These are the 1½d and 2½d. The 1½d original printing was in deep scarlet; Commonwealth lists a scarlet-red shade in 1943, which to my eye sems to have quite an element of carmine. There is a retouch above the head on R1/2 of at least one printing. The 2½d produced one of the great rarities of the reign, a 1950 release perf 12½ x 13½; a colonial release which has always been reckoned to be rare in mint condition, and uncommon in used condition. F. Earle Hall, an American writing in Stamp Collecting in July 1955, came up with some interesting statistics and observations. By means of paying airmail registered postage both ways to the owners of these stamps, he was able to examine a good number. He found that most cancellations were light and often unreadable, with date or office illegible, or both. However, he found postmarks from Grand Roy, St Pauls, Grenville and the GPO at St George's. At that time the number of known mint examples was approximately 33, with about 100 used. The first figure seems to me to be on the high side, if anything, but there is no doubt that many more have turned up in used condition. In 1957 we see Bridger & Kay offering an unmounted top marginal example at £155. Once upon a time Murray Payne Ltd had three mint in stock at the same time... probably never again! Of course, such a rare perforation variety has been faked, the faked stamp being appreciably narrower than the genuine. An expert certificate is advisable when purchasing mint examples.
The 3d is a problem stamp when it comes to identification. Gibbons list two colours in each perforation, and Commonwealth three. However, even six listed variants don't cover the full range. The intial listing for each is 'olive-green', which, indeed, has a considerable amount of green; the second listing, 'olive' in each case, has lost almost all the greenish tinge; the third, 'deep olive' has an element of brown in some printings but not in others. This can make allocation very confusing, in that there are stamps which do not appear to fit any of the listed categories! If you go for a representative example of each category, with the characteristics listed above, then you won't go too far wrong. The best plate flaw on the issue occurs on the 3d, in the form of a 'colon' below the right value on R5/6 of the August 1950 printing only. It is possible to find examples from other positions which show some plate wear in this area, so a bit of care is needed when purchasing this. A marginal block is ideal. The initial 6d printing in each perforation shows a real difference in shade, the warm purple-lake of the perf 12½ contrasting with the much deeper, colder shade of the perf 13½ x 12½. Later shades acquire more pink and make a fine display.
The 1/- value does not boast any listed shades, but looking at our reference collection it probably should. The soft tone of the earlier issues gradually becomes deeper and stronger. The 2/- has a number of shades, with 'bright' being listed by Commonwealth for each perforation. Although the 2/- is not an easy stamp to find, if you look at a number you will soon find a bright one. There is also variation with the 5/-. Use the paper and gum to help you date the stamps approximately to start off with, and you won't go far wrong.
As far as plate varieties go, there are two good ones on the horizontal 'badge' types, oddly enough on adjacent stamps. R1/1 has a scratch across the sail, which was partially erased at some stage. Outside the design at the top left corner is a small series of lines, which almost looks as if the engraver was having a little practice with his burin before working on the plate. These are in the vignette colour, so perhaps he thought that the lines would be far enough away from the design not to print; he was wrong! I have not yet established any dates for the sequence of events on this position. R1/2 is less unclear, in that the initial printing or printings (perhaps the first two only?) had a 'dangling rope' variety at the left side of the sail as we look at it. I have found other, unpositioned scratches, and would welcome readers' observations. The 3d value exists with the frame colour chemically altered to either bright green or orange, some of these having the words 'colour fake' stamped on the reverse.
Since writing the above, a number of further plate varieties have come to light, demonstrating that this is a fruitful area for study. A with the 'line on sail', date sequencing is a problem, but here are some of them;
½d; R3/2 large crack in left value tablet
2d; R4/4 orange blob right of motto
Various; R9/1 line through 'TEN', R1/4 diagonal scratch right of ship (can be found partly erased) -
Further varieties will be reported in Sixth Sense in due course.
All in all, there is plenty here to keep the average collector interested for some considerable time. The low values rather remind me of their Bermuda equivalents, with their great interest rather overshadowed by the publicity and mystique accorded to the high values. Indeed, more has been written about the Grenada 10/- than almost any other KG VI stamp. There were nine printings and all are listed by Commonwealth, which publishes a handy flow-chart to help the collector identify them. Many dealers, collectors and auction houses get these stamps completely wrong, so beware!
The vast majority of postmarks on the perf 12 10/- are faked. Madame Joseph certainly transformed a number of perfectly good mint stamps into 'used' stamps with faked cancels, as have others - the dangerous dates for the Madame Josephs are St Georges on 21st August 1942, 21st August 1943, and 2nd October 1943, as well as 'G.P.O.' of 9th November 1943. An expert committee certificate is absolutely essential for used examples; if you don't take this option, you are probably throwing money away. There is one constant plate variety known, although its position is not; it is known as the 'comet' flaw, which occurs on (I believe) the first four printings, i.e. CW 22, 23, 24 and 25.
That about covers the 1938 set. The 1951 set had a couple of printings, probably the best shade being with the $2.50 - the 1952 printing having a deeper frame. The $2.50 also has three excellent re-entries affecting positions R6/1, 6/4 and 6/6, showing a doubled top frame in the left value tablet and a 'ghost' impression of the value. Since all three differ, it's often useful to look at the right value tablet, where the upper line shows clear doubling.
The Victory issue has some of the type of varieties we have learned to expect from this series. The 1½d is unusual in that some sheets have a 'B' scratched outside the top right corner, while others have a 'P'. On sheets with the 'P' there is a good plate scratch running from R6-8/4. Another, separate scratch shows on R9-10/4. The 3½d at R8/3 has a vertical line of spots running downwards from the '8' of the date; some sheets may be found with a 'B' in the top right corner. Unusually, we can find here what may be proof of the unauthorised nature of such markings. I have seen a number of sheets where the letter has been burnished off, detectable from streaks of colour on the selvedge. One presumes that someone got an earful from a supervisor!
The Postage Dues are of great interest, as is so often the case. They appeared in 1945 on rough paper, easily distinguishable from the earlier smooth paper printings. There are a number of plate varieties, of which I particularly like the line joining the upright of the 'd' to its circle on R6/5 of the 3d. The decimal Dues, which appeared in 1952, are difficult in used condition; each value may be found with the 'Crown missing' and 'St Edward's Crown' watermark errors. There is an interesting plate variety on the 2ct (R9/10 stamps 1-3), where the value is dropped in relation to the other stamps in the sheet. I had not come across this variety until reading a monograph on the DLR Dues produced by an Australian, Richard Peck. Funnily enough, I thought the 'd' variety on the 3d was an original discovery, and E-mailed a contact in the U.S.A. to tell him about it. He E-mailed back to point out that the variety was illustrated in Peck's book, which we had just sold him! One red face in Somerset.
Acknowledgements; The 10/- value has been the subject of some excellent writing by many authors. To save space we will just name them, rather than giving detailed attributions; Shelton, Potter & Pateman; E.J. Anning; Eric Yendall; Art Hamm; Charles Freeland; Philip Halward; Frank Saunders; Tom Cusick. Writers on other aspects of KG VI Grenada; Frank Saunders, Hap Pattiz, Richard Peck, Richard Lockyer, C.P. Rang.
Personal acknowledgements are due to Phil MacMurdie, Tony Rubens and Stephen Reah Johnson
Dickon Pollard and Iain Murphy - Murray Payne Ltd