Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

We all have and handle these from time to time. "Back of book", Revenues, "Cinderellas", duty stamps and all kinds of other stamp like labels. Discuss them all HERE!

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Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

As discussed on other posts here on the forum, Royal Cypher Labels, or Cypher Seals, are integral parts of the embossed / impressed Duty stamps of Great Britain and were in continuous use for 220 years.

Following a Royal Proclamation by King William III and Queen Mary II on 31st May 1694, Stamp Duty was introduced on a wide variety of legal documents. It quickly became clear that vellum documents could not be directly embossed, as the impression faded over time, so an embossed "base paper" was glued onto the documents, but these papers were quite easy to remove and attach to other documents, leading to widespread fraud, despite the severe punishments for doing so ("Death Penalty without Benefit of Clergy" anyone?).

In late 1701 a solution was found: the stamp was glued onto the document as before, then a thin strip of metal was passed through 2 slits cut into the document and the stamp, and secured at the back using a further stamp, the cypher label, which was then fixed in place over the ends of the strip using hot fish glue. The stamp, and the exposed section of the metal strip, was then embossed using a die, and fraud became virtually impossible. This highly effective composite security device was used continuously from 1702 to 1922.
(Paraphrased from the introduction of the book by William A. Barber "The Royal Cypher Labels of Great Britain, Ireland & the Colonies" 1988).

As collectors' items the cypher labels seem to be mostly ignored and forgotten, but these little pieces of paper are a fascinating area of study in their own right. As well as different designs for each monarch (with the exception of an overlap between King George IV and King William IV) there are multiple design variations to collect, and a large number of recuts. Each label is individually numbered, and until the Queen Victoria Plate 3 printed labels in the latter part of the 19th Century, all the labels were produced from individually hand-engraved dies, meaning that every numbered stamp is unique.

I had a plan to collect examples of cyphers labels from all the reigning monarchs over the 220 year life of the labels, as well as examples of all the recuts and the main design variations. The main problem with this Completist's dream was that I couldn't even get started, as the first ever cypher label, the King William III, proved impossible to get hold of. The first use of a cypher label was in 1701, but William III died in early 1702 so the William label is very rare (though they continued to be used up to December 1703).

I asked my dealer and collector friend if he could supply me with one but he said that in 30 years of searching, he'd only found 10, and had long ago sold on his spares. Dieter Bortfeldt in 2003 (Royal Cypher Labels 1701-1922") claimed that there are only about 100 recorded examples of the King William III cypher label but my friend tells me that the number of surviving copies must surely run into the hundreds but many of them would be on entire
documents rather than cut-outs.

Then yesterday I had the most amazing stoke of luck. I bought this job lot of around 30 embossed stamps on eBay. The cypher labels were not shown, and it was not possible to make out the designs of the embossed stamps either, but for £12 this was a bargain not to be missed.

job lot of blue embossed stamps
job lot of blue embossed stamps


Looking closely at the collection, two pairs of stamps stood out. The single Die letter on the left of these 6d type 2 stamps identifies them as potentially being from the William III period. The A die was in use from 8th December 1699 to a last-seen date of 2nd June 1703, and the F die dates from 20th December 1698 - 11th May 1708 (last seen).

2 x 6d type 2 blue embossed stamps Die F On piece
2 x 6d type 2 blue embossed stamps Die F On piece

6d type 2 blue embossed stamp Die A
6d type 2 blue embossed stamp Die A

6d type 2 blue embossed stamp Die F
6d type 2 blue embossed stamp Die F


Still not expecting much, I looked first on the back of the A Die stamp and there was the very first cypher label, a King William III!

King William III Type A Cypher Label
King William III Type A Cypher Label


There are 4 distinct Types of William III labels, A-D. My #37 is a Type A, which is the same as the one on the cover of the Dieter Bortfeldt book. There are slight variations due to these being hand-engraved.

Royla Cypher labels 1701 - 1922 Dieter Bortfeldt 2003
Royla Cypher labels 1701 - 1922 Dieter Bortfeldt 2003


Having found The Holy Grail I had no expectations at all for the other stamp, the F die, but turning it over revealed another William III cypher, and it was a different type, a Type B. As you can see, it's quite different from the A type, and in my opinion is the most beautiful of all the cypher labels, with a level of ornamentation not seen on any of the other labels. Happy days!

