This page last updated: 26 August 2010


::: National Bank Note Company - Comparison of Scott No. 30a, 30b, and 30 :::

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Postmaster General Brickwood went out of his way in 1870 to add a one cent value after his boss, Minister of Interior J. F. Hutchison, gave him permission to order six cents and twenty-four cents stamps (Hutchison later changed the twenty-four cents stamp to an eighteen cent value). Indeed, Brickwood cited a long standing "necessity" in support of obtaining one cent stamps. What "necessity" Brickwood felt in 1871 is unclear. Until 1878, drop letters (mail to be delivered at the post office where it was mailed) were handled free. Regular local and inter-island mail beyond the office where a letter was posted was 2. On foreign mail a 5 stamp plus the 1 made up the then prevailing 6 international rate but this combination is exceedingly rare, with only one known example. Newspapers were free if sent from a publisher to a subscriber. The only expressed need for a 1 stamps was on a transient newspaper (one sent from someone other than the publisher to someone other than a subscriber). (See Local and Interisland Rates) Quite possibly the "necessity" was supplying collector demand.

Stamps of three shades of purple were printed from the same design of Princess Kamamalu, two by the NBNCo. and one by the ABNCo., all from the original NBNCo. plate. Catalogues of the 19th Century described all of the Kamamalu shades merely as "violet." Later, the shades were separated into mauve, violet and purple.

Scott 30a

Scott 30b

Scott 30

1871 mauve
1878 violet
1886 purple re-issue by the ABNCo.

1871 mauve

1878 violet

1886 purple
re-issue
by the ABNCo.

Specimen overprint on mauve
Scott 30 specimen
Specimen overprint on mauve
Small overprint on violet

Three orders were filled with mauve stamps for a total printing of 275,000. One order was filled with violet stamps for a total printing of 250,000. Five orders were filled by the ABNCo with purple stamps for a total printing of 162,500, of which 62,500 were overprinted in 1893 with the Provisional/GOVT./1893 overprint. All of the overprinted stamps are believed to have come from the last printing. Mauve stamps from the second and third printing are also reported with the overprint but the quantity is unknown. No violet stamps are known with the overprint.

Order Delivery Scott No. Printer Color Gum Quantity
Oct. 24, 1870 Feb. 6, 1871 30a NBNCo Mauve Brownish 75,000
Sep. 25, 1871 Nov. 14, 1871 30a NBNCo Dull Mauve Brownish 100,000
Feb. 5, 1875 Apr. 11, 1875 30a NBNCo Pale Mauve Brownish 100,000
Sep. 28, 1878 Dec. 2, 1878 30b NBNCo Violet Brownish 250,000
Dec. 19, 1885 Mar. 7, 1886 30 ABNCo Dull Purple Clear 12,500
Aug. 13, 1886 Dec. 16, 1886 30 ABNCo Dull Purple Clear 12,500
Dec. 17, 1886 April, 1887 30 ABNCo Dull Purple Clear 50,000
Dec. 16, 1887 Aug. 24, 1888 30 ABNCo Purple Clear 25,000
May 3, 1890 Oct. 10, 1890 30 ABNCo Purple Clear 62,500

The first printing stamps were done in a deep mauve shade. The second printing was lighter and duller. For the third printing, "violet" was ordered but the stamp produced was a pale mauve. Violet was used in the 1878 printing (Scott No. 30b). Printings by the American Bank Note Company were done in purple (Scott No. 30). When referring to the Princess Kamamalu stamps, the mauve stamps have more red than blue, the violet stamps are cold and lack any red and the purple stamps have a much stronger bluish content than red.

Collectors can be excused for confusion over mauve, violet and purple. Purple was the color specified in the original order of 1870, but no color sample was sent. The stamp color chosen by the National Bank Note Company was a fashionable purple shade called "mauve" in today's popular stamp catalogues. In early Scott Catalogues, the Princess Kamamalu stamps all were grouped into one catalogue number and called violet. Early in the 20th Century, cataloguers began differentiating colors for the Kamamalu stamps and hit on mauve, violet and purple.

Mauve (rhymes with "grove") stamps compound the confusion because these stamps come in three distinct shades. Defining "mauve" is a challenge in itself. Artificial coloring with aniline dye was discovered accidentally in 1856. Until then, color was created with natural substances. Produced chemically, aniline dyes revolutionized the manufacture of colors because they made an endless array of stable colors, less susceptible to fading. "Mauve" was the name given to the first aniline dye created during an unsuccessful effort to synthesize quinine. The name was coined around 1859 from the French name for the flower of the mallow plant. In reality, mauve is a range of purple shades overlapping other shades of purple. Mauve is described variously as a moderate shade of purple, violet or lilac; a pinkish color; a light purple; a moderate grayish violet; a moderate reddish purple; or any of several delicate shades of purple. Examples of mauve can be found on the Internet by searching "mauve". A site illustrating multiple shades of mauve is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauve.

Here are the three shades of "mauve" for Scott No. 30a:

Scott 30a
Scott 30a
Scott 30a

First printing
Deep mauve

Second printing
Dull mauve

Third printing
Pale mauve

Used examples of the mauve or violet stamp are common (a pair made up the 2 domestic rate) but those with a date stamp are quite scarce and used examples on cover are rare. Used examples of the purple stamp with a date stamp are found easily but examples on cover are scarce.

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