Logo: SG43 Plate 77

SG43/44 PENNY RED Plates

These "four corner letter" penny reds (SG 43/44) are often the collector's introduction to the fascination of the 1d red and are viewed with great affection. They were issued in 1864. It it still relatively inexpensive to acquire a used set of this issue as the only really expensive stamp is the scarce plate 225, excluding the exotic plate 77 of course! The standard of printing had advanced significantly since the first penny red was printed in 1841 but there are still many varieties worth looking at as with all the other 1d reds. Many examples of constant varieties which can be seen throughout the life of the plate can be found and so can many non-constant varieties such as damage and corrosion marks which appeared as the plate got older (wear and tear basically), repairs to the plate which would create a constant variety from the date of the plate onward. For instance, if the design had started to wear the roller die might be run over the plate again to deepen the lines of the design. This would have the effect of deepening the main body of the design but not the corner letters as the roller dies didn't have corner letters so they would appear fainter leading to a "second state" or even a third or fourth possibly! Some marks like burrs tend to fade as time goes by as they themselves are worn away by natural wear or by a workman burnishing away the burr. It is really interesting to have a selection of stamps from the same plate and check letter position showing the signs of development from brand new to worn to repaired and then worn again. See the Repaired Impressions heading for more information. Interestingly, the varieties of check letter positions and constant varieties are so great that it would be possible to plate these stamps from that information alone were it all recorded in the same way that the 1d stars' details have been listed. Of course, this task has been unnecessary as the plate numbers are part of the design but theoretically it could be done. G.C. Akerman co-ordinated a study of these Penny Plates the results of which appeared in the GB Journal in between January 1974 and May 1977. Winston Hollins has found many flaws and varieties in addition to this list and I have found one or two as well and these can make an interesting study. Another challenge could acquire a well-centred, crisply printed set with pleasing cancellations and much pleasure can be gained through the hunt for these items. The range of cancellations on these stamps is really amazing as they travelled all over the world.

Plate 77

Everyone would love to find a plate 77 1d red but unfortunately it's very unlikely. Many plate 177 stamps masquerade as 77s due to the accidental or intentional masking of the "1" numeral. A way of confirming the authenticity of a genuine plate 177 is to look at where the bottom of the "7" numerals touch the engraving. If the bottom of the 7 meets the point where the engraved lines meet it may be genuine. If slightly to the left it's a 177 or another non-77 plate. Also, to top bar of the 7 ponts slightly down on the true plate 77. Do let me know if you find one! See the scan below to see what I mean (Thanks to Scott Treacey for the image). If you have a stamp that you think may be a 77 or any other unusual penny red that you would like looked at please do let me know and I'll be happy to help. I am also interested in any stamps that have been certificated as "not 77" and would be very grateful if you have an image of any such stamps or would like to sell them as I collect them!

Image: SG43 1d red Plate 77/177 comparison

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