British Postal Markings
Postal markings include datestamps, rate markings, and indications of the origin, route and arrival of mail. With more modern mail they also show evidence of automatic cancelling and sorting. BPMA's extensive collections cover all these, but most are not public record. We also have a number of examples of different types of handstruck postal markings.
Frank Staff collections
Three major collections of postal markings were obtained from Frank Staff, a well-known postal historian. One of the Staff collections charts the history of the Penny Post from its private beginnings in 1680 in London by William Dockwra. The other two collections are his studies of markings on maritime mail and transatlantic mail up to the beginning of the 20th century.
Postal markings albums
The BPMA also holds more than 200 albums dating from before and after the introduction of the first adhesive postage stamp in 1840. These include entire letters, covers, envelopes, postcards and postal stationery. They also contain studies of particular markings for penny posts and for the various transport systems, such as ships, railways and airmail.
Postal mechanisation and meter marks also have extensive coverage and bring the collections into the modern era.
The following studies of specific types of postmarks are available online:
In the period between postal reform and the introduction of postage stamps, handstamps were used to mark letters which had been pre-paid.