Beaded Ovals and Adapted


When the Government took control of the stamp printing department for the colony in January 1860, it was decided to update some of the stamp designs.

The first issue to be replaced was the Three Pence half length which had seen an entire decade of usage.

Next in line to be replaced was the Four Pence Emblem. After printing over 8,000,000 copies of the Four Pence Emblems, the printing plate was badly worn and needing a replacement.

Not far behind was the Six Pence Perkins, Bacon printing that was in use at this time. It was widely disliked and considered a candidate for replacement.

The Beaded Oval design was used to replace all of these denominations with printings of each value being issued before the end of 1860.


Deep Blue - Laid Paper

The Three Pence Beaded Oval replaced the 3d Half Length in February 1860. The first printing was on horizontally laid paper, perforated 12, no watermark. Fine copies are quite scarce.

Unused copies are rare.

Example shown is ex-Caspary.

Lighter Blue - Laid Paper

A small percentage of the first printing was in a lighter shade of blue. These are very scarce.

Only 2 unused copies are recorded in this shade.

Pale Blue - wmk THREE PENCE

The next printing was issued in January 1861, on Saunders paper watermarked THREE PENCE, perforated 12.

Bright Blue - wmk THREE PENCE

In October 1861, the next printing appeared in bright blue, perforated 12. The example shown has a pre-printing fold, which occurred BEFORE the stamp was printed. These are very seldom seen in stamps from Victoria - it would appear that inspection efforts were quite diligent to avoid such flaws.

Nicely centered, four margin copies as shown are quite scarce.

Bright Blue - wmk THREE PENCE

The colors on this stamp are very susceptible to fading, making accurate identification of the various shades very difficult. Shown here is a pristine example of the bright blue shade revealing a deeper hue than usually found.

Blue - wmk THREE PENCE

The next printing in blue was issued in April 1863, only found perforated 12.

Deep Blue - wmk THREE PENCE

The stamps issued during this period had a dark gum - unused gummed copies, as shown here, have become badly stained over the decades as a result. This should not reflect negatively against such stamps; however, the staining can affect the apparent underlying color. The deep blue printing was issued April 1864, perforated 12.

Maroon - wmk THREE PENCE

The color of the 3d was changed to avoid confusion with the newly issued 6d Laureate which was also printed in blue. The maroon shade was issued February 1866, and is found perforated 12 or 13.

The 3d Beaded Oval was replaced by the 3d Laureate in September 1866.

Pale Blue - wmk THREE PENCE
Cracked Electro Variety

A cracked electro variety appeared once in each sheet of 120. Here it is shown on the pale blue printing of January 1861.

Blue - wmk THREE PNCE
Cracked Electro Variety

The cracked electro had not yet been replaced at the time of this April 1863 printing in blue.

Maroon - wmk THREE PENCE
Cracked Electro Variety

The cracked electro was still not repaired for the maroon printings issued in February 1866.


Rose Pink - thin Bordeaux paper, no wmk

The Four Pence Beaded Oval first appeared in April 1860, printed on a very thin, unwatermarked Bordeaux paper. It is only found perforated 12.

Unused copies are rare.

Rose - thin Bordeaux paper, no wmk

This stamp is also found in a deep rose shade as shown, on the same thin unwatermarked Bordeaux paper, perforated 12.

Unused copies in this shade are scarce.

Rose Pink - thick paper, no wmk

In July 1860, the four pence stamp was issued on a distinctive thick unwatermarked paper, perforated 12.

Rose Pink - wmk FOUR PENCE

In August 1860, the first printings on the paper watermarked FOUR PENCE were issued. There are all perforated 12. The watermark often has a deleterious impact on the appearance in most examples. This is especially true of unused copies where the shadow of the watermark is normally visible.

Rose Red - wmk FOUR PENCE

The next printings were rose red, on paper watermarked FOUR PENCE, perforated 12, as shown.

Rose Carmine - wmk FOUR PENCE

A rose carmine shade is also found on this paper watermarked FOUR PENCE, perforated 12.

Dull Rose - wmk FOUR PENCE

The final shade is a dull rose, perforated 12. The example shown illustrates the negative impact of the watermark on the quality of the impression on this otherwise clean, unused copy. It's no wonder that the Stamp Printer changed to a simpler watermark when new paper orders were submitted.

Rose Pink - wmk FIVE SHILLINGS

When paper supplies ran low, an emergency printing was made in September 1862, on paper that had originally been ordered for a new Five Shilling stamp (The first 5/ stamp appeared in 1867), perforated 12.The example shown was printed on a cracked electro that appeared in one position on each sheet of 120.

Unused copies are rare.

Example shown is ex-Caspary

Dull Rose Pink - wmk 4

The new paper, ordered from De La Rue, was watermarked with a simple numeral, which produced much more pleasing images. The first printing on that paper was issued in October 1862 in dull rose pink, perforated 13.

