One Anna Specifics - Identification and Plating 

The lithograph One Anna value commenced printing from 26th July 1854 (July 1854 inscribed in the sheet margin) until 11th August. The supposed actual date of issue was the 1st October 1854. ‘The survey of India Calcutta delivered 2.58 million stamps printed from Die I Stones A & B on the 11th August 1854. A further 5.27 million stamps from both Die I & II were supplied on the 2nd November 1854. Records indicate Die III printings were 1.52 million in number, and delivered between 3rd July to 3rd November 1855. The total number of One Anna lithographs printed on all three dies being 11.37 million, considerably less than the 37.75 million Half Anna total printed. 

The key original publication on this value was, ‘The One Anna & Two Anna Postage Stamps of India 1854- 1855 Dawson L.E., 1948 [Reprinted 1997]. In that work. Dawson felt that to properly understand the significance of flaws on all lithographic issues, including touches up, and retouches, it was essential to obtain at least a grasp of the printing process practiced during the period. For those whom wish to exclusively start plating the material at a practical level and nothing else, such familiarity is only required to a certain degree. When consulting plating diagrams and descriptions tables, it is of some help to know how to interpret the information, or as Dawson puts it, ‘to understand the significance of those flaws’. 

Even for experts, it can sometimes be difficult to discern between those Parent Stone flaws diligently recorded for the plating task, and the potentially numerous unrecorded sub-stones also leaving additional flaws on every stamp. Plating on the E stone is a good example of this inherent problem. Another task is differentiation between the Parent Stones and probable touch-ups or retouches – additional marks added at various levels of each stage from Die, transfer, to parent stones then sub-stones. To have some comprehension about progression of wear in lithography, and how it effects certain parts of the design on each die or stone, is also useful from an early stage to gain further experience recognising how a Die or stone might be effected or changed over time, usually from continuous use. When all such nuances are taken into account, things can seem complex from the outset. 

From a purely practical viewpoint however, just to get the job done of plating your lithograph stamps, all of the above elements are not absolutely necessary. At a more straightforward level to stay focussed upon using the downloads in this guide, and recognising the die and sheet position on each parent stone is sufficient. Some interpretation and understanding of these other inherent aspects mentioned, can be gradually acquired in the background by hard won experience. To become familiar with all the many nuances and vagaries of the actual lithographic printing process, will simply make the plating task seem initially more difficult to comprehend. 

There are two distinct levels of study and application in respect to the early Indian lithographs, and more specifically in the case of the One Anna. One is a pragmatic approach, utilising any published research available to identify die and stone, and then establish a sheet position based on the parent stone sheet flaws – known as plating. The other approach is more the domain of very experienced philatelists, whom take into account every facet of the subject, do original research to add to the field, and go beyond the time consuming task of sheet reconstructions. On the One Anna value, for a comprehensive up-to-date study on every aspect of lithographic printing process, please study the very recent publication, ‘Ikanni Tales: A Study of the One Anna Lithographed Label of 1854-55 – G. Rohatgi, 2019’. 

An important factor to understand is that each lithograph stamp is entirely unique, and this has been well recognised by notable past philatelists. Rohatgi more than ever before has emphasised and elaborated upon this fact, owing to the miniscule characteristics found on every sheet instance. He says, ‘we may state that the plating stalwarts of the past have provided us with relevant implements to identify and plate stamps from the five stones of the One Anna, without going into details of particular sub-stones’. He then concludes, ‘It is a delight for the forensic researcher to identify the design features (salient) and printing faults in each stamp, and thereafter to classify and catalogue each, as per the plating tools handed down to us. By employing these paths, at best we can successfully reconstruct all the pieces of a particular stone, without being able to conclusively pinpoint the respective sub-stone of that stone from which each corresponding piece emanated’.  

Well this practical guide attempts to implement the above basic plating process, while accepting the innate or inherent limitations involved in the process. It should be recognised that the current state of research for the lithographic issues differ in degree of comprehension for each value, on each die, even on different parent stones. These differing limitations effect what those who want to plate their stamps can achieve in each area of lithographic study, unless you manage a ground-breaking research on the subject. Therefore, the proposed somewhat simplified methodology, only works at the base level of plating the parent stones of the One Anna, due to the difficulties involved with differentiating the multifarious factors affecting the printing outcome.

The issue of studying sub-stones, and the difficulties involved in their identification and plating, is a longstanding dilemma. The subject of probable numerous sub-stones and consequent flaws, is outside the scope of this practical guide, except for recognising some potential for confusion in mixing sub-flaws with Parent Stone flaws. There is a long-established discussion about how to research plating at this sub-level, and what is the best methodology to apply. Various opposing arguments expounded by the earlier researchers with regard to the existence of plural sub-stones were made. In his recent publication, Rohatgi makes some potential ground-breaking suggestions in respect to applying a more backward-engineered methodology compared to these past approaches. His suggested approach of studying the differing flaws at the sub-stone level, recognising that each of those have their own retouches, touch-ups, wearing etc., definitely has its merits. 

