Half Lengths


The Half Lengths, first issued in January 1850, were the first stamp issues of the colony of Victoria. They were designed, engraved and printed entirely within the colony of Victoria, and represent one of the most interesting philatelic studies in the realm of philately. Nearly 30 printings of these stamps were issued involving progressive die states, various printers, different paper types, color shades, and other attributes, all of which add to the complexity and to the appeal of these stamps.

Many rarities are to be found among the various printings, most of which require knowledge and background for proper identification. For further information and background on these fascinating stamps, refer to the Bibliography at the end of this section.


Updated in December 2009.  with additional scans and new information, courtesy of John Barwis, one of the leading experts on the Half Length issues of Victoria.



1st Ham Printing - Orange Vermillion

The first printing, by Thomas Ham, consisted of only 9600 stamps (320 sheets of 30 stamps), divided among three distinct shades. Issued January 1, 1850, before Victoria even became an official colony, these illustrate the first state of the die, with a very narrow line of color over the letters of VICTORIA.

Kellow suggests that a mere 20 copies may be known in the Orange Vermillion shade. A single unused copy and, about 3-4 covers are recorded.

1st Ham Printing - Orange Brown

It is estimated that about 70-80 copies exist in this shade, making it another rarity.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

1st Ham Printing - Dull Chocolate Brown

It is estimated that 40 copies may exist in this shade, including just a single certified unused copy.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

2nd Ham Printing - Red Brown (shades)

A second printing of 52,000 was printed in February 1850 from a second die state, in which the line of color over VICTORIA had been substantially strengthened. The shades of red brown seen vary from pale to deep and the closeness of the stamps on the sheet makes it difficult to find 4 margin copies.

It is estimated that, at most, 5 unused copies exist of this stamp.

2nd Ham Printing - Pale Dull Red Brown

A pale shade of the dull red brown is recorded.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

2nd Ham Printing - Deep Red Brown

A rare, deep red brown is found from this printing, which is deserving of a separate catalog listing.

3rd Ham Printing - Dull Orange Vermillion

The third printing of 90,000, issued in April 1850, reveals a third die state in which a very narrow frame line was added along the perimeter of the design. These are not always continuous lines and often there is only faint evidence of their existence, so care must be taken when identifying these issues. The stamps were very tightly spaced on the sheet, making 4 margin copies very scarce, indeed. The copy shown is indicative of a premium quality 4 margin copy for this printing.

Once again unused copies are rare.

3rd Ham Printing - Dull Red

The second shade found in the 3rd printing is a dull red which can easily be confused with some shades found in the 4th printing. The only conclusive method for identifying these is to plate each stamp. For more information on plating, read the philatelic article about Lithography.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

4th Ham Printing - Deep Red Brown

No alterations were made to the die between the 3rd and the 4th printing, which makes identification quite difficult. The only reliable method is to examine copies for the unique plating characteristics of each printing, which required specialized reference material and specialized knowledge. Some color differences exist between the printings, but fading and general similarities make it difficult to rely solely on this trait.

The deep red brown is a rare shade with about a dozen copies known. I am not fully confident of the example shown.

4th Ham Printing - Brownish Red

Stamps were very tightly spaced in the 4th printing, making full margined copies impossible. Separating the shades from the 3rd printing can be quite difficult.

Unused copies are quite rare.

4th Ham Printing - Dull Rose

The rose shade is probably the easiest shade to separate from the 3rd printing. These are not to be confused with the later C&F printings which are also found in rose.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

5th Ham Printing - Reddish Brown

Before the 5th printing was made, the die was altered again to create the White Veils variety. Over 200,000 of these stamps were issued in May-June 1850, with actual usage being somewhat later.

Unused copies of this shade are very rare, with only unused singles being recorded.

5th Ham Printing - Bright Pinky Red

The bright pinky red is much more common than the red brown shades from this printing. A number of unused multiples are known, with single unused copies being somewhat common, comparatively speaking. Due to the tight positioning of the stamps on the sheet, howver, fully margined copies are very rare.

Stone 1, Campbell Printing - Orange Red

The Campbell printing consisted of 500,000 stamps, printed in distinctive shades of orange red. The frame lines are less visible in this printing and the paper is whiter, smoother and better quality than the papers used in the later C&F printings. Unused copies are scarce.

