LATHEWORK

Why did the they put Lathework on hundreds of plates of the Admirals, Revenues, and Postage Dues? There is no certain answer to the question since no documentation has survived. Thus it is necessary to answer the question with a bit of deductive reasoning.


The first clue to the answer lies in a careful examination of the earliest examples of Lathework, types A and B. Close examination of large multiples of these types reveals that the original lower Plate numbers exist underneath the band of Lathework. This tells me that the lathework was applied to the plates after they had already been engraved. I cannot be certain that the original plates exist under every plate with type A or B but it is under all of the ones that I have, which amounts to thirty or so different plates. The fact that the ABN went to the trouble to apply a band of engraving on top the existing lower plate inscriptions would seem to imply that there was a good and compelling reason for this action. After all this was a business and I doubt that they invested the time of their staff for a trivial reason.


The second clue is the simple fact that after the use of Lathework ceased the engravers did not return to the practise of including lower imprints on the plates.


This indicates to me that the lower plates were being used for something more than just identification.


I thinks it is also important to note that the Lathework is often incompletely inked. I will not go into the old arguement about worn plates as I believe that it has been resolved.


It is also useful to note that many of the lower plate imprints found in the period before Lathework was introduced are also poorly inked and sometimes difficult to read.


It seems clear from the evidence that there was a problem with getting enough ink on the plates in the latter stages of the years in which the 'WET' process was used. I don't know much about the actual printing process but it seems logical to assume that the lower inscriptions were being used to tell the printers if they were applying a sufficient amount of ink on the press. The lower plate inscriptions were relatively faint at best and didn't show up well enough for the printers to quickly see if things were correct. However a thick band of engraving would show up plainly and the printers could tell at a glance if the amount of ink was correct.




TYPES OF LATHEWORK




Type A


Type B
Type B inverted



Type C
Type C inverted



Type D
Type D inverted



Type D1



Type E


Rarity Factors

Factor
Number in existence
Comments
A
1-2
Unique or almost unique
B
3-5
Very rare
C
6-10
Rare
D
11-25
Scarce
E
26-75
F
76-150
G
151-400
Common
H
400+
Very common, you can see one at any show



Rarity does not seem to totally control the price of lathework.
For example, an example of the 50c Black with a trace of type D Lathework will sell for far more than an example of the 3c Brown with type C inverted Lathework.
However, the 3c Brown is far more rare than the 50c.
This is partly due to the relative values of the 50c Black and 3c Brown as individual stamps. It is also I think, partly due to tradition which insists that certain material is rare even though evidence exists to show that it isn't.
After all there was an auction a few years ago that had 4 examples of the 50c.


REGULAR ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
104 1c Green Wet B
-
-
-
-
H
Wet C
-
-
-
-
E
----
105 1c Yellow Wet C
-
-
-
F
E
Wet D
-
-
-
-
G
Wet D inv
-
-
-
F
E
Wet D1
-
F
C
C
-
Dry D
-
-
-
E
D
----
106 2c Carmine Wet B
-
-
-
-
H
Wet C
-
-
-
-
D
Wet C inv
-
-
-
-
C
----
107 2c Green Wet C
-
-
-
-
E
Wet C inv
-
-
-
A
-
Wet D
-
-
-
G
C
Squat D
-
-
A
-
-
Wet D inv
-
-
E
-
-
Wet D1 inv
-
-
-
-
A
Dry D
-
-
-
B
-
----
107a 2c Green Wet D
-
-
E
-
-
(thin paper) Wet D inv
-
-
-
E
-
----
108 3c Brown Wet B
-
-
-
-
H
Wet B inv
-
-
-
-
B
Wet C
-
-
D
D
-
Wet C inv
-
-
-
B
-
Wet D
-
-
-
-
G
Wet D inv
-
-
-
-
G
Dry D
-
-
-
-
G
Wet E
-
-
-
-
A
----
109 3c Carmine Dry D
-
-
-
-
H
----
110 4c Bistre Dry D
-
-
-
G
E
Dry D inv
-
-
G
E
D
----
112 5c Violet Wet D
-
-
G
F
D
Wet D inv
-
-
-
-
F
(retouched) Wet D
-
-
-
E
-
----
112a 5c Violet Wet D inv
-
-
F
-
-
(thin paper)
----
113 7c Bistre Wet B
-
-
-
-
G
----
114 7c Red Brown Wet D
-
-
G
E
D
Dry D
-
-
G
D
C
----
116 10c Plum Wet A
-
-
-
-
F
Wet B
-
-
-
-
E
Wet C
-
-
-
E
D
----
117 10c Blue Wet D
-
-
G
E
-
Wet D inv
-
-
B
-
-
Dry D
-
-
G
E
-
----
118 10c Brown Dry D
-
-
-
-
D
----
119 20c Olive Wet A
-
-
-
-
F
Wet D
-
-
-
E
D
Dry D
-
-
-
E
D
----
120 50c Grey Black Wet D
-
D
-
-
A
----
122 1$ Orange Wet D
-
-
-
E
D
Dry D
-
-
-
-
G



