A Quick Reference Guide to Identifying Wildings


First published on the 11th of April, 2021

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Dorothy Wilding


Based on photos by Dorothy Wilding (such as the one to the right), the appropriately named “Wilding” issues of definitive stamps are never particularly fun to identify. One reason for this is that for the first decade or so of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign their design did not outwardly change, and the only differences are far more hidden to the untrained eye. Secondly, the catalogues - while useful - stretch them out across multiple pages which means flipping back and fourth (and constantly losing your page!).

Therefore I thought it might be useful to write down a “quick” guide, based on a few rules of thumb. This is partially for my benefit, but also for others. While I will skip parts many of the specialist elements, these article will at least help you identify the wilding based upon the Stanley Gibbons Concise numbering system. If you’re in a rush, skip ahead to the table at the bottom!

Thus, ignoring all the sub-varieties, there are seven major groups of Wilding issues and were (perhaps obviously) issued at different times and are all referenced with different catalogue numbers. The first and easiest way to cut down the list of possibilities is by looking at the watermark, of which there are three.



Tudor Crown

Tudor Crown Watermark


The first is the Tudor Crown watermark. This is only found on the issues of 1952 to 1954. The catalogue number of these is SG 515 to 531, and this covers all halfpence values up to 4d, then full pence values up to 1s, and finally the 1s3d and 1s6d values.

Whilst the reference term suggests the presence of a crown only, the watermark actually consists of the Elizabeth Cypher “E 2 R” (not E II R as would be assumed) plus “E R” with the aforementioned crown positioned between the latter two letters. They are stacked, alternately vertically.



St. Edwards Crown

St Edwards Crown Watermark


St. Edwards Crown watermarks are predominantly found on the 1955-58 issues with catalogue numbers SG 540 through 556, with the same pattern at the Tudor Crown varieties above. Two things are worth noting, however:


  1. There are two issues of the 2d variety, with SG 543 being red-brown, and SG 543b being a lighter shade.
  2. Values ½d, 1d, 1½d and 2d with St. Edwards Crown also appeared with both graphite lines and phosphor in 1959 (when they were transitioning over to just phosphor). These are catalogue numbers SG 599 to 601, plus 605a for the 2d variety (an error of SG 605 which has a different watermark).


It’s also worth noting that the 11d value only appears with the Tudor Crown or St. Edwards Crown watermark (SG 528 and 553 respectively), whilst the 4½d appears with neither and must therefore be a later issue; i.e. with the Multiple Crown watermark.



Multiple Crowns

Multiple Crowns Watermark


Moving onto the Multiple Crowns watermark, these were issued between 1958 and 1965, and come in many forms, based on the presence of graphite lines and phosphor bands. Strictly speaking the watermark is Multiple St. Edward Crowns, but it is normally shortened for brevity.

  1. Multiple Crowns with neither graphite lines nor phosphor bands are numbers SG 570 to 586. These are all the half-values up to 5d (including 4½d) plus full values up to 10d. Then, 1s, 1s3d and 1s6d.
  2. Multiple Crowns with only graphite lines are numbers SG 587 to 594. These are all the half-values up to 4½d.
  3. Multiple Crowns with both graphite lines and phosphor are numbers 605 to 609. These are all the half values from 2d to 4 1/2d. The 2d also appeared with the SEC as an error (605a). Values ½d to 1½d with both are number SG 599 to 601, plus SG 605a.
  4. Multiple Crowns with only phosphor bands are numbers SG 610 to 618. Whilst the bulk are numbered similarly (with a letter postfix), only three are worth looking closer at.

    1. The 2d value, which comes with either one phosphor band (SG 613) or two (SG 613a).
    2. The 2½d value which comes with two phosphor bands (SG 614) or one phosphor band. The latter appears as Type I (SG 614b) or Type II (614a)
    3. The 3d appears with two phosphor bands (SG 615), one band at the right (SG 615c) or one band in the centre (SG 615c)
Multiple Crowns Watermark
Multiple Crown "Timeline"


Rounding Up


So there you have it. The later Multiple Crowns watermark variety can also be subdivided based upon the type of phosphor uses - primarily discard through the discharge colour and afterglow time. Whilst certainly interesting, these are considered by many to be a specialist area. Nonetheless, it may be worth keeping an eye on them, for curiosities sake if nothing more.

Finally, A reference table is shown below. The watermarks are abbreviated, and the presence of graphite is indicated by a G, whilst the presence of phosphor bands is indicated by a P. Fingers crossed it helps!




Value

TC

St.EC

MC

MC (G)

St.EC (G&P)

MC (G&P)

MC (P)

½d

515

540

570

587

599


610

1d

516

541

571

588

600


611

1½d

517

542

572

589

601


612

2d

518

543/b

573

590

605a

613 (1 Band)

613a (2 bands)

2½d

519

544

574

591


606

614 (2 bands)

614a (1b Type II)

614b (1b Type I)

3d

520

545

575

592


607

615 (2b)

615c (1r)

615e (1c)

4d

521

546

576

593


608

616

4½d



577

594


609

616b

5d

522

547

578




616c

6d

523

548

579




617

7d

524

549

580




617a

8d

525

550

581




617b

9d

526

551

582




617c

10d

527

552

583




617d

11d

528

553






1s

529

554

584




617e

1s3d

530

555

585




618




Footnotes


Photo of Queen Elizabeth II by Dorothy Wilding. Postal Museum entry POST 150/QEIID(L)/10/02

Image of Tudor Crown watermark from Colnect, via Stampdata.com

Image of St. Edwards Crown watermark from Colnect, via Stampdata.com

Image of Multiple Crowns watermark from Colnect, via Stampdata.com



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