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Scott 39 ABNCo archives rotated

Top twenty positions from American Bank Note Company printer's specimen sheet made in August, 1891 for the new plate of 100 stamps

Meyer and Harris identify and illustrate the various arrangements (layouts) of stamps and selvage imprints on the plates used for the Bank Note Issues. Arrows used in the Meyer and Harris illustrations point the direction in which the bank note company's selvage imprint reads.

Layout I and I-A
50 subjects each

Layout I

Layout I has 50 subjects arranged 5x10. In this plate, the words Ua kakauia no ka Ahui Palapala Banka Aupuni. Nu Yoka are on the left selvage, reading upward. On the right selvage, the words National Bank Note C New York appear, reading downward. Layout I was used for plates made to print Scott Nos. 31 (2 orange-red Kamehameha IV), 32 (5 bluish-green Kamehameha V), 39 (except 1891 and 1892 printings) (5 ultramarine Kamehameha V) and 52C (5 indigo Kamehameha V). For details on the 5 stamps, See BANK NOTE ISSUE - Study of Scott 32, Scott 39 and Scott 52C.

Plate layout I

Layout I-A

Layout I-A is the same layout but with the ABNCo monogram inserted in the left selvage, alongside position 16, and in the right selvage alongside position 35. Layout I-A was used only for printing Scott No. 31a (2 vermilion Kamehameha IV). The only plate with Layout 1-A was actually the same plate used to print Scott No. 31 but modified to add the ABNCo monograms. See Layout of Scott 31 without Monogram and Scott 31a with Monogram.

Plate layout I-A

Layout I inscriptions and Layout I-A monogram

Left imprint
reads from bottom to top

Right imprint
reads from top to bottom

ABCo monogram
in Layout I-A

Left imprint
Right imprint
31a_monogram

31 with ABNCo logo

Layout II and II-A
50 subjects each

Layout II

Layout II also has 50 subjects and differs from Layout I only in the direction of the right selvage imprint, which reads upward on this layout. This layout was used for the designs of the 1871 and 1875 issues. Layout II was used on plates made for printing Scott Nos. 30a (1 mauve Princess Kamamalu), 30b (1 violet Princess Kamamalu), 30 (1 purple Princess Kamamalu), 33 (6 yellow green Kamehameha V), 33a (6 blue green Kamehameha V), 34 (1871 printing) (18 burgundy Kekuanaoa), 35 (early printings through 1885 printing) (2 brown Kalakaua), 38 (2 lilac rose Kalakaua), 36 (12 black Prince Leleiohoku) and 46 (12 red lilac Prince Leleiohoku).

Plate layout II

Layout II-A

Layout II-A adds the ABNCo monogram in the right selvage imprint (right image, above), along side position 20. Notice, in Layout I-A, the monogram was added to both selvage imprints but in Layout II-A, it is only in the right selvage. Layout II-A was used only for the 1879 (18 claret Kekuanaoa) printing of Scott No. 34. Stamps printed in the 1879 printing differ in color from those of the 1871 printing. See National Bank Note Company - 1871 Stamps.

Plate layout II-A

Layout II inscriptions and Layout II-A monogram

Left imprint
reads from bottom to top

Right imprint
reads from bottom to top

ABCo monogram
in Layout II-A

Scott 30a imprint 2
Scott 30a imprint 1
Scott 34 ABNCo monogram

Scott 34a logo 600

Layout III
100 subjects

Layout III has 100 subjects arranged in two panes of 5x10 positions (illustration above). The gutter between the two panes is 4mm wide between the two selvage imprints [the gutter width between the opposing stamps is 12mm]. Selvage imprints are the same as in Layout I (i.e., the Hawaiian words on the left side of each pane read up and the English words on the right sides read down). A paper cutter was used to separate the two panes before shipping so when the sheets arrived at Honolulu, they were 50 stamps each. On the gutter side of each sheet, only a 2mm wide strip of paper separated the NBNCo inscription from the edge of the sheet. Vertical perforations were laid down between the NBNCo inscription and the stamp frame on each side of the gutter (unlike Layout V, where the gutter side of each sheet was left imperforate). Apart from the narrow selvage on the gutter side, a sheet from Layout III would appear identical to a sheet from a Layout I plate.

Only one plate was arranged in Layout III and that plate was used only for the 1891 and 1892 printings of Scott No. 39 (5 ultramarine Kamehameha V) - the Die 2 stamps of Scott no. 39. For details on the 5 stamps, See BANK NOTE ISSUE - Study of Scott 32, Scott 39 and Scott 52C.

Plate layout 3

Some curious facts and speculations surround this Layout:

  • On March 27, 1894, the ABNCo certified to the Hawaiian government that certain "dies and plates engraved by us for the Hawaiian Islands Post Office Department, have been cancelled and destroyed." T. H. Freeland was secretary and manager of the ABNCo at the time and his certification was printed in the American Journal of Philately, Nov. 1, 1896, p. 482-486. Freeland's report shows a 5 100 subject plate was among those destroyed in 1894. We therefore know the 100 plate existed.

