Leeward Islands Collection Page Scans

The Leeward Islands King George VI stamps were printed from 1938 until about 1952. They were valid for use in the Colonies of Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Montserrat, and St. Kitts-Nevis. The set was printed using both the small Keyplates which were used initially by De La Rue during the Victorian era, and the larger sized Keyplates which originated with King Edward VII. It featured two components, the head plate which encompassed most of the surface area, and the duty plate which included the country and the value. This system allowed for an inexpensive production cost, and was used by many Colonies especially during the King George V reign.

The Leeward Islands set is very collectable due to the many variations that can be found, and the number of identifiable printings that evolved over the time the stamp was produced. The traits that can be used to determine the various stamps include the head die plate, the paper, and the color shades of the printings. Other than one issue from the large Keyplates, the perforation is the same for all the issues. Using a combination of these factors, it is possible to identify many of the specific printings for these issues.

The first step in sorting any set of stamps is to determine the details of the printings, so you know what to look for. There are a couple of available sources: "The Printings of King George VI Colonial Stamps" by W.J.W. Potter & Lt. Col. R.C.M. Shelton which was published by Stamp Collecting, Ltd. in 1952; and Frank Saunders' Study Paper 10 which was published by the King George VI Collectors Society in 1977. As you read these references, you will note that they agreed on many things - but not all of them. So you will have to make some judgment calls. In my case, I put the relevant details into an Excel spreadsheet and tried to tie them together to determine what was printed so I could try to find them. The result is attached for your review as a download. Please note these are my opinions, and are subject to misinterpretation.

The higher values were printed using the large Keyplate format. These issues were described in "King George VI Large Key Type Stamps of Bermuda, Leeward Islands, and Nyasaland" by Bob Dickgiesser and Eric Yendall. See this edition for more details on these printings.

Based on the spreadsheet that I created, stamp listings showing the various head dies, paper types, and colors were printed. This information was combined with the Commonwealth, Gibbons and Scott catalog numbers. You will see the results in the attached page scans. I printed them out and used Vario pages to hold the identification and the stamps as I sorted them.

So if this approach makes sense for you, start by identifying the three head plate dies used for the printings. These are noted as Die 1, Die 2, and Die 3. They were used for only two King George VI issues - Leeward Islands and Mauritius. In the case of the Leeward Islands, Die 1 was used for the initial printings in 1938. Die 3 was used for a few early printings, and the later printings. All of the others in between were Die 2. So if you can identify the dies, you have a pretty good starting point. I typically look at the area below the King's eye to determine the dies, but there are other characteristics. See the King George VI small keyplate dies web page for more details and large images of each die. One thing to note is that the dies are not always completely the same. So you will see some variation and some issues will appear to be either Die 1 or Die 3. In those cases I look for the brownish gum that appears on the early issues as compared to the whiter gum used in the later printings to make a determination between Die 1 and Die 3.

In addition to the head die differences, some of the stamps were printed on both chalk and ordinary (substitute) paper. Chalk paper was only used on the higher values, so all the lower value stamps are on ordinary paper. Although not really chalk, it was a coating that was applied to the stamps to prevent reuse and it also results in a better quality impression. Where chalk paper was used, it can be found on all three dies for some values. To determine chalk paper, look for a coating on the stamp. You can sometimes see it under a good lamp, or it will appear as a pencil mark if you lightly rub a piece of silver across the stamp (use the base outside the design). Another way to test is to use a high quality magnifier and look for bubbles which appear as dots in the design. This results from the coating. Look for the later color change printings of the lower values. They were all printed using Die 3, so they are a good reference for that factor.

The pages are from my collection, and are identified by the Commonwealth, Gibbons, and Scott numbers in that order. The page images were scanned in a larger size and at a higher resolution so you can more easily see the details used in viewing them. Feel free to select the page and let it download to your screen and save it to your hard drive for viewing. If you are using a PC, selecting the page will typically open it in Microsoft Photo Viewer (or whatever you are using as your default). From there you can enlarge the size for more close-up viewing. If you are using a phone - go find a PC or a Mac. The images are 1200 pixels wide and you will go mad trying to view them on your phone.

Please be patient if it takes a few minutes for each page to load.

Leeward Islands Collection Page Scans
Commonwealth # Stanley Gibbons # Scott # Description and Page Link
1-21 95-114b 103-115 Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 1
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 2
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 3
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 4
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 5
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 6
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 7
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 8
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 9
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 10
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 11
      Leeward Islands - 1938 Set - Page 12
Excel Spreadsheet combining information on the Leeward Islands printings.
This will not open the file, it will just download it so you can save it on your PC.
Leeward Islands Printings

This article was written to help you identify your stamps.
Please feel free to ask a question, or suggest a correction.

Comments or Questions feel free to write
Leeward Islands King George VI Stamps for sale
Index to KGVI Stamps Web Sites
Links to other British Colonial Stamp Sites