[This article was first published in The British Library Philatelic Collections Newsletter, number 3 Spring 1998.]
As an ardent researcher and collector of King George VI large format ‘Nyasa’ type Keyplates for over twenty years, I was delighted (and relieved!) when the Crown Agents Philatelic and Security Printing Archive was transferred to the care of the British Library Philatelic Collections from the 1960s. Coincidentally, in the same year, a fellow researcher and widely acknowledged Keyplate expert, Eric P Yendall, first published the existence of a Crown Agents requisition for a Nyasaland King George VI £10 stamp inscribed Revenue/Revenue.
At the time, like many other Keyplaters, I was uncertain as to whether an issue of such an unusually high valued King George VI stamp actually took place, and it was not until 1988, when a fiscally used example was discovered in the USA, that I delved deeper into the Crown Agents records.
I located the requisition – No. 7065/1, dated 21st September 1938 – in which it called for 6000 £10 Nyasaland Revenue Stamps, to be printed in Colour Purple and Blue on white paper, in design similar to King George V issue, but with effigy of H.M. King George VI and the word ‘Revenue’ to appear on the left side of the King’s Head in place of ‘Postage’.
The Crown Agents Plate Issue Book confirmed that the printing plates were issued to De La Rue on 26th October 1938 and returned on 11 th November 1938, whilst most significantly the Crown Agents Requisition Book revealed that 6300 stamps (105 sheets of 60) were despatched to the Colony on the 4th November 1938. No UPU Specimens were supplied.
Much additional historical information was also noted and interested readers are therefore strongly recommended to inspect the Crown Agents Philatelic and security Printing Archive more fully. In addition an example of the issued stamp is available for inspection in the Crown Agents Reference Collection, as well as the Foreign Commonwealth Office Collection (transferred to the British Library in 1993).
This undoubtedly handsome stamp has rapidly become one of my favourite Keyplates, not only because of its apparent rarity (despite 6300 examples having originally been issued), but also because of the intriguing question as to why the previous policy of issuing Nyasaland £10 values (King Edward VII and King George V) inscribed ‘Postage/Revenue’ was not continued for the King George VI reign? Also to be resolved is the whereabouts of the other 6299 issued stamps!
Denis Littlewort was Chairman of the King George VI Collectors Society 1992- 1996