In the case of the One Anna, Smythies, Martin and Dawson each proposed that each sub-variety of retouch must have emanated from distinct sub-stones. In fact, both Dawson and Smyhties have discerned apart from the common B stone, the existence of Rare B1 and B2 Stones, and even hinted at a B3 stone. On this subject, Rohatgi points to the conclusion made by D E Wadia that ‘Many more examples can be cited to prove that there certainly existed more than one sub-stone for printing the One Anna, on Die I and Die II. It seems, however, impossible to conclusively prove the exact number’.

However, the fact of the matter is every serious researcher past or present, accepts that due to the innate complexity of studying sub-stones that multiply all the vagaries encountered on parent stones, and with the implicit requirement to do so after obtaining a vast quantity of material, to properly achieve even partial success, the task is almost certainly impossible. It is not even probable that enough material is still extant to achieve the task in the modern age, and that is without addressing relative scarcities of different dies on each value. 

Die Identification

The One Anna value has three head dies [Download 14], but unlike the half and four anna values, no standardised diagrams seem to have been compiled, although the download images are more than sufficient to illustrate the different key die characteristics, as well as parent stone characteristics. The three are commonly labelled: 

Die I – Stone A and B, 
Die II – Stone C and D, 
Die III – Stone E 

When identifying any lithograph one anna stamp, it is quite important to firstly establish which die an example might be, to avoid wasting any effort in the later plating process, because of initial misidentification. Based on the streamlined methodology outlined in the introduction, this is best done by initially focussing upon a the ‘Primary Die Characteristic’ indicator, or rather the most constant single feature of definition, distinct between the three main dies. Please note there is no such thing as an absolute constant in the 1854-5 lithographic printings, mainly due to progressive wear intrinsic to the printing process, affecting each stamp. However, the chosen ‘Primary Die Characteristic’ indicator is more consistent than other defined printed elements. That is not to say those characteristics do not still vary, but lees so, and so can more readily be identified using a more dynamic pattern recognition. 

As discussed with the half anna value, an initial simplification of factors or characteristics, to distinguish each one anna stamp, will help gain a quicker foothold of recognition that will be effective in almost all instances. Even though this singular standardised characteristic approach would have its critics, nevertheless as a practical guide, this method is promoted to help gain early identification. If we therefore focus upon the upper left chignon definition on each die, what is found? The one anna in this respect is more distinct between the first two dies than on the half anna, making them overall easier to differentiate. As mentioned the primary characteristic can still sometimes vary to a considerable degree, yet still have a recognisable standardised motif constituent, require to enable die identification. 

The initial ninety-six transfers of each die were not used directly for printing, as a single stone could not print enough in quantity to meet demand. Also, the progression of wear would have occurred much faster, and deterioration of the printing would have occurred well before completion of the requirement. Rather used as a master copy, all ninety-six transfers were laid down on even larger stones, each capable of three simultaneous sheet impressions. These much larger triplicate sheet stones were the actual ones used to mass print the stamps. The first Die I printed run of the A parent stone were probably on two such triplicate sheet stones, to further optimise production. 

On the original Die I all the lines of the engraving are fine, especially the outer frames and shading of chignon, which are considered key die characteristics. Transfers from this ‘early state’ die needed little touching up on the parent stone, especially very early on in its use. However, the finer definition in certain parts of the standardised design unfortunately quickly wore off the stone, so that only a very few early printing runs show as on the copper die in its earliest state. This rapid wear occurred due to a lack of depth cut onto the more refined original die, especially its distinctive lightly shaded chignon features. This was so except for the concave ‘C’ like red protuberance projecting from the hair behind the band of the diadem into the chignon. This more constant feature is an obvious Primary Die Characteristic indicator to use. 

Other known Die I characteristics are not so easy to discern in isolation, or even when compared to multiple examples, unless perhaps very experienced and processing a refined sense of recognition. One such general characteristic of Die I, is that the letters are said to be smaller and thinner. Unfortunately, on dies with two stones such as Die I, the lettering between stones A and B can be quite different, making such comparisons between dies problematic. A stone lettering is more typically bolder than B stone, but not as bold as Die II C Stone. Therefore, only when looked at by comparison with each stone, rather than by die, can general lettering attributes be helpful in identification.  

Dawson suggests the general appearance of the Die I chignon is unmistakable, despite the quite variable range of upper chignon definition encountered, again especially between both stones of the die. Gibbons offer only a single characteristic feature for this die in their publications, describing, ‘the small blob of red projecting from the hair into the chignon, that is always visible’. This being the most constant definition on the Die I chignon, it fits our methodology of singularly focussing upon a ‘Primary Die Characteristic. That is not to say that this small concave ‘C’ like double pronged red protrusion into the chignon, is ever near exactly the same in all instances. Even though it can vary considerably, nevertheless still considerably worn examples keep some element of this key characteristic. In just a few instances, the upper part protrusion can virtually disappear, creating a little potential confusion with identification. To develop a more dynamic pattern recognition though is helpful, and so even if the feature is considerably weakened, you can still differentiate it with that of another die.  

