This page last updated: 18 February 2009


::: Numeral Plating :::

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Plate 1-Az-IX
Plate 2-Az-IX
Plate 3-Gz-IX
Plate 4-Bz-IX

Plate 1-A-IX

Plate 2-A-IX

Plate 3-G-IX

Plate 4-B-IX

Shown above are four Numerals, all from cliché number IX. Notice all four share a common characteristic, despite having many differences. In the bottom right corner, the inner vertical frame line bends outward. Also, in the same corner, the right vertical line framing the large numeral bends inward toward the period after "2 Cents". The purpose of this page is to present a primer on identifying the various cliché characteristics used in plating the Numerals.

Plating Numerals has been a favorite subject of study since the late 1800's when collectors first realized the vast number of variations from one Numeral stamp to another. Henry Crocker's 1909 classic study was itself built upon earlier studies attempting to identify and locate the correct position for each type of Numeral stamp. Later students came to recognize errors in Crocker's plating and finally it was superseded by Westerberg's 1968 study (see Bibliography at the bottom of Numeral Issue). Today's collectors generally agree with Westerberg's plating but disagreements remain over parts of his conclusions. The catalogue for the Advertiser Sale (Volume 1) produced by Siegel Auction Galleries contains a useful description of Numerals and plating starting at page 128 (See auction listings at General Bibliography). Geoff Brewster's article on "batnums" (see, Articles) puts new emphasis on the plating significance of the type used for the large center numbers.

Plating starts with identifying the correct stamp "type" of any given Numeral. This step is also crucial for spotting forged stamps (see Forgery Study). The next step in plating is to connect the stamp with a specific "plate." Plating concludes with locating the stamp at the correct position on the correct plate, thus reconstructing the plate. Having done so, one can identify the correct Scott Catalogue number. For some Numerals, this task is more difficult than for others.

Some Numeral terminology will help with unveiling the mysteries of Numerals. Terms used by Hawaiian Numeral plating students may not always conform to how the same terms are understood in other contexts or even in other circles of stamp collecting but have become a part of the "culture" of the Numerals:

Words used to describe the printer's tools and printing process:

  • Cliché: frame holding the printer's type composing the design for a single stamp.

  • Chase: frame in which clichés were locked during printing.

  • Form: the composition of ten clichés in the chase.

  • Leads: spacers used to separate type pieces.

  • Rule: printer's type used to create the thick or thin lines making up the design. Each of the outer lines was made by a double heavy and light brass rule. Lines surrounding the central numeral were made by hairline rules.

  • Batnum: a whimsical name coined by Westerberg for the large center numerals, most of which show varying degrees of damage ("battered numerals"). Usage of the word batnum is becoming generic for all of the various large numeral type pieces used in printing Numerals, regardless of whether they evidence battered damage (see Geoff Brewster's article about batnums at Articles).

  • Type-face: the portion of a type piece raised above the shoulder to apply ink to paper by contact.

  • Setting: a change in the value to be printed requiring the frame and each cliché to be opened so numerals and words consistent with the value to be printed can replace those used in the last setting. Values were changed twelve times during the course of printing Numerals so there are twelve settings (for the settings and printing sequence, see Numeral Issue). When stating the plate description for a given stamp, the Setting is expressed as an Arabic number from 1 to 12.

Words used to describe the product (stamp impressions) made by the printer:

  • Pane: a full pane consists of ten printed stamps reflecting to the actual plate, arranged 2 x 5. Unsevered full panes exist for settings Four through Twelve, but skipping Plates 5-A and 5-B in Setting Five. In practical terms, "pane" and "plate" are functionally synonymous but a plate is the arrangement of the cliches in the chase and a pane is the reflection of the plate on paper. Click Here to see a full unsevered pane of Plate 4-B.

  • Sheet: probably consisted of five panes (50 stamps) printed side by side on one piece of paper. There are no known full sheets. Full sheets were cut in half and distributed as half sheets of twenty-five imperforate stamps. No complete half-sheets have survived. An attempted reconstruction of a full sheet of five panes for Plate 8-A (Scott No. 23) was included in the Pietsch Sale, lot 1199, listed in the General Bibliography.

  • Gutter: the space between pane impressions on a sheet.

  • Margin: the space between columns and rows in a pane.

