Plating and Plate Varieties - Review of Encyclopedia of Plate Varieties

Discussion in 'United States Stamps' started by Molokai, Dec 6, 2015.

  1. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    I have yet to try my hand at plating, but intend to do so next year. I’ve always considered plating as the rite of passage from amateur to expert philatelist.

    There are quite a few good sources on the subject, but I’ve not found a ‘How to Plate’ or ‘Plating 101’ – so I am assembling websites with information and forums with plating threads. There are of course a few books offering the neophyte at least some insight. An example would be Carroll Chase’s book on the 3c of 1851-1857. That book set the plating standard and is certainly the seminal work on plating. Considering Chase was working from almost ‘scratch’ it has to be considered monumental – especially since so few errors in his plating have been identified.

    The book I have found most useful – even though it is not about plating per se – is Loran French’s Encyclopedia of Plate Varieties on U.S. Bureau Printed Postage Stamps, Bureau Issues Association 1979, 338pp, oversized. My copy is embossed w/o dust jacket.

    First, to differentiate between ‘plating’ and ‘plate varieties.’ –

    From Wikipedia on plating: “Plating refers to the reconstruction of a pane or "sheet" of postage stamps printed from a single plate by using individual stamps and overlapping strips and blocks of stamps.” As you might imagine, plating could be an expensive proposition!

    From French on plate varieties: “True PLATE VARIETIES cause changes in the appearance of the postage stamp due to aberrations on the printing plate.” He continues, “A plate variety may be unique to a single pane position (plate damage, cracks, scratches, etc. common to a few or more plates (relief breaks) of on every copy of a denomination (die flaws and engravers errors).”

    His list of types of plate varieties: Die Flaws, Engravers Errors, Relief Breaks, Extraneous Transfers, Layout Dots/Lines/Arcs, Foreign Transfers, Dropped Transfers, Double Transfers, Triple Transfers, Short Transfers, Twisted Double Transfers, False Start Double Transfers, Shifted Transfers, Inverted Plate Numbers, Double Punch Marks, Cracks, Gripper Cracks, Tension Cracks, Scratches/Gouges/Plate Damage, Chrome Stains, Recutting, Stoned/Burnished, Worn Plates, Re-Entries.

    This certainly intrigued me: “We are delighted with Dealers who believe all plate varieties are recorded in the specialized catalogs and can scarcely contain ourselves as we pick gems from their general stock.” And, “Our richest fields are in the low values of the first half of this century….We view every stamp as a potential plate variety and are rewarded often enough not to become cynical.”

    The book is indeed an encyclopedia with hundreds of illustrations and systematically catalogued plate varieties. He refers to those chasing plate varieties as Shift Hunters and Fly-Speckers. He also refers to a Shift Hunters Newsletter by C.W. Bedford – of which I would love to see copies.

    Cheap thrills in philately! I purchased three lots of the 1c Franklin, second bureau, 200+ copies. I very much look forward to studying them for plate varieties. One can imagine the possibilities in the Washington-Franklins, third bureau!
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
    Gunny and Hochstrasse like this.
  2. Jim Shaver

    Jim Shaver Active Member

    Thanks Molokai for your report. I may have to dip into one of the books dealing with US stamps even though I collect Greenland/Denmark in order to learn some of the terminology and techniques.
    Good luck on your search through the 1c Franklins it should be fun and informative. Let us know what you find! :hungry:
     
  3. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    The simple fact that dealers themselves are many time unaware of valuable plating varieties in their stock proves the axiom that "knowledge is king". Very interesting Molokai and happy hunting.
     
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