King William III Type B Cypher Label
King William III Type B Cypher Label


In the next post I'll show the label which superseded the William cypher labels following his death on 8th March 1702.

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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by 22028 »

Nice remembrance of my late friend Dieter Bortfeldt who passed away too soon.
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

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Wonderful.... thank you

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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Thanks, both, for the comments.
22028 wrote:
11 Apr 2021 01:03
Nice remembrance of my late friend Dieter Bortfeldt who passed away too soon.
I know him only through the book, and it's clearly a labour of love, showcasing his entire collection in wonderful detail. As you probably know, the book is extremely rare, and I was only able to find this one copy anywhere in the world. I'll scan a few example pages soon.

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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by 22028 »

Iain P wrote:
11 Apr 2021 03:54
Thanks, both, for the comments.
22028 wrote:
11 Apr 2021 01:03
Nice remembrance of my late friend Dieter Bortfeldt who passed away too soon.
I know him only through the book, and it's clearly a labour of love, showcasing his entire collection in wonderful detail. As you probably know, the book is extremely rare, and I was only able to find this one copy anywhere in the world. I'll scan a few example pages soon.
He donated his collection of Royal Cyber Labels to the RPSL.., i am still in contact with his widow and daughter in Colombia, however, due to the Pandemic we could not meet when i was there from November 2020 - January 2021

https://www.rpsl.org.uk/Collections/Explore-Collections/emodule/800/eitem/143


08-Bortfeld.jpg
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

That's great that the collection has been kept together and lives on, so to speak.
22028 wrote:
11 Apr 2021 01:03
He donated his collection of Royal Cyber Labels to the RPSL.., i am still in contact with his widow and daughter in Colombia, however, due to the Pandemic we could not meet when i was there from November 2020 - January 2021

https://www.rpsl.org.uk/Collections/Explore-Collections/emodule/800/eitem/143

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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by HalfpennyYellow »

Another interesting thread Iain! :D

A couple of years ago when I had come across the blue duty stamps I too wanted to collect cypher labels from each monarch. I managed to acquire examples from Queen Anne to Queen Victoria (I think I completed this era - at least in a simplified manner!). I am still missing the William III label, the last few labels from the early 20th century (Edward VII and George V), and I don't have any of the issues for Ireland etc.
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

HalfpennyYellow wrote:
11 Apr 2021 10:32
Another interesting thread Iain! :D

A couple of years ago when I had come across the blue duty stamps I too wanted to collect cypher labels from each monarch. I managed to acquire examples from Queen Anne to Queen Victoria (I think I completed this era - at least in a simplified manner!). I am still missing the William III label, the last few labels from the early 20th century (Edward VII and George V), and I don't have any of the issues for Ireland etc.
Thanks mate!
I'm looking forward to getting organised with these and seeing what I have got and haven't got, and hopefully it will be a useful resource for others and encourage them to look on the back of their old vellum documents and embossed blue stamps to see what they've got too.

As you know, most of these are not worth much, but the rarer ones can go for good money. I'm no expert but I believe the two William III ones here are worth perhaps £80 each. Not a bad investment for about £1 for the pair! I'll never sell them of course, though I hear that every man has his price... :)

My very helpful dealer friend has managed to get me the early 20th century Edward VII ones and the very rare George V one too, though they are in transit from Australia at the moment so I won't relax until they are in my hands, then I'll list them here.
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Anne became the Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland on 8 March 1702, following the death of her husband, King William III.

On 1st May 1707, England and Scotland united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She then reigned as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until she died in 1714.

During her reign, 2 cypher label plates were issued.
The earliest know use of Plate I is October 1702 and the latest known use is January 1715. Cypher labels from Plate II are scarce as they were only in use in the 4 year period from August 1713 to September 1717.
I thought I had a Plate II example but I don't! I'll be on the lookout for one from now on, and add it here when I get one.