  • Gaps and Corners: spaces where the outer rules fail to meet at the corners of a stamp. A horizontal gap happens when the top or bottom rule (the horizontal rules) overlaps the vertical rule at a corner. A vertical gap happens when a side rule (the vertical rules) overlaps a top or bottom rule. An open gap is where neither rule overlaps the other significantly. Closed corners are where the rules touch so there is no gap. Gaps come in varying widths from narrow, where there is just enough space to see un-inked paper, to wide where the opening is extreme.

Horizontal Gap

Vertical Gap

Open Gap

Closed Corner

corner - narrow vert gap 4-B-V
corner - horiz gap 4-B-IX
corner - narrow open gap 4-B-VIII
corner - closed gap 4-B-V

  • Gutter pair: a pair of stamps from different panes separated by a gutter.

  • Tête-Bêche pair: as the printer made a sheet, the paper was fed to the press for two or three impressions, removed, turned 180º and two or three more impressions were made. In the middle, two columns were upside down in relation to each other. Gutter pairs across the gutter between these two columns are upside down in relation to one another and are called tête-bêche pairs in Numeral terminology.

Plate 7-A tete-beche

Tête-Bêche Pair
Both stamps are Plate 7-A-V

Words used by plating students to identify the Numerals:

  • Plate: a Numeral plating student's term for the typographic appearance of a pane at a given point in the history of the form. The key word here is typographic. When the printer opened the chase (or maybe banged it hard) type pieces moved so the typography of the ten subjects in the form next printed were slightly different than the subjects last printed. If there is a change in paper color but no change in typography, the plate designation remains constant and stamps printed on the new paper are said to be from a plate variety. Thus Scott No. 14, printed on bluish green paper is Plate 3-Gx because the typography of each stamp conforms to each stamp in Plate 3-G, but the latter is on gray paper. An unsevered pane would mirror to one of the plates. There are at least twenty-five Numeral "plates." Settings 2-5 have multiple plates in each Setting. For all other Settings, there is just one recognized plate per Setting. When stating the plate description for a given stamp, the plate reference is expressed as a capital letter and in each of the twelve settings, the plate reference starts anew with the letter A.

Examples Of Typographical Changes

Plate 3-Cz-IX
Plate 3-Dx-IX
Plate 3-Ez-IX

Plate 3-C-IX
Spacer below "2 Cents."

Plate 3-D-IX
No Spacers

Plate 3-E-IX
Spacer above "2 Cents."

These three "Raised 2" variety Scott No. 16 stamps come from a sequence of three plates. Typography differences distinguish each stamp from either of the two others.
Each has the common characteristic of Type IX, discussed below and
each has the raised 2. However, each is different in the bottom panel. In 3-C-IX, a lead spacer is beneath "2 Cents" but in 3-D-IX, no spacers are above or beneath "2 Cents" and in 3-E-IX, the spacer is above "2 Cents."

Plate 5-B-IX LR corn 1200

A common characteristic of Type IX is the spread of the rules at the bottom right.
All stamps with this characteristic are type IX from a Setting in One through Eight.

  • Type: the stamp impression made from a cliché (not to be confused in this context with the type pieces used by the printer to form the subject). When the compositor changed the type pieces to start printing a different value, remaining type pieces in the cliché generally were unchanged so a type from one setting retained many characteristics in the new setting. Although the chase held only ten clichés there are sixteen stamp types to learn because of major changes in the type pieces between Settings 8 and 9. Ten stamp types are in Settings 1-8 and six of the ten stamp types in Settings 9-12 are new. When stating the plate description for a given stamp, the stamp type is expressed as a Roman Numeral from I to X.

  • Position: where each cliché is located on the plate and where each stamp type is located on a pane. "Type" and "Position" often are used interchangeably but they mean different things. "Position" refers to a static location, regardless of setting or pane, starting with position 1 at the upper left and position 2 at the upper right and working from left to right down the pane to position 10 at the lower right. A stamp type changed position when the cliché producing it was moved. On at least six occasions during the course of printing the Numerals, clichés were moved from one position to another.

Plate references for Numerals adopt a Setting/Plate/Type sequence. The stamps at the top of this page are said to be Plate 1-A-IX, Plate 2-A-IX, Plate 3-G-IX and Plate 4-B-IX. They thus represent stamps from Settings 1, 2, 3 and 4. In each setting, the Plate reference begins with the letter A. Thus, 1-A and 2-A represent stamps from different plates and different settings but 3-E-IX and 3-G-IX represent stamps from different plates in the same setting. Each of the stamps at the top of the page is Type IX with the common typographical characteristic for type IX. Because they also differ typographically, they represent different plates.

