Home My Stamp Reference Files Contact About Links Sitemap


Information and Reference of What was Found in the Format Archive and Elsewhere

Varieties and Proofs

Would YOU store YOUR specialized 1986 Royal Wedding Uncut Press Sheets this way?

Example of how the 1986 Royal Wedding Police Evidence Stock was Stored
Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding (1st issue) Stamps
Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding (1st issue) Souvenir Sheet
Marquee for Golowe's Reference Site on the Format International Security Printers

The 1986 Royal Wedding stamps issued for Tuvalu and the neighboring islands and atolls is an interesting and complex subject to unravel.
Quantities can only be based on the practices of the printer at the time of printing, quantities found in the police evidence stock and availability on the market. At present it appears all documentation has been destroyed.

Firstly I would like to present the story behind the tete-beches. It is an interesting story.

This part of the presentation is repeated on all the Tuvalu Island pages, so you can skip to the reprint section if you have already read this part.


The story began back in 1991 with the sale of the Format International Security Printers Archive due to the bankruptcy proceedings which caused the liquidation of the companies assets including the archive. At the time the trials against the company and affiliated companies and owners for the said fraudulent reprinting and production of varieties which was proven to be found not guilty of all charges was also happening. The British Metropolitan Police made numerous raids on the companies including raiding the printing company and confiscating anything that looked like stamp errors. They took several tons of philatelic material including progressive color proofs, specimen overprinted, imperforate proofs, on and on from the companies and the archive. Mainly involving the countries involved in the trials including Tuvalu and the islands, St. Vincent and dependencies, St. Lucia, Nevis, etc;.

The materials left in the archive were sold via Christie's/Robson Lowe in private treaties and several public auctions with the final auction being made in 1995. One of the major buyers of the archive was Mr. Kasimir Bileski, a famous stamp dealer in Canada. In his purchases he acquired the majority of uncut press sheets from all the countries involved in the 1986 Royal Wedding Omnibus Series. He became fascinated by the tete-beche formation of the sheets and began a heavy research into what they were for and what existed. He studied them among hundred's of other studies for around 16 years before his passing. In the sale of the archive several other dealers obtained some of the sheets and Mr. Bileski for years tried and did in fact locate and purchase most of them from them to reunite with his own.

I have produced a PDF file with Different Bileski Write-ups on the 1986 Royal Wedding Tete-beches. Most have never been seen publicly. You can download and read them here.

The Bileski Documents on the 1986 Royal Wedding Tete-beches

It is interesting here to note that during all this time it was unknown about the existence of the materials that were confiscated for the trials of the printer of which included a large quantity of the uncut press sheets and such of the Omnibus Series in many forms. I wish to note the exciting news at this point that not very many (if at all) uncut press sheets of the normal issued stamp pairs from the islands of Tuvalu were confiscated!

My interest in the series began in about 1998 when in my dealings with Mr. Bileski, he sent me a "bonus gift" in one of my purchases of a set of the tete-beche pairs from all of the countries involved. I followed his research and after his passing have carried it on to today. It has been a fun study and has advanced far beyond Mr. Bileski's study of the series.

Getting back to the story on the Tuvalu Islands.
Mr. Bileski made a list of the islands and the number of sheets (for some) that he found in his purchases of the archive. Here is the list. Bileski list of sheets found for the 1986 Royal Wedding issues for Tuvalu and the Islands
I have an older version of the list (shown in the PDF file) before he updated the "location" of the sheets. Note he never found the Tuvalu $1 value. Nor the Nanumea 60c value. I have. Basically the list shows he located all the others. He did not write the number of sheets found but I can assure you they are at most 10-12 sheets. In some cases of which I now believe to be true with Tuvalu, only 7-8 sheets were found. Possibly more but in many cases with archival material, several may have been heavily damaged and thus not used.

After Mr. Bileski's passing, his estate was put up for auction in many different lots over a couple of years via R. Maresch Auction House. In several large lots over this time the materials from the Format Printers Archive were placed for auction. At this time I had not been dealing with Mr. Bileski for years and did not know of his passing. Several of the earlier sold lots were purchased by Mr. Karl Marquis, owner of KMPhilately. KMP broke the large lots into smaller random lots and began sales on their internet auction sales. THIS is when I discovered what had happened. I feverishly bid on many of the lots including the ones with the tete-beches and won most of them, but lost a few also. I reorganized them and reunited them and began the count. Over several years I have found the other buyers who were my competitors and purchased much and received the counts of what they have or had. The counts hold true with the documents written by Robson Lowe and Mr. Bileski my friends!

