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Scott 31

Hawaii's first perforated stamp was the 2 orange red Kamehameha IV, issued in June, 1864. It is known used by August, 1864. There were seven printings of this stamp by the NBNCo., the last being a small printing made in 1875 as an emergency measure to assure a continuing supply of 2 stamps while dies and plates of the 1875 Kalakaua brown stamp were being made. The seven printings vary in shade and paper. The gum of all seven printings was brownish or yellowish. A few of the orange-red stamps from the NBNCo. printings were still in stock in 1893 and were overprinted - an uncatalogued variety of Scott No. 65. A plate of fifty subjects arranged five across and ten down using Layout I was made for printing Scott No. 31. See Bank Note Plate Layouts.

When Hawaii and the United States put the 1870 Postal Convention into operation, effective July 1, 1870, Hawaiians needed 6 postage to send letters to the United States. (See Mail Rates Convention Period) However, Hawaii had no supply of 6 stamps and none would arrive until February, 1871. Meanwhile, people could use three of the 2 Scott 31 stamps (or six for a double rate letter). When it appeared the Post Office might exhaust its supply of 2 stamps (needed for local and interisland letters), the Postmaster General authorized the use of a bisected 2 stamp with a 5 Scott No. 32 to pay the 6 rate. A bisect of Scott No. 31 used on cover is designated in the Scott Catalogue as Scott No. 31b. Eleven covers bearing Scott No. 31b are recorded postmarked during the period August 25, 1870 to March 2, 1871. (See Scott 31b Covers) Several examples are known of Scott No. 31b on a piece with a Scott No. 32.

In 1887, the post office placed with the American Bank Note Company (successor to the National Banki Note Company) the first of three orders for small printings of the 2c Kamehameha IV stamps. To fulfill this order, the ABNCo. used the old NBNCo. plate. Specialists find evidence of retouching or acid washing in the eyes and in the beard, but only some of the plate positions were retouched. Also, the new stamps were printed in a vermilion color, entirely lacking the orange of the old NBNCo. printings. Vermilion 2 Kamehameha IV stamps constitute a re-issue and are assigned Scott No. 31a in the Scott Catalogue. (See Comparison of Scott Nos. 31 and 31a) Scott No. 31a was intended for sales to stamp collectors and dealers. Apart from retouching or acid washing the old plate, the ABNCo. added its own monogram to the sides of the plate and it appears in the selvage of each sheet alongside two positions. (See Layout of the Monogram)

For discussion of uses of Scott No. 31 on local and interisland mail.
For discussion of uses of Scott No. 31 on foreign mail in the Treaty Period.
For discussion of uses of Scott No. 31 on foreign mail in the Convention Period.

Gum of Scott 31a
Gum of Scott 31
Note the oval impression from the vignette shows through the hard paper


Areas of more intense color show the varying shades best. On Scott 31, the areas I use most are the top of the oval vignette and the ribbon ends on either side of the word "HAWAII" at the top.

Color comparisons of top grill and ribbon ends from the Seven Printings and from the 1887 ABNCo. vermilion re-issue (Scott No. 31a):

31a 1st color 600 31a 1st ribbon 600 First Printing, deep reddish copper shade
June, 1864; 250,000 stamps
31a 2nd color 600 31a_l2600 Second Printing, light orange
March, 1866; 100,000 stamps
31a 3rd color 600 31a 3rd ribbon 600 Third Printing, dark orange-red shade
January, 1867; 200,000 stamps
31a 4th color 600 31a 4th ribbon 600 Fourth Printing, medium orange-red
August, 1868; 330,000 stamps
31a 5th color 600 31a 5th ribbon 600 31a 4th and 5th paper 600
31 pelure paper
Fifth Printing, medium orange-red on thinner, slightly buff paper compared to other printings; some stamps are on pelure paper. Paper samples shown on left are: top - first printing, middle - 5th printing buff, bottom - back of translucent pelure paper stamp.
January, 1870; 555,000 stamps from which a small number of stamps were overprinted
31a 6th color 600 31a 6th ribbon 600 Sixth Printing, light orange-red
August, 1871; 600,000 stamps
31a 7th color 600 31a 7th ribbon 600 Seventh Printing, still lighter orange-red
April, 1875; 25,000 stamps
31 color 600 31 ribbon 600 ABNCo. vermilion, Scott No. 31a
April, 1887; 50,000 stamps
August, 1888; 12,500 stamps
October, 1890; 62,500 stamps from which 6,250 stamps were overprinted


31a proof vignette Die proof of incomplete vignette and details of shirt and cheek showing incomplete design compared to finished design
31a proof shirt 600 31a shirt 600 More highlight was added on the shirt
31a proof cheek 600 31a cheek 600 More highlight was added to the cheeks
31a trial color proof
31a plate proof

Green trial color proof

Orange red die proof


Misregistered (misperforated)

31a misperf

Misregistered (misperforated)

31a misperf-1

Marked Specimen

31a specimen

Specimen Overprint, probably used for exchanges with other postal authorities.
Overprints on the early NBNCo. stamps are of this large variety.

Marked Specimen

31 specimen

A smaller, unserifed style on No. 31a

Printing Freaks

31a wiped plate

Plate wiping effect on the left side of the stamp, and detail

Printing Freaks

31 offset

Offset impression printed on the back beneath the gum


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