Article for CHRONICLE
by Leonard H. Hartmann
All rights reserved, copyright ©2005, Leonard H. Hartmann
When I first started to write on the CSA Misplaced Transfers in the Chronicle, May 1999 issue, I was hoping for material to do another article. At that time only a few examples were known, then came the May 2001 and February 2004 issues. As we learn more, the subject becomes more complex and thus more interesting. The point has now come that a concise listing is needed so we can try to understand what is known and to go forward. Toward the end of this article there is a bit of an introduction to the first CSA lithographed stamp, the 5¢ Green from Stone A-B, it may relate or it may not relate to our Stone 2 Misplaced Transfers but there are overlapping peculiarities.
For the CSA lithographs a misplaced transfer is defined as a stamp on the printing stone that is not in it's normal position with respect to the transfer stone. As far as we now know all of the CSA lithographs were generated from the same transfer stone configuration, a unit of 50 being five rows of 10 subjects each. Starting with the upper left stamps we have position 1, 2, etc. going to 10 at the far right, then back to 11 at the left under the 1. All printing stones consist of 4 impressions from the transfer stone, a left pane having two units of 50 placed together so they appear to be a unit of 100, a vertical gutter and than a right pane constructed the same as the left pane.
For clarity I am regressing to my first article and am mostly repeating this paragraph. The earliest reference known to the author of the phrase "Misplaced Transfer" with respect to the Confederate lithographs is from an article by Gerald S. Curtis, Edward S. Knapp and Thomas H. Pratt titled "Lithographs of the Confederate States of America" and appears in Scott's Monthly Journal, November, 1929.
....To show the real rarity of these, we would say, that during our studies covering the last ten years, we have found less than a score of these from Stone 2 (both colors).
A short description of what a misplaced transfer is and how it may occur, is as follows:
Some position or group of positions show up badly when a printing has been taken-they have become damaged for some reason and do not print properly. The careful pressman notices this, and he erases that part of the stone, cleans off the space and makes a new transfer there (taking this new transfer either from the smaller Transfer Stone or from a perfect part of the big stone). Then the stone is ready to print from once more. But if he has taken his transfer from a different set of positions from the original ones, he has changed the arrangement of the varieties, and they do not run in the proper order, they are Misplaced Transfers.
The sale of the John H. Hall collection by R. A. Siegel, December 17, 2001 was a major revelation, this material had not been on the market since the late 1920's and even then it was privately sold. Before this sale only four items were known to the author that are Misplaced Transfers. The Hall sale had 13 lots so described with a note that a large lot also had some. As soon as this sale appeared I wanted to do another Misplaced Transfer article to clear the air but it was delayed as there seemed to be more new questions than answers
The above "score" of Misplaced Transfers mentioned in the 1929 article is in excellent agreement with the Hall material and what we know today. The total number of Misplaced Transfers ranges from 34 to 37 and are contained in multiples having a total of 84 stamps. I define this as 23 collectable units based on undivided items. As an example the pair of each being plate position 3; one position 3 could be the normal position with the other 3 entered into position 2 or 4 or the pair of position 3's could be entered in any positions, thus it could be called 1 or 2 Misplaced Transfers but it is a single collectable items. A few of the items such as the block of 8 ( Census ID 18), could be cut into four vertical pairs each proving they are not normal stamps. In any case to cut a Misplaced Transfer multiple would be a travesty to philately. A census of all known Misplaced Transfers to date is given in Figure 1:
Census item 4, the block of 32 having transfer positions 1/11 in place of 10/20 is of special importance, Figure 2. The block contains printing stone positions 3-10, 13-20 and 33-40 plus fractions of positions 1,11, 21 and 31 from the right pane. Only the printing stone positions 10/20 are replaced with the rest being normal as to position and orientation of the transfer stone. This block and in fact all multiples in the census strongly indicates that the Misplaced Transfers originated when a printing stone was laid down and not a common misconception of repairs after a stone was placed in use. All Misplaced Transfers show quite sharp margins with distinct adjoining stamps. This is not what one would expect from an area that was ground down, re-entered and re-etched on the printing stone. Unlike metal printing plates lithographic stones can not be hammered up or filled in. Entire Lithographic Stones, printing and transfer, were routinely ground down to receive new images for the next printing job thus stones in use would shrink from circa 4 inches in thickness to about 2 inches before they cracked or were deemed too weak to be used again. Such a change in the printing surface over a small areas could not lead to a decent printed impression.
