The diadem issue of New South Wales was the third type issued in the colony, following the Sydney Views and the Laureates. The 1d, 2d and 3d were issued in 1856, replacing the equivalent face value stamps from the Laureate series.
The local authorities wrote to the Colonial Agent in London in August 1852 regarding the procurement of stamps with 6d and 1/- face values. Perkins Bacon provided the plates, paper and ink under cover of their invoice dated 23 July 1853.
The early ship letter rates from Sydney
to the UK were:
conveyance via Cape of Good Hope, 3d Colonial + 1/- Imperial per ½oz; double this per oz; additional 6d+2/- per oz
conveyance via Cape of Good Hope, 3d Colonial + 8d Imperial per ½oz; double this per oz; additional 6d+1/4 per oz
conveyance via Southampton, 3d Colonial + 1/- Imperial per ½oz; double this per oz; additional 6d+2/- per oz
conveyance via any route, 3d Colonial + 8d Imperial per ½oz; double this per oz; additional 6d+1/4 per oz
At this time, Colonial
charges on ship letters were compulsorily
prepayable while the Imperial
charges were only optionally
The 6d and 1/- were issued in February 1854, the former replacing the 6d Laureate and the later being a new face value issue for the colony.THE 5d & 8d DIADEMS
In March 1853 the Postmaster-General wrote to the Colonial Secretary recommending that instructions might be forwarded to the Agent-General in London to obtain a plate for printing 5d stamps. This new face value issue would cover the 2d intrastate
charge plus the Colonial ship letter rate.
Apparently no action was taken on this recommendation but in late May the Postmaster-General again wrote to the Colonial Secretary regarding plates, paper and ink for 5d and 8d stamps. Perkins Bacon's tender for the plates was accepted in January 1854 and they provided these, along with paper and ink, under cover of an invoice dated 29 January 1855, reaching Sydney in late June 1855. Both values were issued in December 1855. The 8d replaced the equivalent face value Laureate stamp.
On 30 September 1854 the ship letter rates to the UK were altered to the following:
- Any conveyance via Southampton or direct 6d per ½oz (the new uniform Empire
rate); 1/- per oz; additional 1/- per oz
- Packet conveyance via Marseilles 11d for under ¼oz, 1/4 for under ½oz, 2/3 for under ¾oz and 2/8 for under 1oz; additional 1/- per oz + 5d per ¼oz.
The Marseilles rates were lowered to 9d, 1/-, 1/9 and 2/-; additional 1/- per oz + 3d per ¼oz on 1 January 1857.
The Empire rate negated the need for a 5d stamp as it was initially proposed but this stamp could've
been used in conjunction with a 6d stamp to make up the 11d via Marseilles rate as outlined above. The 8d Imperial rate via private conveyance was also made obsolete by the 1854 Empire rate.
There were no further alterations to the rates to the UK until 21 August 1863.THE PRINTINGS AND PERFORATIONS OF THE 5d & 8d IMPERF DIADEMS
There were two printings of the 5d stamp prior to the introduction of perforation in 1860. There were 5,500 printed in 1855 and 22,900 in May 1858. They are clearly different shades, despite what the catalogues say.
There were five printings of the 8d stamp: 11,000 in December 1855, 18,500 in April 1856, 5,000 in May 1858, 15,500 in June 1858 and 25,000 in January 1860. The first two printings are in a golden yellow shade, the fourth in a yellow-orange and the last in an orange tending to red-orange.
The composite image below (from the Hutson
auction) shows examples of the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th printings. Hutson believed the 3rd printing was similar in shade to the 2nd printing.
Perforation was introduced in New South Wales on 1 February 1860. There were 18,500 imperf 5d stamps on hand on 31 January 1860, none of which were supplied to Queensland. It can be safely assumed that these were all perforated, gauge 11½-12. It is important to note that the passing of time and scanning differences will create variances in shades of these stamps.
There were 23,000 imperf 8d stamps on hand on 31 January 1860 and in April 1860 1,400 of these were sent to Queensland. The balance were perforated, gauge 11½-12. These are rarer than the imperfs. There are three shades listed in the Gibbons catalogue: lemon-yellow, orange and red-orange. Hutson explained the shade variations were due to the inconsistent printings, owing to the inequalities in the proportions of the pigments. An example in the orange shade (from the latest Status
auction) is below.AVOIDING SOME OF THE PITFALLS WHEN BUYING 5d & 8d IMPERF DIADEMS
The first thing to look for is the watermark. If the watermark is not a double lined figure then it cannot be genuine.
The next thing is the postmark. On the 5d, dated copies are scarce and I know of only one cover, a pair dated October 1863. With the exception of an 1860 cancellation in the Carrington
collection, all I have seen are dated Oct/Nov 1863 with one 1864 (month unknown) in the Alvarado
collection. The most dangerous are genuine perf. 12 examples trimmed down to appear imperf, like this 1865 example below.
The shades of the 5d perf. 13 are different from the imperfs/perf. 12 stamps and should present no problem.
The 8d is definitely harder to pick. Dumb obliterator and rays type cancellations (see printings 2 and 4 above) are some
help but knowing the shades of the imperfs is the key.
Here is a two margin example with a dumb obliterator cancel. Note the obliterator is different to the type shown above. This device was in use up to the 1880s. The shade is wrong also.
Many 8d stamps advertised as imperf have some large margins such as this one:https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/MM28-Ne...272437386795
This stamp is the wrong shade, the clarity of the print is too fine and there is no watermark. The description states "showing part of adjoining stamp at the top, proving this is not a cut down perforated stamp". This can easily be refuted by this example in a mixed lot from the June 2018 Van Looy
The other factor is the cancellation. The NSW inside a 4 ring elongated ellipse types didn't come into use until 1875.
Any 8d diadem being offered for sale as an imperf without four margins should be treated with suspicion, unless of course it's on a dated cover but be prepared to pay some good money as they are very scarce.
The following was stated to be a plate proof (Gartner
sale 41, lot 300) but I believe it's a top right corner mint example of the two eBay
lots shown above:
In summary, if you're in the market for either (or both) of these stamps, do your homework because a bargain can be had. This 8d was sold on eBay
for US$125 in May 2018:
I've no doubt it's a genuine imperf. It has 4 clear margins and the obliterator is correct for the time period.
These two were lots 50 and 51 in the Chartwell
sale (Spink May 2018):
They sold for (ie: hammer price) £210 and £380 respectively.
Provenance helps but unless you're confident you know what you're doing, it's best to buy through a traditional auction house or dealer. At least this way, if you can prove it's not as advertised or you get a negative result when submitting for a certificate you will have a much easier time getting some recourse.