  • However, some earlier collectors questioned whether Layout III was used at all and Meyer and Harris (p. 200) listed this Layout "with reservations." On the other hand, Charles Richards, the ardent student of these stamps in the 1920's, reported he inspected ABNCo records and found proof the 100 subject plate was used for the late printings of Scott No. 39. In the end, Meyer and Harris (Chapter 22) favored the Layout III theory using deductive reasoning. That a different plate was used for at least some of the later printings was unmistakable because the selvage imprints were closer to the stamp edges and the circles around the top value numbers were complete (Die 2 stamps). Later collectors used tiny layout dots left from entering the plate to confirm some late printings of Scott No. 39 were done on a 100 subject plate. Finally Layout III was confirmed by lot 85 in Christie's September 12, 1990, sale of the ABNCo archives. This lot was a full specimen sheet of 100 of Scott No. 39 imperforate vertically and misregistered horizontally. Moreover, the sheet was dated August, 1891, proving it was used for the 1891 and 1892 printings. The top block of twenty positions in the specimen sheet is the heading illustration at the top of this page. The cross gutter imprint block of 8 from the same sheet is shown below.

  • The NBNCo name appears in the selvage imprints of the Layout III plate although the first use of the only plate in this layout was made in 1890. Apparently the plate was made before 1879 when the NBNCo merged into the ABNCo. Why the NBNCo produced a plate without an order for the 5 stamp is unclear. The GPU was formed in 1875 and among member nations the foreign mail rate was fixed at 5. Perhaps the NBNCo anticipated Hawaii would immediately join the GPU or its successor the UPU and would order a 5 stamp. This speculation might seem implausible because the NBNCo would also need to assume the stamp design would remain the same despite several monarch changes since the old design of 1866 was made. However, it is equally implausible to think the ABNCo produced a plate with the NBNCo imprints. Richards reported the NBNCo would put its staff to work on anticipated orders during slow periods. His comments were directed to printing stamps but the point could also be applied to the production of a plate.

Gutter block of 8 of Scott 39 from Layout III

Scott 39 gutter block

Inscription details
(turned right side up)

Scott 39 gutter block imprint 2

Scott 39 gutter block imprint 1

Layout IV
50 subjects

Layout IV was first used by the American Bank Note Company. It has 50 subjects laid out 5x10 with American Bank Note Company, New York imprinted in English at four places in the selvage, as shown in the illustration. Plates used for printing Scott Nos. 37 (1 blue Princess Likelike), 42 (except the 1892 printing) (1 green Princess Likelike), 40 (10 black Kalakaua), 44 (10 red-brown Kalakaua), 45 (10 vermilion Kalakaua), 41 (15 Queen Kapiolani), 47 (25 Kamehameha I statue), 48 (50 Lunalilo) and 49 ($1 Queen Emma) were arranged in Layout IV.

Plate layout 4

Layout IV imprints

Scott 41 ABNCo top imprint
Scott 41 ABNCo imprint
Scott 41 ABNCo bottom imprint

Layout V
100 subjects

Layout V was another 100 subject arrangement, made up of two panes of 50 subjects each. In this plate the gutter between the panes is 8mm, measured from the edges of the opposing stamps, according to Meyer and Harris [in the reconstructed gutter block shown below, the space between the stamps measures 7mm]. No imprints were put in the gutter. The two panes were separated by a paper cutter before leaving the manufacturer. Unlike Layout III, where the stamps adjoining the gutter were fully perforated, in Layout V the stamps were left imperforate on the gutter side. Thus, each pane of 50 stamps produced 10 with a straight edge on either the left or right side of the gutter. Imprints identical to those in Layout IV are found at three places on each pane of 50, rather than at four as in Layout IV. Illustrated beneath the plate diagram below is a gutter block from lot 89 in the Christie's sale of ABNCo archives. That lot was two specimen panes joined together and pasted up on paper. One pane was of fifty stamps and the other of forty-nine with a handwritten note that one stamp was lost in the printing room.

Layout V was used to make plates for printing the 1886 to 1890 printings of Scott No. 35 (2 brown Kalakaua) and all printings of Scott Nos. 43a (2 dull red Kalakaua) and 43 (2 carmine rose Kalakaua).

Plate layout 5

Cross Gutter Block From Layout V
(reconstructed by the ABNCo.)

A gutter block from the sheet reconstruction found in the ABNCo archive. This block shows the absence of imprints where they would have been found on a Layout IV or VI plate.

Scott 43 gutter block

Layout VI
100 subjects

Layout VI finishes the various layout arrangements used for printing the Bank Note Issue. This layout is again 100 subjects in two panes of 50 subjects each. The gutter between the opposing stamps is 10mm according to Meyer and Harris. [I cannot confirm their finding, nor do I have any measurement of the space between the imprints.] Unlike Layout V, imprints were placed in the gutter and the stamps adjoining the gutter were fully perforated. Sheets of 50 stamps printed on a Layout VI plate have the same appearance as a sheet printed on a Layout IV plate but the selvage on either the left or right should be much narrower. Also, on close examination the layout dots prove there are 100 subjects and not 50 subjects - thus two panes, not one.

Stamps produced from plates using this layout were the 1892 printing of Scott No. 42 (1 green Princess Likelike) and all printings of Scott No. 52 (2 Queen Liliuokalani). Meyer and Harris suggested some printings of Scott No. 37 (1 blue Princess Likelike) were done on the same Layout VI plate used for Scott No. 42. However, the current consensus is the other way around: early printings of Scott No. 42 were done on the Layout IV plate used for Scott No. 37. Proving early printings of Scott No. 42 were done on the same plate as Scott No. 37 is easy because layout dots on some Scott No. 42 stamps are the same as those on Scott No. 37 stamps. Also, because layout dots in other Scott No. 42 stamps differ from those of Scott No. 37, we know late printings of Scott No. 42 were done on a new Layout VI plate. What is still open for re-evaluation with new evidence is whether any Scott No. 37 stamps were printed on the same Layout VI plate used for Scott No. 42.

Plate layout 6

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