For the Blue Stone 2, normal stamp printing, we have two well established Vertical Gutter orientations and thus two printing stones used for normal stamp production. For the Green stamps we have few Vertical Gutter units but that from Census 4, a Misplaced Transfer, does not match a known one in either Green or Blue. Figure 3 shows a Vertical Gutter stamps from the Green printing for reference, position 11 and a fraction of position 20, used from Eutaw, Alabama, February 12, 1862. On this stamp the left pane is shifted up from the right which may or may not have a special meaning
For the Blue Misplaced Transfers we cannot relate these to the established printing stones, as we have no Vertical Gutters relating to a printing stone. My assumption is that the Blue Misplaced Transfers are from a third Stone 2 printing stone, for now called plate X. In our census of the blue items number 17, 18, and 19 and tie together perfectly. These were evidently the top two rows from the right pane or a plate having a single pane. For census items 20-23 they do not tie with the previous but they do not conflict. For the blues we have only two additional ones: transfer stone position 37 with a right sheet margin, census numbers 21 and two identical Misplaced Transfers having transfer stone positions 9-2 being census numbers 22 and 23 for which we have no idea of the location on a printing stone.
A wrap up of what we know on the Stone 2 Misplaced Transfers:
We do have other examples that may or may not be Misplaced Transfers but they are certainly related to the various mysteries of the CSA lithographs. Figure 4 shows a single 5¢ Green used from Lynchburg, Va. used on November 8, 1861. From the date and dull olive green color it is probably from the un-plated Stone A or B however Stone 1 is a possibility. This stamp shows a portion of the stamp to the right that is almost touching which is not normal.
We also have another stamp, Figure 5, that is in a quite similar shade of Green to that in Figure 4 and is probably Stone A or B. It was used on a folded letter cancelled March 3, 1862 from Charlottesville, Va. It shows a portion of the stamp to the left being extremely close and the right stamp shows either a vertical gutter of a left sheet margin. Considerable effort has been made to plate these two stamps as Stone 1 but with no success. They are definitely not Stone 2. Stone 1 can be quite difficult to plate, especially from a single as the characteristics are often minute. Some Stone 2 examples in a near olive green can be much more difficult to plate than expected.
Stone A-B is a philatelic enigma as we know much less of it than we think we know of it! From the previously mentioned November, 1929 article in "Scott's Monthly Journal" we know that Curtis worked on the plating during the 1910's and published some plating material in "The Philatelic Gazette" and Knapp worked on the plating in the mid 1920's, Curtis disposed of his collection and turned over the notes to Knapp. To quote from this article:
Mr. Knapp believed that there was only one stone of the Five Cents Green that had an imprint and they did not attempt to plate it. Mr. Pratt has established that there are two imprints and probably two stones, and he is working at present on reconstructing them.
The 5c Green stamps with the imprint are what we now call Stone A-B. This study by Curtis and subsequently by Knapp and Pratt being either the manuscript notes, photographs or the actual stamps is not know to students today. Hopefully this study will miraculously appear just as the Hall collection of Misplaced Transfers, they remained intact for 70 years.
For Stone A-B today we know only of a strip of four showing portions of two other stamps with a partial imprint and a few imprint singles, early usages, etc. The 1929 article states that a used block of eight and also an unused block of eight exist, neither are known by the author. The imprint items indicate either two stone or a stone with a left and right pane. We do not know enough about this stone or stones to even make a guess as to the possible Misplaced Transfer status of the stamps illustrated in Figure 3 and 4. The Stone A-B attribution is normally made based on an early usage and also the peculiar olive green shade but neither are definitive. We have this Stone A-B shade of olive green from both Stone 1 and Stone 2. that are quite similar if not identical. We know the first CSA 5¢ general issue was first sold on October 16, 1861 based on a newspaper article and supported by such early usages. Stone 1 is reported used as early as October 18th, even if we question this usage based on a questionable plating, there are other usages only a little later.
As a guess I would think the original Stone A-B is actually only one printing stone with the A and B originally unknowingly referring to the Left and Right panes. The two imprints appear identical with the same transfer stone positions above. This suggest these printing and transfer stones were done in a similar manner to the others. Again, for Stone A-B much more study is required
When examining any CSA lithograph one should look for notations by Knapp, during the 1920's he evidently examined several thousand stamps and often made plating notations. and referred to Misplaced Transfers, etc.. To date I do not know that he made an error however some caution must be made in interpreting his notations. Many years ago I purchased a nice block of the 5¢ blue lithograph with Knapp's plating on the back, the notation "2nd stone", he was referring to Stone 3, the second blue Transfer Stone, and not Stone 2, a nice purchase.
Any help that anyone can offer on the Misplaced Transfers or Stone A-B will be most appreciated. For this article I give special thanks to two deceased friends Charley Kilbourne and Fred Grant. For the living my thanks to Bruce Engsler and Michael C. O'Reilly.
Leonard H. Hartmann, PO Box 36006, Louisville, Ky 40233, Leonard@pbbooks.net http://www.pbbooks.com