Noticeably missing from the Setting/Plate/Type identification sequence is any reference to position. This omission leads some people to assume type and position are synonymous. However, type IX, for example, is found in position 2, 10, 9 or 5, depending upon the setting. Types are assigned to the positions where they are found in the Fourth Setting, the earliest for which an unsevered pane plus a tête-bêche pair are known to prove the plate reconstruction conclusively. Thus the correct position for the earlier settings (Scott Nos. 12, 13, 16 and 14) are reconstructed from multiples and other evidence and are still subject to debate.

PLATING STEPS

Step A, Identifying the correct Stamp Type:

There are ten stamp types in Settings 1-8 and ten stamp types in Settings 9-12. Plating a stamp begins by identifying the correct stamp type. If a stamp fails to match a stamp type, it is a forgery. If it matches a stamp type, then plating can continue to Step B. Note the marks identifying Types IV, V, VII and VIII remain the same in the late Settings as in the early Settings.

Early Settings: 1-8
Scott Numbers 13, 12, 13, 16, 14, 15, 18, 17, 20, 19, 24 and 23

Type I

Type II

Type III

Plate 4-B-I rule 1200

The bottom of the large numeral always is lower than the period after "LETA." From Plate 3-G onward, the inner line of the left rule is bent inward slightly.

Plate 4-B-II battered R 1200

From Plate 2-A onward, the "R" of "INTER" is battered.

Plate 4-B-II rule 1200

A break shows in the inner line of the left rule just above the period after "POSTAGE."

Plate 4-B-III O 1200 -1

The "O" of "POSTAGE" is a smaller font and seems tilted so the bottom is slightly rightward of the top.

Plate 4-B-III LL corner 1200

The inner line of the bottom rule points downward at the left end from Plate 4-A onward.


Type IV

Type V

Plate 4-B-IV marks 1200

There is break in the inner line of the left rule above the "TA" of "POSTAGE." There is also a nick in the heavy outer rule outward of the "E."

Plate 4-B-V marks 1200

The inner line of the left rule bends outward.


Type VI

Type VII

Plate 4-B-VI marks 1200-1

A slight bump is in the inner line of the top rule above the "S" of "ISLAND." From about Setting Five, the same inner line failed to print on the left end.

Plate 8-A-VI mark 1200
Plate 4-B-VII marks 1200

Two bumps show in the inner line of the right rule, one above the "U" of "UKU" and the other just below the period after "LETA."


Type VIII

Type IX

Type X

Plate 4-B-VIII marks 1200

The "IN" of "INTER" are raised slightly and there is a break in the inner line of the top rule above the "L" of "ISLAND."

Plate 4-B-IX Rpanel 600

At the bottom right, the inner hairline rule bends inward and the inner line of the outer rule bends outward. The inner hairline rule also bends inward about half-way along.

Plate 4-B-X LR

At the bottom right, the inner line of the outer rule and the inner hairline rule bend toward each other.

Plate 4-B-X mark 1200

From Plate 3-F onward, there is a break above the "G" of "POSTAGE" in the inner line of the left rule.


Late Settings: 9-12
Scott Numbers 21, 26, 25 and 22

Type I

Type II

Type III

Type IV

Type V

Plate 10-A-I Lpanel 600

Along the inner line of the left rule, the line fades (prints poorly) toward the middle of the stamp.

Plate 10-A-II marks 1200

A break is in the inner line at the bottom of the right rule. This same rule was on the left side in the earlier settings so the same break was found at the top of the left rule. Compare Type X, where the break is higher on the rule.

Plate 10-A-III mark 1200

The inner line of the top rule points upward at the right end. This same rule was on the bottom in the early settings so the inner line pointed downward at the left end.

Plate 10-A-IV marks 600

The left outer rule was unchanged from the early settings so the identification mark for Type IV remains the same: a break in the inner line of the left rule above the "D" and a nick in the heavy outer rule.

Plate 9-A-V mark 1200

The left outer rule was unchanged from the early settings so the identification mark for Type V remains the same: an outward bend in the inner line at the top.


Type VI

Type VII

Plate 12-A-VI mark 1200

At the bottom, the inner line of the outer rule fails to print at the right end. This same rule was at the top in the earlier settings so it failed to print on the left end.