I have since taken the research even further! I have acquired the police evidence stock held in the police warehouse until 2008 on the Tuvalu side! In the stock were hundreds of the press sheets still intact and much more cut for storage. Of these all the varieties as in the second issues, silver and gold overprints, Specimen overprinted, missing value, imperforates, progressives. A wonderful find! And now the twist. For the islands of Tuvalu ONLY ONE OR A COUPLE SHEETS of the normal issued stamp pairs were there for most values for most islands!

So what happened to them all? My theory is that almost all of them were cut to either make booklet panes or for resale. Please understand the press sheets are huge and hard to store. My evidence? This. Packs of Blocks for Vaitupu 1986 Royal Wedding Issues
Each packet contains over 20 of these blocks. As you can see by the configuration
1.)The gutter is destroyed
2.)The tete-beche formation is destroyed
This is what has happened to almost every value of the normal issued stamp pairs for the Island countries of Tuvalu! Thus very few of the uncut press sheets were saved intact and thus very few tete-beches and gutter pairs can exist! So in regards to the island country issues of Tuvalu, Mr. Bileski is pretty much accurate in statements regarding the tete-beche and gutter varieties. Interesting yes?


The reprints for the Tuvalu and the Islands are difficult to define. They appear to be opposite in color contrast to the reprints of the Eastern Hemisphere countries. The originals have deeper toning than the reprints. The Country names and denominations are all black so you cannot really define them with those as you can with the different colors from the Eastern Hemisphere side.
Below are images of the subtle differences for Tuvalu. The reprints were used for the silver and gold overprinted 2nd issue series and various varieties. The surplus being retained for the saved press sheets and probably some being sold by various dealers. The reasoning for this is that at present I found that the normals from the archive and the police evidence stock appear to be the reprints.
A very fortunate find that I discovered in the police evidence stock was both varieties of the specimen overprinted versions which clearly show the original printing versus the reprinted version. The following images of the comparisons are from them.
Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Scott 381a Reprint Comparison
Note the darker toning on the originals.
The hair is darker and the bluish hue is very intense on the originals.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Scott 381b Reprint Comparison
Again note the darker toning. Prince Andrew's hair is almost black. Complexion much redder.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Scott 382a Reprint Comparison
Note the bluish hue of the shirt collar on the original.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Scott 382b Reprint Comparison
Note the deeper toning of the face on the originals. Almost brownish in color.

On this page we will try to break down quantities that exist to try to establish a value for the material. All varieties come from the uncut press sheets. These numbers may change as more information becomes available.

There are changes in regards to the Bileski Documentation on the tete-beches of the 1986 Royal Wedding issues. More details will be presented in the individual island issues. In some regards Mr. Bileski was correct. In some regards such as with Tuvalu itself the calculations were off.

For the main island of Tuvalu, larger quantities were printed and more varieties were made than for the islands and atolls. The main reasons being because Tuvalu's stamps were and are listed in all major stamp catalogues and the $1 stamp pair features Princess Diana with Sarah Ferguson making the $1 stamp pair a highly sought after collectible for collectors inside and outside the stamp collecting market. For this reason even the progressive color proofs of the $1 value were reprinted for demand.

Let's see what was made and what exists!

Section 1 will deal with the single stamp issues and section 2 will deal with the souvenir sheet.




Normal gutter varieties etc.

Based on the configuration of the uncut press sheets we will base quantities on the Bileski method of cutting or breaking the sheets. Also included in the equations will be the fact of how many intact sheets still exist.


Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Perforated Gutter Blocks From Uncut Press Sheet of 80 Stamps
Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Perforated Large Selvage Corner Strip From Uncut Press Sheet of 80 Stamps
Through my findings from emailed accounts and stocks purchased from the police evidence stock I have finally been able to come out with the quantitative figures of what was produced for the series in general. For all normal issued 1st and 2nd issues of the 1986 Royal Wedding stamp issues printed by the Format Printers, 300 press sheets of 80 stamps were produced. Thus 12,000 stamp pairs were produced of each value.
For the islands half as many of the 1st issue and half of that were produced for the 2nd issue with only one or two exceptions. Namely being the issues with Princess Diana on them. This is because the island issues did not have as much popularity, demand and were not being listed in certain catalogs.

UPDATE 2016!

