Barbados. 4c/5c Staghorn Coral provisional. Issued 11 March 1970. Due to a lack of 4c stamps to cater for local postage and fiscal needs in 1970, the Barbados postal authority approved the surcharging of the then current 5c Staghorn Coral definitive. Surcharging was undertaken by the local government printery who were woefully equipped to handle the task. The machinery couldn’t properly handle the 10 x 10 gummed sheet format making it necessary to trim the top margin and even fold over the top two rows prior to surcharging. With sheets becoming stuck, folded and re-fed through the press, all manner of varieties resulted. It explains the existence of examples with surcharge on the gummed side, double surcharges, inverted surcharges, and vertical pairs with surcharge missing from one and present on the other. Further, the use of slow-drying ink caused innumerable offset varieties.
Most of the varieties are relatively abundant and suitably valued. The triple surcharge being the exception. It’s scarce with just a handful of examples recorded. There are a smattering of unrecorded varieties combining offsets and multiple surcharge strikes (either upright, inverted or some mix thereof). This includes a fortuitous paper skew resulting in a horizontal pair with surcharge missing from one and normal on the other (as can be seen on the second row of the block pictured). Given the calamitous achievements of the government printery in surcharging some 10,000 sheets, it’s very probable there are more gems for the variety hunter to discover. Even 40-odd years after the event.