Identifying King George VI Stamps
Nyasaland 10/ Issues


 CW 17 / SG 142
 CW 17a / SG 142a

There are two different versions of the 10/ King George VI Nyasaland Issues. They are listed in the Commonwealth Catalogue as CW 17 and 17a, and by the Stanley Gibbons Catalogue as SG 142 and 142a. These two stamps are shown above. This page is intended to help you identify these stamps.

According to Bob Dickgiesser and Eric Yendall in "King George VI Large Key Type Stamps of Bermuda, Leeward Islands, Nyasaland"; CW 17 was printed in November, 1937 and CW 17a was reprinted in January, 1938. There is a difference of opinion on this issue. Apparently, there is no record of a reprint. So it is possible that these stamps were printed at the same time. Bob's book indicates that there were 25,440 copies of CW 17 printed, and only 4,560 copies of CW 17a; so this is legitimately a rare stamp.

Pictured above, CW 17 and CW 17a differ in several areas. The most noticeable difference is the blue-green head color of CW 17a compared to CW 17. I have to warn you, the color is a little off in this scan. Expect to see a more bluish-green color to the head plate of CW 17a compared to the deep green head plate of CW 17. You might also note that CW 17 has a much brighter red frame color than the brownish-red frame of CW 17a.

Probably the most subtle difference is the paper used for CW 17a. Under close inspection, you should notice tiny holes which appear as dots in the paper. It almost looks like little bubbles formed when the paper was made and rose to the surface. These bubbles do not appear on CW 17.

I hope this short overview helps you identify this valuable stamp. Please feel free to use the email button below to add comments, or ask questions. It is the purpose of this article to invite collaboration from readers. Any additional information will be added to this description. If you have a relevant web site about this stamp, a link may be added to this page to support access to the site.

Additional Reader's comments:

Mark Warren on October 21, 2001

I've been studying the Nyasaland KGVI 10/, SG 142 and 142a, and have come to the following conclusions, which I submit for your feedback:

The headplate color varies within both printings. There are darker head shades of SG142a which come closer to SG142 than one might like, making this a less than reliable indicator. However, the paper of SG142a is always a darker green than the pale emerald of SG142. The SG142a paper also seems to have black specks in it, resembling dirt, which SG142 does not.

Personally, I agree with Bob Dickgiesser that SG142a was a replacement printing done shortly after the end of the run due to spoilage of a number of sheets of SG142. (Dickgiesser's King George VI Large Key Type Stamps of Bermuda, Leeward Islands and Nyasaland (Highly recommended to anyone serious about these issues), states at page 116 that "...because of excessive waste during the initial printing, a reprint was immediately ordered...". Typically De La Rue did not record replacement printings as they were not the subject of a new requisition, but merely the fulfillment of the previous one, even though printed with a different paper and a new batch of ink for both head plate and frame.

By the way, I suspect that the same situation applies to the one pound. I have a copy on a darker paper with a reddish lilac ANILINE head shade. I suspect that the reports about this stamp which have been surfacing for so many years should not be casually dismissed by stating that there was only one printing. It may have been another replacement batch like the 10 shilling.

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