In the meantime here's my Plate I example, on the back of this gloriously ornamented vellum Indenture "made the xxx second day of March xx in the ninth yeare of the Reigne of our Soveraigne lady anne by the grace of God of Greate Brittaine, ffrance and Ireland Queen defender of the ffaith andr (?) and in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and tenn..."

1710 Vellum Indenture, Reign of Queen Anne
1710 Vellum Indenture, Reign of Queen Anne


There were 187 labels in 17 rows of 11 on Plate I, with 4 different designs, A-D.
Row One (dies 1-11) were all design A , Row Two, (dies 12 to 22) were Design B etc. Then the pattern repeated, starting with Row Five, Design A. Row 17 had all four designs.
(Dieter Bortfeldt, 2003).
Even without comparing the 4 designs, then, we know this #37 example is a Design D, and was located in position 5 on the 4th row.

Design D Plate 1 Queen Anne cypher label
Design D Plate 1 Queen Anne cypher label


Coincidently, the example for Design D in Dieter's book is also a #37.

Dieter Bortfeldt, Royal Cypher Labels 1701-1922 (2003)
Dieter Bortfeldt, Royal Cypher Labels 1701-1922 (2003)


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

I found another Queen Anne label from Plate I.

Queen Anne cypher label Plate 1
Queen Anne cypher label Plate 1


It's not in good condition but good enough to ID it as another design D

Dieter Bortfeldt, Royal Cypher Labels 1701-1922 (2003)
Dieter Bortfeldt, Royal Cypher Labels 1701-1922 (2003)


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

king George I succeeded to the throne on the death of Queen Anne in 1714. During his reign from 1714 to 1727, 2 plates of cypher labels were created, the second plate having 2 designs and 3 recuts.
Plate I (#1- #160) had only 1 design, and no recuts. The dies were arranged in 16 rows of 10.
These are seen from June 1715 and were superseded by Plate II in October 1725 but the Plate I stamps were still used up until about 1733.
I have two of these currently.
Lovers of Royal Cypher Labels should brace themselves: you're about to witness the scene of a crime. The collector was obviously only interested in the blue embossed stamp on the front, so carefully cut a neat rectangle around that, slicing the top off the cypher label.

George I royal cypher label. Plate 1
George I royal cypher label. Plate 1


The other one has survived such vandalism, showing only the usual careless cutting done when it was originally applied around 300 years ago:

George I royal cypher label. Plate I #133
George I royal cypher label. Plate I #133


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

While sorting through my Plate II King George I cypher labels, I realised I had another Plate I. It's worth adding in here, as it's on piece, and is only the second die on the plate. Also the piece is dated, 1719.

Note the price of the skin too. 6d is quite cheap I think. The purchasing power in today's money is only £2.70 according to one of the main online converters.

The 3 blue embossed stamps are 6d as well, so a tax duty of 18d is equivalent to a little under £9 today.

3 x 6d embossed blue duty stamps on vellum piece
3 x 6d embossed blue duty stamps on vellum piece

George I royal cypher label Plate 1 die #2 dated 1719
George I royal cypher label Plate 1 die #2 dated 1719



Looking at the cypher label in the previous post, I see now that it is also dated in pencil, 1719. That one, die #133, is also Plate I, and was made at presumably roughly the same time, so it's interesting to compare the 2 labels to see differences between the hand-engraved artwork; one from the beginning of the top row of the plate, and the other on row 13 (of 16 rows, 10 dies on each row = 160 dies in total).
Here they are as an animated Gif.

George I royal cypher labels. Plate 1 die #2 & die 133 compared. 1719
George I royal cypher labels. Plate 1 die #2 & die 133 compared. 1719


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Now for the Plate II, King George I cypher labels. First a correction from a previous post. Sorry about this, I'm learning as I go...
Iain P wrote:
14 Apr 2021 20:11
king George I succeeded to the throne on the death of Queen Anne in 1714. During his reign from 1714 to 1727, 2 plates of cypher labels were created, the second plate having 2 designs and 3 recuts.
Apart from a few minor alterations to the George I dies, there were NO recuts to either plates I or II.
Plate II had 16 rows of 20 = 320 cypher labels, #161 to #480. These were used from October 1725 to December 1731.
There are 2 designs on the plate, A and B.
I only have 1 example of the A design but 4 of the B design. I don't know if this reflects relative rarity or not.