Stone 1, Campbell Printing - Rose

Kellow suggests that only two dozen may exist in this shade, which must be authenticated due to similarities with C&F printings.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Stone 2, C&F Printing - Brown

Campbell & Fergusson took over the stamp printing contract in May 1854 and completed the remainder of the Half Length printings. An estimated 1,000,000 stamps were printed from Stone 2, in various shades. Care must be taken in identifying the shades, as some are not intuitively obvious. The brown shown here is not a true brown, for example. The wider settings of these stamps enables full margined copies, unlike the earlier Ham printings.

Stone 2, C&F Printing - Brick Red

The second shade seen is Brick Red, and I must confess, I have trouble segregating some of these shades. These appeared about July 1854. The papers used by Campbell & Fergusson were coarser and more likely to thin. While the printing was relatively large, better quality copies are still elusive.

Stone 2, C&F Printing - Dull Red

The third shade seen from this printing is dull red, which is very distinctive. Unused copies seem to be very scarce, as I have been unable to locate a copy.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Stone 3, C&F Printing - Orange Brown

It is estimated that 800,000 stamps were delivered from this printing, comprised of several shades. Once again, the spacing enabled larger margined copies to be found, and the paper quality is rather poor, leading to many flawed copies. Unused copies are generally less scarce than earlier printings.

Stone 3, C&F Printing - Dull Rose Red

Stone 3 printings also included a dull rose red shade, as shown. The notes for the orange brown shades also apply here.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Stone 3, C&F Printing - Bright Rose Pink

The third shade seen from this printing is bright rose pink which is virtually identical to a shade found from Stone 4. These can only be properly segregated by plating the stamps.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Stone 4, C&F Printing - Pink

The final printing by Campbell & Fergusson totalled 2,200,000 stamps in several shades. Unused copies in this shade are more numerous than earlier printings.

Stone 4, C&F Printing - Rose

A brighter rose shade is found, which may be the most common One Penny Half Length of all the printings.

The copy illustrated shows a kiss print variety, in which some of the detail was mistakenly laid onto the printing stone when it was being prepared - the result being a partial double-printing of some details

Stone 4, C&F Printing - Lilac Rose

Lilac rose is also found.

Stone 4, C&F Printing - Dull Brown-Red

The dull brown red is the scarcest shade from stone 4.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.


1st Ham Printing - Lilac Mauve

The first Two Pence printing in January 1850 consisted of only 7200 stamps (240 sheets of 30). The first state of the die has become known as the Fine border, Fine background version of the stamp. The Fine background contains 22 sets of wavy lines that intersect with the top banner, compared to 15 sets in the later Coarse background die states. The vertical Fine borders include 9 wavy lines, compared to 5 in the later Coarse border die states.

This is a rare stamp, with only 3 or 4 unused copies known.

1st Ham Printing - Lilac Rose

A rare Lilac Rose shade is found from this first printing. Only 4 examples have been recorded.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

2nd Ham Printing - Brown Lilac

The second printing, consisting of 7800 stamps, was made from a different lithographic stone, but without any alterations made to the die. The general appearance is the same as the first printing, except for the tiny secondary characteristics that can be used for plating the stamp. The colors are generally distinctive enough to separate the printings, but some faded copies can be difficult to assign.

One or two unused copies are known in this shade, and several covers have been recorded.

2nd Ham Printing - Grey Lilac

The two shades found in the second printing are about equal in scarcity. Both are very scarce, and unused only one or two copies can be cited in each shade.

3rd Ham Printing - Grey Lilac

Ham altered the die before this printing to create the Fine border, Coarse background version of the die. There are still 9 wavy lines in each of the vertical borders, but the detail in the background is reduced, so that only 15 sets of wavy lines intersect with the top border. If you compare the images from the first printings to these issues, you will see much more white spacing between the lines in the background. The printing consisted of 45,000 stamps, found in two shade groups. Unused copies are rare.

3rd Ham Printing - Dull Grey

The grey shade seems to be much scarcer than the Grey Lilac. Unused copies are very rare.

4th Ham Printing - Grey

The entire 4th printing is estimated to be 36,000 stamps, making this quite a scarce stamp.

4th Ham Printing - Olive Grey

The die was altered again, to include framelines around the perimeter of the design. These are very narrow and are often incomplete, so care must be taken to make proper identification. Often there are only fragments of the framelines visible. Two shades are found, Olive Grey (scarcer) and Grey - An estimated 36,000 stamps were included in the 4th printing.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

5th Ham Printing - Drab

Before the 5th printing was made, the die was altered to create the White Veils variety. The total printing was 36,000 stamps, divided among 4 shades. Unused copies are very rare.

