Gutter Pairs, Anyone?

5/05/2012     General

Stamp wise, Malta had a very slow start. Few countries can boast a record like it. From the first stamp in 1860, they didn't change value, basic colour or design for 25 years!

No penny, no tuppence, just a ½d yellow for inland postage. I don't know if there were many collectors on the Island at the time, but how they must have rejoiced at the news of a new set!

So in 1884, following a transfer of power to local Government officials, a new set of stamps was issued. There were six different values from ½d to 1s, and were valid for postage from 1 Jan 1885.

Produced by De La Rue & Co., the ½d, 1d and 2½d values were supplied in sheets of 240, being four panes of 60 stamps separated by blank interpanneau margins (or 'gutters'). Although the accepted method was to supply Post Offices with just two panes, having separated the larger sheet by cutting along one of the dividing gutters; it was not known if this was done horizontally or vertically, as only one intact gutter pair has survived (a vertical mint pair of the 1d value).

NEW DISCOVERY! Lot 7373 in our next sale is a unique used horizontal 'gutter' pair of the 1d stamp. It is exceptionally rare for any Victorian interpanneau pair to survive in used condition and as we can see, used or not, it is the second only such pair known from the 1885 Victorian 'Heads' issue, and it proves that postal officials split the De La Rue sheets both horizontally & vertically. Highly unusual and eye-catching!

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