A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Australia Georges - the KGV stamps

1932 Scott 120 5p brown buff 
"King George V"; Die II
Into the Deep Blue
Australia, which only became federated in 1901, was of two minds when it came to the British monarchy: either for or against.

The "Roo stamps of January, 1913 were favored by the Labor Party, who was anti-monarchist, and in power at the time.

King George V (who took an active interest in stamps) was a little puzzled, and not a little put out that he did not appear on Australia's first regular issue.

But the Liberal Party came into power, and they were much more friendly toward the monarchy.

Hence, the "Georges" or the "KGV Heads" stamps, were launched in December, 1913 with the engraved 1p red.

The "Roos and the "KGV" issues then more or less alternated with each other.

I covered an introduction to the "Roos with a prior post.

With some trepidation, as the KGV stamp issues are a specialist's delight par excellence, let's take a look at these issues.

The major issues consists of...
* 1913 1p red engraved - 1 stamp
(The rest were all produced typographically)
* 1914-24 Wmk 9 - 19 stamps
* 1918-23 Wmk 11- 4 stamps
* 1924 Unwmk - 2 stamps
* 1926-28 Wmk 203 - Perf 14 - 8 stamps
* 1926-30 Wmk 203 - Perf 13 1/2 X 12 1/2 - 11 stamps
* 1931-36 Wmk 228 - 8 stamps

Then the real fun begins, as, besides watermark and perforation differences, there are Die differences (1p, 2p, 3p, 5p), many recognized color shades, inverted/sideways watermarks, comb/line perforation variations, and "rough paper" types. The 1p "red" denomination in particular can afford a life time of study.

Australian specialists then look for consistent plate flaws and re-touching, with some of them illustrated in the Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970 catalogue (highly recommended). But there are subtle flaws found for all the denomination stamps, which means the specialist can attempt plating. If one is into this level of interest and parsing, then one should obtain the Brusden-White "The Australian Commonwealth Specialists' Catalogue" King George V", 2014 Edition.

Then there are the so called "Tin Shed" flaws, or one-off flaws that are not consistent. They are not as useful, obviously, as consistent flaws. Apparently, the gum would run in a "Tin Shed" environment, which was subject to extreme heat, and end up with the gum on top of the paper while the stamp was printed. Later, the collector would soak off the stamp from the cover, the gum would dissolve, taking with it the overlying ink, and leaving a flaw.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
20 Shillings = 1 Pound
1913 Scott 17 1p carmine "King George V"
The first stamp showing KGV, with a kangaroo and emu on either side, was an engraved specimen, the December 9, 2013 unwatermarked 1p carmine. (SG calls the color "red". For this post, I will be using Scott's designated colors and catalogue numbers primarily, although a KGV enthusiast might find it more useful to switch to the SG colors and numbers.)

This stamp, designed by R. Harrison, proved to be the only one printed using engraved/recess. The frugal Aussies realized that it was twice as expensive to produce, and switched over to typography for the remainder of the issues.

Part of 1914-24 Issue in Deep Blue
Wmk 9 
The largest KGV typographic issue produced was the nineteen stamp output between 1914-1924 on wmk 9 paper. All of the stamps of the 1914-24 issue were perf 14.

Watermark 9
"Wide Crown and Narrow A"
The "Wide Crown and Narrow A" watermark was also used on the "Roos. There is only one crown and "A" visible on each stamp. If there are parts of multiple crowns and "A"'s visible on a stamp, then the watermark is Wmk 11. (Will be shown later.)

BTW, you can find stamps with offset watermarks - that is part of the Crown and A showing on the lower portion of the stamp and the part of the Crown and A showing on the upper portion of the stamp. Do not confuse with Wmk 11.

1918 Scott 24 1 1/2p chocolate "KGV"
Typographed; Wmk 9
As I mentioned, the KGV Heads can be found with color variations.

For the 1 1'2p, here is the "chocolate" color (Scott 24). There is also a black-brown color (Scott 24b) listed.

Scott 24a 1 1/2p red brown
Minor Number Color Shade
And the red brown shade (Scott 24a) is illustrated here. SG gives many of the color shades major numbers.

1920 Scott 27 2p brown orange "KGV"
This 2p has a brown-orange color.

1920 Scott 27 2p Color Shade
A color shade of the 2p brown- orange, although I don't think this qualifies as "orange", which is a minor number in Scott.

1915 Scott 31 4p orange "KGV"
The 4p "orange" (CV $3+) also comes in a rarer color - yellow (Scott 31a CV $20+). 

1914 Scott 21 1p red "KGV"
Die I (SG Die I)
We are now going to embark on a closer examination of the Wmk 9 1p "red", which can be found with three Dies, color variations, and "rough paper".