5th Ham Printing - Grey Drab

The stamps were very tightly spaced in this printing, making 4 margin copies almost impossible to achieve. Copies with margins clear of the design are highly desirable.

5th Ham Printing - Lilac Drab

The characteristics of the die in this printing are fine border, coarse background, framelines and white veils. Margins such as those in the example here can only be found on stamps along the sheet margins.

Unused copies are very rare.

5th Ham Printing - Red Lilac

The Red Lilac from this printing is very rare, and is thought to be a color trial. Collectors must be wary not to confuse this with the much more common 6th printings in this color.

About 15 copies are known in this shade, including a pair and 2 covers. No unused are recorded

5th Ham Printing - Red Lilac

Another example of the rare Red Lilac from the 5th printing. The faded nature of the color is likely due to a dry print, in which the paper may not have been sufficiently wetted prior to printing to absorb the ink properly. There is no doubt about it being the red lilac shade.

About 15 copies are recorded in the Red Lilac shade from this printing.

6th Ham Printing - Red Lilac

Before the 6th printing, the die was altered once again to create the Coarse border, Coarse background version of the stamp. The vertical borders now consist of 5 intertwining lines, instead of the previous 9. The printing consisted of 78,000 stamps (640 sheets of 120).

6th Ham Printing - Lilac

The Lilac is a very scarce shade, with only an estimated 6,000 printed.

6th Ham Printing - Grey

Only 12,000 of the grey were printed. Unused it is a very rare stamp.

6th Ham Printing - Dull Brownish Lilac

The brownish lilac is the most common shade encountered from this printing, with an estimated 42,000 printed.   

7th Ham Printing - Lilac Grey

About 175,000 stamps were issued from the 7th printing. Colors found are grey, lilac grey and brownish lilac. The latter is very similar to the colors found in the 6th and 8th printing and can be very difficult to identify without plating.

7th Ham Printing - Deep Grey

The Grey shades range from grey to deep brownish grey,  and may be similar to shades found in the 6th and 8th printing.

Unused examples are very rare.

7th Ham Printing - Brown Lilac

The brown lilac shade found in this printing is brighter and has a slight reddish tone to it, when compared to the shade found in the 6th and 8th printing - plating the stamp may be necessary in some cases to identify the printing.

8th Ham Printing - Cinnamon

The final printing of the Two Pence Half Length is found in six different shades. The cinnamon shown here is quite distinctive and can be separated quite easily.

8th Ham Printing - Drab

Many people will not recognize drab as part of a color chart - it is a grayish dirt color, which can best be separated from the other color groups found in this printing, by a process of elimination.

Unused copies are once again very scarce, and the tight spacing of the stamps makes fully margined copies impossible.

8th Ham Printing - Pale Dull Brown

The pale brown is another distinctive shade that can be separated quite easily.

8th Ham Printing - Greenish Grey

The greenish grey seems to be very scarce. This shade is specific to the 8th printing and can be separated easily.

8th Ham Printing - Olive Drab

The olive drab is also specific to the 8th printing.

8th Ham Printing - Buff

The buff shade is very scarce,and unused it is very rare.

Only 2 or 3 unused copies appear to be known of this shade

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

8th Ham Printing - Buff

Despite its rarity, the buff is seen in shades ranging from the yellowish-buff seen above, to this drab-buff shade. Many examples cited as buff are mis-identified.


1st Ham Printing - Bright Blue

Ham's first printing of the One Penny consisted of 320 sheets of 30 (9600 stamps). The first die state shows the orb held in the queen's hand with a thick white band along the left side. The printing stone was made using direct transfers from the die, so the print quality is very detailed compared to later printings. While it is a rare stamp, it is not so rare as the first printings of the other denominations.

Unused copies are rare, although several blocks and covers are known.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Ham 1st Printing - Deep Bright Blue

Deep Bright Blue is recorded, which is not listed by the major catalogs.

Image courtesy of John Barwis

2nd Ham Printing - Blue

The second printing of 37,200 stamps was made from the first die state, but the printing stome was made up using a transfer, so the overall printing quality declined somewhat. Impressions are still very fine, when compared to later printings.

Unused copies are rare, though several small multiples are known.

