Identifying King George VI Stamps
Bermuda 12/6 First Three Printings

by Wilson Wong

1937 Printing
SG 120

July 1938 Printing
SG 120a (see Comments below)

August 1938 Printing
SG 120b
Generally deeper to very deep grey centre but with faintly defined lines on the King's forehead. Frame brownish to deep brownish orange. Gum lightly toned to brown. I did not examine the surface under magnifying glass, but I presume the numerous minute bubbles are present in the great majority if not all cases. This is certainly what I found in the past. Appearance very similar to the 1st, with the lines on the King's forehead better defined. The colour is brighter and the paper looks whiter. Gum clear or at most showing faint streaks of yellow, which is unlike any other printings up to 1940. There are no bubbles on the surface. Centre dull grey with well defined King's forehead as in all later printings. Frame varies from orange-yellow to pale brownish orange. It in fact looks quite different from 4th and 5th, especially in the "matt" look of the centre. Some deep centres look almost black. Gum lightly toned to brown. No bubbles on surface.
Perhaps I should add a bit on the SG listing. The 1st printing should be either SG120 or120a, depending on the depth of the colour, especially for the centre (this excludes the very light shades but I will not go into that). I suppose the same goes for the 2nd, but I stress this is a far scarcer stamp than the 1st. In fact I rate it on a par with the 1941 Nov 5/- in mint condition, if not rarer. In all my years of collecting, I have only seen about 10 mint singles ( 2 with plate plug - one originally in my collection and one still with Eric Yendall, I believe ), 3 mint blocks of 4 and 2 used singles. It would be an absolute steal to buy one as SG120a!

The 1st and 2nd can readily be separated by the gum. Eric was a bit skeptical about this as he said he had not seen enough of the clear gum examples to be absolutely sure, though he does not rule it out. I guess there will continue to be debate simply because the clear gum stamp is so rare that few people can get hold of one, if not for any other reason.

Any perf 14 printings from the 3rd onwards should generally be SG120b, except the lemon and possibly the 1948. Here though, I should also say that the 3rd is much scarcer than the 4th and 5th, which are common.

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