FAQ's about KGV Stamp collecting

Author: David Letch   Date Posted:1 December 2015 

July, 2017

We have many emails such as the one below asking if we can help with the value of  KGV stamps. The good news is WE CAN. The first advise is normally free of charge: subsequent valuations may incur a fee depending on how much time it will take to give an estimated value. All you need to do is email us a good quality picture of the stamps (King George V only please) and we can help you.


Contact Method: Email
Message: hello I have some King George Australian stamps and I am looking for advice on their value, could you help me with this ?? thank you. Norma


A member has asked me the following questions which I thought I would share.

Looking through your web site, I've come across a few terms that I don't understand. 1/ For example; All your stamps have a Variety number - e.g. Variety 2L24. What does this mean and how do apply it. 2/ Not sure either what first state and second state is. 3/ Also I can't work out the colours given to the Penny Reds. Is there a list of colours available or is there something that you can check them against. 4/ What is meant by Hinged and unhinged? 

1/ The notations “2L24” etc are references to a position on the original printing plate. When these stamps were printed, the printing plate consisted of 120 “identical” impressions, set out in 2 panes of 60 impressions, a left pane and a right pane. Each pane comprised 10 rows of 6 with a central gutter, often with the printer’s imprint located at the bottom center of the central gutter, below where the stamp impressions were printed. So, the first number on our example “2L24” refers to the Plate number, in this case, Plate number 2, (have a look on the website at the pages which come up when you click on “Products” and then select any of the issues. I have included an explanation of how many different Plates were used for printing each issue). The letter “L” of “R” in the notation refers to Left or Right Pane. The final number “24” locates the stamp as having come from Plate 2, Left Pane, position 24 (the 6th and final stamp of the 4th row from the Left Pane). Now, all of the 120 impressions should be identical, but they are not. For various reasons, minor or major damage occurs to many of the impressions (or clichés) on the Printing plate during the printing process, and this results in small flaws which are unique to a specific cliché. Through research, we can identify the specific location on the printing Plate where a particular “flaw” occurred, hence the notations.


2/ First and Second State etc. refers to flaws which demonstrate progressive development of a flaw, or sometimes attempts by the printer to repair a flawed cliché. In the case of progressive development, sometimes a separate secondary flaw will occur after an initial flaw occurs. This frequently happens when the printing plates are used for an extended period or extensive printings. In the case of repairs, a First State may be demonstrated by a flaw which indicates damage, and a Second State may show repairs (eg added metal, or “retouches” where parts of the design are re-engraved onto a damaged cliché).


3/ Identifying colours in the Penny Reds is one of the most complex tasks in philately. You need to use a UV-light within a specific wavelength to observe the colour of the ink under UV-light as well as the “daylight” shade. There are standard Stanley-Gibbons colour charts which you can use to match the “daylight” and UV-light shades.


4/ Hinged refers to a small translucent piece of paper which was used to attach the back of the stamp to a paper album page. This was common practice in past years before “hingeless” albums were introduced. Hinges can be soaked off Used (postmarked) stamps easily, but you should never attempt to remove hinges from Mint stamps (stamps with gum which have not been postally used).

Each of the denominations in the KGV issue (i.e “Halfpenny”, “Penny”, Penny-Halfpenny” etc) has a specialist publication where the Plate varieties are described and reference drawings are also provided for many of the varieties. I have listed these publications on the website (click on “products” and then any of the KGV issues listed and you will find a description of the Plates used and a couple of references). Over the years I have developed a professional library by purchasing all of the specialist guides, which are essential for identifying these plate varieties. A good starting point is The Australian Commonwealth Specialists’ Catalogue: King George V , 2014 Edition (published by Brusden-White). You can pick this up for about $125 from any stamp dealer.

I hope this helps and I look forward to helping with any other questions. 

David Letch



Comments (2)

O66w ? 1/2d Orange KGV with OS perforations and in

10 March 2018
Hi, I have a pair of orange 1/2d stamps with OS perforations (nothing abnormal there) - except the watermark is inverted. I can’t find any reference to an O66w variety of the O66 KGV stamp... thoughts??

Penny Green collection

30 May 2016
I inherited a box of more than 10000 used KGV 1d Green stamps when I was a teenager and I spent over a year soaking them and sorting them into their watermarks and flaws. Using a KGV 1d Green specialty catalogue, I sorted them into their specific flaws and I have an album full of Roos tongue out, NY joined etc... I am interested in selling these to a specialist like yourself. Regards, Stuart

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