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::: BANK NOTE ISSUE - Study of Scott 32, Scott 39 and Scott 52C :::

Back to 1866 5 Greenish-Blue KAMEHAMEHA V: Scott 32.

32 -2-600 Scott 39-2-600 Scott52C-1-600
Scott No. 32 Scott No. 39 Scott No. 52C

New supplies of 5 stamps were needed after Hawaii became a member of the Universal Postal Union on January 1, 1882. Under UPU rules, 5 fully paid a single weight first class letter to its destination. See Mail Rates - UPU Period.

Hawaii still had a supply on hand of the old 5 greenish blue stamps of 1866 (Scott No. 32) (See 1866 Kamehameha V, Scott No. 32) so there was no rush to place an order. In an 1878 merger with the American Bank Note Company, the printer of the 1866 stamps (the NBNCo.) ceased to exist. On April 1, 1882, Hawaii placed an order with the ABNCo. to print new 5 stamps. Hawaii specified the design of the 5 Kamehameha stamp (Scott No. 32) was to be retained but new stamps were to be printed in a lighter blue ink. Plates used by the old NBNCo. had been transferred to the ABNCo. so to print stamps for the new order, the ABNCo. used the same fifty subject plate made to produce Scott No. 32.

In their design, the 1882 stamps are identical to the 1866 stamps. Color, and the presence of frame lines around each of the Scott 32 stamps, are the principal distinctions between the 1866 Kamehameha V 5 stamps and the 1882 issue. Ultramarine ink was used to execute Hawaii's 1882 order. Ultramarine 5 Kamehameha V stamps are catalogued as Scott No. 39.

Although Kamehameha V died more than a decade before 1882, stamps with his portrait were popular. No other design was used for a 5 stamp until 1894, after the fall of the monarchy. However, in 1890 Hawaii wanted to duplicate the 1866 issue so it could satisfy demand from stamp collectors and stamp dealers. It's order for "dark blue" stamps was executed in indigo blue. Stamps of the indigo blue color are given Scott No. 52C.


Scott 32 color 600-1

Scott No. 32, greenish-blue

Scott No. 39, ultramarine 1
Scott No. 39, ultramarine 2

Scott No. 39, ultramarine (shade 1)

Scott No. 39, ultramarine (shade 2)

Scott No. 52C, dark indigo

Scott No. 52C, dark indigo

Two printings were made of Scott No. 32, eight of Scott No. 39, and one of Scott 52C. For printing Scott No. 32 and for the first five printings of Scott 39, a 50 subject plate was used, arranged 5x10. For convenience, we call it the Die 1 Plate. The late Dr. Wallace Beardsley proved the Die I Plate was burnished out and completely re-entered after the first printing of Scott No. 39 (1882) and before the second printing (1884). [See the Bibliography at the end of this page.] Once the plate was re-entered, specialists call it the Die 1, re-entered, Plate.

Beardsley also made a surprising discovery. He proved the first stamps printed with the Die 1, re-entered, Plate were the indigo blue stamps, Scott No. 52C, ultimately shipped to Hawaii in 1890. Thus, the indigo 5 Kamehameha V stamps sat in the ABNCo. vaults in New York City for at least six years.

Finally, we know a plate of 100 subjects (Die 2) was introduced for later printings. See Bank Note Plate Layouts. The switch from the 50 subject plate to the 100 subject plate occurred in August, 1891, before printing of the seventh order. It is unknown whether the 100 subject plate was created by the ABNCo. or by the NBNCo. but the presence of the NBNCo. legends on the plate margins suggests the NBNCo. produced it. By contrast, when the 2 brown Kalakaua 100 subject plate was made to replace the old 50 subject plate, the ABNCo. put its own legends in the plate margins.


Printing Scott No. Printer Plate Layout Ink Quantity
1866 32 (1st order) NBNCo. Die 1 Plate Greenish-blue 200,000
1866 32 (2nd order) NBNCo. Die 1 Plate Greenish-blue 100,0001
1882 39 (1st order) ABNCo. Die 1 Plate ultramarine 250,000
1884 52C ABNCo. Die 1, re-entered, Plate indigo blue 62,5002
1884 39 (2nd order) ABNCo. Die 1, re-entered, Plate ultramarine 250,0003
1885 39 (3rd order) ABNCo. Die 1, re-entered, Plate ultramarine 250,0004
1888 39 (4th order) ABNCo. Die 1, re-entered, Plate ultramarine 62,500
1888 39 (5th order) ABNCo. Die 1, re-entered, Plate ultramarine 312,500
1890 39 (6th order) ABNCo. Die 1, re-entered, Plate ultramarine 200,000
1891 39 (7th order) ABNCo. Die 2 Plate5 ultramarine 312,500
1892 39 (8th order) ABNCo. Die 2 Plate ultramarine 625,0006

1 None of the greenish blue Scott No. 32 were overprinted in 1893.

2 Exactly when Scott 52C was printed is unclear, but it was done before the second printing of Scott No. 39 in 1884. The stamps eventually were ordered in 1890. Of the Scott 52C stamps, 46,350 were overprinted in 1893.

