This is a stoater
A Major Queen Victoria Stamp Rarity
I’ll never forget the first time I set eyes on this rarity.
It was in a dingy office with no windows in London. But the stamp shone brightly…
“This is a stoater”, I cried.
The person at the other end of the table replied:
“It’s a what?”
For a moment, I had forgotten where I was. I had inadvertently reverted to my Scottish dialect.
For some reason, this Scottish expression seemed to fit the bill perfectly to describe what I was looking at.
The word “stoater” is an expression of excellence and meaning a fine example.
It means so much more, but you would need to be Scottish to fully appreciate what I mean.
Let me just show you what I was looking at:
Great Britain 1854 6d Dull lilac (watermark reversed), SG59.
Exceptionally fine and fresh unused original gum four margin vertical pair. Lovely fresh colour and greenish gum.
A very rare multiple accompanied by a 2003 Brandon Certificate. GB Specialised Catalogue No. H3(2)g.
Price: £40,000 ($53,660)
Now let me try to explain in English what is so special about this rarity…
The Victorian Communication Revolution
Embossed postage stamps from Great Britain were issued during the reign of Queen Victoria between 1847 and 1854.
They were a very important part of the communications revolution taking place at the time.
They included three stamp values – 6d, 10d and 1 shilling.
The 1-shilling rate was for postage to the USA, the 10d to Europe, including France and Italy and the 6d covered the rate to Belgium.
The 6d stamp is quite unusual in that it has tinted gum. This was the result of a printing made in error on the gummed side of the paper.
The embossed stamp issues opened the world to postal communication. It brought about staggering growth in international trade as the perfect partner to the steamships and railways of that time.
The failed stamp experiment
Britain’s experimentation with embossed stamps only lasted seven years when they were replaced by new surface printed definitive postage stamps.
You see, the printing process for embossed stamps was ridiculously laborious. Stamps were printed one at a time on silk thread paper. The design was raised and recessed to create a rough surface.
The working die had to be used to apply each impression individually to the printed sheet by hand.
As a result, the impressions were usually poorly spaced, either being too close together or too far apart. It was quite common for stamps to overlap.
Postal workers would then often cut around the octagonal design before they were sold.
In short, the process was totally ineffective.
Few quality examples were produced from the printing process in the first place. Most were used for postage.
Because of this, good quality mint examples are very desirable to collectors, but very difficult to find.
Finding a mint, clean square-cut example with four clear margins is a “jump for joy” moment. Finding this quality in an even rarer pair, not to mention a reversed watermark, is an exciting find indeed.
The Investment Merits
Based on the SG catalogue, the 1854 6d dull lilac vertical pair shows growth of 167% (16.7% pa) in the past decade. In the context of the economic conditions prevailing during a large part of this time, I think this is a good example of the defensive qualities of investing in rare stamps.
The strong growth rates of the embossed stamps are no surprise to me considering the perfect investment recipe we have:
- Embossed British stamps are particularly interesting as they include three features that are unique to British philately – the method of die production, the method of printing and the use of silk thread paper
- Fine quality examples of the embossed stamp issues are extremely rare because of the flawed production process at that time
- Fine quality examples rarely appear on the market. I don’t know of any other mint examples of the 1854 6d dull lilac you could purchase anywhere else
- The embossed stamp issues are a must have for any serious Queen Victoria stamp collection, ensuring consistent demand
The current value of £40,000 ($53,660) is quite modest for such a rare multiple. By way of comparison a marginal mint “two penny blue” pair would set you back £125,000 ($167,790).
Call me immediately on +44(0)1534 639998.
Or email me today at email@example.com.
I look forward to adding this premier league philatelic rarity to your collection.
CEO, Just Collecting Limited
PS. Interesting fact: The original master die did not show the pendant curl at the back of Queen Victoria’s hair, although it was used at the Royal Mint for coinage.
A series of sub-dies were made from this master die with the curl being added back to the hair. As a result, the curl is different on each stamp value.
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