Plate 10-A-VII marks 1200

Two bumps show in the inner line of the right rule. This rule was unchanged from the early settings so the identification mark for Type VII remains the same.


Type VIII

Type IX

Type X

Plate 11-A-VIII Tpanel 600

A break is in the inner line of the top rule. This rule was unchanged from the early settings so the identification mark for Type VIII remains the same. Also, there is a break in the "U" of "UKU."

Plate 11-A-IX mark 1200

The hairline rule on the left bends outward near the middle.

Plate 10-A-X markl 1200

At the bottom of the right rule, there is a break in the inner line of the outer rule. This same rule was on the left side in the earlier settings so the same break was found at the top of the left rule. Compare Type II, where the break is closer to the bottom.


Step B, Identifying the correct Setting:

In half the settings, three points will narrow the choice to a single setting. First, the wording in the left panel is HAWAIIAN POSTAGE through Setting 9 and then was switched to INTERISLAND for Settings 10-12. Only one Setting of each value has the word INTERISLAND in the left panel so a stamp with INTERISLAND in the left panel is forced by its value into Setting 10, 11 or 12. Second, the words HAWAIIAN POSTAGE are found in the left and right panels only in Setting 9. Third, all of the Numerals were printed on wove paper except one setting of each of the 1¢ and 2¢ values was printed on laid paper so thin horizontal lines can be seen crossing the stamp when held to a light. In these Settings, the words HAWAIIAN POSTAGE are in the left panel. Thus, if a stamp has laid paper, it is forced by its value into Setting 7 or 8.

If a stamp is on wove paper and has the words HAWAIIAN POSTAGE in the left panel and UKU LETA in the right panel, the stamp is forced by its value into one of three Settings, but making the correct choice can be tricky.

If a stamp is in Settings 7-12, the correct plate has also been identified because only one plate exists for each of these Settings. Thus, if the stamp is in Settings 7-12, Step C can be skipped. (This is sounding much like a tax form, sorry).

HAWAIIAN POSTAGE
wove paper

HAWAIIAN POSTAGE
laid paper

INTERISLAND

Settings 2, 4 or 6

8

11


HAWAIIAN POSTAGE
wove paper

HAWAIIAN POSTAGE
laid paper

INTERISLAND

Settings 1, 3 or 5

7

10


HAWAIIAN POSTAGE

INTERISLAND

Setting 9

12


Figuring out the correct setting in Settings 1-6 requires attention to paper and ink color as well as typography. Paper and ink color will end the analysis for the 1¢ stamps. Still, I feel it is necessary to confirm the setting by analyzing typography. I have no record of a stamp failing to match the typography of a plate in the setting if it meets the following description:

1¢ Numerals in Settings 2, 4 or 6:

1¢ blue ink Numeral

1¢ black ink Numeral, gray wove paper

1¢ black ink Numeral, white wove paper

Setting 2

Setting 4

Setting 6


2¢ Numerals in Settings 1, 3 or 5:

For the 2¢ stamps, I prefer to ignore paper and ink color to identify the setting and approach the task from a purely typographical analysis. In my opinion, paper and ink color can mislead where the 2¢ stamps are concerned. A 2¢ blue ink Numeral on white wove paper could possibly be in Settings 1, 3 or 5. A 2¢ black gray paper Numeral could be in Settings 3 or 5. Thus, finding the correct setting goes hand in hand with finding the correct plate (Step C) where 2¢ Numerals from Settings 1, 3 and 5 are concerned.

Step C, Identifying the Correct Plate:

If the stamp falls into Settings 6-12, only one plate for each Setting exists so this step can be skipped. Only one plate exists for Setting 1, but because the same Scott Number could come from Setting 3, this step must be used to identify the correct Plate.

For the stamps in Settings 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, this task can be challenging and the conclusion is sometimes uncertain because there are multiple printings of the stamp, either in the same or in the case of the 2¢ stamps, even in another setting. Typographical differences drive selection of the correct plate for these stamps. Fred Westerberg eased our task immeasurably by publishing a nearly complete photographic study of each stamp in each plate. However, doubt remains over specific details.

