St, Kitts-Nevis
1938 Definitive Set

Updated - November, 2018
 

Identifying the St. Kitts-Nevis 1938 Set issues is very complicated. There were a number of printings, many of which are not catalog listed, so as you compare stamps you might find some variation that does not exactly fit the catalog listings. You will find variations in the perforations, color, paper type, and the gum. This is a set that requires multiple copies in order to properly study it. The set was in use from 1938 until it was replace with a new design in 1952.

There are three different formats for the stamps. The lower values (1/2d, 1d. 1-12d. and 2-1/2d) are all printed in a smaller format that varies primarily in color, but you might also notice that there is some difference in the paper and gum as you look at a number of them. The large format stamps were only used for the two high values (10/ and £1) which were only printed one time, so there is nothing to study there. The really interesting stamps are the middle values (2d, 3d, 6d, 1/, 2/6 and 5/). These are the stamps you will want to study, and most of the comments below apply to these stamps.

Two different perforations were used for the middle value stamps. The initial printing was perforated 13 x 11.75 using a comb perforator which punches holes in three sides of the stamps at once. Beginning in 1941, the stamps were perforated 14 using a line perforator which punches one line at a time. I start the identification process for these values by comparing the perforations first. I recommend that you use a gauge like the Stanley Gibbons Instanta Gauge to determine the perforation. It is much more reliable because it uses a continuum of lines rather than pre sized dots like some of the other gauges, so you get a more exact measurement rather than a guess.

Once you have determined the perforations, you need to determine whether the paper is chalk coated or substitute (no chalk). Chalk coating was used because it left a better impression. It is not really chalk, but that is the common name for the coating. Testing for chalk costing can be done using a piece of silver for the later printings. Drag it lightly over one of the margins and a pencil like line will appear. (The later chalk paper printings below will have these pencil like lines on them.) You can also rub your finger over the paper. Chalk paper will tend to feel slick whereas substitute paper will tend to drag. Another option is to look at the paper under a strong light or under magnification. The impression of the stamp on chalk paper is better than substitute paper. You might also notice that the coating will tend to be seen on chalk coated stamps from this Colony.

After you sort your stamps by perforation and into paper types, you can start looking at the gum. I compare gum by putting the stamp face down on black paper. The early printings tend to have a more off-white or yellowish colored gum, and the later printings tend to be on a brighter white paper. If you are lucky enough to find stamps from the 1941 printing, you should notice that the gum is off-white and tends to have horizontal ridges in it making it look almost like lines. The 1941 printings were on chalk paper, but the silver test does not work as well on these issues, so use the gum to confirm this printing.

After you have observed the other factors, look at the color of the stamps. Many collectors have trouble identifying colors. I find it helps to have a number of stamps to sort rather than just one or two. I place all of the same value stamps on black and then white paper and look at them under a strong light. The color differences tend to stand out when viewed this way. Then it becomes a matter of deciding if a stamp is a darker or paler in comparison to the other stamps in the group you are sorting. When you have isolated the color differences, look at your catalogue reference to see what is listed. Remember there were multiple printings of this set, so there should be some variation in many of the values. You can use the stamps shown below as a reference of what might be found.

Unlike modern stamps which are issued in the millions, definitive sets from this time period were issued very conservatively. Luckily we have the quantities printed from the Crown Agents reports which was included in "A Study of the King George VI Stamps of St. Kitts-Nevis 1938-1950" by Peter L. Baldwin which was published by Murray Payne in 1997. Not counting the 10/ and £1 values which are excluded from the book, 78,900 5/ stamps were printed in total. The 1941 printing is the rarest with only 6,300 stamps produced all of which were sent to the Colony. Please refer to Peter Baldwin's publication if you want more information on these issues.

The printing dates used below are from Peter Baldwin's monograph mentioned above. Some catalog values might actually include as many as five printings. So it can be difficult to correlate the printings listed with each of the catalog numbers. Where a single catalog value represents multiple printings, all of the year dates will be shown. Please be aware that it is virtually impossible to correctly assign every printing to the lower value catalog numbers completely accurately. For my purposes, the 1938 lower value printings tend to be on paper with a yellowish gum, and the later ones are more white or off-white. So I assign the dates accordingly.

The catalog numbers and descriptions are from the 2008 Commonwealth King George VI Postage Stamp Catalogue (CW) published by Murray Payne. The 2013 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue (SG) and the 2011 Scott catalog (ST) are included for cross reference purposes. You can access the publishers using the "Links to British Colonial Stamp Sites" at the bottom of this page. If you have both the Commonwealth and Gibbons Catalogues, you will notice that the dates don't match for some of the issues. That is because Gibbons is indicating the earliest usage for their dates while Commonwealth is indicating the despatch date that the stamps were sent to the Colony.

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. Please be patient if it takes a few minutes for this page to load. Although the two high values were issued first, the stamps are shown in value order below.

