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GB Overprints Society

Ireland

 

The establishment of the "Irish Provisional Government" on 16 January 1922 seemed to take the (Irish) post office by surprise. Although work must have started on designs preparatory to independence these did not appear until 6 December 1922 (the 2d "map", which, it should be noted, includes Northern Ireland within the boundaries of Ireland). As a result, a series of temporary overprints was arranged, the first of which appeared on 17 February; these arrangements seem to have been rather hasty, as no fewer than four printers were used - Dollard and Thom for the early sets, Harrison for the coils, Government Printing Works and Harrison for the 1925-1935 "Seahorses". Unoverprinted British stamps with Irish postmarks between 16 January and the issue of overprinted stamps attract a significant premium. In the meantime there were also a few unofficial handstamps, presumably to make a political point (see political propaganda).


Although the issues look complicated, in fact only 4 values (1d, 2d, 6d, 1/-, in the 5-line overprint, numbers 3/29, 4/30, 5/31, 10/36, 13/40) are difficult to distinguish. There are a great many minor varieties in the lettering in all issues, and many minor re-entries on the Seahorses.


In parallel to the postage issues, all the many revenue issues also appeared with the different overprints. It is a truly complex 12 months of overprints!


British postage dues continued in use in Ireland until 1925 - since they had no country designation or King's head they were allegedly deemed not to need an overprint. However, the nation was clearly not so anxious about the appearance of the British monarch's head on their stamps, since the King George VI "seahorse" high values continued to be overprinted for use in Ireland until 1937, 15 years later.


In the confused and hasty hand-over of power, a remarkable bureaucratic oversight arose. Because of lax wording in the 1922 Post Office Act which gave the Irish overprinted stamps the same validity as unoverprinted ones, the Irish issues were also inadvertently rendered valid for use in any colony which used GB stamps, including (for example) Ascension. Such usage, however obviously philatelic, is keenly sought after. The anomaly was quickly corrected (Robson Lowe, 1952, p.398).


Note: this numbering system was drawn up by the Society for the website, and may not be used without permission.


King George V

1st set, Irish Provisional Government

Overprinted "Rialtas Sealadaċ na hEireann 1922"

- short "9" in 1922, 14 mm * 16 mm, printed by Thom, dull black to grey (1d, 2d, 6d, 1/-)

- long "9" in 1922, printed by Dollard (other values)

17 February 1922 (except as stated)

Ireland first set 300

Ireland first set 2s6d and 5s 200


1 d green

2 1d red

3 1d

4 2d orange, die I

5 2d orange die II

6 2d blue, black overprint

7 3d violet

8 4d grey, black overprint

9 5d brown

10 6d purple, chalky paper

11 9d black, black overprint

12 10d blue

13 1/- brown

note: the 1/- with the "long 9" overprint is a forgery

14 2/6d brown (Waterlow)

15 5/- red (Waterlow)

16 10/- blue (Waterlow)

 

2d dies

bech Prot 2d dies 400

2d: on die I the inner frame line is near to the central design, in die II it is in the middle of the white gap.
(this illustration is from Bechuanaland Protectorate)


Dollard, Thom and Harrison sizes

Ireland sizes 200


Dollard and Thom main set, 14 mm wide



Harrison coil, 15 mm wide



Thom late print, 15.7 mm wide.




overprint varieties

Ireland halfpence inverted 200

(image courtesy of De Montfort Stamps)

1 v1 d overprint inverted

1 v2 d overprint misplaced upwards - top line at the bottom (minor misplacements are common)

1 v3 d overprint misplaced upwards - top line missing (bottom marginal copy of v2)

1 v4 d overprint misplaced downwards - bottom line at the top (minor misplacements are common)

1 v5 d overprint misplaced downwards - date missing (top marginal copy of v4)

1 v6 d overprint omitted in pair with normal

1 v7 d overprint in red (essay, but a few copies are known used)

2 v1 1d overprint double

2 v2 1d overprint inverted

2 v3 1d overprint inverted, double, one albino

2 v4 1d overprint misplaced upwards - top line at the bottom (minor misplacements are common)

2 v5 1d overprint misplaced upwards - top line missing (bottom marginal copy of v4)