Over many years I have been searching for evidence and location of the $1 value for this Tuvalu issue. About a year ago I found a seller based in France who was selling them along with the 60c value in full press sheets! Over the past year I have been working with him to acquire them. As of October 15, 2016 I have now acquired his complete stock of them! The total is 50 complete sets of press sheets! By all accounts these are the last remaining press sheets for this issue as the normal issues (not varieties) in the world. All of them were folded for storage. Other than the folding along perforations they have been beautifully preserved!
The price guide below still remains as is, except for gutters of the normal issue, with this new find.

The count now stands at 71 uncut press sheets of the 60c value and 53 uncut press sheets of the $1 value found! Already the number is smaller for the $1 value as I have broken several for the gutters and tete-beche blocks to offer to collectors.


From the police evidence stock I found 21 uncut press sheets of the 60c value. A count showing at least 4 more sheets that were broken. It appears the $1 value has been extensively sold. Due to the update above the status of the $1 normal issued value has changed. From the police evidence stock I found 3 full sheets and 3 partial sheets. The gutters and large selvage stamps are scattered. Several panes of 40 do exist intact. Quantities of these are unknown at present. I have about 13 of them which I found in the Bileski stock.

Basing on 300 sheets being produced of each value we can calculate that 5 x 300 = 1500 of these gutter pairs could exist. The same number of tete-beche blocks could exist.

This is not the case though as evidence shows that many of the tete-beches have been separated with no regard to their rarity. I found many broken sheets separated from the middle of the tete-bech pairs. Many separated from the gutters thus destroying the gutters. This has greatly decreased the number of tete-beches in both forms that can still exist. Looking back on the history of their sales in the market few are offered and when they are the owner usually only has one or a couple. This shows that not a lot have been saved intact. However it appears that many were and as the update shows a limited number of full uncut press sheets do exist. Therefore the main 1st issue Tuvalu tete-beches are more common than the island issues.

In my acquisitions of the Bileski estate I have managed to reunite a major portion of the tete-beches he created of the 1st issue. For some countries almost 100%!

Noting the document presented in the beginning of this page showing that the $1 value with Princess Diana on it was never found.

The known to exist count for Tuvalu:

Until now (2016), very few tete-beche and straight-up gutters of the $1 value exist. It appears quite a few tete-beche blocks and pairs do still exist and are available on the market and various places. Some being over priced whereas others in range. With this newest discovery, it is now possible to create more straight-up and tete-beche gutter blocks. Still, even if I broke all the press sheets, there can only be a maximum of 260 of each.
For the 60c value more does exist. I have recovered around 15 sets from the Bileski estate and as you can see can make quite a few more from the press sheets. They too are available in several places on the market.

As far as large selvage stamps go, 10 pairs can exist from each sheet, 5 from each side, thus 1500 pairs. Not a lot with the millions of collectors out there.

Pricing should run $5-10.00 for intact gutter pairs either tete-beche or not
Tete-beche pairs $2-3.00 and blocks at $3-5.00.
Stamp pairs or singles with the LARGE selvage should run at double catalog values.

Noting the Tuvalu $1 value has Princess Diana on it makes this stamp pair more in demand thus a premium can be expected.

Intact uncut press sheets are in the rare category now as you can see.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Perforated Tete-beche Blocks
Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Perforated Tete-beche Gutter Blocks


The above imaged format exist for the SPECIMEN overprinted stamps as well. There are two versions of the SPECIMEN overprint. The first being larger letters in italic in silver and the second being smaller block capital lettered in silver.


Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Perforated Large SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps
Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Perforated Small SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps

I found 4 intact perforated uncut press sheets of the $1 value with the large specimen overprint.
I found 4 intact perforated uncut press sheets of the 60c value with the large specimen overprint.
There are 29 60c and 28 $1 intact perforated uncut sheets with the smaller SPECIMEN overprint. The smaller overprint is from the second printing due to popularity. Based on research it is estimated that 25 sheets of the large overprint were made thus producing 1000 sets whereas 50 sheets were made with the smaller overprint thus producing 2000 sets.

Here we must then calculate that for the smaller overprinted stamps that they are much rarer than normal perforated gutter pairs etc. above.
Therefore pricing should be at least 100% higher.

The larger overprinted gutter pairs, tete-beches etc. should command a 100% premium on top of that.

Intact uncut press sheets with the large specimen overprint are in the extreme rare category now.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding 2nd Issue Perforated with Gold Overprint
The 2nd issue has both silver and gold overprints. The gold overprinted stamps were never issued.
So far intact uncut sheets of the $1 with the silver overprint are unknown. A count of 262 of the 60c value still intact has been made.