CW 1 - SG 68 - ST 79
1/2d Green
1938 Printing
CW 1a - SG 68 - ST 79
1/2d Deep Dull Green
1941, 1943, 1944, 1947 Printings
CW 1b - SG 68a - ST 79
1/2d Dull Blue-Green
1949 Printing
     
CW 2 - SG 69 - ST 80
1d Red
1938, 1939, 1940 Printings
CW 2a - SG 69a - ST 80
1d Deep Rose-Red
1943, 1945, 1947 Printings
CW 2b - SG 69a - ST 80
1d Rose-Red
1941, 1942, 1944 Printings
     
CW 2c - SG 69b - ST 80
1d Rose-Pink
1947 Printing
CW 2d - SG 69c - ST 80
1d Dull Rose-Red
1949 Printing
CW 3 - SG 70 - ST 81
1-1/2d Orange
1938 Printing
     
CW 3a - SG 70 - ST 81
1-1/2d Dull Orange
1940, 1943, 1946, 1949, 1950 Printings
CW 3b - SG 70 - ST 81
1-1/2d Pale Yellow-Orange
1944, 1947 Printings
CW 4 - SG 71 - ST 82a
2d Scarlet & Grey
Perf 13 x 11.75
Substitute Paper
1938 Printing
     
CW 4a - SG 71a - ST 82a
2d Scarlet & Slate
Perf 13 x 11.75
Chalk Paper
1940 Printing
CW 11 - SG 71b - ST 82
2d Scarlet & Grey
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1941, 1943, 1944, 1948 Printings
CW 11a - SG 71ba - ST 82
2d Scarlet & Deep Grey
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1942 Printing
     
CW 11b - SG 71c - ST 82
2d Scarlet & Grey
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1949 Printing
CW 5 - SG 72 - ST 83
2-1/2d Pale Ultramarine
1938 Printing

CW 5a - SG 72a - ST 83
2-1/2d Ultramarine

1943, 1947, 1950, 1951 Printings

     
CW 5b - SG 72a - ST 83
2-1/2d Bright Blue
1944, 1946, 1947,
CW 6 - SG 73 - ST 84a
3d Dull Lilac & Dull Red
Perf 13 x 11.75
Substitute Paper
1938 Printing
CW 6a - SG 73a - ST 84a
3d Pale Dull Claret & Dull Red
Perf 13 x 11.75
Chalk Paper
1940 Printing
     
CW 12 - SG 73b - ST 84
3d Dull Mauve & Scarlet
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1941 Printing
CW 12a - SG 73d - ST 84
3d Reddish-Lilac & Scarlet
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1943 Printing
CW 12b - SG 73c - ST 84
3d Dull Reddish-Lilac & Scarlet
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1945 Printing
     
CW 12c - SG 73e - ST 84
3d Deep Violet & Scarlet
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1946 Printing
CW 12d - SG 73f - ST 84
3d Reddish-Lilac & Red
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1947 Printing
CW 12e - SG 73g - ST 84
3d Pale Dull Rose-Lilac & Red
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1948 Printing
     
CW 12f - SG 73g - ST 84
3d Dull Mauve & Vermilion-Red
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1950 Printing
CW 7 - SG 74 - ST 85a
6d Dull Green & Deep Purple
Perf 13 x 11.75
Substitute Paper
1938 Printing
CW 13 - SG 74b - ST 85
6d Dull Green & Dull Claret
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1941 Printing
     
CW 13a - SG 74c - ST 85
6d Dull Green & Deep Reddish-Purple
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1941 Printing
CW 13b - SG 74c - ST 85
6d Pale Dull Green & Red-Purple
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1943, 1944, 1945, 1947 Printings
CW 13c - SG 74c - ST 85
6d Pale Blue-Green & Pale Reddish-Purple
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1947 Printing
     
CW 13d - SG 74d - ST 85
6d Pale Dull Green & Reddish-Purple
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1948, 1950 Printings
CW 8 - SG 75 - ST 86a
1/ Greyish-Black & Green
Perf 13 x 11.75
Substitute Paper
1938 Printing
CW 14 - SG 75b - ST 86
1/ Black & Green
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1943, 1944, 1945 Printings
     
CW 14a - SG 75c - ST 86
1/ Black & Green
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1949 Printing
CW 9 - SG 76 - ST 87a
2/6 Greyish-Black & Red
Perf 13 x 11.75
Substitute Paper
1938 Printing
CW 15 - SG 76a - ST 87
2/6 Black & Scarlet
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1941 Printing
     
CW 15a - SG 76ab - ST 87
2/6 Black & Scarlet
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1943, 1945 Printings
CW 15b - SG 76a - ST 87
2/6 Black & Scarlet-Vermilion
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1949 Printing
CW 10 - SG 77 - ST 88a
5/ Dull Green & Red
Perf 13 x 11.75
Substitute Paper
1938 Printing
     
CW 16 - SG 77a - ST 88
5/ Greyish-Green & Deep Rose-Red
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1941 Printing
CW 16a - SG 77b - ST 88
5/ Dull Blue-Green & Scarlet
Perf 14
Substitute Paper
1943, 1944, 1945 Printings
CW 16b - SG 77c - ST 88
5/ Dull Green & Vermilion
Perf 14
Chalk Paper
1950 Printing
     
CW 17 - SG 77e - ST 89
10/ Black & Deep Blue
1948 Printing
CW 18 - SG 77f - ST 90
£1 Black & Chocolate-Brown
1948 Printing
       

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
 
St. Kitts-Nevis Stamps for sale based on the identification from this article.
       
Index to KGVI Stamp Description Web Sites
       
Links to British Colonial Stamp Sites