3rd Ham Printing - Blue

Before the 3rd printing of 60,000 was made in February 1850, the die was retouched so that the orb held in the queen's hand has a much narrower band of color along the left side. The equator now protrudes through the left side. Shades range from pale blue to deep blue. A number of retouches are found in this printing, and some are noted at the end of this section.

Unused examples are very rare.

3rd Ham Printing - Bright Blue

An exceptional stamp from the 3rd printing in bright blue on a very white paper, showing sheet margins on two sides. This example is quite unlike any others I have seen from this printing.

Feedback would be welcomed...

4th Ham Printing - Blue

For the 4th printing, the die was altered to include framelines around the perimeter of the design. A total of about 190,000 stamps were printed in three different shades - the blue shade being exhibited here.

4th Ham Printing - Deep Blue

Deep blue shades are also found in this printing. There is a range of shades, and selecting a copy as a deep blue is a subjective choice.

4th Ham Printing - Pale Greenish Blue

The pale greenish blue can easily be separated from other 2 shades seen from this printing. The narrow spacing of the stamps makes it impossible to locate fully margined copies. This is the scarcest of the shades found and unused copies are quite rare.

5th Ham Printing - Blue

Once again the die was altered, this time to show the White Veils variety. A total of 330,000 stamps were issued in this printing, in shades of blue from pale to deep. Once again, a number of retouches can be found, and many of them are highlighted at the end of the Half Length section.

5th Ham Printing - Deep Blue

An example of the deep blue shade from the 5th printing. The White Veils make this one of the most easily recogized printings.

5th Ham Printing - Greenish Blue

A greenish blue shade is found but, to be frank, none of the copies I have been able to locate demonstrate much greenish tint in their color. The example shown does demonstrate some color shift toward green, but it is subtle.

Can anyone supply a true greenish blue image?

Stone A, Campbell Printing - Blue

Campbell took over the contract to print stamps in 1854. His printing of 500,000 stamps was on a fine white wove paper, and most examples from this printing show the framelines quite extensively, compared to the later C&F printings where the framelines are largely absent.

This is a rare stamp unused.

Stone B, C&F Printing - Bright Blue

A total of 500,000 stamps were printed from stone B in 1855. The bright blue is the scarcer of the two shades found from this printing, though they are by no means rare.

The larger margins often found in these C&F printings will assist in separating these from the earlier Ham printings.

Stone B, C&F Printing - Greenish Blue

Two color shades are found in this printing. The first is a greenish blue, shown here. A few sheets of leftover stock from this printing were later perforated to create the rare Greenish Blue perforated stamps. These stamps were printed on a coarse wove paper which often shows coarse fibers in the paper when examined closely. Often the framelines are largely absent,and the wide spacing of the stamps often results in decent margins.

Stone C , C&F Printing - Prussian Blue

The Campbell & Fergusson printings on stone C are found in two distinct shade groups - milky blue and prussian blue. Shown here is the Prussian Blue. These often have a stark look about them, unlike the fuzzy or overinked images often found in the C&F printings. It seems to be a very scarce stamp.

The Prussian Blue shade is quite rare unused.

Stone C, C&F Printing - Milky Blue

There were only 100,000 stamps printed from this printing stone, in two distinct shades. The milky blue is the scarcer of the two shades found.

Unused copies are unknown.

Stone D, C&F Printing - Steel Blue

The final C&F printing consisted of 1,400,000 stamps, in several shades. They are the most common Half Length printing to be found, especially in used condition. They are on the same poorer quality coarse wove paper found on other C&F printings.

The steel blue shade has a finer impression than other shades from this printing group, as it  was the only shade printed with proper lithographic ink. This is the only recorded unused example.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Stone D , C&F Printing - Greenish Blue

The greenish blue shade is very distinctive and easy to separate.

Stone D, C&F Printing, Blue (shades)

The Blue is found in a range of shades.

Stone D, C&F Printing - Deep Blue

The deep blue is found in a range of shades and can be easily confused with the blue and the steel blue.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Stone D, C&F Printing - Indigo Blue

The indigo shade is very distinctive and can be easily separated. Generally the image is overinked making the entire image seem blurred and poorly defined. The wide spacing of the stamps often results in decent margined copies.

