Logo: SG43 Plate 77

Repaired Impressions

A repaired impression can be defined as part of the printing plate that has had work done to repair either wear and tear or damage caused to the plate either by some accident or corrosion.

The process of printing these stamps gradually caused wear to the metal printing plates. This is in some ways hard to picture as many people would not think that steel printing plates could be worn by the action of printing but when the amounts of friction created by the printing of hundreds of thousands of sheets is taken into account, combined with friction from cleaning the plates, the corrosive action of inks and cleaning materials on the plates plus all the knocks associated with industrial scale production it can be imagined how wear could occur over the course of time. As some of these plates wore the printed image became less clear (because the raised part of the engraving became worn down meaning that the recessed parts of the plate became shallower making them less able to retain ink) and the need to repair parts of those plates grew. Another aspect of this wear is that the raised parts of the impression, as well as wearing down, can sometimes broaden meaning that the white area left by them would increase in size. Some plates withstood wear very well. For example, plate 27 from Die II had one million sheets printed from it and then a proof impression was printed on black card which show very little wear at all.

Sometimes, faulty workmanship needed addressing. For example, Plate 51 from Die II needed repair work because the burr between the gutters of the stamps had been removed too vigorously which damaged the borders and corners of the impressions.

Sometimes plates were repaired more than once.

Some repairs were done by hand engraving but more usually by rolling in a new impression directly on top of the old one. This was usually done very precisely and the designs are invariably exactly on top of eachother (co-incident re-entries). The fact that these re-entries took place can sometimes be spotted by a strengthening of the design and a weakening of the corner letters. This is because the corner letters don’t appear on the roller dies (they were punched in by hand hence their different positions within the corner squares) so the effect of the re-entry is to pinch the letters punched into the metal closed a little, thinning them and making them fainter. This effect varies a lot and sometimes there is a huge change in the thickness of the letters and sometimes only a slight one.

Repairs were done on the hardened plate often after wear exposed the softer core of the plate beneath the thin outer layer of hardened steel.

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