Elizabeth II stamps until 1964
From 1952 to 1964 the British Post Office had a very conservative stamp-issuing policy. There were only 20 commemorative issues and 16 of these were in the last five years. However, a lot of work went into the designs of the low and high value definitives.
Regional stamps (now called Country definitives) were also introduced in 1958 for:
- Northern Ireland
- the Isle of Man
For all these issues, our collections hold all the artwork (adopted and unadopted) and the essays produced.
To find out more on this topic please see our online exhibition Lions, Leopards, Unicorns & Dragons: The first "Regional" stamps.
Shakespeare – the first 'commoner' on a stamp
In 1964 the first stamp to show a 'commoner' (i.e. not a noble) was issued for Shakespeare. Our collection has a large number of proofs of unaccepted designs for this issue, and also for the 1953 Coronation issue.
The collections also contain all the registration sheets for these stamps in all formats and those overprinted for use in Tangier and the Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait, Muscat and Qatar).
The Castles definitive stamps were printed recess and we also have metal dies, rollers and plates for these.
In-line with mechanisation…
For new automatic cancelling machinery in sorting offices, lines were printed on definitives so that the machines could "read" them on envelopes.
At first these were black graphite lines on the reverse of the stamps. Later they became transparent phosphor lines on the front. The collection contains a number of trials of these and then sheets of all the issued definitives.
Stamp Artwork Online
Commemorative stamps and stamp artwork can now be viewed on our online catalogue.
Our philatelic and postal history collections can also be viewed by appointment with the Senior Curator, Philately, Douglas Muir. To make an appointment, please call 020 7239 2570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.