Notes from the Past

Jamaica's First Stamps - Part II

The design of Jamaica's first stamps was based on a laureated head of Queen Victoria similar to Jamaican fiscal stamps issued about 1855.  The die was engraved by J. F. Joubert de la Ferté.  There were five denominations, 1d., 2d., 4d., 6d., and 1s., each having a different frame for the common portrait.

De la Rue & Co. were the printers.  The plates consisted of 240 subjects in four panes of sixty.  Electrotyped plates were manufactured for printing using ordinary typography.

The stamp paper was thin white wove, watermarked with 'pineapples' arranged to fall on each stamp.  There is a marginal marking of 'Jamaica Postage' in script lettering.  The paper was made at Chafford Mills in Kent.

Perforations were 14 gauge and accomplished on a comb machine at Somerset House.  Stamps adjoining the vertical gutters between panes have wing margins at one side.  The perforations rarely fit the narrow space between stamps and well centered stamps are quite scarce.

Pale blue was chosen for the 1d., rose for the 2d., brown orange for the 4d., lilac for the 5d., and brown for the 1s.  The plates were registered at various dates between August 30 and September 19.  The first put to press was the 1d. on September 28.  The 2d. and 6d. followed on October 3.  The 4d. and 1s. were on October 4.

There is no record of the arrival of the stamps in Jamaica and there is only an indirect record of their issuance on November 23, 1860.  It comes from a letter from a letter from the Jamaican Postmaster to Sir Rowland Hill on November 24, 1860, which noted that the stamps had come into use the previous day.

The only notable variety is found on the 1s. and is known as the 'dollar' variety.  There are two diagonal strokes, due to a plate flaw, through the S of SHILLING, causing the S to resemble a dollar sign.  The variety is constant on the second stamp of the second row in the upper left hand pane and appears in later issued printed on different paper with different watermarks.

In November, 1861, a postal notice was issued authorizing the bisection of the 1d. for use as ½d. to cover the book rate.  This authority was not withdrawn until a ½d. value was made available in 1872.

A 3d. green stamp was printed on the 'pineapple' paper and issued in 1863.  The 'pineapples' continued in use until replaced by the same designs printed on paper watermarked Crown CC in 1870 and 1873.

Posted November 25, 2000

Editor's Note:  I have willingly excerpted (almost plagiarized) this from Stamps Day By Day, L. N. and M Williams. Blandford Press Ltd, 1950.

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