Definitive Issues from the 1938 Set

Updated - December, 2018
Thanks to Barry Moerke for his help with this article.

The King George VI definitive set from Bahamas features a number of color shades. There are also two different paper types. Like many King George VI sets, there are quite a few more printings than the assigned catalog numbers. The stamps were produced during the time period of 1938 until 1953. The set was replaced with the QEII Set in 1954. Although the Tercentenary of Eleutheran Settlement set was issued in 1948, some values continued to be printed until 1953. There are several extremely rare stamps that resulted from the use of the Post Office stock for the 1942 Landfall of Columbus 450th overprint anniversary set. So it is worthwhile to accurately sort the stamps from this set.

This set includes a number of major and minor print flaws, so there is a lot to look for if you buy a set of these stamps to study. See Richard Lockyer's article from Gibbons Stamp Monthly for more details on these aspects of the Hong Kong set. You can access a complete list of Richard's articles from this KGVI Stamps hosted site.

The higher values 1/, 5/ and £1 were printed on both chalk and substitute paper (no chalk coating is called substitute). So you will need to check for this factor on these stamps. Chalk paper was used to provide a better impression and to help against cleaning cancellations from higher value stamps for reuse. It is actually a coating that is applied to the paper prior to printing. There are several tests for chalk paper. One option is to use a silver coin which will draw a pencil-like line when rubbed gently against chalk paper. I do this in the white border. If you don't want to make a line, try looking for a shiny coating on the paper when viewed under a good light source. You can also rub your finger across the face of the stamp. It will slide easily over the chalk coated paper, and will feel like it is catching against the ordinary paper. Another test is the quality of the impression. The chalk treatment was used to insure a better quality printing. For the record, the term chalk is not scientifically accurate, but it is the term that has been used in the catalogs.

In addition to chalk and substitute paper, you will also find reference to thin striated paper which was used for the 1/ and 5/ issues (CW 15a and CW 16a) that were overprinted for the Landfall set. These two stamps are very scarce because most were overprinted. 60,840 1/ stamps and 12,600 5/ stamps were printed, but there is no record of how many were overprinted so it is currently impossible to determine the quantity that still exist. Thin Striated paper shows a horizontal ribbing on the surface. It is visible when held at an angle to the light. You can typically see the lines across the back of the stamp when placed against black paper and viewed under a strong lamp. The paper was used for several Colonies including a number of the Malay States during the early 1940's. The best example that you can find for this paper is the Leeward Islands 5/ (CW 11b, SG 112b). This stamp is pretty common and easily identified so it makes a good resource if you are trying to learn how to identify the Thin Striated Paper.

As you study the 1/, 5/ and £1 issues, you will note that there are distinct traits for the paper and gum of the stamps during various time periods. These periods include: 1938-1940, 1941-1942, 1942-1946 and 1948-1953. Understanding these traits can help you identify your stamps. See the blow up examples of the various 1/ printings to see the differences.

CW 15 - 1938-1940 Printings
Chalk Paper with Brownish or Yellowish Gum
CW 15a - 1941-1942 Printings
Thin Striated Paper with Clear Gum
CW 15b - 1942-1946 Printings
Substitute Paper with Clear Gum
CW 15d - 1948-1953 Printings
Chalk Paper with White Gum

Once you have checked the paper type, start comparing the colors of the various values. You probably need a few copies of the stamps to accurately sort the surface and paper colors. I typically compare them against both white and black paper. Look for differences that are not too subtle. There is always variation during this time period, but typically the color changes result from mixing new ink for a second printing. They did not have computer color analysis during this time period, so things are just not exact, compared to today's technology.

As you compare colors, be aware that there were a number of printings that are generalized in the catalogues. One or two catalog listings might actually comprise as many as thirteen printings, so expect to see some subtle variations beyond the catalog listings. I am basing this statement on the color descriptions and print dates listed in the book "Bahamas Stamps and Postal Stationery to 1970" edited by Peter Fernbank and published by The Royal Philatelic Society and the British West Indies Study Circle. Please consult this publication if you want more details on the stamps from this set.

