George VI Pence Plates

The pence values were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson. Although the ½d value was issued on 1 March 1938, the 1d on 1 July 1938, the 1½d on 26 July 1938 and the 3d in September 1941, the higher pence values were not issued until 1 May, 1947.

The plates

A feature of this issue is the large number of plates that were used. The position of the plate numbers also changed over time and that is the subject of this page.

Plate number only in left margin

The first plates were 1 and 2 for the ½d green (isued 1 March 1938) and 3 and 4 for the 1d red (issued 1 July 1938). In these plates, the plate number appeared only in the left hand margin opposite the 4th row of stamps.

plate 1 plate 2 plate 3 plate 5

In addition, a booklet plate numbered 5 was produced for the 1d and stamps were issued on 1 July 1938. The plates had 210 impressions (sufficient for 35 booklet panes) and were organised so that 15 of the booklet panes had their watermark inverted and 20 had normal watermark. Only 1 pane in 35 shows the plate number in the selvedge. The booklet staple marks are visible in the selvedge.

Plate numbers in both left and right margins

Subsequently, plates 9 and 10 (issued April) and 16, 17, 18 and 19 (issued 1 July 1938) were laid down for the ½d green. From plate 16 onwards, the perforations extend through the left and right margins. Stamps from a ½d booklet plate were issued in November 1938. The plate number was 22, but it does not appear on any of the panes.

plate 16 plate 17 plate 18

plate 19 left plate 19 left

plate 15 plate 6 right plate 6 left

Plates 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 were laid down for the 1d red and stamps issued on 1 July 1938.

plate 21 left george vi penny halfpenny

Plates 20 and 21 were laid down for the 1½d chocolate and stamps issued on 26 July 1938 ready for use in the Empire Air Mail Scheme. In these plates, the plate numbers appeared in both the left and right margins opposite the 4th row of stamps.

In November 1938, 1½d stamps were issued in booklets from a special plate numbered 24 although the number does not appear on any panes. Some panes had the watermark inverted.

The paper for all the above issues was fine with a vertical mesh.

Change of Colour

Plate numbers in both left and right margins

The ½d in chestnut exists printed from plates 17, 18 and 19 and first appeared on 10 July 1941. They were printed on fine paper with a horizontal mesh. It was issued through stamp vending machines, but stamps were supplied from the Stamps Branch G.P.O. in Wellington for the benefit of stamp collectors. It was May 1947 before these stamps from sheets where put on general sale.

plate 17

plate 17

plate 19 left plate 19 right

Plate numbers moved

plate 21 r plate 20 l plate 20 r plate 20 l

The 1½d in scarlet was initially printed on fine paper with a horizontal mesh from plates 20 and 21 with the plate numbers at the side and the imprint at the centre of the bottom margin.

However, stamps from these sheets were not issued until 1944 and most did not go on sale 1948.

plate 21 at bottom

A decision was made that the plate numbers should appear at the bottom centre of the plate under the imprint. Consequently, plate numbers 20 and 21 were removed from the side and re-inscribed at the bottom.

Stamps from sheets with the plate number moved to the bottom, although printed later, were the first issued on 1 February 1944. They were printed on a coarse paper with vertical mesh.

plate 20 at bottom plate 21 at bottom

Plate numbers at centre of bottom margin

The following plates also appeared with the plate number at the centre of the bottom margin. The dates are when they were first issued.

plate 77 plate 79

plate 58

An interesting feature of the George VI stamps from these plates is that many were first issued years after they had been printed. For example, with the 1d green, printings from plates 29, 32, 33, 34 and 36 were issued on 21 July 1941 and some sheets from plates 28, 30 and 31 were issued in 1944 while most sheets from these plates went on sale in 1948. The reason is that stocks were dispersed throughout the country for safe keeping after Japan entered the World War II in December 1941. Other supplies were lost when the ships carrying them were sunk on the way to New Zealand. The Centennial issue in 1940, the Peace issue in 1946 and the continued use of many values of the Second Pictorials also contributed to the delays.

The first sheets of the twopence value were printed in 1941, but were not issued until 1947.

Stamps from these plates exist in fine paper with both horizontal and vertical mesh and on coarse paper with vertical mesh. The 1d green and the 2d also exist on the coarse paper with horizontal mesh that was primarily used for the shilling values.

Plate numbers at bottom left

plate 100 plate 107

plate 107 plate 92 plate 95

The next move was that the imprint and plate numbers appeared at the left of the bottom margin. That layout was used with the initial appearance of the higher pence values and occurred on the following plates:

Stamps are on both fine and coarse paper with vertical mesh.

plate 94 plate 90

There are two distinct shades of the 4d. The 4d on fine paper was a bright reddish paper while that on coarse paper was in dull purple. The shades exist on both plates.

Plate numbers at bottom right

plate 133 plate 131 plate 143

Finally, the imprint was shortened and it, together with the plate numbers, appeared at the bottom right.

That occurred on the following plates:

The stamps are on coarse paper with vertical mesh.

Counter Coil Pairs

Rolls were made up and used by counter clerks in special machines to speed up the dispensing of stamps. They were first used with the 2d, 5d, 6d, 8d and 1s second pictorials. The sevedge joins had numbers applied with rubber stamps.

4d coil 4d coil

Rubber stamps were also used in the first George VI issue with the 1d, 2d, 3d 4d, 5d and 6d values. Later the numbers were printed and exist on 2d, 3d, 4d, 5d, 6d, 8d, 9d, 1s and 1s 3d coil pairs.

The shown coil pair numbered 8 has both shades of the 4d.

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The above information is taken from The Postage Stamps of New Zealand Vols 2 and 4, published by the Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand in 1950 and 1964. All scans were made by the author.