This page last updated: 18 November 2002


::: BOSTON ENGRAVED ISSUE - Plating the 5 Value :::

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Examples of Plate Marks on the 5 Blue

Pos 2-Lpanel-600

Line through Honolulu, position 2

Pos 1- BR

Dot cluster, position 1

Pos 5-detail 5

Spur on 5, position 5

Pos 14-detail olulu

Streaked lulu, position 14


In the 13 value the plating key is in the numeral "1" in the lower left value box. (See Plating the 13 value). For the 5 value, reliance is placed on various scratches guide lines and re-entry remnants left when the plate was entered. Early collectors noticed these marks and used them to plate the 5 value. The best text on the subject is Lee, Dr. Robert C. H., "Hawaii, The Boston Engraved Issue", The American Philatelist, Vol. 66, No. 8 [627], p. 601-607, May, 1953; No. 10 [629], p. 759-764, July, 1953.

Unmentioned by Lee or previous commentators are the position dots left from entering the plate.. If it is difficult to find the often faint scratch marks, try matching the position dot. Of course, if the bottom frame line of the stamp is missing, this tool is unavailable. Position dots are found in the lower left corner of stamps from fourteen of the positions, on or near the bottom frame line. Positions one, two five, nine, thirteen and seventeen (the entire left column plus position two from the second column) have no position dots. Fortunately they have clear markings elsewhere to identify them. For ease of comparison, the position dots are collected together at the bottom of this page.

Set out below are the twenty plate positions. On the plate, they are laid out four across and five down (see Sheet Layout). Position numbers start in the top row and read from left to right in each row. The notes by Lee are included and I have added other notes. Detail images accompany each position. Lee's notes have been edited slightly to correct obvious errors. Also, Lee refers to each position as a "die" but the implication that a new die was created for each position is wrong. A single die was created to enter all twenty positions.

Plating some positions is difficult, particularly with the bluish paper of Scott No. 9. The faint blue ink marks created when ink filled the scratches blends with the bluish paper. For these stamps, I often rely first on the position dot if one is visible. With the white paper stamps, Scott Nos. 5, 8 and 10, some of the marks are faint to the point of disappearing and others are in margin spaces that sometimes have been trimmed away. In these cases, using the position dots can be handy.

Before embarking on a review of the various plate characteristics, mention should be made of a constant dot and line found in every position in the upper right value box. The dot to the right of the left inner frame line of the box and the short horizontal line extending from the left inner frame line just above the bottom inner frame line of the box both appear in every position.

Pos 19-detail UR5

The upper right value box of position 1.
Just to the left of the inner frame line, about opposite the upper part of the vertical stroke on the "5" is a dot. Every position shows the same dot. Also, near the bottom of the left inner frame line, a horizontal line extends into the box a short distance just above the bottom inner frame line. This line is found in every position.


None of this study applies to the 1889 re-issue. Those stamps were made from a new plate so the marks just mentioned in the upper right value box and the scratch marks, position dots and other characteristics of the early stamps are all absent from the 1889 stamps, Scott No. 10R and the overprint 10RS (listed in Scott as reprints (official imitation).

Position 1 [row 1, column 1]

Pos 1

Notes
Lee: There is a spur in the upper right figure "5" that points left and upward from the junction of the vertical stroke and the loop. There is a guide line mm above the top frameline, extending from above the letter "T" in "POSTAGE" to the upper right corner, ending in a dot. There are also almost two indistinct dots in the lower panel, in the space to the right of "Cts." A small line is below the dash in epaulet, left.
Other: Compare the spur in the "5" of this position with that in position 5. In position 1, the spur touches the "5" at the bottom of the vertical stroke but in position 5, it touches part way up.
The dots in the lower right side of the bottom panel really are a cluster of dots in a vertical scratch. There is no position dot in the lower left corner.