3 x R die embossed 6d revenue stamps on vellum piece
3 x R die embossed 6d revenue stamps on vellum piece


The A design has a point, shown with the red dot:

George I royal cypher label Plate II Design A
George I royal cypher label Plate II Design A


Now the Design B stamps, which are blunted. This #418 label is on a document piece dated 1727

George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B
George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B


This one stands out for its beautifully engraved number. The label is also on a 1727 document piece.

George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B #269
George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B #269


This #372 is on a piece dated 1730, so that's 3 years after King George I had died, and the year before the last sighting of these cyphers in use.

George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B
George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B


Part of the fascination of royal cypher labels is finding the small variations in the hand-engraved dies. The #372 has a a "double point" on the right side, which I haven't yet seen in other examples online or in the Dieter Bortfeldt Collection. The size of this cropped area is 7.3mm x 7.3mm

George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B. Detail. "double point"
George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B. Detail. "double point"


And last but not least is this #480 label, which I just realised is, of course, the highest number of all the George I labels, and was located in final position on the plate, at the end of row 20.

George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B Last position: number 480
George I royal cypher label Plate II Design B Last position: number 480


I wondered if there were other variations between Design A and B, apart from the blunted /pointed distinction, so I layered the A label #229 onto the best of the B labels, #418, as an animated gif. The result is revealing: The designs are very similar, but the A stamp is significantly bigger than the B. #229 measures 11mm across the widest part of the crown, and 17mm across the widest part of the cypher, whereas #418 measures 10mm and 16mm.

Comparing A and B designs George I royal cypher labels Plate II
Comparing A and B designs George I royal cypher labels Plate II


So then I tried it with another B design, # 372, but this shows there is no significant difference in size, so #418 must be just a slightly smaller example of the B designs.

Comparing A and B designs George I royal cypher labels Plate II
Comparing A and B designs George I royal cypher labels Plate II


And a close crop animation, just for fun:

Comparing A and B designs George I royal cypher labels Plate II close detail
Comparing A and B designs George I royal cypher labels Plate II close detail


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Onwards now to George II, the only son of George I, who succeeded to the throne on the death of his father in 1727. He reigned until 1760.
Only one plate of royal cypher labels was used over his reign. The first use is documented as April 1731 and the final use was in 1764.
There were 3 recuts to the plate over this 33 year period. I have 4 examples of the original uncut George II cypher label, and this one, die number 239, is the best condition of the 4.
It's on piece, and dated 24th September, 1736.

George II Cypher label, original plate, on vellum piece 1736
George II Cypher label, original plate, on vellum piece 1736


The "2" for George II is obvious in the close up but not always so at first glance. The plate had its first recut in March 1738, but labels from the original uncut plate are still seen up to 1739.

George II Cypher label, original plate,
George II Cypher label, original plate,


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

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Now the George II 1st recut, seen from March 1738 to 1746. I only have one example of this recut but luckily it's in quite good condition. And it's always great to see them on their original vellum documents even when, like this one, the document had been chopped.
The three blue embossed stamps are 6d #2 (Barber) Z die.

vellum document with 3x 6d blue embossed stamps
vellum document with 3x 6d blue embossed stamps


The recut is indicated with a single line under the die number.

George II royal cypher label, 1st recut, die number 95
George II royal cypher label, 1st recut, die number 95


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

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Here's the George II, 2nd recut, used from November 1740 to 1759. That's a 4 year overlap with the 1st recut, which was used until 1746.
This die number 112 example is dated on-piece as 1750. The 2nd recut is indicated by a second horizontal line under the die number. The degradation of the plate as the recuts build up can be seen in thicker lines and less detail than on the original plate.

