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::: BOSTON LITHOGRAPH - Printings :::

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Moens was a prominent Belgian philatelic dealer and publisher. On the strength of Moens's report and the accompanying illustration of the 2 Boston Lithograph stamp, the European philatelic community of the 1860's concluded there had been a new printing of this stamp. The notion of a second printing went largely unchallenged until the late Wallace Beardsley did so in the 1980's. Beardsley, who was one of the most observant students of Hawaii's stamps, revolutionized our thinking of the Bank Note and Provisional Government Issues with his published articles. He died before his studies on the Boston Lithograph Issue were ready for publication. The points he raised merit full discussion.


Beardsley's arguments against a second printing are strong, although some tend toward speculation:

  • First the paper is identical regardless of the shade or orientation of the laid lines. He reasoned a second printing, two years later, would have shown some change in the paper.

  • The gum also is identical.

  • Unlike every other printing of stamps, no order or other evidence exists in post office records showing a payment for a second printing of this issue.

  • The initial order was for 125,000 stamps, enough to last approximately two years at an average annual usage of 60,000 stamps [the usage rate verified in the contemporary post office records]. The Boston Lithograph Issue lasted only about two years, from September, 1861 to late 1863. For Moens to report a new shade in August, 1863, the new stamps must have been available at the post office by early June at the latest. A second order of any significant size would have obviated the need to print more 2 Numeral stamps (the Fifth Setting) in 1863-1864.

  • The late appearance of the dark shade stamps can be explained by the "luck of the draw" in taking stamps from the vault. Beardsley guessed the stamps were packed 500 sheets to the box so there were 10 boxes. From this he reasoned the dark shade stamps filled a small part of one box and simply were the last to be drawn. [This point hangs on a lot of guesswork; however, Beardsley's "luck of the draw" notion, is unaffected by whether there were 10 boxes, 20 boxes or only 1 box as the argument is merely describing a random selection. PMG Clark, it should be recalled, referenced a "box" in the singular in his letter acknowledging receipt.]

  • Beardsley explained differences in shade as changes in the ink mix in order to darken the stamps. [The stamps evidence considerable tampering with the ink mix, even in stamps with little stone wear.]

  • Beardsley observed the stamps of this Issue reveal evidence of progressive stone wear. The dark stamps show the most wear so they were printed last. Because the stone wear was progressive, the same stone necessarily was used for all of the stamps. However, this fact alone would not militate against a second printing because the stone could have been laid aside and re-used without requiring re-entry of the images. Beardsley discounted the notion that a stone of this size would be laid aside because it would have been in too much demand. [Here is unsupported speculation because nobody know for sure who the printer was, let alone whether he had other orders requiring use of this stone.]

  • Thus, according to Beardsley what we really have is a range of shade differences from a single print run.

  • To these points should be added the fact that the United States was in the worst days of the Civil War in early 1863. It is possible Hawaii obtained an order of stamps from Boston in early 1863, but resources were scarce and it seems unlikely. When Hawaii finally ordered the 2 perforated Kamehameha IV stamp in November, 1863, the tide of war had changed after Gettysburg and Vicksburg in mid-1863 and a Union victory was assured.


The points noted by Beardsley might be explained if the second printing was done soon after the first and was of small size. When the stamps were received, Clark complained about the "faded" color in a letter to Marsh. Conceivably, Marsh arranged for a small supply of darker stamps to be made and sent, perhaps to appease the complaint or perhaps as samples for approval in the event of a re-order. When the new shade was received, the box was laid in the vault beneath the stamps received earlier. The small supply of darker stamps was put in use when the supply of the earlier stamps was exhausted. If there is any validity to this speculation, the second supply must have been quite small, perhaps 500 sheets, or 12,500 stamps, because it failed to alleviate the shortage of 2 stamps in 1863.


Personally, I lean toward the single printing idea advanced by Beardsley. Of the points he mentioned, the need to print the Fifth Setting of the 2 Numeral Issue, the absence of any communication in the post office records referring to a second printing and the use of the same paper throughout the lithograph printing seem the strongest. The stone wear observations are also strong points in favor of a single printing. Another point to bring out is Moens's reference to a "carmine" shade. Actually, as seen in "Quantities and Shades" there are carmine shades among the pale stamps. Thus, carmine existed throughout the range of shades and was not new in 1863. Perhaps the shade Moens observed and reported had nothing to do with a new printing.




Moens's "carmine shade" reference says nothing about intensity. The Scott Catalogue listing distinguishes on the basis of "pale rose" or "carmine rose." The traditional method for distinguishing between Nos. 27 and 28 on the one hand, and 27a and 28a on the other, has been intensity of color, regardless of the amount of carmine shading. By this standard dark rose and dark carmine rose are assigned to the sub-listings and pale stamps - even those with considerable carmine content - are assigned to Nos. 27 and 28. This traditional basis for differentiating the stamps has its roots in the "second printing" notion. However, there are many stamps of medium intensity. In my opinion, stamps of medium intensity belong in Scott Nos. 27 and 28, reserving Scott Nos. 27a and 28a for the truly dark stamps. However, judging from auction catalogue descriptions, intermediate shade are being treated as Nos. 27a and 28a.

Sufficient color and intensity ranges exist in this issue to merit sub-listings (See Quantities and Shades). The traditional basis of assigning the dark stamps to the sub-listing may be the best answer, even if one discards the notion of a second printing. Trying to differentiate based on the amount of carmine content is probably a mistake because current values have been established on the basis of color intensity, not on the amount of carmine shading. Pricing depends on where stamps with intermediate color intensity are placed. If one reserves Nos. 27a and 28a for the truly dark rose and dark carmine rose stamps, the value of Scott No. 28a is too low. The current price reflects the numerous intermediate shades now classified as Scott No. 28a. Scott No. 27a is probably priced accurately because the number of horizontally laid stamps of intermediate or dark color is quite small. Col. Pat Hogan estimated the surviving number at 150. I believe the proper course is to increase the price of Scott No. 28a by limiting it to just the truly dark shade.


Stone wear is a useful tool for drawing the line between the two listings. Considerable stone wear is apparent in the dark rose or carmine rose stamps. Progression of stone wear can be seen most easily in the grilled background of the center portrait. In pale rose stamps, the grill lines are easily distinguishable. Examples of medium shades show progressive breaking down of the grill lines until they run together in the darkest shades. Thus, whether the stamps were done all in one printing or in two printings, the dark rose and carmine rose stamps were printed later, either after an ink change during a single printing, or in a second printing. In Scott Nos. 27a and 28a, the grill has become a solid background.

grill detail of lithograph proof

grill detail of lithograph proof

grill of pale rose
grill of light rose

grill of pale rose; clear distinction in the grill lines

grill of light rose; clear distinction in the grill lines

grills of medium carmine rose
grills of medium dark rose

grills of medium carmine rose; some breakdown of the grill lines evident

grills of medium dark rose; some breakdown of the grill lines evident

grill of carmine rose

grill of dark carmine rose; the grill lines are indistinguishable

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