Die I close-up
Die I is considered "normal". As we learn more about Die Ia (SG Die II) and Die II (SG Die III), you can refer back to this scan for comparison.

Scott 21a 1p carmine rose
Die I
Carmine rose is a recognized minor color for the 1p Die I stamp. Color determination, though, is tricky, without having a lot of experience. So this WW collector, lacking that requisite with KGV Heads, puts a "tentative" label on any color choice. ;-)
The "Penny Red" Shades
Orlo-Smith Shade Diagram
A reason for the many color variations for the 1p red is because the red ink normally used was not available from Germany during WW I. So, mixing and matching of inks that were available to approximate "red" was done - an inexact science as the shade graph attests.

Scott 21d 1p scarlet; Die I (SG 47)
Unsurfaced Rough Paper
Unsurfaced rough Wmk 9 paper, locally gummed, was used between November, 1916-1918.

Scott 21b 1p red
Die Ia (SG Die II)
O.K., so now let's get into the Die differences.

This is a 1p red pair, and they both show Die Ia (SG DieII) characteristics.

 Die Ia (SG Die II)
Small white spur below the right serif
at the foot of the "1" in left value tablet
Look in the lower left value tablet. Note the white spur?

By tradition, this is considered a Die Ia (SG Die II) for the 1p.

Now, it turns out that this was not a Die change, but a constant printing flaw due to a defective roller-die.. It can be found on all stamps of the right pane, upper left plate, second and third vertical rows. Each of the twenty stamps has a slightly different impression of the "spur".

Scott 21e 1p rose red (SG 47i)
Die Ia (SG Die II); Rough Paper
A reputed example of rose red and Die Ia.

1918 Scott 21f 1p bright rose (SG 47j)
Die Ia (SG Die II); Rough paper
Taken from a 1p red specialized collection, this is a Die Ia stamp on rough paper. If the "bright rose" color is correct, than this is a CV $100 stamp.

My understanding is that the specialist also uses long wave UV light for color determination.

1918 Scott 21c 1p carmine
Die II (SG Die III)
Printed on War Savings paper
Now, let's look at the 1p Die II (SG calls these Die III) stamp. They were produced in 1918 on Wmk 9 War Savings Stamp paper.

* The outline shading surrounding the head bust is uniform in thickness. (Compare with Die I close-up shown earlier, where the shading varies in thickness.)

Scott 21c 1p carmine close-up
Die II (SG Die III)
* There is a white horizontal scratch that goes through the lower bust - count up between the eight and ninth red horizontal line from the bottom of the portrait oval, and look over at the bust. You should see a (subtle) white line cross over, interrupting the vertical red lines.

* On either side of the "One Penny" tablet is a horizontal red and white lined thin figure. Where the figures meet the red background of the "One Penny" tablet, the figures are outlined by a white vertical line.

Scott 21 1p red close-up
Die I (SG Die I)
Compare to Die I....

* No white scratch across the bust.

* Where the "One Penny" tablet meet the horizontal red and white thin figures on either side, there is no vertical white line outlining the figures.

1p Die II (SG Die III)
Emu close-up
Back to Die II (SG Die III)...

* There are two (slanting vertical) white lines between the back of the Emu neck and body.

1p Die I (SG Die I)
Emu close-up
Compare to Die I....

* Only one white line travels between the back of the Emu neck and the body.

Well, that's enough on the 1p "red" and the Wmk 9 1914-24 issue.

But we will return later to some of the stamp denominations from this Wmk 9 issue, as we compare more Dies.

1918 Scott 60 1/2p emerald "KGV"
Wmk 11
In 1918, a four stamp KGV Heads issue was released on Wmk 11 paper.

Watermark 11
"Multiple Crown and A"
Watermark 11, in contrast to Watermark 9, will show several crown  and "A" parts on one stamp.

This watermark was not used for the 'Roo issues.

1919 Scott 63 & 63a 1 1/2p chocolate & red brown
Wmk 11
You can see the large difference in color for these Wmk 11 1 1/2p stamps. Scott has the red brown as a minor number, while SG sensibly gives each a major number.

I should mention here that there were also, in 1924, two unwatermarked stamps released - a 1p green (Die I), and a 1 1/2p carmine.

1927 Scott 74 4 1/2p dark violet
Wmk 203; Perf 14
Between 1926-28, an eight stamp issue, using perforation 14, was released. One quick way to check for Perf 14 is to count 17 horizontal perfs.

The paper used was watermarked 203.

Scott lists most of these stamps with Perf 14 as minor numbers, and as a subset of the major number Perf 13 1/2 X 12 1/2. SG gives each perf their own major number.

