Identifying the Bermuda 5/
King George VI Stamps

Special thanks to Barry Moerke and Eric Yendall for their help in preparing this site.

Identifying the Bermuda 5/ King George VI stamps is a matter of comparing these components:

1. Perforation - there are three options - Perf 13 and 14 which are comb perfs, and Perf 14.25 which is a line perf. You will need a perf gauge that is capable of measuring a complete perforation range (it should be a series of lines) rather than just showing dots.Comb perfs are created by perforating row and all the columns at once. Line perfs are done one at a time. The result tends to show at the corners. The comb perf stamps will have smoother corners, and the line perf stamps will have some ragged corners.
2. Paper Coating - Chalk or Ordinary (called Substitute). A piece of silver will produce a pencil like line when dragged lightly over the paper. Use a lower corner for this test. Among the chalk paper stamps, there is also a factor of pitting. This is best seen with a 10x magnifying glass (or better). You will notice what appear to be small black dots (actually bubbles). The degree of pitting can help determine some of these issues.
3. Ultraviolet Light - a UV light is used to test some issues.
4. Color - the variation in the center (head) color and frame colors helps determine some of the printings. Please be aware that there is a range to the colors on individual issues, so don't expect them to match exactly. Also, a computer monitor is not considered an accurate method of reproduction. So you may not see the colors accurately. I generally use a piece of black paper under two spotlights to compare my colors. The black seems to help most colors stand out better.

Please see our StampID page for additional details on using some of the tools described above.

The dispatch dates and color descriptions are per "The King George VI Large Key Type Revenue and Postage High Value Stamps 1937 - 1953" by Eric Yendall. This is a must for any Bermuda Keyplate Collectors. See your dealer for a copy.

The catalog numbers are from the 2008 versions of the Commonwealth (CW) Catalogue, and the Stanley Gibbons (SG) Catalogue. Please be aware that Gibbons does not list all the dispatches, so we have to make some debatable conclusions when assigning their numbers to some of these printings.

November 1937
CW 13, SG 118
Deep Green & Red
Yellow Chalk Paper
Comb Perf 14 x 13.75
January, 1939
CW 13AA, SG 118A
Pale Green & Red
Yellow Chalk Paper
Comb Perf 14 x 13.75
Sort by Perf 14 and chalk paper first. This one will have a deep green head color. Sort by Perf 14 and chalk paper first. This one will have a pale green head color.
May, 1941
CW 20, SG 118B
Dark Green & Red
Yellow Chalk Paper
Line Perf 14.25
November, 1941
CW 13AB, SG 118C
Olive Green & Carmine
Pale Yellow Substitute Paper
Comb Perf 14 x 13.75
This is the only line perforated 5/ issue. Notice the head color is similar to the 11/1937 printing. Sort by Perf 14 and substitute paper first. Then use a UV light. This issue and the 1943 issue will appear to have a Bright Red frame color. The head color of this printing is an olive-green. Notice how much deeper it is than the 1943 printing.
March, 1943
CW 13A, SG 118D
Pale Green & Carmine-Red
Pale Yellow Substitute Paper
Comb Perf 14 x 13.75
March, 1944
CW 13B, SG 118E
Dull Green & Red
Pale Yellow Substitute Paper
Comb Perf 14 x 13.75
Sort by Perf 14 and substitute paper first. Then use a UV light. This issue and the 1941 issue will appear to have a Bright Red frame color. The paler color head plate will be found on this printing. Sort by Perf 14 and substitute paper first. Then use a UV light. This issue and the 1946 and 1948 issues will appear to have a Lake (Dark Purplish-Red) frame color. The darker color head and frame plate will be found on this printing.
December, 1946
CW 13B, SG 118E
Yellow-Green & Pale Red
Pale Yellow Substitute Paper
Comb Perf 14 x 13.75
June, 1948
CW 13C, SG 118E
Bright Yellow-Green & Red
Pale Yellow Substitute Paper
Comb Perf 14 x 13.75
Sort by Perf 14 and substitute paper first. Then use a UV light. This issue and the 1944 issues will appear to have a Lake (Dark Purplish-Red) frame color. The paler color head and frame plate will tend to be found on this printing. Sort by Perf 14 and substitute paper first. Then use a UV light. This issue will appear to have a dull red frame color. The brighter color head and frame plate will tend to be found on this printing.
December, 1949
CW 23, SG 118F
Green & Carmine-Red
Yellow Substitute Paper
Comb Perf 13.25 x 13
August, 1950
CW 23A, SG 118G
Deep Green & Bright Red
Yellow Chalk Paper
Comb Perf 13.25 x 13
Sort by Perf 13 and substitute paper. Sort by Perf 13 and chalk paper first. This one will have a deep green head color.
   
  August, 1952
CW 23B, SG 118G
Pale Green & Pale Red
Yellow Chalk Paper
Comb Perf 13.25 x 13
 
  Sort by Perf 13 and chalk paper first. This one will have a paler green head color.  

Suggested steps in sorting these stamps. We assume you have a number of copies to compare, or this can be very difficult.

1. Measure the perforations. Separate into the Perf 13, 14, and if you are lucky the line perf issues.
2. Among the Perf 14 issues:
a. Check for chalk or substitute paper. Among the Perf 14 issues, the chalk paper issues will tend to have yellowish to brownish gum, the substitute paper issues will tend to have clear gum.
b. Assuming you have eliminated the Line Perf, the remaining two chalk paper issues can easily be sorted by comparing the head color. The first printing is a dark green compared to the light green of the second printing.
c. Regarding the substitute paper issues, the next step is to use a UV lamp. The red frame will either be bright red, a lake color (kind of a purplish-red), or a dull red.
d. The red frames under UV should be sorted by comparing the head color. The olive-green printing is much deeper than the pale green of the 1943. If you can not decide, statistically the 1943 printing is very common compared to the 1941 printing. So the odds are that you have the 1943 printing.
e. The lake frames under UV are also sorted by the head color. The 1944 printing is deeper than the 1946 printing.
f. The dull red frame under UV is the 1948 printing.
3. Among the Perf 13 issues:
a. Check for chalk or substitute paper. All typically have clear gum.
b. The substitute paper issues is the 1949 printing.
c. Among the two chalk paper issues, the deep green head color should be the 1950 printing and the pale one should be the 1952 printing.

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