The indigo shade seems to be quite rare unused.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Stone A, Campbell Printing - Blue, Rouletted

About 20,000 copies of the Three Pence stamps from Campbell's printing on stone A, were among the stamps rouletted at the GPO in late 1857. These are found in various shades of blue, and are are typically seen with rouletting (gauging 6.5 to 9) along 2 sides.

In this example only the top margin has been rouletted, which is not particularly unusual.

Unused copies are very rare.

Stone B, C&F Printing - bright blue, rouletted

About 20,000 copies of the Stone B printings were rouletted at the GPO.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

Stone B, C&F Printing - greenish blue, rouletted

The greenish blue shade also came from the stone B printings and are included in the 20,000 stamps rouletted from this printing.

Examples are scarce, and unused copies are very rare.

Stone A, Campbell Printing - blue, perforated 12

In early 1859 the stamp printer, F.W. Robinson, was ordered to perforate any existing stamps. Among the stamps he perforated were 96,000 copies of the Campbell printing from stone A. These range in color form pale blue to deep blue. The perforating is notorious for being severely off-centered, probably due to lack of experience on the part of the machine operator.

Unused copies are very rare.

Stone A, Campbell Printing - deep blue,perforated 12

An example of a deep shade of blue found among those stamps perforated by Robinson.

Stone B, C&F Printing - greenish blue, perforated 12

A small remnant of the C&F printing from Stone B remained when Robinson was commissioned to perforate all existing stamps. It is estimated that 4,000 stamps in the greenish blue shade were perforated. About 25 used examples are known, the overwhelming majority of them being damaged and in poor condition.

No unused examples of this shade are known.


1st Printing - Photo Plate on Card

This is a photographic plate of an actual rare first printing 1d Half Length - it is quite convincing, except that it is on hard card-stock, quite unlike the papers found on any Half Length printings. This has been cut from the color plates that accompanied the 1953 book by Wilson, about the Royal Collection. If seen in a scan of a collection lot, it could deceive...(I also have a 1st printing 2d from the same source) /

BEWARE....

Orange Brown - from a UPU Reprint

Another convincing looking stamp - cut down from a perforated 1891 reprint officially issued for the UPU. Evidence of the perforations along the right side can be seen in this example. A faked postmark has been applied to hide the Reprint overlay. The Reprints were printed on paper with watermark type V2, making these easy to identify - but in a scan, it can deceive....

BEWARE....

Bright Blue - Added Roulettes

A very convincing example, but the roulettes do not conform to the specifications of the rouletting machine used by the GPO clerks on the genuine issues. These roulettes gauge about 5.5 - the GPO machine gauged 7-9.

BEWARE......

Bright Blue - Perforations Added

The perforated Three Pence Half Lengths were all produced from the remaining stocks of SG24 (Campbell Printings on Stone A),or from SG29a (the Greenish Blue C&F Printing on Stone B). This copy was made from SG31c, (Deep Blue C&F printing on Stone D). The supplies of these were exhausted when the perforating was done, and no genuine examples can be cited.

This stamp started as an imperforate copy and has had the perforations added at some later date.

BEWARE....

Blue - 1891 Reprint with Added Postmark

This is an official 1891 Reprint which has had a faked postmark applied to hide the Reprint overlay. The reprints were issued on paper watermarked V2, making this easy to identify, but in a low-res scan, it could easily deceive...

BEWARE....



Spiro Brothers - One Penny Imperforate

These forgeries are attributed to the Spiro brothers and are one of the most common Victoria forgeries to be found. They were designed to emulate the White Veils state of the die, and they represent a very credible effort. The most notable differences are the plate letters which appear at the bottom corners, which are both X in the forged copies. As well, the face is thinner in the forgery and more severe looking with a frowning mouth. Finally, the gown extends into the border at the lower right corner, unlike the genuine copies.

Spiro Brothers - Two Pence Imperforate

The Spiro brothers used the same die with a different value plate to create a two pence version of the forgery. The same attributes as noted above can be used to identify these. Colors are generally quite deceptive with shades that closely emulate the genuine issue. Faked postmarks are often added, with barred oval and barred numeral types seen, as well as fantasy types which have no counterpart in the genuine issues.

Spiro Brothers - Two Pence Imperforate

Various shades are found in the two pence, many of which can be very deceptive. The accompanying example, with a blurred cancellation covering many of the facial aspects of the design, could easily be mis-identified. The key identifier here are the X in each of the lower corner tablets.

