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:
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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