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Colour trials lead to a plum investment

August 27 2009, 2:37pm
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It's 1910 in Britain. It's an interesting time - striking workers, a general election and technological advances such as the first non-stop return flight across the English Channel all of which contributing to the feeling of change as the nation settled into a new decade.

On May 6 of the same year, something happened that caused far more change to British life than all of those events put together - the passing of King Edward VII.

As you may expect, the world of philately was also greatly affected by the death of a monarch.

In 1910 philately was already very much in the public mind, following the first ever Philatelic Congress of Great Britain, held in Manchester the previous year.

With such an avid public interest in stamps, it had been decided that the existing two colour 2d stamp of Edward VII's reign should be replaced by a cheaper-to-produce single colour issue going forward.

Many ‘colour trials’ were proposed and produced for the new one colour issue, including various shades of blue, green, brown, red and orange. Following lengthy debate, it was decided that 'Tyrian Plum' was most appropriate.

With the colour agreed 100,000 sheets, equating to 24 million stamps, were printed and sent to the Inland Revenue ready to be distributed to Post Offices just as soon as existing stocks had been depleted.

Unfortunately King Edward VII passed away before stocks of the bi-coloured issue were used up and the entire stock of newly printed sheets of Tyrian Plum was destroyed… well, nearly.

Very, very few examples remain in private hands. One Tyrian Plum appeared for sale on the open market as part of a miscellaneous collection back in 1993, but not one since.

Only one example is known on cover, postmarked 5th May 1910 and is safely stored as part of the Royal Philatelic Collection of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II; A notable rarity in the philatelic world.

Whilst, sadly, Stanley Gibbons cannot claim to have the "Tyrian Plum" 2d in stock, we do have the next best thing; two examples of colour trials for the redesigned 2d issue.

Colour trials are proofs of a stamp in a variety of colours, which assist a postal authority in deciding which colours to select for a stamp.

It's a very interesting process that the postal authorities go through; they basically screen test different colours, gauging opinion from where they can, before they decide on the final colour.

So few printed examples of the potential stamps in different colours exist that collectors were soon clamouring to get their hands on them.

Colour trials of the King Edward VII 2d stamp hold such resonance due to the King's untimely death and the distinct lack of genuine "Tyrian Plum" stamps on the market that the investment potential for items like these is incredible. They are so, so rare.

For your chance to buy into the legend of the 2d "Tyrian Plum" contact us today.
With just two examples of these highly sort after colour trials they won’t be in our hands for long…

If you're interested in finding out more about the rare Great Britain stamp market, simply click here to view the GB30 Rarities index, as recognised by the Bloomberg Professional service.