Spiro Brothers - Two Pence Imperforate

Presumably this shade was printed to emulate the red lilac shades found in the Ham printings, but the color is more plum than red lilac, and should not pose a problem in proper identification.

Spiro Brothers - Three Pence Imperforate

Once again, the main Spiro design was altered with the substitution of a THREE PENCE value tablet to emulate the White Veils version of the genuine issue. The color is very close to the issued color, and the forged attributes must be used to segregate these from genuine copies.

Spiro Brothers - Three Pence Rouletted

A feeble attempt was made to emulate the roulette issues of the Three Pence. The faked roulettes are nothing more than periodic notches along the sides of the stamps. Genuine roulettes often tear the opposite way to reveal protruding teeth. The Spiro forgeries never display this feature.

Spiro Brothers - Three Pence Perforated

To complete the inventory, some copies of the Three Pence were perforated to emulate the final issues of the Three Pence. While the perforation is quite deceptive, the underlying attributes of the forged image should make these easy to identify.


Jeffryes - Two Pence Imperforate

George Jeffryes was an accomplished engraver who was implicated in a wide-ranging stamp forgery scandal in the late 1800s. His engraving of the Half Length has deceived many collectors over the years. To the trained eye there are differences in the overall look, but the hints are subtle. The queen's medallion looks like the number 83. The crown is more regular and more defined than the genuine issue. There are vertical lines protruding downward from the mouth, the eyes are distinctively different when compared closely, the shading on the sleeves of the robe is more regular and more diagonal in direction than the genuine issues.

In my younger days, I prized my copy of this RARE Two Pence stamp - only to discover years later that it was a Jeffrye's forgery!

Jeffryes - Two Pence Imperforate

Credible postmarks can be found on these, including barred oval 1 and 2, butterfly 1 and others. These can obliterate many of the segregating characteristics, so care must be taken. The example illustrated would deceive the majority of collectors, I suspect.

Jeffryes - Two Pence Imperforate

Another example is shown to illustrate just how deceptive these can be when faked postmarks are applied. The color here closely emulates the olive drab shades found in the genuine issues, and the faded barred numeral 1 cancellation dulls down the details of the image to make it more realistic looking. Note the medallion which looks like the number 83 - it is proof of the forgery.

Jeffryes - Three Pence Imperforate

Jeffryes also produced a Three Pence version of his forgery. As with the Two Pence, it can be quite deceptive. To the trained eye there are differences in the overall look, but the hints are subtle. The queen's medallion looks like the number 83. The crown is more regular and more defined than the genuine issue. There are vertical lines protruding downward from the mouth, the eyes are distinctively different when compared closely, the shading on the sleeves of the robe is more regular and more diagonal in direction than the genuine issues. All of the points noted abive for the Two Pence apply here, as well.

Jeffryes - Three Pence Imperforate

The example illustrated is on piece, with a butterfly 1 postmark. In a low resolution scan, it would likely deceive most collectors.

Caution is required when identifying any of these.


Oneglia - One Penny Imperforate

This forgery is seen in several shades which closely emulate the genuine colors found. The background lines are coarser than in the genuine issues, and the borders on either side are a series of wavy vertical lines, whereas the genuine copies have an interwoven braided design. The medallion is more articulated than in the genuine issue, and resmbles a butterfly or, perhaps, the number 83.

Oneglia - One Penny Imperforate

These are found with fake barred oval or butterfly postmarks, in a range of colors that closely resmble the genuine issues. Care must be taken to identify them accurately.

Oneglia - Two Pence Imperforate Die I

The same design was used to create a Two Pence forgery, with a substituted value tablet. It is found in several grayish and brownish shades which can closely resemble the issued colors, but the background is distinctly different than the genuine Two Pence issue. The Panelli die was engraved to simulate the One Penny with its' background of wavy lines. The genuine Two Pence has criss-crossing lines in the background, quite unlike the forgery.

Oneglia - Two Pence Imperforate Die II

At some point, the glaring differences in the background must have come to Oneglia's attention, and he altered the die to more closely resemble the Two Pence issue. In this version, the backround has been blurred into a matte of almost continuous color. On first glance, there is no doubt that it is more deceptive, but close scrutiny of the borders and the queen's medallion will clearly identify it as a fake.

Oneglia - Three Pence Imperforate

The Three Pence was created from Oneglia's One Penny die with a value substitution showing Three Pence. The identifying characteristics are the same as those found for the One Penny, and I have not found any second die state, so far. The wavy background lines are quite distinctive, making this is the least deceptive of the Oneglia forgeries.