Details

Pos 1- detail 5

Upper left "5" with the spur connecting at the bottom of the vertical stroke

Compare the spur in this position with the one in position 5

Pos 5-detail 5
Pos 1- BR

Right side of bottom panel showing cluster of dots

Pos 1- UR

Frame line at upper right showing guide line above it

Pos 1- L epaullete

Left epaulet has a short diagonal line just beneath the two dashes

Position 2 [row 1, column 2]

Pos 2

Notes:
Here is the famous line-through-Honolulu stamp. Although other positions have a similar line, they are faint and not what the catalogue means. A true "line-through-Honolulu" stamp must come from Position 2 and have the other characteristics of a Position 2 stamp.
Lee: From the guideline dot in the bottom frameline, a guide line extends upward until the last "u" of "Honolulu." This line is strong in the lower panel and through the word "Honolulu" and is listed in Scott's catalogue as the "line through Honolulu" variety. There are also guide lines in the right panel passing through "Haw" and "n Is.," of "Hawaiian Is." Scattered dots and scratches are found in the lower panel, the right panel and the right margin.
Other: Note the strong scratch mark at the upper right corner of the bottom panel. The left epaulette has a small dot to the left and beneath the dash. There is no position dot in this stamp.

Details

Pos 2-Lpanel-600

Left panel showing the line through Honolulu.

Pos 2-Rpanel-600

Right panel showing the multiple dots and scratches

Pos 2-Tframeline

Top frameline showing the guideline just outside of it and the position dots at the right end.

Pos 2- L epaullete

Left epaulette with a small dot to the left and below the dash

Position 3 [row 1, column 3]

Pos 3

Notes
Lee: There is a guide line about 1 mm above the top frameline, extending from one side to the other and ending in a dot at the right. There is a faint [vertical] scratch extending from the "F" in "FIVE" to the portrait, and a faint line above the bottom frameline at the left. Indistinct spots are present in the lower left corner. Many dots to the left of left outer frameline.
Other: A vertical scratch also appears beneath the "F" of "FIVE" with a visible position dot at the bottom end. A faint horizontal guideline runs just inside the bottom frameline beneath the "F."

Details

Pos 3-Lpanel

Left panel showing the multiple dots in the margin between positions 2 and 3

Pos 3-detail F

Vertical scratches in the vicinity of the F of FIVE and vertical guideline beneath the F

Pos 3-top frameline

Top frameline showing the guideline above it with a position dot at the right end.

Position 4 [row 1, column 4]

Pos 4

Notes:
Lee: In the word "Honolulu," there is a line in the "H" just above the bar, and another line that extends from the tip of the last "l" to above the "u." There is a dot below the "H" in the inner frameline. The left lower corner has an indistinct dot and small scratches. There is a blurred line superimposed upon the vertical stroke of the upper right figure "5" as in Position 9 [and 13 and 17].
Other: In addition to the points Lee noted, there are guidelines just inside and outside the frameline in the lower right corner.

Details

Pos 4-detail 5

Upper right "5" showing the blurred line superimposed on the vertical stroke

Pos 4-detail Ho & lu

Sections of "Honolulu" showing scratches and dots

Pos 4-LL

Lower left corner showing various scratches and dots; the position dot is seen resting at the top of the bottom frame line

Pos 4-LR frameline

Lower right frameline showing guidelines just inside and outside the right frameline

Comparison of the four superimposed blurred lines on the "5"

In four positions, 4, 9, 13 and 17, there is a blurred line superimposed over the vertical stroke of the "5" in the upper right corner. Each blurred line is different in shape. The one in position four is weaker than the others. Once the differences in the lines are recognized, confusing them is unlikely.

Pos 4-detail 5

position 4
An erasure of the line seems to have been attempted leaving the line in this position weaker than the others

Pos 9-detail UR5

position 9
The line hugs the vertical stroke more closely than on the other examples

Pos 13-detail 5

position 13
The line is thicker at the bottom, as in position 17, but the top of the line hugs the vertical stroke more closely than in position 17

Pos 17-detail UR5

position 17
The line curves outward and up as it crosses the vertical stroke, leaving a space on the left of the vertical stroke and the line

Position 5 [row 2, column 1]

Pos 5

Notes:
Lee: There is a spur in the upper right figure "5" as in Position 1 that is slightly shorter and thinner. There is a faint guide line below the bottom frameline at the right. There is an indistinct dot in the lower panel just above the bottom frameline near the lower right corner.
Other: Note the comments above in Position 1 comparing the spur in that position with the spur in this position. The indistinct dot in the lower right corner appears to be squiggly line with a tiny dot in the middle. There is a guide line visible just outside the bottom frame line at the right end. There is no position dot in the lower left corner.

