Thin Striated Paper of 1941

The beauty of stamp collecting is that we can collect what we like and how we like, writes BARRY MUDIE.

Only the purist would argue there is a right and a wrong way and, when it comes to expertising and competitions, they do not always agree either. 


Many of us are content to collect based on a catalogue listing. Others are not interested in a shade variety or watermark type, simply “face different”. There are of course those at the other end of the spectrum who are looking at the minutia of their chosen subject, with many more of us in between.


This article does not attempt to explain the complicated process of making paper used in stamp production or the different printing processes. Rather it is to help the collector identify this often troublesome stamp from, in most cases, it’s more common basic listing.

The consensus of opinion seems to be that the ribbed effect on the surface of the paper was caused during the production process when the paper was rolled to smooth it prior to printing. In December 1940 the printing works of De La Rue were bombed causing much damage. Work was transferred to Harrison & Sons and it was there where these1941 issues originated.

The thin paper was used to produce two issues of the 1941 printing of the Bahamas definitive - the 1/- brownish grey & scarlet (SG155a) and the 5/- reddish lilac & blue (SG156a). Both were subsequently used for the Columbus overprint. The cheapest catalogue price for the 1/- mint is £20, the thin paper version is £1,000. The same basic stamp used is 75p, on thin paper that becomes £110. The prices reflect the scarcity of this issue. 

The only other use of this paper was for some printings of the Malayan States.


There are some Malayan stamps that were only printed on thin paper and it is these that can be used as definitive reference items. They are:


 Straits Settlements 2c orange SG294
Negri Sembilan 2c orange SG23
Pahang 8c scarlet SG36
Pahang unissued 2c orange & 6c grey.

Each is shown here:

 Straits Settlements 2c orange SG29
Negri Sembilan 2c orange SG23

Pahang unissued 2c orange & 6c grey.

Pahang 8c scarlet SG36
For stamps which exist on both ordinary and straited
paper there are some tell-tale signs to look out for:

The paper is noticeably thinner on the straited paper stamp on the right and, viewed from the back, the watermark is clearly visible.

The colour of the stamp is often in a different shade

Hold the stamp to the light as if you were checking for phosphor bands. The ribbing runs horizontally across the whole of the surface of the stamp often showing on the inked areas as deeper bands of colour. Most noticeable on the marginal rule lines.

Some of the Malaya issues can be purchased for £1-£2 but some are scarce. Johore 10c dull purple & yellow basic stamp used 50p thin paper SG112a £190 (mint £130). Or the 50c SG 119a £375 mint. £4 for the basic listing. Why write an article about this? Because we all like a bargain and it is as they say “The thrill of the hunt”. And dealers are known to get it wrong!

I finish with this rather ordinary looking cover, found in a dealers stock, priced at £2.00. It was this cover that prompted me to write this piece. 

Bahamas September 1942 airmail cover to Kingston, Surrey, rated at 1/6d.

The 1/- stamp is the brownish grey & scarlet on thin striated paper SG155a. Priced from x3 on cover.

Would anyone like to make me an offer?