2 v6 1d overprint misplaced downwards - bottom line at the top (minor misplacements are common)

2 v7 1d overprint misplaced downwards - date missing (top marginal copy of v6)

3 v1 1d overprint misplaced upwards - top line at the bottom (minor misplacements are common)

3 v2 1d overprint misplaced upwards - top line missing (bottom marginal copy of v1)

3 v3 1d overprint misplaced downwards - bottom line at the top (minor misplacements are common)

3 v4 1d overprint misplaced downwards - date missing (top marginal copy of v3)

4 v1 2d die I overprint inverted

4 v2 2d die I overprint misplaced upwards - top line at the bottom (minor misplacements are common)

4 v3 2d die I overprint misplaced upwards - top line missing (bottom marginal copy of v2)

4 v4 2d die I overprint misplaced downwards - bottom line at the top (minor misplacements are common)

4 v5 2d die I overprint misplaced downwards - date missing (top marginal copy of v4)

5 v1 2d die II overprint inverted

5 v2 2d die II overprint misplaced upwards - top line at the bottom (minor misplacements are common)

5 v3 2d die II overprint misplaced upwards - top line missing (bottom marginal copy of v2)

5 v4 2d die II overprint misplaced downwards - bottom line at the top (minor misplacements are common)

5 v5 2d die II overprint misplaced downwards - date missing (top marginal copy of v4)

8 v1 4d overprint inverted

9 v1 5d overprint misplaced upwards - top line at the bottom (minor misplacements are common)

9 v2 5d overprint misplaced upwards - top line missing (bottom marginal copy of v1)

9 v3 5d overprint misplaced downwards - bottom line at the top (minor misplacements are common)

9 v4 5d overprint misplaced downwards - date missing (top marginal copy of v3)

11 v1 9d overprint double, one albino

11 v2 9d overprint inverted

11 v3 9d overprint misplaced upwards - top line at the bottom (minor misplacements are common)

11 v4 9d overprint misplaced upwards - top line missing (bottom marginal copy of v3)

11 v5 9d overprint misplaced downwards - bottom line at the top (minor misplacements are common)

11 v6 9d overprint misplaced downwards - date missing (top marginal copy of v5)


note: inverted overprints on other values are deemed to be forgeries.


Malformed letters and minor variations in the alignment of the rows of the overprint are numerous on the Thom and Dollard printings, and are not a reliable indicator of which printing they are from.


watermark varieties


2 wi 1d watermark inverted

3 wi 1d watermark inverted

3 wr 1d watermark reversed

4 wi 2d die I watermark inverted

4 wr 2d die I watermark reversed

5 wi 2d die II watermark inverted

9 wi 5d watermark inverted


stamp varieties

3 sv1 1d broken "E" - "PENCF"


Change of colour of overprint

1 April 1922 (except as stated)


The colour of the overprint on 3 stamps was changed from black to red to make it more visible. In July the printing of all three values was transferred from Dollard's to Thom's and their printing on the 4d and 9d stamps was in a darker carmine colour than the paler red Dollard colour.

Ireland first red overprints 200

(The 9d, missing from the above images, has a similar difference to that shown by the 4ds, but is less easy to see; don't be misled by the shade difference in green stamp colour of the two 4ds - that is irrelevant for these purposes)


17 2d red overprint

18 4d red overprint

19 4d carmine overprint (July 1922)

20 9d red overprint

21 9d carmine overprint (July 1922)


Coil stamps, overprinted by Harrisons in London

Note: the Irish printers lacked the machinery to make up the coils

overprint 15 mm * 17 mm, vertical and horizontal coils

19 June 1922 (except as stated)

Ireland first horizontal coils 200

Ireland first vertical coils 200

Note: singles from horizontal coils can be distinguished from vertical coils by the guillotining of the edges: horizontal coils have the top and bottom perfs guillotined rather than torn, in the vertical coils the side edges are guillotined; many copies are guillotined badly, and used copies from horizontal coils are often also badly miscut on the vertical sides because of misaligned automatic affixing machines. The 1d came mostly from horizontal coils. The 2d die II was not issued in coils unoverprinted in the UK.

