Philatelic Echoes of Empire: Jamaicas One Shilling Invert Frame

By Richard Howard



Between 1919 and 1921 a first set of pictorial definitives was issued in Jamaica, one of which, the one shilling value featured as its design the statue in the capital, Kingston, of Queen Victoria with the inscription Queen Victoria of Jamaica Lady Supreme, in two subtly different shades of orange which gave no indication at a casual inspection that it had been produced from the use of two separate printing plates.


Shortly after the issue of the stamp a collector in the tiny village of Manchioneal on the northeast coast of Jamaica, visited the local post office to purchase his own copy of the newly issued stamp, only to discover the frame of the stamp to be inverted which he recognized as the central design was in correct alignment with the watermark, whereupon he returned immediately to the post office to purchase the remaining stock of the stamp, thought to have been a part sheet in a block of twenty specimens.



The other part sheet was apparently stocked at the post office in Kingston as used specimens from the capital were later recovered, and the explanation of this error was simply the initial error with the printing plates being misplaced.


Subsequently the owner wrote to a dealer in London, enclosing a damaged used specimen of the error, inviting an offer for both it and the mint specimens in his possession, and receiving a cabled offer by return which was immediately accepted.


Two blocks of four of the error are known to exist in private collections, together with a number of single specimens in others, and the stamp is now recognized as Jamaicas rarest, and a notable philatelic gem.



Subsequently, Jamaica has issued two stamps reproducing its most famous issue, one as the highest value of a set of six issued in 1971 in commemoration of the tercentenary of the original colonial post office in the Caribbean. Then in 1979 it was used again for reproduction on the 20 cent value of a set of four commemorating the Rowland Hill Death Centenary, this value also featured as the centerpiece of a striking souvenir sheet of a reproduction of the first 19th century UPU postcard with imprint of the first Jamaican one penny Victorian stamp from the first colonial issue of 1860.


The stamp has also been featured in stamps from other countries, one being the four cent value of the long set of Rare and Famous Stamps issued by Nicaragua in 1976 (Scott #1041).