Details

Pos 5-detail 5

Upper right "5" showing a spur that connects part way up the vertical stroke

Pos 5-BR

Bottom right corner showing squiggly line and faint guideline

Position 6 [row 2, column 2]

Pos 6

Notes:
Lee: There is a short [vertical] line in the loop of the upper left "5" extending past the frameline below. There is a faint dot slightly to the left and above the knob of the same figure "5." The upper portions of the two "l's" in "Honolulu" are defective.
Other: Lee's comment about the defective "l's" in "Honolulu" refers, I think, to the white spaces in them. To me, they seem about the same as in other positions. In the left end of the bottom panel, there is a dot and beneath the bottom frameline is a vertical scratch mark extending down to position 10. The upper left "5" in Position 10 [same column, next row down] shares many of the same characteristics as the upper left "5" of position 6.

Details

Pos 6-detail L5

Upper left "5" showing vertical scratch line

Pos 6-detail lulu

"lulu" showing the defective "l's"

Pos 6-detail LL

Left side of bottom panel showing small dot and vertical line beneath the bottom frameline; the position dot is clearly seen nestled in a notch in the bottom frameline

Position 7 [row 2, column 3]

Pos 7

Notes:
Lee: The left outer frameline is broken in two places, (1) 1 mm above the lower left corner, and (2) a 2 mm break above the junction of the lower inner frameline. There is also a large break in the left lower inner frameline. In the Reissue, there is an oblique dash in the right panel below the "s" of "Is."
Other: In the lower right corner there is a guide line beneath the bottom frameline. There is a dot, possibly a stray position dot, beneath the right foot of the "F" of "FIVE" (see detail in the position dot section below).

Details

Pos 7-LL frameline

Lower left frameline showing the breaks; two position dots, one above and one beneath the bottom frame line can be seen; note the stray dot beneath the "F"

Pos 7-Is

"Is." showing the oblique dash beneath the "s"

Pos 7-LR

Bottom right frameline showing a guide line beneath it

Position 8 [row 2, column 4]

Pos 8

Notes:
Lee: There is a clear guide line about mm inside and parallel to the right outer frameline. A 2 mm [vertical]line extends into the lower panel from the guide line dot in the left. There is also a guide line below the right half of the bottom frameline.
Other: None.

Details

Pos 8-Rframeline-1

Right frame line showing the guide line just inside

Pos 8-LL

Lower left corner showing the vertical line extending upward from the position dot in the frameline

Pos 8-LR

Lower right frame line showing the guide line beneath it

Position 9 [row 3, column 1]

Pos 9

Notes:
Lee: There is a blurred line superimposed upon the vertical stroke in the upper right "5." The line is thicker at the bottom and ends very close to the angle of the vertical and horizontal strokes.
Other: A blurred line is found in three other positions. See the comparisons set out in the discussion of Position 4, above. There is no position dot for this position so the blurred line is a major clue.

Details

Pos 9-detail UR5

Upper right "5" showing the blurred line of this position

Position 10 [row 3, column 2]

Pos 10

Notes:
Lee: There is a faint [vertical] line in the loop of the upper left "5." There is a small dot above and to the left of the same "5." A faint guide line passes through "olulu" of "Honolulu," and the upper portions of "lulu" are defective.
Other: Markings around the upper left "5's" of positions 6 and 10 are quite similar. Position 6 lacks the scratch marks above the "5" and the vertical line is stronger in position 6. Also, the dot is found in a slightly different spot in position 10. A small dot lies between the "H" in "Honolulu" and the frame of the vignette just to the left of the left leg (lower leg in the orientation appearing on the stamp). A faint vertical line lies just below the "H" in the left panel. There is a vertical scratch mark in the lower left corner. A faint guideline is found just outside the upper left frameline and the left side of the top frameline.

