The Cadete issue - The 15 cts retouches

From the left to the right: non-retouched (N), slightly (S), moderately (M) and heavily (H) retouched stamps of the 15 cts Cadete value

The retouch on the 15 Céntimos value, as a constant plate variety, is a very interesting detail of this issue in all known
different printings. It can be found only on stamps from the 8th row (of 20) on the sheets of 200 in the triangular spaces to the right of the word "POSTAL". Made by hand on each single cliché, all stamps from the 8th row vary in the intensity of retouching. One can find slightly (S), moderately (M) and heavily (H) retouched and appearently non-retouched (N) stamps all together in stripes and blocks. Álvaro Martínez-Pinna found a scheme for the distribution of the different retouch qualities in the 8th row of each sheet: 1M- 2M-3M-4S-5N-6S-7S-8S-9S-10N-11M-12H-13M-14M-15S-16S-17S-18S-19H-20N. Therefore we can, for example, exactely determine the position of the heavily retouched stamp on the below left of the block of twenty eight shown below: It's the 12th stamp from the row of twenty, being the only "H" with a medium-retouched copy at each side. On the other hand, there are only two heavily retouched items in each sheet - that means only 1% of the total print run.

The 15 cts great retouch ("gran retoque")

Right picture: The "gran retoque" as shown in the Galvez catalogue from 1950
Left picture: An un-retouched plate flaw found by the author

A so called "gran retoque" (great retouch) of the 15 cts value with the control number B.075,346, first reported in the Galvez catalogue (1950 ed.), shows a heavy shading in the inner circle right to the king's head. As far as I know, no other copies of that special variety were found in the meantime. While searching for this curious singularity I found another stamp from the B-serie (B.196,399) with a so far unrecorded plate flaw. It shows three heavy vertical lines at the same position as the "great retouch". Maybe this "flaw" was the origin of the "great retouch"? The control number is much higher which means that this particular stamp should have been printed (or at least numbered) much later than the Galvez copy. Who knows? :-)

Engraver: Bartolomé Maura Montaner | Recess printing of the F.N.M.T. | Sheets of 200 (5, 10, 15 and 25 cts) and 100 (all others) | Perforation: 14 (comb) | First issued: 01.01.1901 (except the 15 cts. lilac shades and the 40 cts. rose) | Valid until: 11.01.1935 | Control numbers on the reverse