7. Castle High Values

The Castle Definitive Series

The Castle Definitive Series
1988-1998

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This was a short lived issue of high value stamps printed first by Harrison and latterly Enschedé.

Although there were only 3 distinct "Series" of these, there were actually 5 different prints as the second Series included a "Re-Etched" printing of 4 of the values as well as yet another printing using PVA (instead of PVAD) Gum which also affected 4 out of the 5. A small summary table demonstrates the various issues and detailed explanations of the differences are shown below the table. The three main series are denoted by the SG number against each value.
Even more varieties are available in the Deegam © Handbook.

(£1 - £5)
Value Date SG No SG Spec DG No Prt Info
£1 1988 1410 UK01 C1.1.1 H
Original Issue
1992 1611 UK05 C1.2.1
Gold Head introduced
1994 - UK06 C1.2.2
Re-Etched
By 1996 when the move to PVAI gum happened the £1 value was no longer deemed a "high value" and had reverted to the standard Machin head stamp and therefore there was also no Enschedé printing either.
£1.50 1988 1411 UK02 C2.1.1 H
Original Issue
1992 1612 UK07 C2.2.1
Gold Head introduced
1994 - UK08 C2.2.2
Re-Etched
1996 - UK09 C2.3.1
Move to PVAI Gum
1997 1993 UK17 C2.4.1 E
New Printer and Re-Engraved
£2.00 1988 1412 UK03 C3.1.1 H
Original Issue
1992 1613 UK10 C3.2.1
Gold Head introduced
1994 - UK11 C3.2.2
Re-Etched
1996 - UK12 C3.3.1
Move to PVAI Gum
1997 1994 UK18 C3.4.1 E
New Printer and Re-Engraved
£3.00 1995 1613a UK13 C4.1.1 H
First Issue
1996 - UK14 C4.2.1
Move to PVAI Gum
1997 1995 UK19 C4.3.1 E
New Printer and Re-Engraved
£5.00 1988 1413 UK04 C5.1.1 H
Original Issue
1992 1614 UK15 C5.2.1
Gold Head introduced
1994 - UK16 C5.2.2
Re-Etched
1996 - UK17 C5.3.1
Move to PVAI Gum
1997 1996 UK20 C5.4.1 E
New Printer and Re-Engraved

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Lets's have a look at how to tell the differences between the 2nd Series varieties (i.e. how can you tell if the copy you have is from 1992 or the re-etched version of 1994. First of all - get your magnifying glass out.

1. Changes in the engraving of the Queen's Head - In the original 1992 print the etching is diamond shaped, look carefully at the 1994 printing and you will see it is square shaped (see image below)

head change

2. Secondly, take a closer look a the bandeau - you will see that it is thicker on the later version.

3. There are also varieties that are individual to each value, that I will come back to at a later date.

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Moving on to the difference between the two printer's versions (i.e. the difference between Series 2 and Series 3 stamps) is even clearer.

1. The best way to distinguish the two printers is by examining serifs of the letters 'C' and 'S' used in the word "CASTLE" because this appears on every stamp. Particularly note the differences of the lower point of the 'C' and the lower tail of the 'S' (see image below).

H-C
E-C
H-S
E-S
Harrison
Enschedé
Harrison
Enschedé

2. The Ellipse on the Enschedé printing is set one hole higher than the Harrison equivalent, so if you place one on top of the other it should be quite easy to differentiate the printings.

3. If you are just checking the £5 value the letter "W" in the Enschedé printing appears to be made up of two overlapping V's (see image below).

H5-C
E5-C
Harrison
Enschedé

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Last but not least, how do I tell the difference between the issues with PVAD and PVAI gum? The little diagram below explains. I have left the description of Gum Arabic (GA) in place for reference but it has no relelvance to any of the Castles stamps.

gums
The diagram above is a generalist description, however specifically for the Castles you need to understand there were two types of gum used; PVAD (described above) and PVAI (otherwise known as PVA "Layflat") The following is a description of PVAI:

This is still a PVA gum but has layflat qualities, the latest (except for acrylic for self-adhesive issues) to be used by the Royal Mail. First introduced in 1995 to stop the paper from curling in humid conditions. It looks creamy in colour, slightly darker than PVA or Dextrin and less shiny in appearance. Two types exist, the creamy type and a whiter version. It is believed that the whiter version is the same gum but with a thinner variation of paper.

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