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Question about stamp positions

 
 
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Valued Member
United States
111 Posts
Posted 12/05/2018   08:49 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add ajuchum to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've been a collector for about 60 years, originally worldwide - now just Canada, but have never given any thought to the specialization of where on a sheet the stamp came from. I sent a scan into a thread here with my Canada #19 and was told that my stamp was position #63. My question is; how are all these positions determined, be it US, Canada, or other countries? I'd imagine that there are no full sheets around to look at on most issues so what tells you that it came from the fourth stamp in the third row? I realize that there are many reference books around to do this but they had to derive the info somewhere. Just curious.
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United States
250 Posts
Posted 12/05/2018   09:16 am  Show Profile Check docgfd's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add docgfd to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Sometimes, post office records of full sheets could get the ball rolling on plating (either the stamps themselves or photographs). Beyond that, any constant variants in one particular stamp in a pane would provide its position. One tiny 'gink' (damaged plate) in a vignette or a re-cut frame line would provide clues. A piece of attached selvedge, or even in some cases, the spacing between individual stamps...anything along those lines would help. It takes some serious fly-specking, clearly.
Of course, some issues were easy, like the GB Penny Black, compliments of their control letters. Other stamps without these, not so much.
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United States
1084 Posts
Posted 12/05/2018   09:34 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Classic Coins to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
ajuchum, In the early days of stamp printing plate manufacturing, impressions that didn't get transferred satisfactorily from the transfer roll to the printing plate were often touched up with an engraver's tool. These re-touches are one of many ways that a stamp can be identified as coming from a specific position on a plate.

Another way is re-entries, where the design was rolled on to the plate a second time, often leaving traces of the first entry, which show up on the printed stamp.

Another way to "fingerprint" a stamp is from defects in the plate, such as pits, cracks, or scratches, which can also show up on the printed stamp.

Here is an example of two US Scott #10A printed from plate position 4R2e; that is, the fourth stamp from the right pane of plate 2 in the early state. I vertically compressed the two images to simulate looking at the stamps from a low angle to amplify the curves in the left frame lines. The curves resulted from the unsteady hand of a worker who engraved the frame lines into the plate after the stamp design was entered from the transfer roll.

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United States
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Posted 12/05/2018   09:41 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Classic Coins to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Here is an example of a re-entry, where lines left over from a previous transfer of the design remained after the design was entered a second time. This is Hawaii Scott #75, plate position LR1-1; the first position from the lower-right pane of the early state (1) of the plate:

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Posted 12/05/2018   09:45 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Classic Coins to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
There is an excellent site on re-entries by a Canadian stamp collector, with emphasis on Canadian stamps, at this address:

https://www.re-entries.com/index.html
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Posted 12/05/2018   10:31 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Classic Coins to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Plate 5, used to print the U.S. 1851-57 3-cent stamp, was put in storage for over three years, re-worked with engraving tools, and put back in service in 1855. The re-touching resulted in the late state of plate 5 (5L). While it was in storage, the plate likely rusted, resulting in pits in the plate. These pits result in consistent spots of color where there should be none on the printed stamps. This image shows three stamps printed from plate position 58R5L, with consistent spots of color resulting from the pitting, especially in the letter S.

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Posted 12/05/2018   10:45 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
How its figured out - start with singles that show sheet margin, or obvious corner copies, or centerlines. Something that you know within a few positions of what it is for sure. Complete, say, the top row, for example - based upon sheet margin and, for example, guide dot at top. You will probably need multiples at some point here.

From there, start locating multiples, strips, that intersect positions you've positively identified. Intersecting multiples rule here, and also obvious margin copies. Rinse and repeat.
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Posted 12/05/2018   10:50 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add dudley to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle--start with the border pieces and then use multiples to connect with the border and work your way through the entire picture (plate).
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United States
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Posted 12/05/2018   11:04 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ajuchum to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I think my head hurts! A final question: why? As each position is printed in equal quantities, does this in any way affect the value of the stamps or is it just to carry your collection into greater specialization?
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Posted 12/05/2018   11:09 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Why climb a mountain?

Because its there. Because some find it interesting and/or fun. To each his or her own.

Why collect stamps?

More specifically, for some of us, more obsessively detail-oriented people, it is an interesting exercise.

What can be learned from it? Much, including how a plate was made, problems encountered in making it, the evolution of siderography can be studied in depth by observing how different companies over time made plates, and how good a job they each did.
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Posted 12/05/2018   11:16 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Absolutely some positions are worth much more than others. If there is an interesting plate crack, or a significant problem with the entry of a particular position that caused it to look different, then these types of things certainly make them stand out from the crowd, and create a market for collecting these. Once these have been plated, and identified, then people later on can simply recognize what they look like, and they don't have to be platers to figure that out. They can add these varieties to their collection(s) if they want without having to do the plate reconstruction themselves. For many people, this enhances the hobby, by creating a specialization branch for many -- not to go in-depth doing plate reconstruction, but to collect the major varieties, and now to know what position they are, and have a lot of background behind what they are and why they are.
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Canada
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Posted 12/05/2018   11:34 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bujutsu to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To deviate, just a little, some countries have numbers in their selvedges that help the collector to determine a position for some of the stamps. The numbered selvedge will not necessarily have a variety, but it tells what row the top or bottom stamp of a sheet is from. Only a few of weeks ago, I bought a 3 pound bag mixture of Germany, all off paper, all eras. In that mixture, there was a 30 Pfennig blue of the 1948 "Buildings" issue that had "18.00" in the top selvedge. That automatically told me that it was the top stamp of row #6!(This was a face value indicator that states 18 Marks up to that point in the sheet) I know I am off the track a little here, but, at least something as easy as this peaks my interest to look out for more and possibly find those varieties for any given position in a sheet of stamps.

Granted, some countries are harder then others but we can be thankful that there are publications out there and also some great sites on the internet to help.

My 5 cents worth anyway. (We don't have pennies anymore <G>)

Chimo

Bujutsu
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Edited by Bujutsu - 12/05/2018 11:38 am
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Posted 12/05/2018   12:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The GB penny reds have the plate number embedded in the stamp design for each position, and also have check letters designating each position. I consider that cheating.
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United States
111 Posts
Posted 12/05/2018   12:54 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ajuchum to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks to everyone! I already collect the stamps, perfins, revenues, and even postmarks so I believe I'll leave this specialty alone.
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3287 Posts
Posted 12/06/2018   10:14 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ikeyPikey to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
... I think my head hurts! A final question: why? ...


If memory serves, the first plating study was undertaken ~100 years ago by a collector-of-means who wanted to answer the common complaint(s) that stamp collecting had become a rich man's hobby ... so he plated a common stamp (current first class letter rate), and sent us all down a new rabbit hole.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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