Northern Rhodesia – In Search of the “Tick Bird”

18/04/2013     The Rhodesias

The 1938 King George VI Definitive series, printed by Waterlow, is one of the most attractive Colonial designs of the period, featuring a giraffe and two elephants. There is a prominent plate flaw, consisting of a diagonal line above the left small Elephant’s head resembling an Egret bird, that has over the years become known as the “Tick Bird” flaw.

The Cattle Egret, a type of Heron also known as the elephant bird, is often seen riding the backs of the majestic elephants in central Africa, and feeds off the passenger flies and ticks, hence the name of this stamp variety.

It is only found on the 1½d value, plate 1 originally printed in carmine (almost certainly becoming damaged during the 2nd printing of September 1938, with the earliest known used example being February 1939), then in January 1941 in yellow brown, at position row 7/1, and it was corrected on the plate 2 printings from 1942.

The variety on the first printing in carmine is very scarce indeed, and in mint condition - of which very few are known, it catalogues at £6500! but in saying that, others must be out there waiting to be discovered, perhaps as part of a “new issues” set put in an album, and long forgotten about.


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