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Plate 1a

Plate 1 of the Penny Black was registered on 15 April 1840. As the plate was not hardened it quickly began showing signs of wear.  The plate was withdrawn for extensive repairs.  Plate 1 before it underwent repair is usually referred to as "Plate 1a," and after repair as,  "Plate 1b."  One important characteristic of Plate 1a is the exaggerated appearance of the 7 O'clock Ray and the near absence of the 5 O'clock Ray.  All stamps of this plate show the characteristic 7 and 5 O'clock Rays with the exception of position CL.  As an aid to tell the difference between stamps from Plate 1a and 1b,  the north-west corner is sufficient in most cases.  However another help is that Plate 1a has: thick base lines, thick check letters, and plate dots are more prevalent on Plate 1a.

 Example of Plate Wear
10 O'clock Ray Flaw
 Example from Plate 1a

Characteristics of Plate 1a

Earliest Known Date of Use 06 May 1840
Flaw  10 O'clock Ray Flaw;  7 O'clock Ray exaggerated;  5 O'clock Ray short
No Flaw CL, RI, SK, SL, TK and TL
Re-entries HB, HD, OA, PB
Shifted Transfer/Basel Shift PL, RL, Sl, TL (Basel Shifts)
Double Letters AE, CD, FA, FI, GI, MF, QA, RI, TK
Burr Rubs None
Recut Side Lines None
Recut Corners None
Constant Varieties DA, DG, EA, GA (smudge in A Square) JA (BLIND A) MK (mark on left margin)
Printing in Red None
Color of Maltese Cross Red
Bleute Paper Exists
Thin Paper Exists
Inverted Watermark Exists

HB: example of re-entry
Area of re-entry highlighted in red

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