Quite early in the life of Die I the A stone became too worn, and needed to be redrawn. The chief engraver set about strengthening and deepening the original design of the worn A stone, without making any significant modifications to the Die I design. The short-lived transfer was made probably no earlier than August 1854, when soon afterwards another Die I Parent Stone came into being labelled Stone B. Martin thought instances of the B stone roughly five times as scarce as those of Stone A. The die was already badly worn when this B stone was laid down, accounting for the great amount of touching-up required to the chignon and frame lines. Martin supposed a philatelist called Gray correct in stating that the bulk of this was done on the Primary Stone, and was therefore a constant in each stamp. Some minor changes were made to the B stone chignon definition, otherwise the Primary Die indicator remained similar, although the C like protrusion was more often weakened or less bold. 

Already by late August 1854 a new die was required out of necessity, as eighty percent plus on the sheet were being touched-up due to substantial wear. So it was decided to further deepen and strengthen the existing definition directly on the copper die, especially the chignon and outer frame lines. This new second state known as Die II, was born from the re-engraving of the original Die I. On this Die II the most significant change was more lines of definition in the chignon, as Gibbons footnote. More specifically, a notable change in design created a new distinctive curved white line between chignon and hair, above a new red feature sat below, in the lower half. The complete disappearance of the ‘small red blob’, replaced by this completely redrawn curved white definition now Die II, has become the Primary Die Characteristic indicator. In most instances this new definition cannot easily be confused with any state of Die I, except for a few scarcer instances, when a stamp is in a very worn state. Confusion can occasionally arise identifying Die II, when a general lack of overall definition is found coupled with this new red motif below in the middle-lower left section of the chignon. However, such instances would tend to be C stone with a notably thicker O in ONE, and generally bolder lettering font. 

It can be useful to recognise that Die II are generally slightly coarser impressions, due to the deeper engraving on both stones, but this aspect can be difficult to discern except by careful comparison and a more refined recognition. The C stone is dated on the lower right sheet inscription ‘August 1854’, Despite being the first stone prepared from the newly engraved die, the early state transfers of the C stone soon became unsatisfactory, when many required constant touching-up, or hand drawn adjustments made to individual impressions when each transfer was made. This issue markedly differentiated the C stone from the subsequent D stone, making the former generally easier to plate than the latter. By comparison the D Stone printings were uniform and consistent, especially noticeable on the outer frame lines, but even within the reduced shade range encountered. D stone printings with consistent design features and lack of obvious flaws, with not many touches-up nor re-touches, are easier to determine as Die II. 

Printing ceased on the 2nd November 1854, when the Die II printing stones were cleaned off and stored away. At that stage it was not expected any further One Anna stock would be needed, before receipt of the De La Rue printings from England. This proved to be inaccurate assumption, as demand for the One Anna continued well into 1855, when existent stocks steadily depleted. Therefore, by June 1855 a new Die III was prepared – a third incarnation of the same copper engraving. This final printing of the One Anna, ran from 7th July until the 25th August 1855. The Die III is much scarcer used and rarer unused than the other two dies, as the total number of sheets printed was only about 12% of the total printed on this value. Then any remaining were destroyed along with most other still existent lithograph stock in 1858-59. 

On the newly engraved Die III, the chignon definition was again deepened a little, making it appear bolder, and seem fuller with detail than the prior Die II D stone, although it still somewhat resembled it. The Primary Die III characteristic is conventionally seen as the straight-topped bust, which re-engraved now came to a point, hence the term ‘Pointed Bust’ often used to describe the E stone. The line along the base of the bust is also strengthened, as was the mouth, nostril, and eyebrow, while the eye itself was given a very distinctive ‘teardrop’, or red vertical line directly beneath the eye. This new feature is even more easily discernible than the shape of a bust that at times can be deceptive and create uncertainty. Therefore, while the fuller bolder chignon definition of this die can be used for identification the best Primary Characteristic indicator for Die III is the ‘teardrop eye’. This single stone die is distinct enough the identify, without necessity to focus upon the Parent Stone E attributes too much.

Die and Stone Shades 

On the One Anna value, each of the five stones might have differing shade profiles, irrespective of Die type. Expertisation committees tend not to differentiate between the shades of each stone, and apply generic shade labels only at the die level. Perhaps to distinguish more is seen as too specialised, and yet what can be deep on one stone may not be on the other. Due to the lithograph printing process, it cannot be denied colour variations always occurred, even between sheets, or on occasion the same sheet. It did not help that at various stages of the One Anna production, between July 1854 to August 1855, there were issues sourcing adequate vermillion pigmentation, and the supplied shade was not always absolutely consistent in attributes. 

Certain philatelists view shade proliferation somewhat negatively, and possibly even as an unfounded approach. Often this view is substantiated because of shade variance found on a single sheet, or factors of aging met with on the extant material, or some stamps being colour affected due to a host of influencing factors, such as sun exposure, fading, staining affecting shade etc. Those less negative, understand there is a methodology involved that negates most of these shade effecting factors, such as most used examples, or other colour affected instances. In my view, adding more shade definition to the listings to a degree that might be required, based on the shade spectrum encountered in each issue, is merely the intelligent grouping of material, when numerous examples are at hand. If shades are better defined to the right degree, without being to over-nuanced in differentiation, then accounting more for hues, depth, brightness etc. become another facet that further helps identification.

