1887 Jubilee Issue – Background

The 1884 “Lilac and Green” Issue

1883-84 Lilac and Green set
When the 1884 “Lilac and Green” issue appeared, there was a public outcry about their blandness and uninspiring design. However it was only when it was pointed out that the Revenue might suffer because of the difficulty in distinguishing the different values, that the Government reacted to find a replacement series. Warren William De La Rue was given virtually carte blanche to remedy the situation. The Inland Revenue’s concern was to safeguard its revenue, in the shape of taxes raised by unified stamps. The 1d receipt stamp brought in annually between £0.5 and £1 million out of a total Revenue of about £80 million which, in modem times, is around £2 billion. They wanted every stamp up to 2s 6d, except the 1/2d, to have the Queen’s Head in double fugitive ink to prevent removal of pen cancellations.

The Post Office had the practical task of checking frankings under sometimes very difficult conditions; hence Jeffrey ‘s commitment to the three primary colours, red, blue and yellow. They were seeking brightly coloured stamps, cheap to produce and easily recognised.

De La Rue wanted their expensive fugitive, especially double fugitive, inks to be used as much as possible and they realised that this was an opportunity not to be missed. Designs, papers, printing qualities of inks, bicoloured stamps could all be explored.

Coloured Paper Trials
De La Rue had been experimenting with coloured papers before 1 April 1884, as earlier issues show. Their first efforts were colour trials, mostly in purple and green, from production plates of the 1884 Lilac and Green issue 1 1/2d, 2d, 2 1/2d and 3d values onto coloured papers. These were made by dyeing just a few or even single sheets, giving a lack of uniformity.

Click here to see the colour trials on coloured unwatermarked paper >>

Once they had the authority to proceed, colour trials were produced of the same values on gummed white watermaked Crown paper.

Click here to see the colour trials on white watermarked paper >>

1883-84 2d Colour Trials affixed on paperTrials in other colour inks on coloured papers were also made. Two pieces of squared paper existed to which were stuck a total of 120 trials (63 + 57) of the 1884 2d and 2 1/2d on various coloured unwatermarked papers, printed in various coloured inks and mostly lettered LJ or LT. Arranged neatly in columns of 4 to 14 stamps in each. These were subsequently broken up.

The “Coloured Paper” Scheme of 13th June 1884 was produced formally to show what could be achieved by printing existing designs on coloured papers. Four copies were made:

No.1 is in the Phillips collection, the whereabouts of no.2 is unknown, and nos.3 and 4 (De La Rue’s own copy, all stamps defaced) are in private hands. Each comprises a copy of the issued 1d and 4d with two colour trials on unwatermarked paper of each of the 1 1/2d, 2d, 2 1/2d and 3d stamps. Arranged in two rows of five, the top row of trials represented their face values 1 1/2d (purple on orange), 2d (purple on yellow), 2 1/2d (purple on pink), 3d (purple on pale blue shades). The lower row of these values represented 5d (1 1/2d purple on grey), 6d (2d purple on pink), 9d (2 1/2d green on buff) and 1s (3d purple on deep blue) as indicated in manuscript above each.

The following are based on the scheme. All ten stamps are on piece, annotated without date.

1 1/2d purple on pink, purple on grey
2d purple on yellow, purple on pink
2 1/2d purple on pink, green on buff
3d purple on pale blue, purple on deep blue

The Scheme was favourably received by the Post Office. On 25 June 1884, it was decided to send 6 to 12 examples of each of the same colour trials to various officials for their opinions and for “experiments”.

Click here to see the trial cancellations that are known from this exercise

Stamp Committee Proposal
Coloured papers were an improvement, but they were not the complete answer. New designs could not be avoided so the 1884 Stamp Committee was set up. Its purpose was to recommend new designs, but it was also to restore relations between the Post Office and Inland Revenue. Its establishment took time so De La Rue and others continued to evolve their ideas.

Jeffrey’s Essays
On 2nd August 1884, T. Jeffrey sent pieces of gummed, unwatermarked paper with five crude lithographed impractical designs to the Secretary’s Office, as Types D and E. Known in red, yellow orange, green, blue and purple.

Essays for Bicoloured Stamps
The earliest seen is a dummy stamp on card dated 6th August 1884. It is inscribed “De La Rue London Four Pence” with large “4d” each side of the Queen’s head. The corner letters are BH/HB and frame lines printed in green and the remainder hand painted in deep pink. It demonstrated that unsupported frame lines were undesirable in bicoloured design.

There are also die proofs of the head and red parts of the above in black, and of the latter in both green and red, in the Phillips collection. There is a striking book piece with the same die proofs and die proofs of two otherwise unknown dummy stamps, lettered HB. The same letter combination is used on later De La Rue essays.

Only two types of bicoloured stamps were practical – the “patch of colour” type, as the 1887 2d and 5d stamps, and the “fringe” type as the 4d and 9d.

The “fringe” type. A piece of paper is in the Royal Collection with two perf. 12 1s stamps handstamped “SPECIMEN” type 9 FI, FK, FI is cancelled with three “POSTAL-STAMP-BRANCH / A / 250C / 84 / INLAND REVENUE” circular date stamps. The perforations are coloured red on both stamps (this is the only dated piece with perf.12 stamps). In the Phillips Collection there is a letter dated 23 Oct. 1884 from Warren William De La Rue to T. A. Colls with an issued 1s and a hexagonal hand painted 3d essay, both also with red borders.

Inleave Border Essays:
– De La Rue inleave cut outs with stamp borders in red and defaced (two examples known)

1884 Striking Book Pieces:
1) Die proof essays of duty designs with manuscript “Aug 20” *later used for Siam stamps)
2) As (1) but blank head (no head) and duty (no duty) “fringe” designs similar to 4d, dated in manuscript “Aug 28”
3) As (2), but duty only and dated “Sept 26”
4) As (3), dated “Oct 9/10”
5) As (2), but head and duty, dated 1884 “Oct 30”, “Nov 2”

Continue to the 1884 Stamp Committee >>