I can't show you the vital, secret error on this rare stamp.
Because a computer screen simply won't do it justice.
Which means only the buyer will get to truly appreciate this stamp's magnificence.
What I will show you is extremely distinguished.
A fine, bright, sharp portrait of George VI in splendid scarlet, black and violet.
It’s immediately obvious even to the untrained eye what superb condition this stamp is in.
The perforations are undamaged. The image is perfectly centred.
As it’s never been stuck onto an envelope, or into a collector’s album, the gum on the back is fully intact.
And it is there you'll also find the secret that makes this stamp one of the rarest I've handled.
The Leeward Islands 1938-51 £1
Turn over this lovely stamp and you'll soon see why it's a much sought-after rarity.
One day, in the mid 20th-century, someone at one of the few companies empowered to print stamps for the British imperial authorities, made a foolish mistake.
A sheet of paper rotated the wrong way made its way into a press and a single sheet of 60 stamps popped out with rotated watermarks.
Just 60 horizontal watermark stamps on a single sheet.
Of those 60 stamps we don't know how many have survived at all.
Let alone unused and pristine like this one.
These are small, fragile pieces of paper. The odds are against them.
Stamps featuring the head of George VI were printed for the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean between 1938 (2 years after his accession to the throne) and 1951 or 1952.
In many ways the story of the colony’s stamps is bureaucratic and run of the mill.
One of efficiencies and money saving.
The stamp you see here was largely designed in 1890.
That’s when a set of 8 stamps were created for the Leeward Islands.
They, and this stamp, were printed using the keyplate method.
Keyplates were introduced in 1851, allowing a single design to be overprinted with different values and territorial names.
A head plate - with the monarch’s portrait - put the majority of the design onto paper before a duty plate assigned it its value and territory.
Cheap and efficient.
This stamp was printed by De La Rue, using a large keyplate system introduced for the islands during the reign of Edward VII, Victoria’s son.
The £1 stamp was introduced at the top of the range in 1928, during the reign of George V.
Calculating historical monetary values is notoriously inexact. But it’s certainly true to say that this stamp was valuable even when it was printed.
£1 in 1938, when the George VI range debuted, is worth something like £80 to £90 in today’s money.
Philatelists use the details of the king's portrait to identify the printing plate that made the stamp.
Leeward Islands stamps are a favourite with collectors.
The colony’s relatively small size means the numbers of stamps produced weren’t enormous.
And the keyplate printing system means many of them can be identified very specifically.
Variations in colour, paper and the plates used to print the stamps have all been tracked by philatelists to catalogue the islands’ stamps.
Which brings us back to this stamp.
Which was a mistake.
Mistakes are wonderful news for collectors.
Particularly if they’re put right quickly.
£1 Leeward Islands stamps are already a good find for a stamp collector.
Fewer £1 stamps were needed.
They were costly.
They were designed to look rather special. Isn’t this bright red wonderful?
We sell an excellent quality example - without the watermark error - for £295.
Who knows how the accident happened.
Perhaps a print worker who'd had a row with his wife that morning wasn't concentrating.
Or had money worries. Or political ones.
The years after 1938 were among the most turbulent and terrible in world history.
Just one sheet went into the printer the wrong way.
Just 60 stamps with this unique horizontal watermark.
Stamp collectors swarm around mistakes like this like ants round honey.
Which is why many of them have been kept - no doubt with loving care - in stamp albums.
Attached with hinges that take off some of the gum.
That's enough to remove those stamps from the mint category.
No such damage has occurred to this stamp.
The stamp you can buy in 2023 is almost indistinguishable from the one that rolled off the press in the middle of the 20th century.
How it stayed in that condition is anyone’s guess.
It was printed in London for use in the Leeward Islands, one of the earliest colonies of the British Empire.
In 1671 Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, Saint Christopher, Nevis, Anguilla, and the Virgin Islands were added to the territories of Charles II as a single colonial entity.
The islands had previously been claimed for Spain by Christopher Columbus. Their names reflect that Spanish and Catholic history.
Sir William Stapleton was the first Governor.
History describes him as a colonial administrator and planter.
But we shouldn’t gloss over the truth. The islands were founded as slave colonies, making enormous fortunes from enormous human misery.
Slaves died in their thousands from the conditions on the islands. Rebellions were put down with brutality.
The islands remained under British governance until 1958.
Even in 2023 Anguilla, Montserrat, and the British Virgin Islands are British Overseas Territories, the last remnants of that once globe-spanning Empire.
Through the 20th century the islands became treasured travel destinations.
Though when these stamps were produced, leisure travel from Europe or America to the Caribbean was the province of a wealthy elite.
Cricket fans will know the Leeward Islands as a powerhouse of talent in the game. Some of the greatest names - Viv Richards, Andy Roberts, Richie Richardson - to grace the sport were Antigua and Barbuda players.
Sir Viv Richards, one of the greatest cricketers of all time, from Antigua.
You could book now to see the islands in luxurious style for the price of this stamp.
You’ll have wonderful memories.
But this stamp is an investment that is likely to increase in value.
- There were only ever 60 of these stamps in existence anywhere.
- Even fewer are in perfect condition.
This is a very rare opportunity. Who knows when it will come again?
Key watermark error stamps such as this routinely auction for £10,000+. That's how desirable they are.
You can own this stamp now for just £6,500.
Buy the Leeward Islands 1938-51 £1 wmk sideways U/M, SG114ca
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on +44 (0)117 933 9500 to secure this historic rarity now.
And it’s guaranteed.
By my personal Lifetime Moneyback Guarantee of Authenticity plus a 28-day no-quibble returns policy.
It’ll be delivered to you free with fully-insured delivery anywhere in the world.
We can advise you on how to keep it in pristine condition.
But not whether to exhibit its full face, or its unique hidden secret in your collection.
News will spread around the stamp world about this sale.
So act now.
Thanks for reading,
- Mistakes and one-offs are the best collectors' items
- Only 60 of these stamps have ever existed
- Fewer still in mint condition
- It's beautiful and from a desirable territory