Various shades of every recognised stone on each lithograph value, were already noted by 1933 in the Specialised Catalogue of Early India Lithographs 1854-1855 Dawson L.E., & Smythies E.A. Much later on, a few one anna shades with somewhat generic labels were listed on each die by Gibbons, a basic definition now well established via issued expertisation certificates for many decades. Unfortunately, these one anna listed shades are not well defined, or too simplistic, when compared to the actual shade range encountered on the material. That applies not just on the One Anna, but also the two other values. As each printing had certain overall shade characteristic differences, during the period each stone was run off, shade profiles on each might have a different orientation or epicentre. This is why sometimes a shade can give a possible indicator of which stone an example might or might not be, especially when recognition of the shade profile on each stone is gained. 

On the Die I A Stone, the shade spectrum varies considerably from pale to deep red, and from dull to bright. In my experience, brighter to more intense shades are frequently encountered on this stone, although according to Dawson in 1948, no particular shade is scarcer than another. However, he and Smythies noted in their 1933 publication a scarcer shade described very deep carmine-red. A very similar carmine influenced instance was recently submitted by me that did not even gain a Deep shade certificate.The shades from Parent Stone B are overall quite similar to those of the A stone, except the more intense or deep bright shades are less common. Dawson also noted a peculiar though fairly common ‘old rose’ shade that is seldom found in the A stone. 

The shades of Die II are listed by Gibbons as deep red and dull red. What about a listed red shade for instance? C Stone examples have a contrasting range of shades from deep bright reds, to fairly pale and duller shades. Deeper and brighter shades are less common than mid-range to duller reds. Dawson & Smythies (1933) noted a Deep vermillion shade. D Stone printings show a much greater consistency within a more confined spectrum of mid-range towards duller red shades. The majority of unused D Stone sheet remainders that happened to survive destroying are of a duller red shade, perhaps overly influencing the epicentre of the recognised shade spectrum. Perhaps the Parent Stone D is more adequately defined with just two listed shades, although even here brighter shades are seen. 

Die III with the single Parent Stone E is a classic case of lack of listed shade definition. The two shades listed are not representative of what is found, as dull shades are notably scarce, while all other shades from this uncommon die are listed as red and grouped in a shade dumping ground. Dawson felt deep bright red to be the prevailing shade, but thought lighter shades were not unusual. Even a very deep red is sometimes seen, and brighter red shades are not uncommon. Lighter shades in general are scarcer, and therefore usually qualify as a selectively listed dull red E stone shade.

Stone Identification 

A brief history of One Anna stone reconstruction – In August-September 1927 C D Desai contributed a short article in the Philatelic Journal of India on his reconstruction sheet of Die I A stone. He then produced a half-tone reproduction of the sheet and published a plating table of the lithographic flaws distinguishing each of the 96 sheet stamps. In 1929 Desai continued his work by reconstructing the Die II C stone sheet, and again published in the journal July that same year, afterwards producing the plating table in the same journal March 1930. The May-June 1930 Journal contained a plating table of Die II D stone with complete Hausberg sheet prepared by Dawson from examination of several remainder sheets. A month later there appeared a plating table for the same stone by Colonel A. E. Stewart. 

That very same year Martin reconstructed the final Die III E stone, and in March 1931 illustrations of this reconstruction were also published. Over the following 5 years Stewart published partial lists of the lithographic flaws for Die III. By May 1934 he also supplied a key piece overlapping the two missing positions 7-8 in Martins reconstruction. A complete plating table was then worked out by Desai, and appeared in the same journal December 1935. 

The existence of another stone from the first state Die I apart from the A stone had long been recognised, but it was not until 1934 that it became conclusive there was a B stone. A reconstruction of this was published by Cooper in August 1934 with an illustration and plating table. Two months later D C Gray published another reconstruction sheet, with only a few sheet positons missing. Finally, in 1935, Mr Desai published his sensational discovery of the Substituted Transfer of the A stone. Up until at least 1947 no further advance in the study was made, and no more notable discoveries were expected by Dawson. Therefore, on the One Anna value all three dies and five Parent Stones known today were researched and made available in a short period of activity largely between 1927-1935. 

On each of the five stones marginal sheet inscriptions appear that include in the lower right margin the month and year. Die I Stone A printings were dated July 1854, while Die II stones were dated either August or September 1854. Parent stones are often referred to by their inscribed marginal dates, thus the above might be called by some the July 1854 transfer. It is not definitive whether the sheet ornaments, frame lines, and inscriptions were laid down on the parent stone, or on the various printing stones after the 96 had been transferred to them. Various researchers have studied the subject, with differences in ornament type etc., to help distinguish the Parent Stones, and even potential sub-stones. 

Plating Parent Stones 

The distinguishing flaws detailed in the published plating tables are those believed to occur on the parent stones, using the methodology of finding at least three instances of the same flaw or any other distinctive printing feature evident on the same sheet position, so as to try and eliminate sub-stone flaws, and one-off printing anomalies. [Download 15] (Plating diagram Stones A, B, C, D, E) Both pictorial diagrams and descriptive plating tables are equally instructive in my view, and mostly corroborate with each other. This approach does not entirely exclude that some are merely printing flaws, occurring on only one printing stone, and that different stamps may have very similar flaws. Dawson thought it impossible to have too many flaws described in a plating table. Stamps can sometimes be recognised more easily by sub-stone flaws rather than parent stone flaws. These occur on a single stone only, whereas parent stone flaws occur on every sub-stone, and thus can be recognised as such. Adding to the complexity, each transfer produced its own set of flaws, which did not appear on the other two transfers of the triple-sheet printing stones.

