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L37-L38 (wove paper); L43 (laid paper); unused.

1922 (July) Irish Republican Army

Set 10L

1d brown
wove paper
[MID]  [LAR]

2d green
wove paper
[MID]  [LAR]

6d blue
laid paper
[MID]  [LAR]


Design: "An Post Poblact na h-Éireann" ("Post of the Republic of Ireland"), in central medallion, beneath rising sun. 21 x 25.5 mm.

Printing: Lithography; Eagle Printing Works, Cork. The 1d and 2d values were printed in sheets of 120 (12 wide x 10 high) subjects. The printing base or stone from which the sheets were pulled was made up of twenty individual transfers, each comprising six (3 x 2) subjects. The stamps in each of the locations within these transfers have unique printing flaws, enabling their positions to be identified. Thus, the break in the circle and two missing dots (at about 2 o'clock) on the 1d marks it as the third stamp in the first row of one of the twenty six-subject transfers. On the 2d, the break in the right outer frame line 6 mm from the bottom of the design marks it as the first stamp in the second row of one of the transfers. Unlike the 1d and 2d values, the 6d was printed in sheets of eighty subjects (in two panes of forty, each 10 x 4). The transfers, ten per pane, were 2 x 2. The dot to the left of the "1" in "1922" on the 6d indicates that it was the first stamp in the second row (that is, at the lower left) of one of the transfers.

Separation: Perf. 11.

Watermark: None.

Date of Issue: July 1922.

Numbers Issued: The number of sheets originally printed is not known. Most, in any case, were destroyed when the Republicans burned their Cork headquarters prior to withdrawing from that city during the Civil War (August 1922). Most sources estimate that 250 copies of the 1d and 2d values, and 1000 copies of the 6d value, survived the fire.

Notes: The Treaty of 6 December 1921 ended the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) but provoked an immediate split in the Irish nationalist movement. Under the treaty's terms, a provisional government with dominion status was to be established for the twenty-six counties of southern Ireland; after one year, this government would achieve formal recognition as the Irish Free State. Six counties in the northeast were to remain part of the United Kingdom. This "partition" was viewed by some nationalists - pro-Treaty supporters of the provisional government - as a necessary concession; to other, anti-Treaty supporters of the rival Republican government, anything short of a united, independent Ireland was not only unacceptable but treasonous. The narrow, 64 to 57 margin of the vote in the Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament) approving the Treaty did not bode well for solidarity; fighting broke out in the spring, and by July the Irish Civil War had begun in earnest.

Early in the war, the Republicans (that is, the Irish Republican Army, which at the time controlled much of southern and western Ireland, and was headquartered in Cork) decided to issue a series of postage stamps. The extent to which this was part of a broader plan to establish an alternative postal service in Republican-held territory is not entirely clear. Proofs of Republican postage stamps featuring a portrait of Patrick Pearse, one of the martyrs of 1916, were prepared, but were supposedly rejected by Eagle Printing Works, Cork, as too ornate for easy reproduction. The stamps ultimately printed by Eagle were simpler in design than the Pearse proofs, bearing the central inscription "Post of the Republic of Ireland" (in Gaelic) rather than a portrait. Sheets of the stamps were delivered to IRA headquarters at Union Quay, Cork, in late July or early August, but before these could be issued to Republican controlled post offices, Nationalist (provisional government) troops attacked Cork. The IRA burned its headquarters as it retreated from the city, and most of the newly printed sheets were destroyed (some, apparently, had already been distributed to various parties associated with the IRA). The Republican stamps of 1922 are perhaps the most philatelically legitimate of all the Irish forerunners, in that they were clearly prepared to serve a postal function, and by a competent regional authority. But due to the destruction of most of the printed sheets, only a very few covers bearing them are known.

Provenance: Dr. Charles Wolf (all).

Bibliography: Ward, 1927, 7; EPA 1961, 9-12; Feldman 1968, 19-20; Mackay 1968, 61-3; Dulin 1992, 92-3.

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