Details

Pos 10-detail UL

Upper left "5" showing the several faint lines around the "5" and the dot to the left of it

Pos 10-detail olulu

A partially erased entry smeared the plate through "olulu"

Pos 10-detail H

A dot lies between the left leg of the "H" in "Honolulu" and the vignette frame line; a faint vertical line lies below the "H"

Pos 10-detail LL

Scratch mark found in the lower left corner; the position dot is seen beneath the bottom frameline

Pos 10-top frameline

Guide lines can be seen just outside the frameline in the upper left corner

Position 11 [row 3, column 3]

Pos 11

Notes:
Lee: The bar in the "H" of "Honolulu" is missing. There are distinct scratches in the lower panel above the bottom frameline at the left. Two dots are in the upper right value tablet, one near the upper right corner and the other to the left of the horizontal stroke of the "5."
Other: The cross-bar of the "H" in "Honolulu" is faint in position 10 and missing altogether from this position and also from position 19.

Details

Pos 11- detail H

The cross-bar of the "H" is missing

Pos 11- detail UR5

Dots are found to the left and right of the flag in the upper right "5"

Pos 11- detail LL

Scratch marks can be seen in the lower left corner; two position dots are visible, one under the "F" and one farther to the right

Pos 11- detail LR

A faint dot appears near the bottom frameline beneath the "s"

Position 12 [row 3, column 4]

Pos 12

Notes:
Lee: There is a very faint [vertical] line extending from the bottom guideline dot to the lower left inner frameline. There is a large dot to the left of the lower left corner. In the Reissue, there is an irregular dash below the portrait, between "FIVE and "Cts."
Other: The irregular dash appears late in the printing of the 1868 Reissue, apparently from a broken plate. Most Reissue position 12 stamps do not show the dash. Note a squiggly line on the left (upper in the orientation of the stamp design) side of the upright stroke of the second "l" of "Honolulu."

Details

Pos 12-detail LL

A vertical line running from the bottom frameline to the left of the bottom of the "5" is quite faint; the distinct dot lies just outside the bottom left frameline; two position dots, close together, are in the bottom frameline toward the left end

Pos 12-detail ulu

A faint squiggly line hangs on the left side of the second "l" of "Honolulu"

Position 13 [row 4, column 1]

Pos 13

Notes:
Lee: There is a blurred line superimposed upon the vertical stroke in the upper right "5" as in position 9 [and 4 and 17]. In addition there is a white area in the lower portion of the letter "E" in "FIVE" (lower panel), which distinguished it from the other positions.
Other: See the comparisons of the blurred lines on the "5" set out in the discussion of Position 4. A faint diagonal line crosses the top frameline above the "A," angling downward toward the "G."

Details

Pos 13-detail 5

Upper right "5" showing the blurred line

Pos 13-detail E

The "E" of "FIVE" is nearly white in the interior of the lower half

Pos 13-detail top frameline

Upper frame line shows a faint diagonal line angling from above the "A" toward the "G"

Position 14 [row 4, column 2]

Pos 14

Notes:
Lee: There is a [vertical] line that passes through the top frameline and the upper portion of the upper left "5." There is also another short line to the left. Above "lulu" in "Honolulu" are distinct scratches.
Other: A dot appears to the left of the same "5" on the frameline. Above the "o" of "Honolulu are several scratches. In the lower left corner are more scratches and a thick position dot angling upward toward the "F" from the bottom frameline.