Any printing defects and excess ink marks transferred to the stone are ‘lithographic flaws’, which were then repeatedly reproduced in all consequent printed sheets, thus enabling single stamps to be assigned to their correct sheet position. As well as any flaws present on the stone before a sheet was printed, also during the continuous printing process yet more flaws developed, plus any further weakened elements of the original stone design caused by progressive wear. Other factors involved in the actual lithographic printing process might cause additional specks of ink to appear, due to poor process by the printers. Original and subsequent flaws of the stone might be rectified. Defective lines were strengthened, or redrawn by hand in the greasy ink with a fine brush, and excessive ink removed with a ‘snake stone’. Repairs made by hand to a defective line prior to printing are known as touches-up, those repairs made during the course of printing are retouches. Despite all these factors, nevertheless on plating the one anna value, Dawson felt that the combination of watermark (or absence), reference to the published plating tables from a reconstructed sheet, should enable 95% of material to be correctly assigned to the correct sheet position. 

If a given stamp is assigned to its correct die type, by means of its Primary Characteristic indicator, perhaps afterwards backed up by any secondary indicators, then watermark identification at this stage of the plating process is key [Download 16], in that it offers possible clear-cut evidence of sheet position. Any watermark element detected helps reduce the number of potential positions needing to be checked for individual sheet plating flaws. A visible element of the watermark can sometimes appear ambiguous, and sometimes perfectly clear. Any initial watermark recognition irrespective of ambiguity, can still offer a guide to sheet position that may become clearer later when combined with other corroborating evidence. Even stamps without a visible watermark reduce the possible number of sheet positions to just over twenty – depending on the extent of the watermark shift for that particular sheet. An entire sheet of paper prior to printing had three complete watermarks, each with the ‘Arms’ motif No: 4 sheet (see Download 16), to simultaneously produce triplicate printing stone impressions. Afterwards, they were cut up into three post office sized sheets. Specific to the One Anna value, Rohatgi (Ikanni Tales 2019) approximates reverse watermarks manifest 10-15% of the time, with inverted watermarks about 7-10%, reversed & inverted watermarks 5-7%, based on his study of a few thousand examples.  

Correct spacing between each sheet impression was critical to watermark alignment, especially with three separate imprints involved on each transfer, and this potential misalignment was the foremost cause of shifted watermarks. These shifts can be orientated N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW, and are commonly encountered on both lower lithograph values, with the same triplicate printing setup. As sheets were often printed with watermarks slightly misaligned in virtually any direction, then small parts of an adjoining sheet position are commonly visible. Sometimes stamps can even fall between three or even four positions, when usually the larger part showing is eventually found to be the actual correctly plated sheet position, but not always. Very occasionally instances can show an entirely different watermark to the sheet position, due to more extreme paper misalignment on the triplicate stone. For example, a stamp on scarce occasion can show the watermark element of sheet position 61, but in fact display the plating flaws of sheet position 62. Hence why the watermark is an important guide, and why plating flaws are the final determinant in the process. 

The A Stone ‘July 1854 Transfer’, being the first Parent Stone transferred from the original die with inscribed date, was initially without wear in its earliest state. No complete sheet of this stone has survived. As it was laid down well there is very little touching-up on the sub-stones, as was evident on the parent stone, and retouches were distinctly uncommon, as noted by Desai. The lines in general are quite fine, particularly the outer frame lines and chignon definition. As some of the finer lines wore off, especially in the chignon, the more constant Primary Characteristic indicator of the A stone, became a ‘small blob of red or C like pronged curve projecting from the hair into the chignon’. Apart from some finer lines disappearing, overall transfers from the A stone are found generally better definition compared to B Stone, and without much wear.

The sub-stones produced from the Parent Stone A seem quite prolific, and being intensively used for shorter periods became more worn, creating a greater variety of impressions. Dawson tentatively suggested an order in which parent and sub-stones arose. He concluded, ‘it seems highly probable that primary, secondary and tertiary stones were used for this printing, and that the varieties found can account for at least five (and probably more) distinct printing stones.

It is recommended to use both the A stone pictorial diagrams in conjunction with the descriptive table of individual flaws, as they largely corroborate with each other, but do not entirely marry, and therefore sometimes provide differing clarification. Sometimes comparing the stamp flaws with descriptive plating is more helpful, especially when something observed is not necessarily recorded on the pictorial diagram. Mostly though comparing a possible A Stone flaw with the pictorial is the best initial means at recognition. As the frame lines on A stone tend to be finer and largely more uniform than the B stone, this is evidenced on the pictorial plating diagram, when the A Stone has far less outer frame lines flaws depicted compared to the B Stone diagram. Other notable characteristics of the A stone are more frequently encountered deeper brighter shades, and a tendency for the O in ONE to be a bolder letter, with narrower more oval centre. 

