Guatemala 1922 25c Surcharge Errors on 30c Radio Station & Train

The regular stamp of this issue, with the FIVE types of surcharge, are covered in a separate article. This article is concerned solely with the curious variety, surcharge double of which one diagonal, listed in the Guatemala 2 Handbook of The International Society of Guatemala Collectors, edited by Roland Goodman, published in 1974. The variety is also listed and numbered by both Scott and Stanley Gibbons.

The description ' surcharge double, one diagonal ', seems to cover only a modest proportion of the varieties that exist on this value. I would be pleased to be able to provide some explanation as to how some of the varieties illustrated below came into being, but I have been unable to come up with a simple, or even a complex, hypothesis, which is not speculative.

So, as a challenge, I shall leave it to the little grey cells of Hercule or others to try to find some mechanism by which these varieties may have come to life. The number of examples of these varieties is EXTREMELY small, possibly all the product of one, or more likely two errant sheets/100. I think it unlikely that there were more, given the paucity of material.

First, repeated from the other webpage and sticking with the now-obsolete SG lettering of types E, F, G, H and I for the five types, the sheets/100 were surcharged as follows:

E E E E E E E E E E
E E E E E E E E E F
F F F F F F F F F H
G G G G G G G G I I
E E E E E E E E E E
E E E E E E E E E F
F F F F F F F F F H
E E E E E E E E E E
E E E E E E E E E F
F F F F F F F F F H

I am illustrating a block/6 ( 3 x 2 ) , a block /4 , a vertical pair and a single stamp. Above the first scan but below the second group of scans, I have given a description, and, where possible, sheet position information. Unfortunately, the original stamp is not easily plated, otherwise the task would be a little better informed.

The Block / 6 :
All six stamps have a centrally-placed horizontal surcharge but it is ALBINO on four of them, inked only on the two right stamps, as shown. There are minute pin pricks of blue surcharge ink on the face of the albino stamps, barely discernible without a magnifying glass. Based of the horizontal surcharge, the block of 6 is either from Positions 34 to 36 and 44 to 46 or from Positions 35 to 37 and 45 to 47.

The diagonal surcharge reads DOWN at a shallow angle and is of surcharge plate positions 38 ( part ), 39 and 40 above, and 48 ( small part ) 49 and 50 below.

The shallowness of the angle of the diagonal surcharge appears insufficicent to explain a displacement of three, or possibly, four horizontal positions, which suggests that the initial horizontal register of the surcharge was well to the left, maybe even to the left of the sheet margin.

1922 Block of 6
1922 Block of 4 pair and single
The Single Stamp :
This example would neatly fit most collectors' idea of ' surcharge double, one diagonal '. The horizontal surcharge is the commonest, Type E, whilst the diagonal surcharge is upwards and of Type F, with a Type E above, as would always be the case. Sheet position unknown.

The Vertical Pair :
In common with the block / 6 above, both stamps have a centrally-placed ALBINO surcharge, and, again, there are some blue surcharge ink pin-pricks of colour on the face. These are more extensive on the bottom stamp and are clearly visible in the scan.

The pair has the same shallow DOWNWARD surcharge as the block / 6 and the not-easily-explained displacement creates an apparent ' pair, one without surcharge '. The Albino overprints are Type E for the top stamp and Type F for the lower stamp, whilst the diagonal surcharge is in Type F.. The instinctive view is that the stamps are probably from the last two rows.

The Block / 4 :
With regard to the horizontal surcharge, the break in the ' 2 ' of ' 25 ' in the top left stamp identifies this as Position 81 of the surcharge. One may, cautiously think that it may also be Positon 81 of the sheet, but this is not perhaps certain. The horizontal surcharges are, therefore, from Positions 81, 82, 91, 92. As for the diagonally UPWARDS second surcharge, the figures ' 19 ' cheval across the top two stamps, are preceded by a vertical bar, found only in Position 61, which is consistent with the lower stamp having no second surcharge.

Speculation :
The existence of Albino surcharges raises the possibility of two sheets being put through the presses together, resulting in both sheets receiving the surcharge on only some of the stamps. Maybe both partially surcharged sheets were put through again, perhaps with an unsuccessful attempt in each case to avoid double surcharging by feeding them into one side of the press. Without the normal guide bars, perhaps each sheet twisted, one upwards about 45 degrees, the other downwards by about 10 degrees.

In terms of possible paper folds, none of the albino surcharges examined were reversed, but the posibility cannot be excluded from the evidence available. I cannot explain the little pin-pricks of blue ink on the albino surcharges.

Rarity :
These stamps are very scarce. Looking at all the possible combinations, most must surely be rare. Some are no doubt unique; indeed, it may not be fanciful to suggest that the majority of these varieties are unique. My best guess is that we are looking at two aberrant sheets, but quite possibly with several stamps on each sheet ' normal ', leaving perhaps 150 - 160 stamps with some form of error, hitherto covered by ' surcharge double, one diagonal '. This is all, of course, only speculation.

Catalogue Listing : Numbering note: In their latest edition of the Central America catalogue, Gibbons have changed the suffixes of SG 185E - SG 185I to SG 185A - 185E. The SG listing has the ' surcharge double, one diagonal ' variety under all five suffixes. However, as the horizontal and diagonal surcharges do not align on the same stamp, the two scarcest surcharge types probably do not exist both horizontally and diagonally applied to the same stamp, but many other combinations do occur.

From what I have seen of this error, the following would perhaps be a better, though perhaps not exhaustive, listing of the cataloguable varieties, listed only under the first suffix but with footnote ' varieties often have mixed surcharge types '. :

** Surcharge double, one diagonally upwards.
** . . . Ditto, in pair with normal
** Surcharge double, one albino, one diagonally downwards
** . . . Ditto, in pair with normal
** . . . . . . Ditto but 'normal' stamp albino surcharge only ^^
^^ The appearance of the above is of a pair, one without surcharge

I should be delighted to hear from anyone who can add ( or subtract ! ) anything from this little mystery. I have never seen a copy of the 25c / 1p50 with a similar variety. This is not a railway stamp, and therefore not within the field of these articles, but if those stamps can shed any light, where at present there is much murkiness and guesswork, please do send me an email ( address on Home Page ).

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