Nonetheless, Westerberg's is the most authoritative resource available to most of us today. Therefore, my method for identifying the correct Plate in Settings 1-6 is to compare carefully the typography of a stamp with the photographs and textual explanations given to us by Westerberg. Once I match a stamp with Westerberg's plate, I feel the task is complete for all practical purposes. At least this method will prove the correct Setting for 2¢ stamps in Settings 1, 3 and 5 or 1¢ stamps in Settings 4 and 6.

Step D, Identifying the Correct Position:

For dedicated Numeral enthusiasts, finding the correct position on the plate is the final step. Position will not alter the Setting/Plate/Type and thus will have no impact on the Scott Catalogue number for a stamp. This step therefore is considered to be non-essential by many collectors who are not so particular. Whether one wishes to proceed with Step D therefore depends entirely on personal choice. Steps A, B and C are essential for determining the correct Scott Catalogue number for a stamp.

Unsevered panes exist from Plates 4-A and 4-B, Plate 5-C and all later Settings. This evidence proves we have each stamp type correctly positioned on one of two columns. However, Numerals were printed in sheets of fifty, with five panes printed side by side separated by a gutter of varying width. The two columns of a pane are separated by a margin. Tête-bêche pairs prove the location of the gutter and, thus, prove which two columns go together to reflect the actual plate. Without a tête-bêche pair, the two columns could in fact be separated by a gutter instead of a margin so what we think is a pane could in fact have the printer's form reversed. In Settings 4-12, we can be sure we have the columns in the correct placement and thus for these settings the task of locating the correct position is simply a matter of tracking the locations in the panes presented by Westerberg. For Settings 1-3, positioning is based upon multiples plus single examples with large top, bottom or side margins from which reasonable assumptions could be drawn. Whether Westerberg got it straight, particularly in Setting 1, is a matter of debate.

According to Westerberg, cliché positions were changed five times after the initial set up. We thus have six position arrangements including the initial set up. Westerberg's, position arrangement and plate arrangement have been challenged so far as Setting 1 is concerned. Westerberg concluded the left column for Settings 1 and 2 contains stamp types III, I, V, VII and IX and the right column contains stamp types X, VIII, VI, IV and II. He based this conclusion on the staggered block illustrated in Figure 27 (p. 27) in his book. Scott Trepel and Thurston Twigg-Smith would reverse the order and contend the staggered block is a gutter block from two panes, not a true block from one pane.

If there is doubt about Westerberg's position arrangement for succeeding Settings, I have not heard it. Since conclusive proof to resolve the position arrangement in Settings 1-3 is missing, the debate cannot be solved here. The following table is Westerberg's analysis. In this table, Plate Position Numbers start at the upper left stamp and proceed left to right through the five rows.

The first change was at the start of Setting 3 when four clichés were moved. Another change was made at the start of Setting 4. In this setting, rigorous proof of position is available in the form of full unsevered panes and tête-bêche pairs. Westerberg chose the positions in this Setting for assigning type numbers. Positions remained fixed through Setting 7 but the columns were reversed in Setting 8. Before the first 5¢ stamps were printed, the positions were revamped, reversing top to bottom the order in which they were found in Setting 8. The new arrangement held through Setting 11 but positions were again revamped when the second 5¢ printing was made - Setting 12.

The following table shows the relation between stamp positions and stamp types through the various settings. Horizontal rows are the plate and vertical columns are the stamp position on the form. Stamp type numbers shown at the top remain fixed so their travels around the panes as printing progressed can be tracked. This table arrangement was created by Westerberg.

Plate Number

Stamp Type Number

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

X

Position

1-A

3

10

1

8

5

6

7

4

9

2

2-A

3

10

1

8

5

6

7

4

9

2

2-B

3

10

1

8

5

6

7

4

9

2

3-A

3

2

1

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

3-B

3

2

1

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

3-C

3

2

1

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

3-D

3

2

1

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

3-E

3

2

1

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

3-F

3

2

1

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

3-G

3

2

1

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

3-Gx

3

2

1

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

4-A

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

4-B

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

5-A

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

5-Ax

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

5-B

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

5-Bx

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

5-C

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

6-A

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

7-A

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

8-A

2

1

4

3

6

5

8

7

10

9

9-A

9

10

7

8

5

6

3

4

1

2

10-A

9

10

7

8

5

6

3

4

1

2

11-A

9

10

7

8

5

6

3

4

1

2

12-A

10

6

8

4

9

2

3

7

1

5


There it is! The stamp is now typed, plated and positioned.

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