When the printing stones were prepared, the printer would inspect the image before printing began. In cases where there were weak spots in the image, the printer would often retouch the area. For the lithographic printings used for the Half Lengths, this usually meant redrawing the missing features with an acid brush.

The acid brushes were much thicker than the fine etching tools used in the original engraving process. As a result, the retouches usually appear to be crude and awkward attempts at best.

Because the retouches were done by hand, each one is unique, and since each retouch could only be reproduced once per sheet, they are all exceedingly rare.

I have always viewed retouches as stamps that were autographed by the printer, making them extra special, in my opinion.


F&F Printing Stone 3 - Retouch [01]

A retouch affecting the upper left corner of position [01] appears in Stone 3 printings.

There are 6 different retouches found in the Stone 3 printings.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

C&F Printing Stone 3 - Retouch [07]

The left margin is redrawn in position [07] from the top corner encompassing almost 60% of the border.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

C&F Printing Stone 3 - Retouch [13]

The retouch on position [13] affects the top left corner and extending downward along the left border.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

C&F Printing Stone 3 - Retouch [19]

Position [19] is retouched at the lower left corner, also affecting the ON of ONE.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.


C&F Printing Stone 4/5 - Retouch [13]

A spectacular retouch affecting postion [13] in the transfer group, with much of the background in the upper right quadrant of the stamp crudely redrawn using an acid brush.

Examples of retouches in the One Penny stamps are very rare, suggesting that repairs may have been made during the printing schedule.

Unused examples such as the one shown are practically non-existent.

C&F Printing Stone 4/5 - Retouch [03]

The retouch in position [03] affects a large portion of the backgorund at the upper left.

Image coutesy of John Barwis.

C&F Printing Stone 4/5 - Retouch [08]

A portion of the lower left border is retouched in positon [08].

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

C&F Printing Stone 4/5 - Retouch [11]

The lower right value tablet has been entirely redrawn in positon [11], making it one of the most spectacular retouches to be found.

Image courtest of John Barwis.


6th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (a)

The 6th printing is the only printing of the Two Pence where retouches are found. In all, 18 different types have been documented, ranging from minor to the most significant example in which the entire value tablet is omitted.

In the example shown, a white patch above and to the right of the queen's head has been retouched. This is often referred to as the Feather in the Crown' variety.

The total printing of this stamp consisted of 640 copies (the 6th printing consisted of 640 sheets of 120 stamps) - a handful may survive.

6th Ham Printing - Retouch [06]

A large portion of the upper left background is retouched in position [06].

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

6th Ham Printing - Retouch [04]

A portion of the background midway along the right side is retouched in positin [04]. Part of the retouch in this example is covered by the cancellation. All of these types are of similar rarity

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

6th Ham Printing - Retouch [10]

Part of the background at the upper right is retouched in position [10].

Image courtesy of John Barwis.

6th Ham Printing - Retouch [23]

The retouch found on position [23] affects the upper right border.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.


3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type [09]

The printing stone for the 3rd printing of the Three Pence had significant retouching. In all, 22 different retouched positions (in the sheet of 120) have been recorded. The entire printing consisted of 60,000 stamps (500 sheets of 120), so the entire inventory of each retouched position was only 500 copies!

In the example shown, the entire upper right corner of the background and right border in position [09] of the transfer group has been crudely redrawn!  T

Only 500 copies of this retouch were printed - only a few examples survive.

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type [05]

Another retouch from the 3rd printing, showing a circular area just above and to the right of the queen's head that has been redrawn.  This occured in position [05] in the intermediate transfer group.

Only 500 copies of each retouch type were printed - only a few copies survive of each type.

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type [04]

Also from the 3rd printing, this retouch, affecting position [04]  is less spectacular in appearance, but just as rare. The retouch affects a narrow band in the right border just to the right of the queen's shoulder. A zigzag line has been drawn to fill a white flaw.

Only 500 copies were printed.

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type (d)

A subtle retouch that would elude most collectors. In this case, an white area of the left border just above the lower left E has been delicately redrawn with a small inverted V. I have two copies of this retouch which serves to prove its' constancy.

Only 500 copies of this retouch were printed.

Can you spot the retouched area?

