Nepal 1881-1885 Issue:

More on the 2 Anna’s Tete-Beche

by Wolfgang C. Hellrigl

In Postal Himal No. 77 (1944) I published an article on the famous 2 Anna’s tete-beche on European paper (Hellrigl Vignola No. 5a). In particular, I recorded a newly discovered vertical strip of three containing pos. 14, 22 and 30, in which pos. 22 was inverted. The position of this inverted cliché two other tete-beche pairs (ex Haverbeck and ex Heddergott respectively): both consist of pos. 22 and 23, with pos. 22 inverted. At this stage I believed to have, definitely solved the long standing problem of the position of the inverted cliché.

Now, new evidence has come to light which forces me to revise, at least partly, some of the points I made in my previous. The first additional clue came in the form of a photograph the well-known, but previously unplated tete-beche pair in the Tapling collection of the British Library. I had closely examined the original in London - David Beech, the most co-operative curator of the collection had even taken it out of the frames for me, in order to provide better viewing facilities - but it was only after obtaining a clear photograph that I could actually attempt plating it. However, to my indignation, the plating procedure proved to be so extremely difficult that, in the end, I had to surrender without coming to an acceptable conclusion.

But help was on its way: an unrecorded, vertical tete-beche pair appeared on the scene and was kindly brought to my attention by George Alevisos. Although this pair was equally difficult to plate, it enabled me to establish a common feature with the Tapling pair and this fortunate circumstance eventually to the solution of the plating puzzle: it Is now-proven that the Alevisos pair consists of pos. 13 and 21, the latter inverted, while the Tapling pair comprises pos. 20 and 21, again pos. 21 being inverted. Following my earlier announcement that the inverted cliché was in pos. 22, it was, of course, a most unexpected surprise to find that the adjacent pos. 21 was also inverted.

In this context I should perhaps explain that the plating problems were due to the fact that the early printings of the clichés involved are virtually free from flaws. Besides, there are only two multiples of the first issue which to compare the group of clichés centering on pos. 21 & 22.

At any rate, now that five of the six known tete-beches have finally been plated, the situation is that two different clichés were actually inverted: pos. 21 and pos. 22. We know nothing of the sixth tete-beche pair, except that it appeared in the Dawson sale (Robson Lowe, 1967), is pin-perforated and damaged at one corner.

At this point, I must revise my earlier suggestion that the setting with pos. 22 inverted may have preceded the Hellrigl/Vignola setting 2. While this statement might still hold true, the existence of an inverted pos. 21 now reopens the field to any speculation Most importantly the strong link with setting 4 (which also has pos. 21 inverted) has now been re-established.

In view of the fragmentary nature of the information at hand, perhaps the wisest thing to do would be to retain the original sequence of the Hellrigl/Vignola settings and to note that setting 3 presumably had two inverted clichés, pos. 21 and 22. However, the fact that two Inverted clichés have now been proved beyond doubt does not necessarily imply that both inversions occurred in the same setting. Theoretically, the tete-beches could have involved two distinct settings, each of which featuring one inverted cliché in a different position; these could have occurred in lieu of, or in addition to, a setting with two simultaneous inversions. I calculated that, all in all, there are no less then thirteen different possible combinations of the sequences of settings involving these two inverted clichés Perhaps one day, this mystery can be solved completely, but at the moment we must be content with the discovery that not only one, but two clichés of the first Issue of the 2 Anna’s were actually Inverted.

The Alevisos tete-beche pair of 2 Anna’s,
on European Paper, (pos. 13 & 21), featuring
the inverted cliché in pos. 21

First published in Postal Himal No. 86, 2nd. Quarter/1996

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Last update on 30.09.10