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The Lithographed General Issues of the Confederate States of America, Article 6

Misplaced Transfers, Part 3

by Leonard H. Hartmann

All rights reserved, copyright © 2001, L. H. Hartmann

To Appear in the CHRONICLE

When Misplaced Transfers were first discussed in Chronicle No. 182 I was delighted that a new items had been found. It was the first item to be described in detail since 1968, and in fact only the second such type ever recorded except for a mention that others existed. The first was position No. 1 over No. 10 in green and the second was position No. 2 over No. 10 in blue. In Chronicle No. 185, the Knapp photograph from 1925 having a number of unusual relative positions for Stone 2 and was described and named Plate X.

Another Misplaced Transfer has just turned up, it had been identified in the past as the positions were noted on the back in pencil, perhaps in the 1920's. As far as I know a mention or description of this stamp has not appeared in print; 5 Green Stone 2 block of 4, positions No's 49, 50, 9, 3 with position No. 3 being in place of No. 10, Figure 1.

Though long assumed, this last discovery, a block spanning the horizontal gutter, helps confirm that these Misplaced Transfers are coming from regular printing stones having multiple transfer stone impressions, and were used for routine stamp production.

The Stone 2 Plate X is so unusual that no real conclusions can be made except that when it was made up, they had access to either the Transfer Stone 2 or a Printing Stone 2. The various groups of positions have their proper relative positions; ie. the groups of positions 2-5, 3-9, 42-45 and 46-50 appear to be spaced per the Transfer Stone. When you place positions 2-5 above 42-45 and 3-9 above 46-50 you have impossible combinations. The known layouts have positions No's 2-5 above positions 12-15 and not above 42-45. For a horizontal gutter you do have 42-45 over 2-5 but not the other way around.

A misplaced transfer is a position that is on a printing stone in a position that is not where it would be based on the Transfer Stone. Positions 1-50 are on the transfer stone and in normal operation they are repeated four times on the printing stone for a total of 200 stamps with each transfer stone position being present four times. From the Stone 2 transfer stone we known that at least several printing stones were laid down, at least two for Blue and one for Green.

This new discovery is calling for a major re-examination of these stamps as it is evident that they are far more complex than the students of the 19th century and early 20th realized. The Transfer Stones still appear to be simple, but the Printing Stones are not.

A listing of the currently known Misplace Transfer examples proves interesting, all are the 5¢ value:

Green Printing from Stone 2

Blue Printing from Stone 2 The picture seems evident; position No. 10 on the Transfer Stone was defective and did not transfer well when laid down to make a Printing Stone. They printed an extra impression from the Transfer Stone and from the upper right corner (on a transfer stone printing the impression is reversed thus they would first cut the upper left position), they started cutting the top row and used positions 1, 2, and 3 to repair three of the four positions of No. 10 on a printing stone.

We have problems with this clear logic!

Stone 2 was the last 5 Green stone with the earliest known stamp usage circa December 2, 1861. The earliest known usage of a 5 Blue lithograph, also Stone 2, was February 28, 1862, a two to three month lapse. We have every reason to believe the Green printings continued daily until they started the Blue printings as the stamps were in continuous use and in short supply.

It is thus logical to assume that the last Stone 2, Printing Stone laid down for the Green printing was also used for the first Blue stamps, we have Stone 2 Misplaced Transfers in both Green and Blue. The rarity of the Misplaced Transfers is such that we do not have enough examples to tie the Green and Blue Stone 2 printings together. We do not have an example of the same Misplaced Transfer position printed in both colors. As a pure guess perhaps the change in ink color created a problem, perhaps the two inks were not compatible.

Accepting the above, we can surmise that the first Green Stone 2 Printing Stone was in good order with all four positions No. 10 being normal and it was used for the majority of the Green stamp printed. A second Green Stone 2 Printing Stone was laid down and had many problems thus at least two Misplaced Transfers (No. 1 and 3 substituted for two different positions of No. 10) and perhaps also the No. 2 substitution for the Blue printing. After this, two different perfect Stone 2 Printing Stones were laid down and used for Blue printings. Accepting this scenario, it still seems strange that the defective No. 10 positions are no longer defective for the more common 5 Blues from Stone 2!

The original discovery of a second Printing Stone for Transfer Stone 2, Blue, was reported in the "Confederate Philatelist", Vol. 9, No. 4, Whole No. 91, April-May, 1964 and Vol 10, No. 7, Whole No. 103, August-September, 1965. Enough gutter blocks from these two Printing Stones exist to suggest that the positions No. 10 are all normal.