George II, 2nd recut royal cypher label, 1750
George II, 2nd recut royal cypher label, 1750


And here's my only other George II 2nd recut, on a piece dated 1751. It's notable for the engraving of the die number 155, which looks more like 1SS! The thicker lines on this recut are very obvious here:

George II, 2nd recut royal cypher label, 1751
George II, 2nd recut royal cypher label, 1751


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

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And here's the 3rd and final recut for the George II plate. The 3rd recuts are seen from May 1792 to 1764.
It's generally easy to see the degeneration of the dies by the 3rd recut. The lines are thicker and the number 2 is bigger, as are the G and the R so you could probably spot a 3rd recut without the 3 lines in the corner to confirm it.
However, it's not an exact science, as the dies are all unique, and there is a lot of variation in how the ink has been applied to the dies.
My 3 examples show quite a spread from very poor quality to rather good.
First the poor quality one, on a vellum piece dated 1754.

George II cypher label 3rd recut. 1754. #37
George II cypher label 3rd recut. 1754. #37


This one is dated 1756.
As mentioned previously, there were 20 dies per row on the George II plate, with 16 rows, making a total of 320 dies. You can see that this #313 is on the last row, as the bottom line ends at the frame edge:

George II cypher label 3rd recut. 1756. #313
George II cypher label 3rd recut. 1756. #313



And finally, a #283 label on a document dated 1759.

George II  1759 vellum document
George II 1759 vellum document

George II cypher label 3rd recut. 1759, on piece.
George II cypher label 3rd recut. 1759, on piece.

George II cypher label 3rd recut. 1759
George II cypher label 3rd recut. 1759


The next post will compare the original plate and the 3 recuts as an animation

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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Here are the 4 states of the George II plates shown as an animated Gif, to demonstrate the degradation of the dies over their period of use.
As mentioned previously, there were 3 recuts of the original plate. The lines produced by the recut dies are generally thicker and the number 2 is bigger, as are the G and the R.
This is especially apparent in the 3rd recut. It's not an exact science, though, as the dies are all unique, and there is a lot of variation in how the ink has been applied. The recuts are indicated by the number of horizontal lines in the top right corner, with the original having no line.
The first use of the plate is documented as April 1731 and the final use was in 1764 (normal use up to 1762) so the 4 states here represent a period of up to 33 years. Considering the plates were made from soft copper, and the fact that they were in use throughout this period, it's perhaps surprising that they survived as well as they did.

4 states of George II cypher labels
4 states of George II cypher labels


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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

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Now onto King George III cypher labels, and this is where things get a little complicated, since over his 60 year reign, from 1760 - 1820, there were 2 plates issued, Plate I having 4 recuts, and Plate II having 3, making a total of 9 states, not including the issues for use in Ireland, more of which later.
The plate I is arranged in 16 rows of 20 dies, so if you have a label with a '3' in the crown, and a number from 1 to 320 in the top right hand corner, it's a George III Plate I label.
About 70% of my collection are George III cyphers, and 5 are uncut Plate I examples. Here are the two I have on piece.
You can see this one is dated in pencil, 3rd November 1760, but this must be incorrect, as George III came to the throne in October 1760, so the plate could not have been created within a month of this date, and the earliest recorded seen use of uncut Plate I is April 1762, (Barber 1988). Perhaps it's an incomplete '6', making it 1766. What a shame the original collector cut the actual date off the document...

George III vellum document 1760s
George III vellum document 1760s

George III Plate I royal cypher label, number 185, original state
George III Plate I royal cypher label, number 185, original state


The other vellum piece has the year 1763 on it in pencil, but whether that can be trusted now, it's impossible to say. It's almost certainly 1760s, as the first recut of the plate took place in November 1769, though labels from the original uncut plate are recorded in use up to May 1773.

George III vellum document 1760s
George III vellum document 1760s



George III Plate I royal cypher label, number 50, original state
George III Plate I royal cypher label, number 50, original state
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Now the first recut of the George III, Plate I. The recut is indicated by a line in the top left corner. The earlier use of the 1st recut is seen November 1769 and the last use seen December 1778.
You can already see the deterioration in the dies, but this will become much more apparent with the later recuts.
Here are the four I have:

George III Royal Cypher label, Plate 1 1st recut
George III Royal Cypher label, Plate 1 1st recut

George III Royal Cypher label, Plate 1 1st recut
George III Royal Cypher label, Plate 1 1st recut

George III Royal Cypher label, Plate 1 1st recut
George III Royal Cypher label, Plate 1 1st recut

George III Royal Cypher label, Plate 1 1st recut
George III Royal Cypher label, Plate 1 1st recut

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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Here's the 2nd recut of the George III, Plate I, which took place in 1776 and was normally used up to 1782, with the last recorded sighting of its use in 1787. I have only these two examples, but they both show the degradation of the quality of the plate.