3 In 1893, some stamps of this printing were returned from country postoffices to be overprinted. An estimate of fewer than 10,000 of the second printing stamps were overprinted as Scott No. 59 in late 1893 or early 1894. They are distinguishable from other Scott No. 59 stamps because the principal source of Scott 59 stamps were made with the Die 2 plate stamps. Usage of Die 1 (re-entered) Scott No. 59 stamps appears limited to 1895.

4 One sheet lacking horizontal perforations (Scott 39a) is believed to have come from this printing. See Horizontal Imperforates.

5 Although used only by the ABNCo., the 100 subject plate apparently was made by the NBNCo.

6 In 1893, 587,500 5 ultramarine stamps were overprinted, all from the last two printings (excepting the quantity of second printing stamps overprinted, as noted above).


Distinguishing a Die 1 stamp from a Die 1, re-entered, stamp requires skill and expert knowledge of the position dots found in each stamp. For lessons on how to tell the difference, consult the Beardsley article listed below in the Bibliography.

Identifying a Die 2 stamp is relatively easy. The ovals surrounding the numeral five in the upper right and left corners of Die 1 and Die 1, re-entered, stamps have broken lines at the tops of the ovals. On Die 2 stamps the lines at the tops of the ovals are complete.

Scott 32 L5 600 Scott 32 R5 600 Scott No. 32, Die 1, detail of ovals surrounding left and right 5's
Scott 39 1st 5 600 Scott 39 1st 5 600-a Scott No. 39, Die 1, detail of oval, note the layout line is partially visible in this printing, although incomplete and fainter than in Scott No. 32
Scott 52C pos 6 dot 600 Scott No. 52C, Die 1, re-entered, layout dot in position 6, is most prominent in 52C, thus proving 52C was printed before the second printing of Scott No. 39. This dot is not present in Die 1 or Die 2.
Scott 52C L5 600-a Scott 52C R5 600-a Scott No. 52C, Die 1, re-entered, details of ovals surrounding the left and right 5's. Breaks at the tops of the oval resulted from burnishing the layout lines during the plate re-entry.
Scott 39 2d L5 600 Scott 39 2d R5 600 Scott No. 39, Die 1, re-entered, details of ovals surrounding the left and right 5's. The slight breaks in the tops of the ovals continued through all of the Die 1, re-entered, stamps.
Scott 39 6th L5 600 Scott 39 6th R5 600 Scott No. 39, Die 2, details of ovals surrounding the left and right 5's. In Die 2, the ovals are complete.


Plate wear on the fifty subject plate can be seen in the stamps produced during the 1882 printing of Scott No. 39. Concern for the quality of the product probably was the reason for re-entering the plate. In the first printing of Scott No. 39, a halo surrounds the king's head, probably resulting from wear because it is not evident in the 1866 stamps. This Die 1 Plate already had been used to print 300,000 Scott No. 32 stamps, requiring 6,000 impressions of the plate. The first order for 250,000 stamps of a lighter blue shade required an additional 5,000 impressions. As the first printing progressed, general plate wear became quite evident in the stamps, producing what is known as a "worn plate" variety. After re-entering the plate, there is no halo and detail was restored. However, the halo re-appeared as printing from the Die 1, re-entered, Plate continued through multiple orders.

Scott 39 1st hairline Hairline, First printing, showing a "halo" around the king's head, more predominant on the left side.
Scott 39 5 die 1 worn plate Scott No. 39, Die 1, "worn plate," late first printing

After the plate was re-entered, the halo disappeared.

Scott 52C hairline Scott 39 2d hairline Hairline, Scott 52C and Second printing, Scott 39

As the printing from the re-entered 50 subject plate progressed, the halo re-appeared.

Scott 39 5th hairline Hairline, Fifth printing

When the ABNCo. switched to the 100 subject plate, the halo disappeared.

Scott 39 6th hairline Hairline, Seventh printing


Two panes of fifty subjects each were made from the 100 subject plate. Each pane was separated from the other by perforations.

Plate layout 3

In this layout, illustrated as Layout III in Meyer and Harris, perforations surround each pane and legends of the National Bank Note Company appear in the margins on the left and right sides of each pane. Directional arrows show the legend read up on the left sides and read down on the right sides. The presence of the NBNCo. legends leads many to believe the NBNCo. made the plate sometime before 1878 and the plate was among the assets transferred to the ABNCo.

For many years, doubt existed about whether the 100 subject plate actually was used. (See Meyer and Harris, p. 209-213) Once people realized the Die 2 Plate was used, studies of wear and shades seemed to suggest the switch happened during the fifth printing of Scott 39 (September, 1890). However, when the American Bank Note Company Archives were auctioned in the early 1990's, a sample sheet of the Die 2 Plate was discovered. A manuscript note on the sample sheet reads "New plate 100 __ Aug. 1891." This note places the switch between the sixth and seventh printings. The order for the seventh printing was received in New York in August, 1891.

Scott 39 ABNCo archives - 1
Straddle block of twenty from the 100 subject sheet, dated August, 1891
Scott 39 ABNCo archives - 2 Straddle imprint block from the ABNCo. sample sheet


Scott 39 specimen
Specimen Overprint For UPU Exchanges

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