CHAT: The US Newspaper Stamps, or: The Headaches of a Philatelist (part 3)

(If you'd like to start reading from the beginning, then click HERE!)

1 August 2017
My task for the day is to go through the Essay Proof Journals I have, and see if I can find anything of interest. Now, I have PDFs and hard copies, but I'm doing this after having worked in front of a computer all morning, so I don't feel like reading all the PDFs on a computer screen, and therefore opt for the hard copies.

Needless to say I do find two references which are important to developing the story. The EPJ of July 1947 includes a paragraph stating that the dies were sent by the ABNC to the BEP. These were used as the foundation for the new 1895 issue. The vignettes of the original issues were transferred to a new die. This was done by taking them up on a transfer roll and then cutting away the frame and lettering. So this would imply that all the new vignettes have the old engraving as their foundation, which corroborates the theory that GFC Smillie 'worked over' the die of the old $3 vignette.

The second find dates from the EPJ of January 1952. It deals with a then forthcoming auction of unique newspaper stamp material, including the die essay of the $24, which is signed by Charles Skinner. Now, Skinner was a vignette engraver, so it would make sense that even though he is mentioned here as one of the designers, he will also have engraved the vignette of this particular value. So that's another name added to the list.

I also found an intriguing and maybe slightly worrying feature on GFC Smillie. The feature includes what is claimed to be an exhaustive list of Smillie's engravings, based on his own meticulous records. And they do not include the newspaper stamps! But my theory is that since he 'only' worked over the old dies, he may not have regarded them as proper engravings. But his signature would imply his involvement, so I'm still soldiering on with him on the list.

2 August 2017
In wades my philatelic buddy G, with a range of mentions in various philatelic publications. They're all interesting with regard to the general story, especially giving background to why they were issued, which may come in handy if I decide to try and write a full-length feature on these stamps for one of the magazines. But of particular interest is John N Luff's The Postage Stamps of the United States, published in 1902.

Whilst it gives no information on individual engravers, it does clarify the transitional phase. Apparently, it had always been the idea that the BEP would come with a new series, but because of teething problems they had to print a few of the old stamps because stock was running low. The 1894 printings were done from the old plates of the ABNC. They were re-entered, which makes for clear and sharp impressions, but that all means that the engravings were still the original. So they can be grouped under the engravers of the original dies.

To be continued. Click HERE for part 4.