BTW, there is another Die of the 4 1/2p, but it was not officially issued without a surcharge overprint. However, indeed, some of the non surcharged stamps escaped, were used postally, and now are valued @ ~$40 CTO, (although not formally listed in SG).

I mentioned that this other Die is found with the issued surcharged 4 1/2p stamp. Would you like to see it?

1930 5p on 4 1/2p dark violet
This 4 1/2p Die differs by...

* "FOURPENCE HALFPENNY" words thicker than original Die.

* "4" has square rather than tapering serifs

* Thin vertical white lines on either side of the"FOURPENCE HALFPENNY"  tablet have been added.

Watermark 203
"Small Crown and A Multiple"
Getting back to Watermark 203, one will find multiple small crowns and "A"'s. This watermark was also used for the 'Roos.

The only confusion would be if one would mistake this watermark for Wmk 228- which has a "C of A' rather than an "A". (And, yes, I've done that ;-)

1926 Scott 66 1/2p orange
Wmk 203; Perf 13 1/2 X 12 1/2
In Scott, the major number Wmk 203 issue of eleven stamps is Perf 13 1/2 X 12 1/2.

They were issued between 1926-1930.

Although it is not a source of confusion, because issues can be separated out by watermark, there are several new dies found on the Wmk 203 denomination stamps.

Should we take a look?

1922 Scott 28 2p red, Die I
Wmk 9
2p red Die I  (SG Die I)

* Pearls in the crown are not the same size.

* The left vertical frame by the kangaroo is thick and uneven.

* Note the thin "wasp waist" attachment between the upper and lower portions of the "2".

* Note the thin "TWO PENCE".

1930 Scott 71 2p red, Die II
Wmk 203
2p red Die II (SG Die III)

* (1) Pearls in the crown are all the same size.

* (2) The left vertical frame by the kangaroo is thin and even.

* (3)The waist of the "2"'s is clearly thicker, as well as the body of the "2"'s.

* (4) The "TWO PENCE" script is thicker.

Scott also mentions that that the Die II has a white vertical line in place where the "TWO PENCE" tablet meets the horizontal lines fixture on either side of the tablet.

Stanley Gibbons also lists a SG Die II type (which Scott does not). The SG Die II (not shown) has SG Die III characteristics of (1) and (2), but not (3), and (4).

1924 Scott 30 3p ultramarine, Die I
Wmk 9
3p ultramarine Die I

* Note the thinner "3"'s and "THREE PENCE".

* The background horizontal lines run into solid color along parts of the design.

1929 Scott 72 3p ultramarine, Die II
Wmk 203
3p ultramarine Die II

* Note the thicker "3"'s and "THREE PENCE".

* Thin white lines shield the background horizontal lines around the oval and shield.

1930 Scott 106 2p on 1 1/2p rose red
Wmk 203
In 1930, two stamps were surcharged.

We already met the 5p on 4 1/2p dark violet, as we observed new die characteristics.

The other stamp was a 2p on 1 1/2p rose red, because the letter rate had likewise increased from 1 1/2p to 2p.

And the underlying 1 1/2p rose red is also from new steel plates from a new Die. The new underlying  1 1/2p was issued in 1927, with Wmk 203, and Perf 13 1/2 X 12 1/2. They are considered the Ash printings, and the ink is shiny. SG calls the color "Golden Scarlet".

Because the stamp is wmk 203, recognition of the new die is not necessary for identification purposes - the wmk identification will suffice. One might note that the lower horizontal stroke in the terminal "E" of "HALFPENCE" is elongated with the new die.

1932 Scott 120 5p brown buff, Die II
Wmk 228
Between 1931-36, an eight stamp KGV Heads issue on Wmk 228 paper was released.

The 5p denomination shows Die II, which is characterized by...

* The top of the "5" numeral is flat.

* There are white vertical lines at the ends of the short horizontal line figures on each side of "FIVE PENCE".

Watermark 228
"Small Crown and C of A Multiple"
Watermark 228 has the "C of A" and small crown. The only (minor) difficulty with Wmk 228 is differentiating the markings from Wmk 203, "Small Crown and A Multiple".

1915 Scott 36 5p orange brown, Die I
Wmk 9, Line Perf
And getting back to the Die I/Die II differences, let's look at  the 5p Die I stamp...

* The "5" is slightly curved on top.

Comb Perf (L) vs Line Perf (R)
BTW, this is an example of a single line perforated stamp. For Line perfs, the horizontal and vertical perfs are done in separate steps. This leads to the the perf corners of the stamp looking somewhat random - they are not all uniform in appearance. And the line perfs have more pointed corner perfs.

