This page last updated: 8 May 2003

::: MISSIONARY STAMPS - Printer’s Type Comparison :::

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Adv. lot 12 2c - 2 - 600
Grinnell No 51a-2-600

Genuine Missionaries were printed from moveable type on a flat press. Debate continues over how the Grinnells were printed. It is clear from details of the Grinnells they were not printed with the same pieces of moveable type used to print genuine Missionaries. Whether they were printed with moveable type is another point of argument. Some contend the Grinnells were made using a process of photoengraving. However, considering the major differences between a genuine Missionary and a Grinnell, it is inconceivable that any photography process created such distortions. According to others, the Grinnells were produced by a process of stereotyping in which a cast is prepared with the image to be printed. How a cast is created varies according to the process. One common source for producing the cast is a photograph but an excellent artistic rendition can also be used. My vote, after examining the blow-ups, is that the Grinnells were produced from an electrostatic cast prepared from an artist's drawing of the Missionaries. This conclusion is necessarily tentative because I have yet to examine an actual Grinnell other than by photographs.

Considering the many differences between a genuine Missionary and a Grinnell, those who argue the Grinnells are genuine issued stamps contend they were made in a separate printing. Certainly they were not made in the same printing as all other known Missionaries, as the following details show.

The separate printing theory has serious flaws. Because the Grinnell include only the first style of the 13¢ Missionary, they had to have been printed between October 1, 1851 and April 1, 1852, when the new style 13¢ Missionary was printed. Complaints about the old style 13¢ Missionary surfaced in March, 1852, when people complained their correspondents in the States were having to pay U.S. postage notwithstanding the Honolulu Post Office's promise that a 13¢ stamp paid the combined rate in full. By April 21, 1852, the new style stamps were available. One must recognize most letters sent from Hawaii were stampless, whether prepaid or collect. A prepaid letter was accepted at San Francisco as fully paid and charged the account of the Honolulu Post Office for the U. S. portion. In the year 1852, 74% of the known covers were sent stampless. The number of stampless covers probably is undercounted because collectors failed to value them until recent years. Using records from the Honolulu Post Office regarding the number of letters dispatched and applying the 74% factor to it, one arrives at the conclusion that Missionary stamps were unnecessary, a nuisance to use and unpopular. The printer himself acknowledged in a report published in 1882 that only a few were printed. There was no great need for Missionaries, no demand and, without doubt, no separate printing.

Finally, the multiple printing theory rests on a belief that the original cliches were completely disassembled sometime between October 1, 1851 and March, 1852. Then, entirely new cliches were assembled using completely different pieces of type. Finally, in April, 1852, the original cliches were meticulously reassembled with the original pieces of type altered only for the wording changes incorporated to clarify the purpose of the 13¢ stamps. The scenario is simply too incredible. Once confronted with this point, the argument shifted to speculating that the Grinnells were a "first" printing and all of the known Missionaries are from a "second" printing. Once speculation begins, there is no end to it. Whether "first" or "second" the proof of any need for multiple printings is missing.

Study has shown the type pieces used for printing the genuine stamps were borrowed from the print shop of The Friend. Any serious effort to establish the Grinnells as genuine must show the same shapes used for the "type pieces" (if they were produced from moveable type) also are found on editions of The Friend. My examination fails to identify anything like what is seen on the Grinnells.

The attached pages show examples of areas blown up from genuine Missionaries and from Grinnells. Additional images only serve to show no piece of type used in printing the genuine stamps is duplicated exactly in the Grinnells. These differences defeat any notion that the Grinnells were produced with the same pieces of type. They also are so different no credible argument can be made that the differences are the result of wear. If typeset, the Grinnells were made of entirely different pieces of printer's type.

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