Based on the 60c sheet count we can safely say again 12,000 stamp pairs of each value were produced.
The $1 value is not sold commonly in tete-beche or gutter form. No evidence past or present giving us the possibility that the sheets may have been confiscated. Possibly they had inverted overprints or some other type of error on them.

Pricing should be 1-200% higher than the 1st issue normals in regards to tete-beche and gutters unless the $1 value is found still intact in large quantities which is now very doubtful.

I must note an interesting fact. Unlike the island 2nd issue which was overprinted on the original print run stock, for Tuvalu the overprints were placed on the reprints! This is probably because the sales of the Tuvalu original printed issue was very good and the original stock was used up.

The $1 value with gold overprint has 28 intact uncut sheets left. The 60c value with gold overprint has 14 intact uncut sheets left.

Based on these numbers and counts from other countries it is conceivable that the same numbers apply as the small SPECIMEN overprinted stamps.
50 sheets produced limiting the gold pairs to 2000 sets. Therefore pricing should also be the same as the small SPECIMEN overprinted stamps above.

There are errors as in inverted overprints, a'cheval etc. which command much higher values as very few sheets have them. Only a few exist and of them there are many differences. For instance I found 1 sheet a'cheval and a couple with inverts on one side.
These are definitely errors as the sheets have huge smudges of the overprinting ink on them. Made for collector errors are pristine sheets.
One could call them printers waste and yes they would be meant to be destroyed but with these sheets they were removed probably from the printers archive by the British Metropolitan Police during the raids. I found a small group of them in an unopened evidence bag! The seal and labels still intact!!


Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Perforated Missing Value Error
A bit of news on this one folks. There still exists 89 full uncut press sheets of the $1 value of these. 91 uncut press sheets of the 60c value. This shows that 100 sheets were produced making 4000 sets possible.

In my study of the printing practices of the printer I have seen these type of stamps in other countries. A good example being the Guyana Reichenbachia Orchids series. Several stamps were produced with different values and the same stamp produced in this fashion as well. The value being placed at a later time. It is probable these stamps are not made for collector errors at all but produced to be printed with new values at a later date.
Perhaps made this way to change the value with the planned 2nd issue. There are no documents on the production of the 1986 Royal Wedding issues so we may never know. Standard printing practices for the made for collector errors was for 3,000 of a given stamp. That would mean only 75 sheets would be made. Given this higher number of sheets produced fall outside the normal practices of the printer. They are an interesting novelty nonetheless and a mystery still.

Based on these numbers and other research one should value these at around $5.00 a pair. Gutter pairs and blocks and selvage pairs should be priced 200% higher than the normals above.


Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding $1 Imperforate Proofs
So far seeming to exist are imperforate color proofs including finals and imperforate SPECIMEN overprinted sheets. Also imperforate missing value sheets. This totally disputes the statement in Stanley Gibbons that imperforates come from booklets.
Still one should be aware that many imperforate booklets and panes do exist. Some wish to claim because they do not have staple holes that they are not from booklets which is true. Basically they are cut for the booklets and the case is that more exist in this form than the booklets themselves! The reason being because the making of the booklets was brought to a screeching halt after all the press sheets were already cut (except the ones with the color proofs) for the booklets.
I would therefore value the intact booklets perforated or not at a higher value than these unused panes.
Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Imperforate Booklet Panes
Please visit my page on the 1986 Royal wedding Booklet Panes for more detailed information on what to look for when buying the proofs versus buying the booklet panes.

The 1986 Royal Wedding Booklets

There are 72 imperforate progressive proof full uncut press sheets of the $1 with Princess Diana in all colors and varieties still intact. This is close to the standard 3000 sets of these which would be 75 sheets printed.
There are 74 panes of 10 pairs from one side of the sheet of same. Thus we have the proof that 75 more sheets existed. Because of the popularity of Princess Diana the printer must have run a second printing of these. Thus making 6,000 pairs.

We recovered 74 panes of 40 of the 60c value and 75 panes of 20 from the left side of the press sheets. No uncut press sheets exist. This shows that the 60c value of the progressive color proofs was not reprinted as in almost all values of the series. Only the stamps featuring Princess Diana were reprinted because of her popularity among collectors.