Substituted Transfer (A Stone)

There was a sequence of well-documented observations, before C D Desai had confirmed the amazing discovery of a Substituted Transfer in 1935. A few stamps from Die I Stone A had caused confusion, and were initially thought to demonstrate the existence of a second sub-stone. E Studd recognised on this unusual A sub-stone, stamps from the upper six rows uncharacteristically exhibited the same flaws as those corresponding with the lower six rows, which eventually led Desai to comprehend the highly unusual transfer. An occurrence not discovered anywhere else within the Indian lithograph printings! An outstanding unused vertical strip from the top left sheet, with ornaments and inscription from positions 1-41 showing the appropriate watermark, but with the six stamps showing the lower sheet plating flaws positions 49-89, was a key positional piece in confirming the discovery. This item was illustrated in the important Desai auction catalogue from May 1949 lot 330, along with twenty other substituted lots then discovered, including many of the known examples known until today, including various smaller multiples and pairs. 

Presumably it had been noticed on the sheet that most of the upper six rows had transferred inadequately. Possibly the upper half sheet portion of 48 stamps on all three sub-stone panes had become somehow damaged, or were too degraded to print? Rohatgi (Ikanni Tales 2019) suggests that as printing materials were then in short supply, the remedy was simply to remove the upper six rows by rubbing them out, and replace them with a fresh transfer with the lower six rows from the same parent stone. Perhaps for pragmatic reasons the operator just lifted the lower half transfer and repeated it in the upper half. Or was this instead a major error, occurring when the operator mistakenly used the impressions from the lower half of the secondary stone, transferring them to the top half. The subsequent printings from that particular triplicate sub-stone were then presumably run just until the next transfer from the Parent Stone was made? Hence the rare One Anna Die I Stone A ‘Substituted Transfer’ came into being. 

The resultant rare Substituted Transfer stamps therefore have the watermarks from sheet positions 1 – 48, but the plating flaws and individual characteristics of sheet positions 49-96. Examples must show the flaws in the lower half sheet of the A Parent Stone, but watermarks (or lack of) from the six rows removed in the upper half. They cannot always be recognised, as single stamps with left or right edge sheet watermarks showing the wavy lines, cannot be verified to meet the necessary positional criteria. Other instances can be very difficult to detect when a more difficult watermark is shifted on certain sheet positions. To discover a Substituted Transfer adds an additional component of complexity in the plating process, requiring an awareness of upper and lower sheet symmetry. The pursuit of hunting elusive Substituted Transfers yet to be discovered, epitomises the attraction of plating these fascinating lithograph issues, to find such obscure treasures. I have discovered a number of examples that gained expertisation certificates in agreement of my opinion. When discovered and verified, it feels as if you have somehow finally finished your apprenticeship in plating the Indian 1854-55 lithographs. Studd and Martin stated in the ISJ July 1955 p.147 that a mere 260 copies of the transfer were reported – of which between one to seven instances of a single position have surfaced for research. In 2019 Rohatgi estimates still no more than 350 will have been reported. 

A fascinating idea recently brought forward by Rohatgi (2019) is that one might expect, ‘not just large parts of a sheet to be substituted thus, but also [much smaller sections], or even just single stamps. It is not unreasonable to expect to discover the substitution of just a few defective designs lifted from other different substrates, either of the same sub-stone or from the Master Stone of the Die in question’. Therefore, the theory advanced by Rohatgi is the possibility that the individual characterises of some stamps on any sheet might be replaced with those of another. He calls these potential cases ‘Randomly Substituted Transfer’ (RST), renaming the existing type as an ‘Orderly Substituted Transfer’ (OST). Rohatgi perceives that while ‘The Orderly Substitution of half a sheet was limited to just one sub-stone of the A Stone of Die I, the phenomenon of Random Substitution could have occurred on any sub-stone of any of the five Stones of the Dies I, II, and III, of the One Anna, or indeed across the half and four anna denominations as well’. As a ‘Randomly Substituted Transfer’ might theoretically appear on any sheet position, they would be virtually impossible to detect and verify, without the aid of positional symmetry, even if the stamp exhibited the plating flaws of one position while bearing the watermark of another. 

Whether unused or used, B stone stamps are less common than A stone, although their relative numbers do not seem to differ greatly. Transfers from Die I B stone tended to be printed a bit more heavily, and often less finessed in appearance compared to the prior A Stone. It is thought four or five different B sub-stones exist, but this figure requires further study to be certain. Outer frame lines on the B Stone are often found defective, inconsistent or quite intermittent in strength. Therefore, frequently they exhibit minor touches-up, to the extent it can be difficult to differentiate between definition from the original transfer made, and later added touches-up, or even retouches on a sub-stone. The original die had already become considerably worn with constant use, before the B Stone transfer was even made, and that is why constant touching-up and many retouches were destined to be required for this second Die I Parent Stone. 

One general characteristic of Parent Stone B is that the chignon is often found touched up, apparently especially on the top half of the sheet. It is perhaps overstating this occurrence as an obvious B stone indicator, as unless you have a more refined pattern recognition of the standardised chignon in mind, for most it can be difficult to discern such nuances on many slightly differing chignon variations. However, twenty-one positions do exhibit an oval or circle-like motif in the lowest chignon coil (see pictorial diagram for listed sheet positions). In the lower half of the sheet especially, occasionally stamps can be found with better defined chignons, some not dissimilar to a typical A stone example. Often though the B Stone chignon is whiter in overall appearance due to lighter definition, or touched up with a few added horizontally curved lines at top, and sometimes with the occasional light vertical stroke further down. 