For the difference between 2d die I and die II see above: since the coils were joined from cut up sheets rather than in continuous rolls it is possible to get 2d coil joins where one stamp is die I and the other is die II, though it is obviously easy to fake these.


22 d green vertical coil

22a horizontal coil

23 1d red vertical coil

23a horizontal coil

24 1d brown vertical coil (21 June 1922)

24a horizontal coil

25 2d orange die I vertical coil (19 June 1922)

25a horizontal coil

26 2d orange die II vertical coil (August 1922)

26a horizontal coil


watermark varieties


26 wir 2d die II watermark inverted & reversed


Thom printings, bolder blue-black

long 9 in "1922" on Seahorses, short "9" on other values, overprint 14 mm * 16 mm

The 1d, 2d, 6d, 1/- are difficult to distinguish from the first set.

June 1922

Ireland Thom (a) 200Ireland Thom (b) 200


27 d green

28 1d red

29 1d brown

30 2d orange die I

31 2d orange die II

32 2d blue (red overprint)

33 3d violet

34 4d grey (red overprint)

35 5d brown

36 6d purple (chalky paper)

37 9d black (red overprint)

38 9d green (October 1922)

39 10d blue

40 1/- brown

41 2/6d brown (Waterlow) (October 1922)

42 5/- red (Waterlow) (October 1922)

43 10/- blue (Waterlow) (October 1922)


For the difference between 2d die I and die II see above.


overprint varieties


28 v1 1d overprint misplaced

30 v1 2d die I overprint inverted

31 v1 2d die II overprint inverted

note: some authorities dispute the authenticity of the inverted overprints on the 2d die I and die II.


watermark varieties


31 wir 2d die II watermark inverted & reversed

33 wir 3d watermark inverted & reversed

36 wi 6d watermark inverted


stamp varieties

28 sv1 1d, flaw on "O" in "One", as if "Qne" (several variations)


Thom wider overprint

overprint 15.7 mm * 16 mm

21 November 1922 (except as stated)

It is not clear why Thom reset the overprint to this wider setting.

Ireland Thom wide 200


44 d green

45 1d red

46 1d brown (4 December 1922)

47 2d orange die II

48 1/- brown (4 December 1922)


overprint varieties


44 v1 d jet black overprint

This is thought to be from a trial/essay sheet.


watermark varieties


45 wi 1d watermark inverted


Irish Free State

On 6 December 1922 the status of the country changed to "Irish Free State" so a revised overprint was applied to the British stamps. The stamps engraved "Eire" were gradually released during 1922 and 1923, and overlapped with some of the later overprinted stamps.

3 line overprint "Saorstt ireann 1922"

Low values: December 1922 -1923
Seahorses: 1922-1928

Ireland 3-line 200


49 d green (18 December 1922)

50 1d red (16 December 1922)

51 1d brown (21 December 1922)

52 2d orange die II (11 December 1922)

53 2d blue (6 January 1923)

54 3d violet (6 January 1923)

55 4d grey (16 January 1923)

56 5d brown (23 December 1923)

57 6d purple (23 December 1923)

58 9d green (21 December 1922)

59 10d blue (13 January 1923)

60 1/- brown (21 December 1922)

61 2/6d brown, dull blue-black overprint (Waterlow) (21 December 1922)

64 5/- red, dull blue-black overprint (Waterlow) (28 December 1922)

67 10/- blue, dull blue-black overprint (Waterlow) (28 December 1922)


overprint varieties


49 v1 d, no accent on "Saorstat" (row 15 stamp 2)

49 v2 d, accent reinserted by hand

50 v1 1d, no accent on "Saorstat" (row 15 stamp 2)

50 v2 1d, accent reinserted by hand

50 v3 1d, accent and final "t" missing

50 v4 1d, accent and "t" reinserted

51 v1 1d overprint double

53 v1 2d, no accent on "Saorstat" (row 15 stamp 2)

54 v1 3d, no accent on "Saorstat" (row 15 stamp 2)

55 v1 4d, no accent on "Saorstat" (row 15 stamp 2)

57 v1 6d, accent inserted by hand (row 15 stamp 2)

58 v1 9d, no accent on "Saorstat" (row 15 stamp 2)