COIL ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
126 1c Yellow Wet B
-
-
-
-
F
----
128 2c Green Wet D
-
E
-
-
-
----
130 3c Carmine Wet D
D
-
-
-
-



IMPERFORATE ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
136 1c Yellow Wet B
-
-
F
-
-
Wet D inv
-
-
D
-
-
----
138 3c Carmine Dry D
-
-
-
-
H



OVERPRINTED ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
139 3c Carmine Dry D
-
-
-
-
C



WAR TAX ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
MR1 1c Green Wet B
-
-
-
-
H
----
MR2 2c Carmine Wet B
-
-
-
-
H
----
MR4 3c Brown Wet A
-
-
-
-
H
Wet B
-
-
-
-
H
Wet B inv
-
-
-
-
C


POSTAGE DUE ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
J2 2c Violet Wet A
-
-
-
-
E
Wet D
-
-
-
-
B
----
J2a 2c Violet Wet D
-
-
-
-
D
(thin paper)



REVENUE WAR TAX ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
FWT7 1c Orange Wet C
-
-
F
C
C
----
FWT8 2c Brown Wet B
-
-
-
-
G
----
FWT12 8c Brown Wet B
-
-
-
-
D



REVENUE EXCISE ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
FX1 1/4c Olive Wet D
-
G
-
-
-
----
FX2 1/2c Carmine Wet D
-
-
G
D
-
----
FX3 6c Orange Wet B
-
E
-
-
-
----
FX4 7c Brown Wet B inv
-
-
-
-
G
----
FX5 9c Violet Wet B inv
-
-
E
-
-
----
FX6 15c Orange Wet B
-
-
-
-
E
----
FX7 20c Yellow Wet B
-
-
-
D
-
Wet C
-
-
-
D
-
----
FX8 30c Brown Wet B
-
-
-
-
E
----
FX9 40c Purple Wet B inv
-
-
E
-
-
----
FX10 60c Blue Wet C inv
-
-
D
-
-
----
FX11 70c Olive Wet D1
-
-
-
D
-
----
FX12 80c Carmine Wet D1
D
-
-
-
-
----
FX13 90c Brown Wet C
-
-
-
-
D
----
FX14 1$ Yellow Wet C inv
-
-
-
-
E
----
FX15 2$ Green Wet B
-
-
-
D
-
----
FX16 3$ Orange Wet B
-
-
-
E
-
----
FX17 4$ Brown Wet D1
D
-
-
-
-
----
FX18 5$ Orange Wet C inv
-
-
D
-
-
----
FX19 10$ Yellow Wet C inv
-
-
-
D
-



OVERPRINTED REVENUE EXCISE ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
FX21 3/16c on 1/4c Wet D
-
G
-
-
-
----
FX22 1/5c on 7c Wet B inv
-
-
-
-
F
----
FX23 3/8c on 1/2c Wet D
-
-
F
C
-
ovpt CENT
FX24 ovpt Cent Wet D
-
-
?
-
-
----
FX25 14c on 1/4c Wet D
-
?
-
-
-
----
FX26 14c on 7c Wet B inv
-
-
-
-
D
Blue ovpt
FX27 Red ovpt Wet B inv
-
-
-
-
G
----
FX28 14c on 9c Wet B inv
-
-
?
-
-
----
FX29 14c on 40c Wet B inv
-
-
E
-
-


Entries marked with a ? should exist but have not yet been reported.


OVERPRINTED REVENUE WAR TAX ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
FX30 3/4 CENT on 1c Wet C
-
-
F
C
C
----
FX31 3/4 Cent on 1c Wet C
-
-
F
C
C




TWO LEAF EXCISE TAX ISSUES

NUMBER VALUE PRINTING TYPE RARITY FACTOR
Trace
25 %
50 %
75 %
Full
FX36 2c Blue Wet D
-
-
D
-
-
Wet D inv
-
-
D
-
-
----
FX39 4c Blue Wet D
-
-
D
-
-


Other values of the Two Leaf Excise Tax may also have Lathework.