The Vincent Graves Greene Foundation (VGGF) has confirmed that, after exhaustive research, it has verified the existence of a third two-cent Large Queen on laid paper, the rarest of Canadian stamps. The confirmation took the form of an announcement on the service’s website, with an image of the stamp, and a copy of the foundation’s 10-page technical report on the stamp. “The submitted two-cent Large Queen stamp with the Hamilton, March 16, 1870 date stamp is genuinely printed on horizontal laid paper which is about .0036 inches thick. It has two diagonal creases and has an internal tear on the right side.” The report confirms that the stamp was purchased in early 2013 from a sale circuit book, and submitted to the VGGF’s expert committee in March 2013.
The circuit book asked a modest price, and did not include any mention of paper type. “It was not an obvious fake,” the report stated. “Accordingly considerable analysis has been undertaken to determine if it is genuine.” With the committee’s goal to be as thorough as possible, the study even included the VGGF’s newest device, a Foster+Freeman VSC6000 document analyzer. “Given the potential significance of the item, we decided to do as much analysis as necessary and to be sure we could defend analytically why it was determined to be either genuine for fake,” the report stated. The committee sought out experts on the Large Queen issue, specifically Richard Gratton, Glenn Archer and Lawrence Pinkney.
A total of 12 aspects of the stamp were examined. The paper was examined to ensure that it was a laid paper made using the process of that time, and that it was of the correct thickness and colour. The stamp was also soaked in water a number of times. The soaking test is done to see if the stamp reacts to water in the same manner as genuine laid paper, including the way it curls. Rebacked stamps, made by thinning a genuine stamp and attaching it to thinned blank laid paper, either curls differently or separates when soaked. A recognized one-cent Large Queen on laid paper was used as a control to evaluate the stamp. “The submitted two-cent stamp displayed no properties of a rebacked stamp when placed in water,” the report stated. “Obviously it did not separate from any rebacking. Further it was soaked several times. It never curled in an unusual manner. It did not reject water in any area of the stamp. It dried in the same consistent manner as the genuine one-cent laid paper copy each time it was soaked.” The stamp is used, with a nicely centred blue Hamilton, March 16, 1870 date stamp. The report suggests that the cancel was attractive and late enough to raise questions concerning its validity.
However, 12 Hamilton two-cent Large Queen date stamps are known for the 1868-71 time period. As well, one of the two other known two-cent Large Queens on laid paper has a Hamilton cancel, while the other has a “REGISTERED” hand stamp in blue, a colour known to have been used in Hamilton at that time. “Thus it appears possible that the two-cent laid paper copies came from the same sheet of stamps and they were used at Hamilton in March 1870,” the report concludes. The committee further determined that there is no known one- or two-cent Large Queen paper that could be used to produce a credible fake. The submitted stamp was compared with photographs of the two known existing laid paper copies, but not directly compared with the stamps themselves.
“From the outset of our analysis it was considered help if we could get to see one or both of the existing copies,” the report stated. “However, as our analysis of the submitted two-cent stamp progressed through a thorough analysis of all Large Queen paper, printing characteristics, features of laid paper, and a forensic type of analysis which sought to eliminate what the submitted copy could otherwise have been, it was apparent that an examination of one or both existing two-cent laid paper copies was not critical. “The purpose of the expertization of the submitted copy was to determine if it was genuinely printed on laid paper. This has been successfully accomplished in our opinion.”