60 v1 1s, no accent on "Saorstat" (row 15 stamp 2)

60 v2 1s, accent reinserted by hand

61 v1 2/6d, no accent on "Saorstat" (rows 3 & 8, stamp 2)

61 v2 2/6d, accent reversed " ` ", on "Saorstat" (row 7 stamp 4)

64 v1 5s, no accent on "Saorstat" (rows 3 & 8, stamp 2)

64 v2 5s, accent reversed " ` ", on "Saorstat" (row 7 stamp 4)

67 v1 10s, no accent on "Saorstat" (rows 3 & 8, stamp 2)

67 v2 10s, accent reversed " ` ", on "Saorstat" (row 7 stamp 4)


watermark varieties

57 wir 6d watermark inverted & reversed


stamp varieties

50 sv1 1d, flaw on "O" in "One", as if "Qne"

61 sv1 2/6d re-entry

 

Later printing
narrow date

25 August 1925


62 2/6d brown

65 5/- red

68 10/- blue


overprint varieties


65 v1 5s narrow date, overprint omitted in pair with normal

65 v2 5s narrow date, overprint misplaced

68 v1 10s narrow date, overprint double, one inverted (pair with normal)


Further later printing
wide date (as 1922), deep black ink instead of blue-blank ink

1927-1928

63 2/6d brown (9 December 1927)

66 5/- red (February 1928)

69 10/- blue (15 February 1928)


overprint varieties


63 v1 2/6d brown, narrow date se-tenant with wide date (black/grey black overprint) (May-June 1927)

note: this comes from a printing plate comprising a mixture of wide and narrow dates; the December 1927 printing plate was entirely wide dates.

63 v2 2/6d, no accent on "Saorstat" (row 9 stamp 2)

63 v3 2/6d, flat accent " - ", or " ^ ", on "Saorstat"

66 v1 5/- red, narrow date se-tenant with wide date (black/grey black overprint) (May-June 1927)

note: this comes from a printing plate comprising a mixture of wide and narrow dates; the December 1927 printing plate was entirely wide dates.

66 v2 5s, flat accent " - ", or " ^ ", on "Saorstat" (row 9 stamp 2)

69 v110/- blue, narrow date se-tenant with wide date (black/grey black overprint) (May-June 1927)

note: this comes from a printing plate comprising a mixture of wide and narrow dates; the December 1927 printing plate was entirely wide dates.

69 v2 10s, flat accent " - ", or " ^ ", on "Saorstat" (row 9 stamp 2)

 


Coil stamps, overprinted by Harrisons in London

Note: the Irish printers lacked the machinery to make up the coils

These can be distinguished from the sheet overprints by the foot of the "1" being rounded instead of square (see illustration below), and (of course) by the edges being guillotined for use in coil machines. Most d, 1d and 2d stamps are in horizontal coils, most 1d in vertical coils. The 2d die II was not issued in coils unoverprinted in the UK.

7 March 1923

Ireland 3-line horizontal coils 200

Ireland 3-line vertical coils 200

70 d green vertical coil

70a horizontal coil

71 1d red vertical coil

71a horizontal coil

72 1d brown vertical coil

72a horizontal coil

73 2d orange die I vertical coil

73a horizontal coil

Ireland round foot 200

The square foot sheet stamp, round foot coil stamp, and the "long 1" variety (the latter can be found both on horizontal and vertical coils, including several of those illustrated above).


overprint varieties


70 v1 d, long "1" in "1922"

71 v1 1d, long "1" in "1922"

72 v1 1d, long "1" in "1922"

73 v1 2d, long "1" in "1922"


watermark varieties


70 wir d watermark inverted & reversed

73 wi 2d die I watermark inverted


Re-engraved Seahorses

March 1935

It is interesting to note that the use of high values bearing the head of the "British King" were still in use 13 years after independence.

Seahorses original and re-engraved 400

Original and re-engraved versions of the Seahorses (there are other less conspicuous differences)

74 2/6d brown

75 5/- red

76 10/- blue


overprint varieties


All values exist with a malformed ("flat") accent on "Saorstat"


select bibliography


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page last updated: 7 August 2006, 2 June 2013 

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