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The Embossed Postage Stamps of
Great Britain, 1847-54

Introduction

The embossed issues were a failed experiment. The introduction of the Uniform Penny Postal System had proven to be a great success and grew rapidly.  The line-engraved postage stamps were not produced quickly or economically enough to keep up with the demand.  The surface printed postage stamps produced by De la Rue were to be the ultimate solution to the problem. The embossed issues form a curious experiment that fell to the wayside as postal authorities searched for the best way to manufacture postage stamps.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of these stamps is that they were impressed into the paper by hand one stamp at a time.  A crude and laborious method which seems out of place with the technological advances being heralded during the Victorian Period.  The design of the embossed stamps is derived from the Wyon  City Medal of 1837, the same source for the design of the Penny Black.  The awkward means of production insured that many of the impressions overlapped and as a resulted it is rather difficult to obtain four margin copies.
 
 

The 1s. Green

Characteristics

 Shades   Green,  pale green,  deep green 
 Dies   Die W.W.1 (1847) 
  Die W.W.2 (1854)
 Threads   5mm apart (normal); 20mm apart
  Variety: thread omitted
  Paper   Dickinson Silk Thread
  Watermark   None

 
The 10d.  Red-brown

Characteristics

 Shades   Brown,  deep brown
 Dies   W.W.1          (1848)
  Die 2 W.W.  (1850)
  Die 3 W.W.  (1853)
  Die 4 W.W.  (1854)
  Die 5 W.W.
 Threads   5mm apart (normal); 20mm apart 
 Variety: one thread
 Paper   Dickinson Silk Thread
 Watermark   None

 
The 6d.  Mauve

Characteristics

 Shades   Mauve, dull lilac, purple, violet
 Die   Only one die was used
 Threads   None (normal)
 Paper   Variety:   On thick cartridge paper with silk threads
 Watermark  VR upright, inverted, inverted reversed
  Gum   Variety:  green gum

 

Watermark Varieties

Normal
Inverted
Inverted Reversed

Forgeries

The above three stamps consist of cut to shape copies shaved very thin and laid on top of a paper similar in appearance and color.  The cancellations have been extended with india ink onto the "margins" very carefully to match the genuine cancellations on the cut to shape portion of the stamps.  The threads have been simulated with incisions on the back of each stamp.  The only easy way to detect the fraud is by submerging the stamps in watermark fluid, which causes the cut to shape portion of the stamp to become visible.
 
 

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