In this article I have used the information contained in the written records and other material held in the Crown Agents Philatelic and Security Printing Archive, and the Universal Postal Union Collection. These records provide the story of the printings and despatches of this stamp over a period of some eight years.
The Crown Agents written records referred to include the Requisition Books which show details of orders, quantities and despatches, the Plate Issue Books, which note the issue and return of printing plates, the Paper Issue Books, which record the issue of paper to the printers, and the Register of Dies, Plates, etc. A number of gaps occur in the records, and these are noted accordingly. The Register of Dies, Plates, etc. does not contain any references to Ascension for this period.
This stamp was first issued on the 12th May 1938, the design being similar to the 5d value of the King George V pictorial issue of 1934, showing a view of 'Three Sisters' but being printed from new plates. Two plates were used for all the printings, both 60 set, a Border, or Duty Plate, No. 1, and a Vignette, or Key Plate, also No. 1.
The records of this value start with an imperforate proof in the issued colours, blue and black, marked 'Approved for colours', dated 27th October, 1937, produced by Messrs Thomas De La Rue & Co, who were responsible for all the printings of this stamp. A specimen copy of this stamp is included in the Universal Postal Union Collection perforated 'SPECIMEN' in a horseshoe pattern.
FIRST PRINTING: REQUISITION 1586/3
This requisition called for 1,500 sheets (90,000 stamps), the delivery due date not being given. A total of 1,585 sheets (95,100 stamps) were despatched on the 7th April 1938. The remarks column in the Requisition Book states 'New Issue (in red ink) G.P.O. specimens & Dealers:- 6d - 30,000. Exact quantities to Ascension'. The Plate Issue Book indicates that the Border, or Duty, Plate was issued on 17th February 1938 and returned on 2nd March. There is no issue date for the Vignette, or Key Plate, but it was returned on 28th March, 1938. The Specimens column notes 'All New Issue'. Unfortunately, there is no Paper Issue Book record for this requisition in the Archives.
SECOND PRINTING: REQUISITION 2549/1
Some 500 sheets (30,000 stamps) were ordered on this requisition, due for delivery on 1st March 1944, A total of 491 sheets (29,460 stamps) were despatched to A2 on 27th April 1944. The remarks column note 'Urgently required, Bureau - 30,000 - 6d'. The Plate Issue Book records that the Vignette, or Key Plate was issued on 11th February and returned on 14th February 1944, and the Border, or Duty, Plate was issued on 25th February and returned on the same day. The Specimens column notes 'H.M. 4, D.L.R. 12’. The Paper Issue Book shows that 500 printed sheets plus 76 extra sheets for waste, a total of 576 printed sheets were issued in papers on the 11th February 1944. This paper was identified as being 'Large, White, Thick.'
THIRD PRINTING: REQUISITION 2935/2
A total of 1,250 sheets (75,000 stamps), was ordered under this requisition, with a delivery due date of 14th December 1945. A total of 1,297 sheets (77,820 stamps) were eventually despatched on the 6th February 1946. The Remarks column shows 'For Bureau (underlined in red ink), 45,000 - 6d. For exchange (also underlined in red ink) - see cover'.
The Plate Issue Book does not record the issue date for the Vignette, or Key Plate but it was returned on 16th January 1946. The Border, or Duty, Plate was issued on 11th January and also returned on 16th January. The Specimens column notes 'Specimens H.M. 4'. The Paper Issue Book shows that 1,250 printed sheets plus 250 extra for waste, a total of 1,500, were issued. As previously, 4 printed sheets were cut from each mill sheet, so 375 mill sheets were issued in papers on 11th January, 1946. This paper issue is recorded as 'D.L.R. Large, White, Thick (gummed)'.
- R. Vousden, GEOSIX No 194, 1999.