In line with the above B stone chignon characteristics, the Primarily Die indicator is also more-often more slightly worn, becoming skinnier or less bold, sometimes even with upper pronged protrusion wearing away. The distinctive curved C-like protrusion (red blob) when more worn, along with the surrounding definition, can occasionally cause confusion as to whether there is a white curved line separating the head – somewhat akin to a Die II example. The single most distinguishing B Stone characteristic, is the minute red flaw projecting downward from the top frame line, over the upper left side of left corner ornament. This small feature is present in nearly all stamps of the sheet, and is therefore the best Primary B Stone indicator that can instantly give recognition of this stone. On the odd occasion though it did not transfer at all, perhaps due to its minute size? This is a peculiarity due to something transferring from the copper die when preparing the Parent Stone, according to Rohatgi, ‘possibly caused by a superficial engraving nick, or an extraneous particle’. 

Recognition of the Primary Die indicator, coupled with the Primary B Stone indicator, is the clearest most often used way to identify this stone, even before using the pictorial plating diagrams and descriptive plating tables, to confirm the sheet position. Otherwise, if one of the two key indicators are recognised, coupled with the lower chignon oval definition, or inconsistent outer frame lines, will nearly always suffice to correctly identify the stone. On more difficult examples, it is always possible to apply the described process in reverse, and initially try to look for an individual sheet B stone plating flaw that might stand out, that is partly based on a visible watermark element, afterwards hoping to clarify any ambiguity concerning die or stone characteristics. 

Despite the prolific retouching applied to stone B, soon the quality of many stamps from the sheet became so deteriorated it required the re-engraving of the Die I itself. The copper die was prepared, its second incarnation being called Die II with its first Parent Stone labelled ‘C’, with the sheets having a lower right margin inscribed transfer date of August 1854. No complete C Stone sheet is known – the largest piece being an unused block of 40, the last five rows complete with margins. Multiples are rare, and so the block of 16 once in Stewarts collection was important when first reconstructing this sheet for plating. Even in 1948 Dawson felt a more detailed study of this parent stone was required. This perceived deficiency of research was partially due to the difficulties in plating the Die II C stone, because it has the largest variance in design, or more lacking in standardisation, the most notable differences being found in the chignon. Unfortunately, despite a newly engraved Die II being made, nevertheless the C stone quickly began to show early signs of pitting causing mottled prints – inconsistent shading especially noticeable in central background. Transfers from the C Stone soon proved unsatisfactory on a regular basis, necessitating a large number of touches-up to the Parent Stone. 

Once the Primary Die II Characteristic is correctly recognised – that being the concave white dividing line separating chignon definition from head – then comparing the C Stone with characteristics of the D Stone is quite straightforward to differentiate. There are various Secondary Characteristic differences between the two Parent Stones, such as the line at base of bust is more often prominent on C, the nose is more often retouched, the hair below diadem band is usually irregular or retouched on C, and the eye is mostly stronger frequently touched-up, and the outer frame lines are generally thicker. There are a few C Stone seen that remain exceptions to the above. Another factor of recognition is that C Stone printings have a wider contrast of shades of red, ranging from dull red to a scarcer deep vermillion (see Die Shades section). In effect more non dull red examples are more likely to be found on the C Stone. 

In my view, one notable underutilised yet useful C Stone characteristic, is the usually bolder thicker upper and lower lettering, not only compared to the D stone, but also all other One Anna parent stones. While overall C stone lettering is boldest, the best place to gauge this is specifically the letter O in ONE. When looking at the characteristics of this single letter, what stands out is the broad width of its vertical element in conjunction with the much narrower non-circular elongated red centre. This is quite unlike any other O from the other four stones, in most instances. Another feature of the C Stone lettering is that more often the upper A red centre dot in INDIA are more often found either tiny or occasionally non-existent.  

Dawson thought that C Stone individual sheet flaws tended to be more prominent than those on the D Stone, although that is not entirely evident when comparing the respective pictorial plating diagrams. [see Download 15]. Despite the greater variance in standardisation encountered on the C stone, and the supposed incompleteness of its study, nevertheless once Die II is established, perhaps with the initial recognition of a more extreme deeper or brighter shade, then in most cases establishing this stone should not pose too much difficulty. With a helpful watermark element to reduce the potential number of sheet positions involved, coupled with the observation of a characteristic C Stone O in ONE, the eventual plating should be a formality, unless the example examined falls on a sheet position with an ambiguous individual sheet plating flaw, not easily discernible from the descriptive table [see Download 19], nor visually on the pictorial diagram provided. [see Download 15]

Already by the middle of September 1854 after only weeks, it was clearly felt a new Parent Stone was required, as the first attempt using the re-engraved Die II created a disappointing outcome in consistency. Hence, the D Stone transfer was laid down, and proved to be a much better attempt, as very little touching-up was later needed, and only a few re-touches were evident throughout its use. The new Parent Stone produced typically clearer more consistent impressions, where even the shade range exhibited a more uniform midrange to dull red, unlike the extensive variety seen on the C Stone, with shade spectrum epicentre more towards the deep and brighter end.  

