by Leonard H. Hartmann
All rights reserved, copyright © 1999, L. H. Hartmann
To Appear in the CHRONICLE, Whole No. 182
The Misplaced Transfer varieties have a long but clouded place in Confederate Philately, perhaps the name is partly to blame. I consider a Misplaced Transfer to be one position entered in place of another position on the Printing Stone and thus ultimately becoming as issued stamp, ie No. 2 in place of or over No. 10. Perhaps Replaced or Substituted Transfer is more descriptive but considering the long usage of the original term I do not propose a change.
The words Misplaced Transfer could also be interpreted as describing a shift in a Transfer Unit of 50 when it was applied to the Printing Stone, ie. the subject is not exactly where it should be for proper alignment. An especially desirable example of this shifted alignment can be found on the 5¢ Blue Transfer Stone 2, Position 44, Printing Stone 1, Right Pane, Upper Setting. Such a variety exist from every impression from the plate and is thus of no special rarity. This more liberal interpretation has been taken by exhibitors and auction catalogs on a number of occasions to describe something of interest but not the special rarity and importance of a Misplaced Transfer. To the best of my knowledge a true Misplaced Transfer of a Confederate General Issue Lithograph has never been sold at auction so described.
One could also produce a Misplaced Transfer in preparing the Transfer Stone, a position is entered and considered unacceptable and another put in it's place. Several positions suggest this possibility however as only the final form exist it is thus the normal variety or position. We have nothing to suggest that a position on a Transfer Stone was changed after the stone was used to prepare a Printing Stone however it could have been done.
The initial identification of a Misplaced Transfer requires both the plating of the stamps involved and a multiple or at least enough of an adjoining stamp to prove the relative position on the Printing Stone. Once the initial identification is made future examples can be confirmed from the plating details.
In 1998 I purchased a lot from sale of the James P. Myerson collection, American Historical Auctions, lot no 372. I bid on this lot based on the description; a 5¢ Blue usage from Montgomery, Texas. I was delighted when the cover arrived, condition and description were at least what I expected.
In plating the stamps I became puzzled; a Pair of 5¢ Blue Lithographs, Stone 2, the left stamp was immediately identified as Position 9 on Transfer Stone 2. The right stamp of the pair was a problem, it didn't seem to be Position 10. The plating marks were strong and the impression clear with the stamp in excellent condition. I started to check all of my positions 10 and notes for some error, perhaps I miss-marked my 3x5 reference photographs of various positions, after all there are 4 copies of Position 10 on a Printing Stone and for Stone 2 in Blue there are at least two Printing Stones thus eight possible constant minor varieties for the basic position.
Then the quandary became evident; the right stamp is not Position 10, but a perfectly normal Position 2 with a clear but slight portion of another stamp to the left, a new Misplaced Transfer! Both transfer positions 9 and 2 are the normal Transfer Stone stamps in all respect and there is no question as to the identification and that the stamps are a pair. The two stamps are further apart than they should be, the right hand one is moved to the right. There is enough of the sliver of the original position to the left of No. 2 showing to alert one to something different but not enough to plate it. However, the exact position of this sliver with respect to the adjacent position 9 is in agreement with position 10 thus I see no reason to question the original attribution. Another example would be nice; say the misplaced 2 with a position 50 above or 20 below, or to the right and across the vertical gutter to position 1.
The Misplaced Transfer first came to my attention in the mid 1960's when a 5¢ Green from Stone 2 in which Position 1 was entered in place of Position 10 was re-discovered. A most rare item, to date only two examples are known to the author, a used single and one unused example in a block of 40, Positions 1-40, Left Pane, Upper Setting which proves the plating as to the Printing Stone location.
This Misplaced Transfer is of special importance as this variety is quite pronounced and should be evident to any collector of the stamp and does not require a study of the plating to realize that there is something special which deserves serious attention. A good portion of the original stamp shows to the left of the design.
The Printing Stone used for the 5¢ Green Transfer Stone 2 stamps does not appear to be the one used for any of the Blue printings. One would assume that other copies would have surfaced for such an evident variety. This scarcity suggests numerous possibilities: perhaps this Printing Stone was quickly replaced thus perhaps there was more than one for the Green printing, the defect was noticed quickly, considered unacceptable, and repaired or the repair creating the variety was made near the end of the use of the stone.
For many years Scott has listed a "Misplaced Transfer" for the Green Printing of Stone 2 as both unused and used for a nominal monetary value and at one time also listed it for the Blue Printing. Perhaps I am to blame for the de-listing of the Blue stamps as I have long contended that it only exist from the Green Printing as I only knew of the No. 1 over 10 Misplaced Transfer. If this is the case the moderate catalog value is out of place considering both the unusual nature of the variety and the scarcity.
Our Green 5¢ Stone 2 variety (position No. 1 over No. 10) was reported and well illustrated by August Dietz in the October, 1925 issue of "The Southern Philatelist", vol 1, No. 12, pages 222-223. This identical illustration and text was repeated in his 1929 book "The Postal Service of The Confederate States of America", pages 105-106:
The Twin Scrolls.-This interesting Freak shows a repetition of the lower left side of the design, with no indications of a shift. There is but one explanation: Two transfers, one slightly overlapping the other, and sticking together, escaped detection in the group, and were transferred, jointly, on to the stone. Several sheets may have been printed before the Twins were discovered, when an erasure was made. A minor filling-in of lines appears in the letter "E" of "POSTAGE," due to "dry stone." Both oddities are of a temporary nature.
