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Stung by criticism of their stamps in the philatelic press, the Hawaiian post office determined to obtain more finished stamps from the United States. Borrowing much of the design concept from the the Nova Scotia 10 stamp (Nova Scotia Scott No. 12), William G. Irwin, a clerk in the Honolulu post office, created a 2 orange red stamp featuring a portait of King Kamehameha IV. Postmaster General David Kalakaua, ordered the stamp from the National Bank Note Company of New York, and directed they be perforated, if it would cause little extra cost. The first of the Bank Note Issue, the Engraved Perforated Royal Portrait Stamps, thus came to be. This "issue," if it can be called such despite its long period and varied designs, began with the 1864 2 orange red Kamehameha IV stamp and ends with the 1891, 2 dull violet Queen Liliuokalani stamp. These stamps are assigned Scott Nos. 30-52C (excepting Nos. 50 and 51 belonging to the Boston Lithographs) in the Scott Catalogue.

2 orange red Kamehameha IV
2 dull violet Queen Liliuokalani

2 orange red Kamehameha IV

2 dull violet Queen Liliuokalani

All of the Bank Notes stamps were intaglio printed on unwatermarked wove paper. All of the Bank Note stamps were printed in sheets of 50, laid out 5 across and 10 down. In the earlier stamps, a plate of 50 subjects was used. In later printings, a plate of 100 subjects was used and the two panes were separated into sheets of 50. A detailed description of the plate layout and margin inscriptions may be found at Meyer-Harris, p. 196-205. Further research has refined the comments made in Meyer and Harris. See Bank Note Plate Layouts.

In 1879, the operations of the National Bank Note Company were taken over by the American Bank Note Company. For ease of study, the Bank Notes can be divided into those printed by the NBNCo. and those printed by the ABNCo. Using this distinction creates a minor problem because some stamps printed by the ABNCo. are re-issues of stamps printed initially by the NBNCo. In most cases, the ABNCo. printings of NBNCo. designs were distinguishable re-issues and can be identified as such. Re-issues by the ABNCo. of stamps printed initially by the NBNCo. are discussed in connection with the initial NBNCo. stamps.

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Beardsley, Wallace R., "Hawaiian Headache: Is This Stamp A Genuine Imperf", The Philatelic Foundation Bulletin, Vol. VII, No. 2, July-December, 1989, p. 3-7; Vol. VIII, No. 1, January-March, 1990, p. 3-6; reprinted at Opinions VI, p. 103-112, The Philatelic Foundation, New York, 1992. Imperforates and forgeries.

Meyer, Henry A. and Harris, Adm. Frederic R., The Stamps and Postal History of Hawaii, Chapter 19, "The First Perforated Hawaiian Stamps", p. 187-194; Chapter 20 "Retrospection", p. 195; Chapter 21 "The Plate Layouts of Hawaiian Stamps", p. 197-208, by Henry A. Meyer; Chapter 22, "The Plates of the Five Cent Stamps", p. 209-213, by Henry A. Meyer; Chapter 23, "The Plates of the Two Cent Stamps", p. 215-220, by Henry A. Meyer; and Chapter 24, "The Bank Note Issues", p. 221-235.

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