This work was originally based on small blocks of Stone 2 that straddled the horizontal and vertical Transfer Stone units and their relative alignment. These alignments are still the only way for the basic identification of these Printing Stones can be made. However, once the basic identification is made, then sub varieties on the printing stones can be used to identified specific single positions on the Printing Stone locations. The specific Transfer Stone straddle positions do have unique characteristics as they were pasted up by hand.

In the past it has been emphatic that the Stone 2 stamps in Green were not printed from the same Printing Stones as the Stone 2 stamps in Blue. Characteristics that would only appear in one transfer unit, say the Upper Left, on a Green Printing were not present on a Blue printing from either Printing Stone for this same unit. The upper and lower transfer unit orientation at the joint did not agree. However it is now evident that more printing stones were used than previously thought. For one Printing Stone to have been used for both colors is both logical and quite possible.

With a perfect random distribution, if you cut up 50 subjects and select 1 the probability will be 1 in 50 to select a specific subject, if you have a random distribution and have 100 stamps you should have essentially 2 copies of each position and everything to date indicates this is the case though there has been no formal statistical analysis. If you change one position on the printing plate the day it is made the ratio is now 1 to 200. If you have two printing plates and they are used to print the same number of stamps the ration is 1 to 400, and so on. All of this is based on the change being made when the plate is new, if the change is made after the plate was in service for quite some time the probability could be extremely low.

Overall position No. 10 does not appear to be scarcer than the normal 1 in 50 ratio as is created by the basic nature of the Transfer Stone. We now know that Position No. 10 has been replaced at least three times by other positions and as such did not print when the plate was printed thus this plate must have had a short life. The mystery Plate X is excluded from this consideration. A formal statistical analysis is needed.

The question, why was a printing stone or stones made up with at least three defective No. 10 (four if you also accept the 1925 Knapp photograph which is most unlikely because of the impossible vertical positions).

There were at least two different printing stones made from Transfer Stone 2 for the 5 Blue printings. I also stated the Blue Stone 2 stamps were not printed from the same printing stone as the Green Stone 2 stamps. This was established by the relative positions of the 4 Transfer Stone Impressions were different. This is most likely still true but in light of the current mysteries I must now add that it is possible that one of the green printing stones may have been used for a blue printing. To date I have not seen a stamp that would verify this possibility.

To clarify the above, the relative positions from the mystery Knapp photograph, Plate X, with Position No. 40 over No. 10 with the impossible vertical pairs are given below.

02 03 04 05
42 43 44 45

and

03 04 05 06 07 08 09 40
--- --- --- 46 47 48 49 50

These two blocks are described and illustrated in CHRONICLE 185, the present location is not known, as the condition is poor they may have been broken up to satisfy the demands of today's market.

The above No. 40 over No. 10 is consistent with the other Misplaced Transfers. Position No. 10 seems to have been a favorite recipient for a new entry. There are too many directions to speculate on the other relative positions of Plate X.

Perhaps Something Speical! We have at hand another interesting plate position that may or may not be a Misplaced Transfer, see Figure 2. The stamp is a 5 Green Lithograph used on a folded letter, dated November 6, 1861 and postmarked Lynchburg, Virginia November 8, 1861. The stamp is printed in a dull olive green and from the date of use it must be Stone A or B or Stone 1. From plating it is definitely not Stone 2 and the date of use makes this quite unlikely. I can not plate it as Stone 1 however many Stone 1 impressions show quite minor plating marks thus we can not rule this out thought I think it unlikely. This leaves our unplated stamp coming from Stone A or B.

The special interest in this stamp is based on the stamp to the right being extremely close and is unlike anything else that I have seen that is this early, ie before Stone 2. This out of position spacing is a general characteristic of the Misplaced Transfers but it could also be a narrow vertical gutter or simply a poor position placement on an unplated Transfer Stone. Hopefully some one will report another example, preferably a multiple or the same edge from the other side.

Please help, plating of Stone Y is progressing but I need the loan of multiples, especially the used block of 6 or 7, quality scans or photographs preferred.

Leonard H. Hartmann PO Box 36006 Louisville, Ky 40233 Leonard@pbbooks.net

Note 1, In Chronicle No. 182 position 2 over 10 is properly described in the text but unfortunately through my error it was transposed in the caption on page 111 to read 2 over 9. This caption should read: Figure 1. Misplaced Transfer, 5 Blue, Stone 2, Left Stamp Position No. 9, Right Stamp Position 2 over No. 10. On cover, Montgomery, Texas, August 23, probably 1862.


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