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Europe/Great Britain : Red Maltese Cross Cancellations of Great Britain

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smauggie
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11 Dec 2015
10:14:24am
I want to start by saying that these are just observations by me, and I am not an expert. I welcome any corrections or improvements to my thoughts here.

It seems to me there is often a confusion about what is a red Maltese cancel.

Here are two stamps:

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Both stamps have a red colored Maltese cancel but only one is a genuine red Maltese cancel.

In this case the right stamp is genuine.

What then is going on with the left stamp? The Maltese cancel is a genuine period cancel, but it was not originally red. It was black.

To understand how a black cancel could become red, one must review the ingredients that were used to make a black cancel. The primary ingredient that give the black cancel it's color was powdered iron. Certain other thickeners and oils were used to give it a better consistency.

It is the natural process of oxidation of iron, which can turn a black cancel into a red cancel. The persistent London humidity of 100 or so years can easily effect such changes.

The stamp with the red cancel, though does have a problem too. As oils were used as part of the ink used to cancel stamps, the process of soaking the stamp for a prolonged time, or in warm or hot water, can cause the oil to leach out of the cancel and into the paper of the stamp.

This is why the stamp with the genuine red cancel is darker, with a slight ocher color in the area of the cancel. Such damage can commonly be found on stamps through the reign of King Edward VII.

Cheers,
Antonio
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TuskenRaider
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11 Dec 2015
01:00:23pm
re: Red Maltese Cross Cancellations of Great Britain

Hi Everyone;

Hi smauggie, that is good information and I was not aware of that cancellation color shift, due to
oxidation. It does make sense tho.

Here is something that some collectors may not be aware of. The inks used to cancel British stamps
during the QEII Wilding period can run badly. This only happens to my knowledge when using
lighter fluid (Naptha, or White Gas as used by Coleman lanterns) to bring out watermarks. For
some odd reason it seems to be more prevalent on the 1sh and up values. I suspect it is possible
that the parcel department of the Royal Post used a different ink in those days. My guess is the
inks used on normal mail did not work as well on cardboard boxes.

Has anyone else had the same experience with this problem?

All you Ronsonal users, do you have any ideas on my theory, or am I just blowing hot air?

Just thinkin' too much again....
TuskenRaider

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auldstampguy
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Just one more small cover .....
12 Dec 2015
12:33:22am
re: Red Maltese Cross Cancellations of Great Britain

Hi Antonio,
So the left one is a fake, right? I understand the change in color through oxidation, but how would you know which of these is real and which is the fake? Could both stamps be oxidating at a different rate for some reason?

Just wondering.

Regards ... Tim

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smauggie
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12 Dec 2015
01:22:48am
re: Red Maltese Cross Cancellations of Great Britain

Hi Tim,

I don't mean to say it is a question of real or fake. I don't mean to say that those with oxidized cancels are somehow not genuine.

Generally stamps with darker, red-brown (rust) color may be worth looking at more closely to see if it is really a red cancel or an oxidized black cancel.

It is a condition issue that isn't talked about much. I don't know if there is a litmus paper test to tell the difference.

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Charlie2009
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12 Dec 2015
03:05:11am
re: Red Maltese Cross Cancellations of Great Britain

auld stamp guy one for the page

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin
12 Dec 2015
08:07:57am
re: Red Maltese Cross Cancellations of Great Britain

Quote:

"It is a condition issue that isn't talked about much. I don't know if there is a litmus paper test to tell the difference."



Antonio, In your examination of the stamps, what was it that gave away the oxidized cancel as opposed to the genuine red cancel? To my tired old eyes they look identical.

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roy
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12 Dec 2015
11:47:13am
re: Red Maltese Cross Cancellations of Great Britain

Smauggie,

Could you please post some supporting information references to your statement that the cancel on the left is an oxidized black cancel?

I have never heard of a black anything oxidizing, nor have i ever heard that black inks were formulated from powdered iron. I was always under the impression that iron was the component in reds, oranges, browns and similar colours that led to their oxidation.

In my experience, it is the red Maltese Cross cancels that oxidize, not the black.

Here is an auction catalogue reference to an oxidized red cancel:
http://stampauctionnetwork.com/y/y100372.cfm

In my opinion, what you are showing is a slightly oxidized red cancel on the left, and a lovely fresh red cancel on the right.

I stand to be corrected, but I would appreciate some supporting documentation.

Roy

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Ningpo
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12 Dec 2015
03:30:00pm
re: Red Maltese Cross Cancellations of Great Britain

smauggie wrote:

Quote:

"The primary ingredient that give the black cancel it's color was powdered iron."



I was under the impression the 'colourant' used was lampblack; basically soot. I too can't find any reference to oxidised black ink. There are however a range of articles in respect of red ink and its various shades that were used on Maltese Cross cancellations.

To my eyes, the example you show seems to fit one of these shades. There are though examples of 'mixed colour' cancellations, one of which is the red-black. I don't know if this occurred on Penny Blacks but here is such an example on a RPS 'certificated with variety' Penny Red, where the red-black strike has been corrected with an additional black MC:

Image Not Found


Just for interest and in the absence of any information on black MC's, here is a short article about the use of red inks, written by a collector who carried out a series of spectrographic tests where he identifies the effects of oxidation :

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The following is a more in depth article on Maltese Cross usage, in PDF format: Maltese Cross Cancellations









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