Dull Rose - wmk 4

The next shade seen is dull rose, perforated 13, as shown.

Rose Carmine - wmk 4

Next is the carmine rose, perofrated 13, seen in this copy with a dated postmark of December 1862.

Dull Rose - rouletted 8, wmk 4

In July 1863 the perforation machine broke down, forcing postal officials to resort to an old rouletting machine, gauging about 8. They are scarce, and caution is advised as fakes are known. Genuine examples are postmarked in Melbourne or Geelong (barred numeral 1 or 2), and dated in July, August or September 1863.

Only 2 unused singles and a handful of used pairs are recorded. It is unknown on cover.

Example shown is ex-Purves

Dull Rose - imperforate, wmk 4

While the perforation machine was out for repairs, some stamps were issued imperforate. Collectors are cautioned to accept only copies with ample margins, as trimmed perforated stamps could deceive. Postmarks include Ballarat, Buninyong, Geelong, Sandhurst, Streatham and Wallan Wallan - but NOT Melbourne!

About 25 used pairs are known, but no unused pairs are recorded. Two covers are recorded.

Dull Rose - wmk 4
Curious Serrated Perforation Variety

A curious example, showing apparent serrated perforations, though they do not conform to earlier examples found in the Woodblocks. My suspicion is that this was manufactured by someone who double perfed a stamp for effect.

Feedback would be appreciated....


Orange - wmk SIX PENCE

The new Six Pence Beaded Oval design replaced the six pence Queen-on-Throne, making its' first appearance in October 1860. The orange ink was made from mercuric salts and caused corrosion problems on the printing plates. As a result, the stamp was discontinued after a single printing of 60,000 copies. The stamp has a tendency to fade and most copies found are less than perfect. It is a very scarce stamp, even in used condition, and Fine copies command a huge premium. Only perforation 12 is found.

Four margin copies, as the one shown, are exceptional for this most difficult stamp.

Orange - wmk SIX PENCE

When production was ceased for this stamp, the postal officials reverted to the six pence Woodblock design, switching colors to black. Even used, these are rare stamps, especially in Fine or better quality.

Only about 12 unused copies are known.

Several used pairs and a few covers are recorded.

Very Fine copies are very rare

Black - wmk SIX PENCE

When the orange printings of the six pence Beaded Oval were ceased, the officials scrambled to fill the gap by printing the old 6d Woodblock design in black (see Woodblock category for example). Once the Beaded Oval plates had been cleaned and restored, new printings were ordered, in black, starting in August 1861. They are all found perforated 12.

Grey Black - wmk SIX PENCE

This stamp is also found in a grey black shade, perforated 12.


Grey - Die II, wmk SIX PENCE

To create the Adapted Design, the portrait section of the Six Pence Beaded Oval die was cut out and placed within a new frame die, hence the name Adapted Design.

The first printing using this design was in April 1862, on the SIX PENCE watermarked paper, perforated 12. Several shades are found - this is the grey.

Grey Black - Die II, wmk SIX PENCE

Another shade seen is grey black, otherwise with the same characteristics as above.

Jet Black - Die II, wmk SIX PENCE

The third shade seen is jet black, otherwise with the same characteristics as noted above.

Grey - Die II, wmk 6

When the new paper arrived with the numeral watermark values, it was employed for the next printing of the Adapted Design.

The first shade is grey, on the paper watermarked 6. Only perforation 12 seems to be available in this shade?

Grey Black - Die II, wmk 6

Grey black is also found from this printing, perforated either 12 or 13.

Jet Black - Die II, wmk 6

Jet Black is also found from this printing. Perforations are either 12 or 13.

Grey - Die I, wmk 6

The process of generating electrotypes using the cutout portrait was very tedious, so a new method was devised part way through the process that reduced the size of the portrait section. The result was that a smaller portrait medallion appeared in the final design, leaving a wide band of color between the portrait and the frame.

Since these appeared in different locations within the same sheets of stamps as Die II, they are part of the same printing!

Grey Black - Die I, wmk 6

Since both Die I and Die II co-existed on the same sheets of stamps, the same colors and perforations must exist for both dies.

The grey black shade is illustrated here. It is known perforated either 12 or 13.

Jet Black - Die I, wmk 6

The third shade is jet black, known perforated 12 or 13.


The Stamps of Victoria, by G.Kellow, B&K Publishing, 1990.

A Subject Index of Victorian Philately, by G.Kellow, Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria, 1988

The Encyclopedia of British Empire Postage Stamps, Vol IV, by Robson Lowe Ltd., 1962

Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue, Part 1, British Commonwealth,Stanley Gibbons Ltd., (2002)

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