Based on the findings a set of color proof pairs of either value should be valued at $15-25.00.
Gutter pairs and tete-beche blocks should be valued at $35-50.00. Even though there are twice as many of the $1 value the popularity of Diana causing increased demand counters the higher number printed.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding $1 SPECIMEN Overprinted Imperforate Proofs
There are 28 intact uncut press sheets of imperforate SPECIMEN overprinted $1 stamps recorded. There are 31 intact press sheets of the 60c value in this form. This shows the standard printing practices were in place producing 50 sheets thus 2000 sets possible.
There are no large specimen overprinted stamps that are imperforate.

Based on these findings pricing should be in range of normal perforated small SPECIMEN overprinted stamps above.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding $1 Missing Value Error Imperforate Proofs
There are 21 intact uncut press sheets of imperforate $1 missing value error stamps. There are 20 intact press sheets of the imperforate 60c value. Basing on the availability on the market which is little to none more than likely it was 25 making 1000 sets possible.

Based on findings these should be valued at double the pricing of normal perforated stamps with missing value priced above.

This basically sums up the stamp varieties for the Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding single stamp pair issues.



Following is the rundown of what was saved in regards to the unissued souvenir sheet.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding (1st issue) Souvenir Sheet
It is estimated that 6,000 normal issued souvenir sheets were produced. This is based on practices by the printers during the time. Usually quantities of souvenir sheets in respect to the single issued stamp sets was around 30% of the quantities issued. Because there are no documents we will base the figures at the highest rate of 50%. Catalogue values for the normal issue are thus in perspective.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Imperforate Souvenir Sheet
Documentation and solid evidence show that:
At present based on practices of the printer at the time 2,000 imperforate souvenir sheets were made.
Another 1,500 were produced with the progressive color proofs.

Pricing should be around $10.00 each considering one should not break them from the progressives thus limiting them to 2,000 available for sale.


At present based on practices of the printer at the time 1,000 of each would have been made.
At present only one source appears to be selling the imperforate. Perforated versions are rarely seen on the market.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding Progressive Color Proofs of the Souvenir Sheet
Based on practices of the printer at the time 1,500 progressive color proof sets of the souvenir sheets were made.
We have acquired a selection via the police evidence. The silver inscription proof was not found. It is possible they are destroyed. Also the final imperforate proofs were not found. They are on the market. Very few of the BLUE proofs have been recovered. This limits the quantities considerably for finished sets. At present with what I recovered only 280 sets as the imaged set can be made.

Pricing should be around $75-100.00 for each set unless more blues are recovered which is now doubtful.

A note on the above progressives:
Notice there are two all colors proofs. This is because the full progressive color proof set has 9 stages. The eighth stage is the black addition. Many progressive color proof sets from many different issues have been and are being sold without this stage present thus they are not complete sets.
We have also noticed that the final color progressive is also being sold as an error as it does not have the silver inscriptions. This is not correct. It would only be an error if it was perforated as shown below.

Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding (1st issue) Missing Inscriptions Error Souvenir Sheet
Based on practices of the printer at the time 1,000 errors of the souvenir sheets were made.
Again I would like to note that this "error" falls in line with the missing value stamps shown above. Could it be possible that this souvenir sheet was made this way for a possible change in value and/or a change in country name perhaps? We may never know. It is odd though that the printer would make these simple errors of no value and no inscriptions etc; on such a large scale. The commonality of them being quite noticeable. If they were misperforated as in way off the mark etc; then that would be grounds for calling them "errors".
It has been stated that they are possibly "running proofs" where the printer runs a bunch to test final colors and positioning of the perforations. For imperforate versions...simply testing the final colors for whatever reasons.
Please understand these were confiscated right from the printing company and from their archive. If the same type of raids were done on say Waterloo or the ABN company would not the printing trials, running proofs ect; also be considered "errors" and possibly included with the actual made for collector errors to boost the evidence against the printer in the trials? Think about it. There are no other type of "errors" for this souvenir sheet.

This basically sums up the stamp varieties for the Tuvalu 1986 Royal Wedding souvenir sheet. As new information and evidence is found it will be added to this page.

Your friend and fellow collector and researcher,

References taken from:
Stanley Gibbons Western Pacific
Scott Catalog
Inventory list for the Format Archive by Robson Lowe
Documents obtained from the trial exhibits
Actual materials from the police evidence used in the trials
Online research
Documents obtained from the printers files that still exist

Return to 1986 Royal Wedding Stamp Varieties Home page Here

All Content Copyright © 2011 Golowe's Collector Stamps, All Rights Reserved
Collector stamps are fun!

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Valid CSS!

UPDATED LAST ON: 30-Oct-2016 11:15 AM