The catalog numbers shown below are from the 2008 Commonwealth King George VI Postage Stamp Catalogue (CW), 2013 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue (SG) and the 2011 Scott catalog (ST). You can access any of the publication web sites from my Links to British Colonial Stamp Sites.

The images were saved in a larger size and at a higher resolution so you can more easily see the details used in sorting them. Each of the stamp shown below has the Commonwealth description including the paper type for the higher values. Please be patient if it takes a few minutes for this page to load. Technically speaking, the 2/ and 3/ issues were also part of this set, but they are covered under their own separate pages because they were a continuation of stamps from the early 1930's. See the index of articles for links to these pages.

CW 1 - SG 149 - ST 100
1/2d Green
CW 1a - SG 149c - ST 100
1/2d Blue-Green
CW 1b - SG 149d - ST 100
1/2d Deep Green
CW 2 - SG 149e - ST 154
1/2d Claret
CW 2a - SG 149e - ST 154
1/2d Deep Claret
CW 3 - SG 150 - ST 101
1d Rose-Carmine
CW 4 - SG 150a - ST 101A
1d Grey
CW 4a - SG 150ab - ST 101A
1d Pearl-Grey
CW 5 - SG 151 - ST 102
1-1/2d Red-Brown
CW 5a - SG 151 - ST 102
1-1/2d Deep Red-Brown
CW 5b - SG 151a - ST 102
1-1/2d Very Pale Red-Brown
CW 6 - SG 152 - ST 103
2d Pale Grey
CW 7 - SG 152b - ST 103B
2d Dark Scarlet
CW 7b - SG 152b - ST 103B
2d Rose-Red
CW 7c - SG 152bc - ST 103B
2d Dull Carmine
CW 8 - SG 152c - ST 155
2d Yellow-Green
CW 8a - SG 152c - ST 155
2d Green &
CW 9 - SG 153 - ST 104
2-1/2d Blue
CW 10 - SG 153a - ST 104A
2-1/2d Dull Violet
CW 10a - SG 153a - ST 104A
2-1/2d Violet
CW 11 - SG 154 - ST 105
3d Pale Violet
CW 12 - SG 154a - ST 105A
3d Blue
CW 12b - SG 154ab - ST 105A
3d Bright Blue
CW 13 - SG 154b - ST 156
3d Rose-Carmine
CW 18 - SG 158 - ST 106
4d Light Blue & Orange-Red
CW 19 - SG 159 - ST 107
6d Olive-Green & Light Blue
CW 20 - SG 160 - ST 108
8d Ultramarine & Red
CW 14 - SG 154c - ST 109
10d Orange
CW 14a - SG 154c - ST 109
10d Orange-Yellow
CW 15 - SG 155 - ST 110
1/ Black &
Chalk Paper
CW 15a - SG 155a - ST 110
1/ Grey &
Thin Striated Paper
CW 15b - SG 166b - ST 110
1/ Black &
Substitute Paper
CW 15c - SG 155c - ST 110
1/ Grey &
Substitute Paper
CW 15d - SG 155d - ST 110
1/ Dull Grey &
Deep Crimson
Chalk Paper
CW 16 - SG 156 - ST 112a
5/ Pale Lilac &
Chalk Paper
CW 16a - SG 156a - ST 112
5/ Lilac &
Thin Striated Paper
CW 16b - SG 156b - ST 112
5/ Purple-Lilac &
Substitute Paper
CW 16c - SG 156c - ST 112
5/ Brown-Mauve &
Deep Blue
Substitute Paper
CW 16d - SG 156d - ST 112
5/ Deep Purple &
Deep Blue
Chalk Paper
CW 16e - SG 156e - ST 112
5/ Red-Purple &
Bright Blue
Chalk Paper
CW 17 - SG 157 - ST 113
£1 Green &
Chalk Paper
  CW 17a - SG 157a - ST 113
£1 Blue-Green &
Substitute Paper
CW 17b - SG 157b - ST 113
£1 Dull Green &
Substitute Paper

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

Comments or Questions feel free to write
KGVI Bahamas Stamps for sale based on the identification from this article.
Index to KGVI Stamp Description Web Sites
Links to other British Colonial Stamp Sites