Reprints of the 1880 defaced designer die proofs

I recently saw a couple of sets of reprints of the 1880 defaced designer's die proofs on Ebay and wondered what these were.

Some cursory research as usual for Liberia brought more questions than answers and I wonder if anyone can add to what I've been able to find out so far

I could only find 4 sources of information about these.

Wickersham (1958) notes a total of 10 of these (2 from each denomination although he refers to them as the "so-called reprints". Cockrill (1979) appears to confirm the same 10 (I think these are shown In Manfred Beier's website although he refers to them as "die proof pulls". I've also found that the Schuyler Rumsey auction of the Fosdyke Ray Collection (2011) refers to the "complete set" of 10 and shows catalogue numbers 16P-20P.

However, Rogers (1971) appears to note around 30 variants with Saleski (1975) noting up to 61!

No one says much about when these reprints appeared or where from. Henry Chandla describes the set of 10 as mid 20thC with Cockrill suggesting they appeared from the early 1940s.

Has anyone any more information as to when, where and why these appeared?


  • There are two sets. One likely in the late 1900s due to the paper (India), and in black and white.

    The other is modern paper (white) and with grotesque colors. Likely in the 1930s-40s.

    All post production.
  • @Bryant: Actually, sets in b/w and (different!) colors exist on both types of paper, so there are four sets.

    My red 2c proof on India paper shows part of the papermaker's watermark reading “Excels”. Excelsior paper was a brand of the London-based papermaker Spalding & Hodge, founded 1789 and closed sometime in the 1960s. According to this page, “Excelsior brand of machine-made paper seems to have been listed in catalogs all the way from the 1890s to 1954.”
    Well, that narrows it down, doesn't it? ;-)
  • Bryant/Manfred - thanks

    So if there were two reprintings, the first would have been in the late 1800s and the second around the time of WW2

    Presumably the first lot would relate to those referenced by Wickersham and Cockrill (2 of each, one black, one in colour) which Cockrill describes on India paper

    It might also explain why Saleski describes one batch as "2nd Reprint" - presumably from the mid 20thC

    I'll try and cross-tabulate who's said what about which proofs in case that helps (me at least!)

    Any information as to who would reprint these and why (other than the obvious reason for money)?

    Possibly with the first reprint coming so soon after issue it could have been the original printers (Dando, Todhunter, Smith) or their successor Todhunter who presumably would have kept the original proofs?

    I read somewhere that Dando, Todhunter, Smith never produced another postage stamp so maybe they'd nothing to lose by reprinting the proofs and selling them on to collectors?

  • In trying to reconcile the published information about these proofs from the 4 authors (above) there are a few (!) inconsistencies

    The following measurements are typically given for all 5 values by Rogers, Saleski and for a) by Cockrill:

    a) size of the proof 94mm x 133mm
    b) the size of the Inset frame with rounded corners 80mm x 119mm
    c) the size of the design itself 25mm x 30mm
    d) the length of the deface line 50mm

    I've been unable to replicate these measurements from the set I have, specifically:

    i) the size of the proof for the 1c and 2c
    ii) the size of the inset frame for the 1c and 2c
    iii) the size of the design for the 1c
    iv) the length of the deface line for the 1c, 6c, 12c and 24c

    I'd be grateful for help from those who have copies of these
    Can you confirm the measures in a) - d)?
  • I'm still puzzling over these with help still needed

    These are usually described as "defaced die proofs".
    I assume this to mean that the die proof itself (on paper) has been defaced rather than the actual die itself.

    The deface line seems to confirm this (see Manfred's website) since in all cases it extends beyond the stamp design itself

    If this is the case it then begs the question - why bother to deface the die proof itself?

    Defacing the die means it can't be used again to print stamps.
    Defacing the die proof seems to achieve nothing as the original die still exists and can be used to produce further die proofs

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

  • Hi Mik,

    The actual die used in printing these would be much larger than the stamp design so the die could be defaced and extend beyond the design. Here is an example of a die that shows how they are quite a bit larger than the design. Another example would be the defaced plate of Scott C61 that is fairly common. I wish I had the actual die for the 1880 series! :)

  • Travis

    thanks for this. Most helpful.
    You mentioned the first lot in the late 1800s
    Do you have any more information on this?

    I've only seen references to "mid 20th c"
  • Travis

    apologies - it was Bryant who posted about the date
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