Multiple Crown Script ca watermark - Lin Yangchen
©Lin Yangchen

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Paper supplied to De La Rue bore the Multiple Crown Script CA (“Crown Agents”) watermark impressed on the pulp using a dandy-roll. This watermark featured the Imperial State Crown, a sovereign symbol worn at state occasions, accompanied by the letters CA in an artistic 'signature' script typeface that mimicked cursive handwriting and was harder to forge.

King George V in 1911, wearing the Imperial State Crown whose likeness appears in the Multiple Crown Script CA watermark of the coconut definitive. Photo: Emery Walker

Interestingly, the horizontal and vertical periodicities of the watermark are both slightly out of sync with the standard British Empire small-definitive stamp dimensions; the watermark repeats at slightly greater distances. Occasionally, the sheet was fed into the press the other way round, producing inverted watermarks (Peters 1994a) now highly sought by collectors.

Sometime between 1950 and 1952, a crown fell off the dandy roll. The resulting faulty paper was used for several territories, including Johore, before the defect was noticed (Stanley Gibbons 1995). Then a second "error" happened when the missing crown was replaced with a Saint Edward's Crown, which is worn only at coronations. Affected coconut definitives include the Johore 6¢, Perlis 10¢ and Singapore $1 and $2 (Peters 1994b, Stanway 2009, auction catalogues), indicating that these were printed together.

Two questions, however, have never been answered: firstly whether it was really an error or a deliberate action necessitated by the unavailability of the correct crown, and secondly why this particular design of the Saint Edward's Crown watermark is seen nowhere else. Where did it come from and what was it made for? The multiple Saint Edward's Crown watermark introduced in 1957 was of a different design.

Saint Edward's Crown (1661 to present). Made of solid gold and studded with 444 jewels, it reaches almost a third of a metre in height and weighs more than 2 kilograms. Photo: government of the United Kingdom


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