Plating the 2d Queen-on-Throne

When   the two pence Half Length had to be replaced, a contract   was given to Thomas Ham to produce them. He engraved   a plate of 50 impressions (5x10) onto a piece of steel   9 inches by 12 inches in size. Each of the fifty impressions   was engraved individually, instead of making a single   die and making transfers as had been done with the Half   Lengths. It took him and his co-workers almost a year   to engrave the entire plate.

Since each position on the plate was uniquely engraved,   it opened the possibility to individually identify the   50 stamps on the plate. Ham did this, by engraving the   letters of the alphabet (excluding the letter J) at   the bottom left and bottom right corners of each stamp.   The combinations of the two letters found on each stamp,   uniquely identify each position on the plate.

Even if the letters were not present, the plate positions   could still be reconstructed, as each of the 50 images   has unique features. Very few collectors, however, bother   to investigate that level of detail, as the corner letters   give an easy and precise method for plating this issue.

The fifty positions have the letter combinations as   shown in the table below:

A-E

B-F

C-G

D-H

E-I

F-K

G-L

H-M

I-N

K-O

L-P

M-Q

N-R

O-S

P-T

Q-U

R-V

S-W

T-X

U-Y

V-Z

W-A

X-B

Y-C

X-D

A-F

B-G

C-H

D-I

E-K

F-L

G-M

H-N

I-O

K-P

L-Q

M-R

N-S

O-T

P-U

Q-V

R-W

S-X

T-Y

U-X

W-Z

X-A

Y-B

Z-C

W-M

As you can see, the sequence of letters seen on the   left starts with A and proceeds alphabetically to Z   (omitting J) and, then, starts once again. The letters   on the right start with E and proceed alphabetically   to Z (again omitting J) and then restart. Only the 50th,   and final, position on the plate does not fit into this   pattern.

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