Single-line perf of the KGV Heads can be found for the 1/2p green (rare), 1p red (late 1914), and the 5p orange brown. The perfs are actually 14.2 X 14.2.

The rest of the KGV Heads were Comb perfs. The comb perf 14 is actually 14.25 X 14. Comb perfs should show uniform stamp perf corners (identical mirror image), and often a "double perf" at the corners.

Official 1914 Scott OB32 4p violet 
"Perforated O S"; Wmk 9
Between 1913-1931, stamps were perforated "OS" for official Australian government use.

Poorly centered sheets were generally selected for Official stamps. Actually, this specimen looks pretty good. ;-)

Because the stamps were poorly centered, and collectors did not like "holes" in their stamps, not many official stamps were saved. This is reflected in the rather high CV for these stamps today.

Official 1932 Scott O3 2p red, Die II
Wmk 203
In 1931, the government began overprinting official stamps.

Three official stamps in 1932 were issued on Wmk 203 paper.

Official 1932 Scott O7 1p green, Die I
Wmk 228
In 1932-33, six stamps on Wmk 228 paper were issued for official use.

This ends the review of the KGV Heads.

And, for those who read this far, there is a bonus... ;-)

1934 Scott 147 2p copper red "Merino Sheep"
Die I
In 1934, the 2p copper red "Merino Sheep" stamp was produced with two dies.

For Die I, the released November 1, 1934 stamp has the shading of the background hill as uneven - light, dark etc.

1934 Scott 147a 2p copper red
Die II
For Die II, the shading of the released November 26, 1934 stamp has the hill as over all dark.

Do you have examples of both stamps?

Deep Blue
1931-36 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has Scott major number spaces for all the KGV Head stamps.

In addition, Steiner provides spaces for the seven minor number 1926-28 Wmk 203 Perf 14 stamps.

Of course, if one is doing an in depth study on colors and dies of the 1p "red", one will need supplementary pages.

1933 Scott 118 4p olive bistre
Out of the Blue
I learned a great deal about the KGV Heads by preparing this post- enough so I feel comfortable collecting them, at least at the level of a WW collector. I hope you do too.

The KGV Head information is available scattered throughout the catalogues, web sites, and stamp forums. .Much of the basic information is consolidated here, which should enable the WW collector to get a central overview of these fascinating stamps.

Note: Sources: Scott 1840-1940 catalogue; SG 1840-1970 British Commonwealth catalogue; Stamp Forums- SCF Forum, Stampboards, The Stamp Forum. Noted especially is the Stampboards thread on the KGV Heads that has been going since 2007, and has 378 pages at the time of this post!

Special appreciation and acknowledgement to Rod222 of SCF Forum, who allowed me to use The Penny Reds- Shades scan.

The comb/line perf scan image appears to be in the public domain.

Australia 'Roos - Watermarks & Dies
Australia - Bud's Big Blue

Comments appreciated!


  1. Did KGV 1p 1914 had any wmk 11 Multiple Crown and A ?

    1. No, the 1914 1p has wmk 9.

      However, as I pointed out..."BTW, you can find (Wmk 9) stamps with offset watermarks - that is part of the Crown and A showing on the lower portion of the stamp and the part of the Crown and A showing on the upper portion of the stamp. Do not confuse with Wmk 11."

  2. Can you cover the king George v stamps with perforated letters pls? I haven’t been able to find any info on them

    1. Hi Annie
      If you mean the Official stamps, they were perforated "O S" on stamps beginning in 1902 with the Australian States, and then in 1913 (Three types) by the Commonwealth. For the Commonwealth, the issues were released between 1913- 1930, with Stanley Gibbons giving them catalogue numbers between O1 - O122.

      So, the Stanley Gibbons catalogues do cover these perforated specimens for Australia.

      Good luck with your investigation!

  3. I found this really help as I was sorting my King George stamps today. Thanks for all the research.

  4. I found this really helpful as I was sorting my King George V stamps today. Thank you for all the research.

  5. ¿Me pueden ayudar con lo siguiente? ¿Por qué los sellos que tengo de Australia tienen tres líneas pequeñas (|||), color lila, impresas en el anverso?

    1. "Can you help me with the following? Why do my stamps from Australia have three small purple lines (|||) printed on the front?"
      ?? Don't know??

  6. Mate....your page and advice was hugely helpful
    Keep up the good work

  7. Thanks for your information very helpful

  8. The 1 1/2 chocolate (Scott 24) and red brown (Scott 24 a) pictures provide the help I needed until I arrived at the black brown (Scott 24b). What does that look like?