Issue Date: 15/01/2019
Issue Name: Stamp Classics Miniature Sheet Cover
Producer: Buckingham Covers
This is our first cover of 2019! Our beautiful Stamp Classics cover features the brand new miniature sheet with a classic stamp design from a Monarch’s reign: Queen Victoria 1891 £1 green, King Edward VII 1910 2d Tyrian Plum, King George V 1913 2s6d, King Edward VIII 1936 1½d, King George VI 1940 Penny Black Centenary ½d and Queen Elizabeth II 1953 Coronation 2½d.
This stunning cover perfectly showcases these classic designs, celebrating the artistry and evolution of stamp design. Cancelled with our special postmark on the First Day of Issue, London EC4, the location of the Royal Philatelic Society London’s new premises. This year the RPSL celebrates 150 years.
The history of letter sending can be traced back to at least the 12th Century, when Henry I appointed messengers to carry letters for the Government. The postage stamp, however, was not introduced until the 1800s. In 1839 Rowland Hill championed the Great Post Office Reform with a flat rate for delivery anywhere in the UK. In 1840 the Penny Black became the world’s first postage stamp.
From 1841 the colour changed to red, as black made it difficult to see cancellation marks. The Penny Red continued to be used for many years with perforations becoming standard practice by 1854. Stamps during Queen Victoria’s reign were typically ornate, in order to prevent forgery.
The last major issue during Victoria’s reign was the “Jubilee issue” of 1887, although not specifically issued for the jubilee. This consisted of a set of 14 designs ranging from ½d to 1s, including the first British stamps to be printed in two colours.
Following Victoria’s death in 1901, Edward VII became King. New stamps were issued with his image in profile, but no major changes in design. In 1910, George V ascended the throne and a three quarter portrait was used for the first time. The George V high values, designed by Bertram Mackennal and commonly known as seahorses, are considered a classic of stamp design.
The first commemorative stamps were issued for the British Empire Exhibition in 1924: a pair of large format stamps, featuring a lion. The stamps were issued twice, once in 1924 and again in 1925, each bearing an inscription of the year.
Edward VIII’s brief tenure as King in 1936 saw a set of 4 stamps issued before his abdication. George VI’s Coronation was marked with a commemorative stamp issue which included every British Colony in the Empire. New definitives were issued featuring a profile of the King on a solid colour. The profile was based on a plaster cast by Edmund Dulac and was a precursor to the later Machins. The Centenary of the postage stamp was celebrated with a set of six stamps featuring King George VI alongside Queen Victoria.
The outbreak of war affected stamp printing, with less ink being used, resulting in the pale colour definitives. Following the war various commemorative stamps were issued including the Silver Wedding and the 1948 summer Olympics. 1950 saw all of the low values change colour and, in 1951 two commemoratives were issued for the Festival of Britain.
Elizabeth II’s reign has seen two main portraits, the first based on a portrait by Dorothy Wilding and, in 1967, the now familiar Machin. This simple profile of the Queen on a solid colour is the standard British stamp design in use today.
Want to see our all the covers in our 6th Series? View them all here
Paul Skinner is the Head Curator of the Philatelic Collections at the British Library.