Details

Pos 14-detail UL5

Upper left "5" showing the vertical line, scratches and dot

Pos 14-detail olulu

Smears from erasing an entry are seen in "lulu"

Pos 14-detail Hon

Scratch marks appear above the "o" of "Honolulu"

Pos 14-detail LL

More scratches and a misshapen position dot are seen in the lower left corner

Position 15 [row 4, column 3]

Pos 15

Notes:
Lee: There is a faint line extending from the dot 2 mm from the left lower corner to the lower tip of the "F" in "FIVE." There is a guide line above the bottom frameline extending from the left to below "C" in "Cts." To the left of the knob in the upper left "5" there are two indistinct dots, and to the right of the upper right "5" there is also one indistinct dot.
Other: Also in the lower left corner note the position dots on the bottom frameline, a dot near the bottom of the left frameline and various faint scratch marks. Scratches appear at the top (right side) of the "H" of "Hawaiian."

Details

Pos 15-detail LL

Lower left corner with various marks as noted; two position dots are visible, one beneath the left serif of the foot of the "F" and one closer to the left frameline

Pos 15-detail Cts

Note the end of the guide line disappearing into the bottom frame line beneath "Cts."

Pos 15-detail UL 5

Upper left "5" with dots to the left

Pos 15-detail UR 5

Upper right "5" with a dot to the right

Pos 15-detail H of Haw

Note scratch marks giving the "H" of "Hawaiian" a "crown"

Position 16 [row 4, column 4]

Pos 16

Notes:
Lee: There is a small dot above the bottom frameline 1 mm from the left, and another one in the upper right value tablet to the right of the "5." A guide line runs parallel mm outside of the right outer frameline.
Other: Also, two lines come into the stamp from beyond the right frameline. One is diagonal and starts above the "s" of "Is." and angles toward the "I" and the other is a horizontal line passing between the second "i" and "a" of "Hawaiian."

Details

Pos 16-detail LL

Lower left corner showing a dot just above the bottom frame line; note also the position dot straddling the frameline

Pos 16-detail UR5

Upper right "5" where there is a dot at the right frameline opposite the flag of the "5"

Pos 16-detail R frameline

A relatively strong guide line runs just outside the right frameline

Pos 16-detail Is

A line comes in from beyond the right frame line above the "s" of "Is." and angles toward the "I"

Pos 16-detail iia

A horizontal line passes between the "i" and "a" of "Hawaiian"

Position 17 [row 5, column 1]

Pos 17

Notes:
Lee: There is a blurred line superimposed upon the vertical stroke of the upper right "5." It is very much like those in Positions 9 and 13 [and 4], but it ends slightly away from the angle of the horizontal and the vertical strokes. In addition, there is a clear guide line above the bottom frameline, higher at the left and sloping toward the right.
Other: In the lower right corner, a line runs between positions 17 and 18. With respect to the blurred line on the upper right "5" see the comparisons set out in the discussion of Position 4.

Details

Pos 17-detail UR5

Upper right "5" showing the blurred line superimposed on the vertical stroke

Pos 17-detail B frameline

A clear guide line runs inside the bottom frameline

Pos 17-detail LR

In the lower right corner a line runs between positions 17 and 18

Position 18 [row 5, column 2]

Pos 18

Notes:
Lee: Both "l's" in "Honolulu" are defective as in Position 6. There are no lines through the upper left "5." There is a faint guide line above the bottom frameline at the left.
Other: In the lower left corner, there are various scratch marks above and to the left of the "F" of "FIVE" and a position dot is seen in the bottom frameline. The guide line mentioned by Lee disappears into the bottom frame line about at the "E" of "FIVE" and a scratch mark can be seen beneath the "IV" of "FIVE."

Details

Pos 18-detail olulu

Scratch marks and smears run through "olulu"

Pos 18-detail LL

At the bottom left, the position dot is in the bottom frameline, scratches above and to the left of the "F" and the guide line just inside the bottom frameline

Pos 18-detail B frameline

The guide line above the bottom frame is quite faint toward the middle with remnants showing beneath the "FIV"; note the scratch mark beneath the "IV"

Position 19 [row 5, column 3]

Pos 19

Notes:
Lee: The bar is missing in "H" of "Honolulu" and the tops of the "o" and "n" are broken. There are scratches in the upper portion of "H" and above "o" in "Honolulu." There is a guide line above the bottom frameline at the left.
Other: The missing bar of the "H" is also found in position 11. Scratches can be seen between the "E" and "C" in the bottom panel. In the upper right "5" box there is a dot to the right of the flag. The box for the upper left "5" contains a dot near the left frameline and another dot lies just outside the upper frameline. A distinct scratch in the lower left corner starts just below the junction of the left frameline and the inner frameline and angels downward and inward. A position dot and faint guide line are beneath the "F" and slightly to the left.