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type (e)

Another retouch to the right border across from the queen's shoulder. In this case, the area is filled with a solid shape. The cancellations partially obscures the retouched area, but it is still quite noticeable if you concentrate on the area affected.

Only 500 copies of this retouch were printed.

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type (f)

This retouch is not illustrated in Kellow, but was documented by Purves. The retouch occurs along the left border just at the bottom corner where an apparent weakness in the border is plainly visible.

Only 500 copies of this reprint were printed

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type (g)

This retouch affects the top right corner - note the top portion of the right border which has been redrawn with several wavy lines.

Only 500 copies of each retouch type were printed - only a few copies survive of each type

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type (h)

The background area just above and to the right of the queen's shoulder has been retouched - this is partially obscured in this example but can be seen with close inpsection.

Only 500 copies of each retouch type were printed - only a few copies survive of each type.

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type [04]

One of the more spectacular retouches, affecting much of the lower right quadrant in position [04] - the lower right border is redrawn, the gown to the left of the right border is crudely redrawn, and the bottom tablet is retouched affecting the bottom of the C of PENCE.

A thinned and faulty stamp, but a rare example of this retouch - only 500 copies of each retouch type were printed

3rd Ham Printing - Retouch Type (j)

Retouched above the shoulder on right side of the stamp, with the retouched area partially covered by the cancellation


5th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (a)

Nine positions in the printing stone were retouched for the 5th printing. This printing consisted of about 2900 sheets, making these somewhat less rare than earlier examples, but by no means are they easy to find!!

In this example, the lower left border and corner table have been redrawn.

5th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (b)

This retouch involved 2 or 3 areas along the outer edge of the right border, where thin lines of color have been added to fill in a weak area. In this particular example, the upper retouched area is quite noticeable, while the the area to the right of the elbow is less visible, but still discernibble. The lower right corner also has some redrawn characteristics, which are not clearly visible in this particular copy.

5th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (c)

The retouch along the right border is abundantly obvious in this example, especially given the massive margin and the postmark which conveniently avoids the affected area. Given the rarity of these, this is a superb example.

Only 2900 copies of this retouch were printed.

5th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (d)

Once again, the retouched areas are quite obvious in this example. The border in this case was not so weak that retouching was necessary, but the printers' retouch has provided us with a wonderful philatelic gem.

5th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (e)

Unfortunately, the right margin has been slightly cut into in this example, precisely where the retouching ocurred. Fortunately, part of the retouching is still visible, just to the right of the queen's right elbow. The complete retouch is quite dramatic, and affects an extended portion of the right border. Does anyone have a better example?

5th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (f)

Somewhat difficult to see due to the outer arc of the postmark, the retouch here affects the upper left border. The retouch starts at the upper left corner and extends downward to the point just covered by the outer arc of the barred oval in this example.

This may be the only existing pair to illustrate this retouch?

5th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (g)

Retouch affecting the upper left corner extending downward along the left border for several millimetres.

5th Ham Printing - Retouch Type (H)

Spectacular retouch along the right side affecting almost the entire length of the border, on a damaged stamp that does not detract from the retouch.


Campbell Printing - Retouch [17]

Position 17 on the intermediate stone was retouched just below the IC of VICTORIA. As a resullt, this retouch appeared in each transfer group of 30 stamps throughout the Campbell printing, making it the most common of all the Half Length retouches.

C&F Printing - Retouch [17]

The retouch also appears in the Stone B and C printings made by Campbell & Fergusson.

Position [17] can also be identified by the vertical white mark between the sceptre and the veil, making verification of the retouch easy.

Campbell Printing - Retouch [22]

The value tablet was retouched in position [22], resulting in EN of PENCE being obliterated. This occured once per sheet and is, therefore, much more rare than the type [17] above.

Image courtesy of John Barwis.


The Fingerprint Variety

Two different fingerprint varieties are known, both from Stone B. These were caused when a workman touched the printing stone or the transfer paper with wet lithographic ink on his finger.

The fingerprint is evident in the top right corner of the stamp. Examples appear to be very rare - this being the only one I have seen to date.

I have not seen the other recorded type of fingerprint variety. Can anyone supply an example?


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

The Half Lengths of Victoria, by J.H. Barwis FRPSL and R.W. Moreton FRPSL, Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria, Melbourne, 2009

The Half Lengths of Victoria, by J.R.W. Purves, Royal Philatelic Society, London 1953

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

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