There are various well-established Secondary D Stone characteristics such as weaker drawn eyes, unless retouched in rare instances, or with noses found more uniform throughout, as was hair below diadem band, and weaker base line to bust compared to C Stone, which are mostly far more prominent. Some D Stone prints are distinguishable by the appearance of a red flaw in white line below IN of India. It is unclear exactly how often this useful D stone indicator is present, and although recorded only in position 19 on the plating references, it does semi-regularly appear on other sheet positions. D Stone lettering is normal-sized more akin to that of the A or E stone, and quite unlike the notably bolder C Stone. The O in ONE is quite equally proportioned on the width of the vertical elements and rounder red centre, and is a good Die II - D stone indicator. Outer frame lines are far more consistent and continuous, to the point where it is one of the easier D Stone characteristics to instantly recognise. These last two more constant stone characteristics, coupled with Die II identification, are in my view the best way to confirm stone, before thereafter looking for any individual sheet flaws.  

Dawson felt the individual flaws less striking, and therefore considered the D Stone more difficult to plate – even more so than some examples of the early state Die I A stone, not yet showing many flaws. By comparison with the very few touches-up detailed, numerous small retouches can be found. Most of these are known unused, usually in brighter than typical D Stones shades found on complete sheets of remainder stock, for some reason not destroyed in 1858, along with most other unused lithograph material. The printers were instructed to cease production, before the D stone was substantially worn down, as an expected delivery of replacement De La Rue printed stock was due to arrive from England. This sudden cessation in printing production avoided the usual progressive stone wear, often seen on prior more heavily used Parent Stones. 

The plating the D Stone does not seem any more difficult than other stones in my view, perhaps because even though the flaws might be more often minor, its detection is not based on prominence but rather its presence. Once the Die II is identified on the stamp, then it might be noticed that the outer frame lines are quite consistent, and that the lettering is not particularly bold, already giving a good idea the example is probably a D Stone. Upon checking for any visible watermark, and perhaps gaining an idea of a few potential sheet positions, then the final stage is to look for plating flaws. Noting a few minor red or white flaws on the actual stamp, one can check on the pictorial plating diagram (see Download 15). If a flaw match for one of those potential watermark positions is found, then that might be corroborated on that same sheet position from the descriptive plating table (see Download 20). Then this stamp is successfully plated. 

E stone [Download 21]

As the July-August 1855 Parent Stone E was the only transfer made on the final stage Die III engraving, the characteristics already discussed in the die identification section, are more intertwined with the stone identification, unlike other multi-stone dies. Additionally, Die III has the benefit of multiple Primary Die indicators, making the specific E stone characteristics of less importance when trying to identify for plating, compared to other One Anna stones. 

Parent Stone E impressions were generally clearer and without wear, as it was not excessively used, therefore managing to remain somewhat closer to its earlier state, and in this respect is not dissimilar to the Die II D Stone. Hence worn prints are rarely to be found. Retouches are known but considered extremely rare, while minor touch-ups are more numerous when compared to the prior D Stone, but only position 52 is viewed as more prominent. Despite Gibbons E Stone shade descriptions of red and dull red, Deeper to mid-range and brighter reds are more often encountered. 

The plating of material on this scarcer stone is apparently not so easy, as the table of flaws is not considered complete by Dawson, which according to him could not be fully guaranteed. An initial reconstruction was made by Martin in 1931, and then various flaw additions were added by Stewart over the following four years. The complete plating table was thought worked out by Desai, and published as such in December 1935. However, Dawson later considered (1948) that several plating inclusions may be sub-stone rather than Parent Stone flaws, although even then recognised that would still help identify the position on the sheet. 

As the E stone is quite easily established using the Primary Die indicator of the ‘teardrop eye’, in most instances when the watermark is detectable, or even if not, the individual sheet plating using the pictorial diagrams, and descriptive plating table, is sufficient to correctly allocate a sheet position. A pointed or rather ‘straight-topped’ bust is mostly helpful, but not always. Even the fuller bolder chignon definition might be a third Primary Die indicator. E stone lettering is also slightly bolder than the prior stone. 


The early Indian lithograph1854-55 One Anna value are fascinating to study, having three separate dies, and five quite contrasting printing stones. Plus, the major discovery of the unique Substituted Transfer of an entire half sheet, makes this specific value even more multi-faceted and deeper in complexity. Overall, the One Anna is better understood than the four anna, and perhaps near equal to the half anna, in terms of consistency in research, although both values still lack any serious comprehension of the sub-stones. One great boon to the subject is the recent 2019 publication the ‘Ikanni Tales: A Study of the One Anna Lithographed Label of 1854-55 by Gautam Rohatgi, bringing all the multifarious facets of one anna study up to date, plus offering some interesting new ideas.  For those collectors whom want to differentiate the One Anna dies, and various stones, and plate their own examples, in most cases it is perfectly practical, hopefully with the aid of this guide. 

Introduction :: Half Anna :: One Anna :: Four Anna :: Biblio/Other

The Benns Collection
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