Details

Pos 19-detail H

The cross-bar of the "H" in "Honolulu" is missing

Pos 19-detail Hono

The tops of the "o" and "n" are gone and a scratch runs upward from the top left leg of the "H" to the "n"

Pos 19-detail E Ct

Between the "E" and "C" in the bottom panel are faint scratches

Pos 19-detail UR5

A dot is near the right frameline opposite the flag of the "5" in the upper right

Pos 19-detail UL

Upper left value box showing a dot near the left frameline and a larger dot just above the top frameline

Pos 19-detail LL

In the lower left corner, a scratch angles inward from the left frameline; the position dot with a faint guide line is just above the bottom frameline

Position 20 [row 5, column 4]

Pos 20

Notes:
Lee: In the word "Honolulu," the bar in "H" is faint, and the "H" and two "l's" are defective. There is a guide line outside the upper portion of the right outer frameline and above the bottom frameline at the left. There is a faint dot in the loop of the left figure "5." In the Reissue, there is a scratch extending from the tip of the "E" in "FIVE" to the right and upward.
Other: The scratch noted in the 1868 Reissue appeared late in the printing and is not seen on all copies of position 20 in the Reissue. In the upper left value box, there are additional dots and lines as noted below. Also, in the lower left corner there are additional dots and scratch marks.

Details

Pos 20-detail H

The cross-bar of the "H" is faint and the legs are missing color

Pos 20-detail lulu

The two "l's" of "Honolulu" are missing color

Pos 20-detail R frameline

A guide line runs outside the right frameline

Pos 20-detail LL

A guide line runs inside the bottom frameline at the lower left corner, a dot is seen to the left of the foot of the "F" and a vertical line runs from the bottom frameline to the space between the bottom of the foot and the position dot

Pos 20-detail LR

Guide lines intersect just outside the lower right corner

Pos 20-detail UL5

A dot is seen in the loop of the upper left "5" and another dot lies just to the left of the vertical stroke; a vertical line runs upward from the bottom inner frameline of the same value box


Position Dot Comparisons

Position 1

Pos 1- LL-1200

no dot

Position 2

Pos 2- LL-1200

no dot

Position 3

Pos 3- pos dot-1200

two dots resting on top of the bottom frameline

Position 4

Pos 4 pos dot-1200

one dot resting on top of the bottom frameline

Position 5

Pos 5- LL-1200

no dot

Position 6

Pos 6 pos dot-1200

one dot nestled in a notch in the bottom frameline

Position 7

Pos 7 pos dot-1200

three dots, one resting on top of, one below and one under the "F"

Position 8

Pos 8 pos dot-1200

one dot in the bottom frameline

Position 9

Pos 9- LL-1200

no dot

Position 10

Pos 10 pos dot-1200

one dot hanging beneath the bottom frameline

Position 11

Pos 11 pos dot-1200

one dot just to the right of the superimposed blurred line on the bottom frameline

Position 12

Pos 12 pos dot-1200

one dot in the bottom frameline

Position 13

Pos 13- LL-1200

no dot

Position 14

Pos 14 pos dot-1200

one dot, just touching the top of the bottom frameline

Position 15

Pos 15 pos dot-1200

two dots, both in the bottom frameline

Position 16

Pos 16 pos dot-1200

one dot in the bottom frameline

Position 17

Pos 17- LL-1200

no dot

Position 18

Pos 18 pos dot-1200

one dot resting on top of the bottom frameline

Position 19

Pos 19 pos dot-1200

one dot above the bottom frameline

Position 20

Pos 20 pos dot-1200

two dots, one in the frameline and one to the right and above the bottom frameline

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