Dies and Cliche Types

Although the babyhead issues are all similar in design, five separate die types are apparent. Printing requirements and in particular the creation of larger sheets sizes resulted in the creation of additional clichés to construct the new plates and in these new clichés variations in the master die can be observed.

All sheets issued in 1890 comprised a 10x10 format sheet and were constructed using a master die (Die Type I). Many of the new printings made in 1892 and 1894 continued to use the clichés created using this die. However, in 1892 the appearance of new denomination issues and new sheet formats (in particular the 2c violet issue in its larger format comprising 150 stamps) meant that additional clichés were required and for these, a new die appears to have been created (Die Type II).

The difference between these two die types, and the cliches they produce, is principally noticeable in the upper right corner and directly below the S of FILIPINAS. In Cliche Type I the "cusps" of the scroll are shaded more or less heavily, while in Cliche Type II there is no shading at all in the "cusps" which consist of only a thin scroll line.

Cliche Type I 
infilled cusps
Cliche Type II
cusps not infilled 

Clichés of Type I also commonly show a broken line in the lower left corner frame.

In the 1892 2c issues (and in the later 1894 issues) the plates included clichés prodcued form both Die Types.

The requirement to produce a new larger format sheet for some of the values issued in 1896 meant that additional clichés were required (for the 2c ultramarine, 2c grey brown, 10c orange brown and 1mil ultramarine (impresos) issues). This time clichés from the older plates were not included in the new plates and entirely new clichés were generated (Cliche Type III). The new clichés are similar to Cliché Type II in that there is no shading in the cusps that make up the ornamental scroll. However, in the new clichés there is an imperfection represented by a slight bulging in the oval frame at the 12 o’clock position and the lower right ornamental scroll has a crisp definition with an unfilled cusp at the top (clichés of Die Type II generally have this cusp infilled).

The 1896 1/8mil dull blue impresos issue was also issued in the new sheet format and this was also created with new clichés. These clichés (Cliche Type IV) are very similar to those of Cliche Type III except that the bulging in the oval frame is less distinct and the top cusp of the lower right ornamental scroll is no longer crisp.

Cliche Type II
no bulge in oval frame
infilled cusp  
Cliche Type III
bulge in oval frame
no infill to cusp  
Cliche Type IV
minor bulge in oval frame
infilled cusp  

The introduction of two new denominations (40c and 80c) in 1897 again required new plates and clichés to be created. Both the 40c and 80c stamps show a distinct variation (Cliche Type V) in the die used to create the clichés. In these stamps the clichés show a broken oval frame at the 12 o’clock position.

The five die types described represent five distinguishable changes in the die used to create the clichés. These changes are distinct to the dies and occur on all clichés generated from the dies and differ for example from plate wear and damage or from constant plate flaws which occur on individual clichés.

Cliche Type V
Broken oval frame line
no infill (or small infill due to inking?) to cusp  

It appears likely that at least two master dies existed (Die Type I and Die Type II). Cliche Types III, IV and V possibly represent the evolution of a single die that has become worn with time. Whether these later clichés were created from a third master die or from the master die of Die Type II which had been retouched or become damaged is difficult to determine with certainty.


The components of the master dies were extensively used as the clichés of the different die types are also found in stamps of Spain’s other colonies, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Fernando Poo.






Gum Types

Paper Types

Sheet Formats