George III Royal Cypher label, Plate I, 2nd recut.
George III Royal Cypher label, Plate I, 2nd recut.

George III Royal Cypher label, Plate I, 2nd recut.
George III Royal Cypher label, Plate I, 2nd recut.

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Iain P
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

With the 3rd recut of the George III Plate I, things start to get quite ugly!
The lines are generally much thicker and the design becomes more crude, with a reduction in detail compared to the earlier iterations.
Of the six I have, only this one is on piece, and the document is dated 1786.
The 3rd recut is first seen in 1782 and was normally used up to 1790, with a last recorded use in 1794.

Vellum document 1786, with blue embossed revenue stamp.
Vellum document 1786, with blue embossed revenue stamp.

George III Royal Cypher Label, Plate 1, 3rd recut
George III Royal Cypher Label, Plate 1, 3rd recut


This is perhaps the best of the 6. Here are a couple of the others:

George III Royal Cypher Label, Plate 1, 3rd recut
George III Royal Cypher Label, Plate 1, 3rd recut

George III Royal Cypher Label, Plate 1, 3rd recut
George III Royal Cypher Label, Plate 1, 3rd recut


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Iain P
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Correction: I managed to post this #50 label twice, once in its correct place, as an uncut George III Plate I, but then again, in the next post, as a 1st recut, which it clearly is not, as it has no horizontal line in the top left corner.
Sorry about that.
Iain P wrote:
29 Apr 2021 06:17
Now the first recut of the George III, Plate I. The recut is indicated by a line in the top left corner.

Image


I meant to post this image, of a 1st recut:

George III Royal cypher label, Plate 1 , recut 1
George III Royal cypher label, Plate 1 , recut 1


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Iain P
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

It seems I don't currently have a 4th recut of the George III Plate I labels, but I'll add it here when I get one.
In the meantime, here's an animated gif of the original plate and the first 3 recuts, showing the degradation of the plate over its life.
Plate I was first seen in use in 1762 , with the 3rd recut taking place in 1782, and this was in normal use until 1790, when the 4th recut was done, so this shows the changes due to use and repairs to the soft copper plate over a period of probably around 25 years.

Changes to George III royal cypher label dies over 2 or 3 decades
Changes to George III royal cypher label dies over 2 or 3 decades


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Iain P
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

Now onto the George III, Plate II labels. The earliest seen use of Plate II was February 1797 and the latest use, after 3 recuts, was June 1828.
The labels are numbered 321 to 640, with the first 2 digits to the left of the crown and the third digit on the right of the crown.
The uncut plate was in use from February 1797 to November 1809. I have 5 examples, and these two are on a piece dated 1800:

George III, Plate II. Royal Cypher Label, uncut
George III, Plate II. Royal Cypher Label, uncut

George III, Plate II. Royal Cypher Label, uncut
George III, Plate II. Royal Cypher Label, uncut

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Iain P
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Re: Royal Cypher Labels, 1701 - 1922: Collecting examples of each type

Post by Iain P »

The other three George III, Plate II uncut labels I have are on the same piece, and are in an even number sequence: #580, #582, and #584.

George III, Plate II uncut royal cypher labels
George III, Plate II uncut royal cypher labels


The 320 dies were hand-engraved so are all unique. I've got no idea whether they were engraved 'in order' on the plate, and I haven't seen any mention of it in the literature, but one way to test this out would be to compare dies close to each other with dies far apart, so here goes!
First the 3 as an animated gif:

George III, Plate II uncut royal cypher labels: sequence of #580, #582, and #584
George III, Plate II uncut royal cypher labels: sequence of #580, #582, and #584


They do seem to be more similar than labels which are further apart on the plate, like these two:

George III, Plate II uncut royal cypher labels compared
George III, Plate II uncut royal cypher labels compared



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