This description and the accompanying illustration are quite good as to the appearance of the item. However as it was an integral portion of the Printing Stone and was repetitive for some time period the word "Freak" is not really applicable. As it was on the printing stone and did not originate with the transfer stone Dietz's concept of two transfers sticking together is not possible. The significance of the filled in "E" was not realized thus the remark "temporary nature" is again not applicable. This filled in "E" is a major characteristic for Stone 2, Green or Blue Printings from position No. 1 and exist on all examples.
The earliest reference known to the author of the words "Misplaced Transfer" with respect to the Confederate lithographs is from an article by Curtis, Kappa and Pratt titled "Lithographs of the Confederate States of America" and appears in the November, 1929 issue of "Scott's Monthly Journal".
....To show the real rarity of these, we would say, that during our studies covering the last ten years, we have found less than a score of these from Stone 2 (both colors).
A short description of what a misplaced transfer is and how it may occur, is as follows:
Some position or group of positions show up badly when a printing has been taken-they have become damaged for some reason and do not print properly. The careful pressman notices this, and he erases that part of the stone, cleans off the space and makes a new transfer there (taking this new transfer either from the smaller Transfer Stone or from a perfect part of the big stone). Then the stone is ready to print from once more. But if he has taken his transfer from a different set of positions from the original ones, he has changed the arrangement of the varieties, and they do not run in the proper order, they are misplaced transfers.
It is unfortunate that the above description does not mention any specific plate positions and to the best of my knowledge such has not appeared in print by these classic scholars. Perhaps some examples exist with there notations. Our Green Position 1 over 10 was certainly known as early as 1925 to Curtis, Knapp and Pratt and most certainly appreciated as to the plate positions of the Transfer Stone, they may or may not have known the positions on the Printing Stone.
Other positions could also be applied to this basic definition but do not have the significance. Stone 2 Position 15 among others shows enough of a double scroll on the top to indicate there was a second design however as this exist on every copy of this position in either a Blue or Green prints it evidently originated with the production of the Transfer Stone and is thus the normal condition of the position.
Starting with the 1927 edition of the "Scott's Specialized Catalog of United States Postage Stamps" the "Bottom Scroll Doubled (re-entry 50 Stone 2)" has been listed for the Green printing. The following year 1928 "Misplaced Transfer (S 2)" was added for both the Green and the Blue printing but without further identification. The first edition of the "Dietz Specialized Catalog of the Postage Stamps of the Confederate States of America" appeared in 1931 and lists the "Twin Scroll Variety" but the designation "Misplaced Transfer" was not added until the 1945 edition. The 1945 edition does not define Misplaced Transfer though a note on page 129 implies it is the overlap on some Stone 2 units between the upper and lower transfer unit.
Over the years the Dietz and Scott catalogs have mentioned a misplaced transfer for Stone 2 Position 50, I have never seen anything from this position that resembles a misplaced transfer or any need for one and have assumed it was an error for the Green Stone 2 Position 1 over 10. A 1966 letter from Charles Kilbourne also makes this remark and adds that he has never seen it except for the Green printing, never the Blue.
Perhaps the Position 50 concept originated with the Bertram W. H. Poole articles in The Philatelic Gazette, 1915 - 1917. This Poole plating of Stone 2 is shifted by one horizontal row thus he identified position 50 as position 10.
The current catalog listing of "Misplaced Transfer" has little meaning, based on the information on this article the listings should be:
OK Now, lets see some more Misplaced Transfers, either new varieties or more examples of the above, they most likely exist!
Stone 2, Position 1
The upper portion of the E of POSTAGE, along with the adjacent area is filled in with color resembling a smudge which is probably what it is; but it originated with the production of the Transfer Stone hence it is an integral portion of the design for this position. There is a large intense short dash of color just under the hair line and above Jefferson Davis's right temple. There is a dash of color just under the lower right hand spandrel. The lower left scroll shows a nice clipped transfer.
Stone 2, Position 2
There is a small vertical line to the right of the upper right scroll. The deviation combined with a slightly deformed scroll gives a distinctive characteristic among the several similar varieties such as position No. 9, 21, 26 and somewhat line 19 from Stone 2. There is a pair of small horizontal lines, one being directly below and the other above the lower right scroll extension. As with Position 1 the lower left portion of the scroll shows a clipped transfer.
Stone 2, Position 9
The lower left scroll is slightly clipped on the bottom and has two short intersecting lines to the left of the clipped area. The upper right scroll has a small claw shaped dash of color extending to the right, this basic variety is common and mentioned with position with No. 2. There is a dash of color about midway between Jefferson Davis's ear and eye with the normal dashes of shading being absent in its immediate vicinity.
Stone 2, Position 10
When this unit was prepared for the Transfer Stone the subject was evidently torn or clipped and rejoined, on finely printed specimens a fine line of separation can be discerned extending from the center of the right side though to just beyond the inner colorless oval. The distortion of the inner colorless oval is even evident on poorly printed specimens. The top line of the lower right scroll extension is rather heavy with the right end being broken to give the appearance of an additional line.
other illustrations, black or natural borders
5¢ Green, Stone 2, Position No. 1 over No. 10
5¢ Blue, Stone 2, Left Stamp Positon No. 2 over No. 9, Right Stamp Positon No. 10, On cover, Montgomery, Texas, August 23, probably 1862