The world's first adhesive postage stamp was issued in 1840, during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). During this time she celebrated a Golden Jubilee in 1887 and a Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Her son King Edward VII reigned only for 9 years, but his son King George V was the next monarch to celebrate a Jubilee, in 1935. The next two kings did not make it, Edward VIII only lasting for less than a year before he abdicated in favour of his younger brother, who became George VI. He died in 1952, having celebrated 25 years of marriage, (Silver Wedding in 1948), but only 11 years as King. Our present Queen has so far celebrated Jubilees for 25 years, 50 years and in 2012 an amazing 60 years. She has now been Queen for almost as long as her great-great-grandmother, Victoria (63 years) (*) see below)
Here are images of the six monarchs Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II
So now to the postage stamps. We do not have any copy of the penny black - the first adhesive stamp, but have a few penny reds on covers dated from the 1840s, here are two examples, the example from 1844 on the left is imperforate, the one on the right dated 1846 is perforated.
The third example is of a mourning envelope dated 1862 posted from Ayr to Edinburgh with four penny red stamps. The four stamps are not a continuous strip but two different pairs, as can be seen from the alphabet letters in the bottom corners of the stamps, the first two are GA GB and the second two are CA CB.
It is hard to imagine what could have been in this envelope to have incurred this amount of postage, as it is very small, and seems to be completely flat.
We have only two 2d blue stamps, which are imperforate and have been roughly cut by scissors. Sadly, they were not on an envelope, when we acquired them.
but we do have the set of Victoria's Golden Jubilee stamps issued in 1887, which we have in the Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland stamp case.
Although this was issued to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee they were a new set of definitive stamps.
The printing layout was very interesting for this issue, being in 12 panes of 20 on a sheet of 240 stamps but this 4-1/2d is the only example we have of a block of stamps of this issue. The perforations on the left hand side show where it was joined to another pane. We do not have a single stamp of this value, only this block of 20.
We have very few Queen Victoria stamps, as we began collecting in the 1960s, and by this time the earlier stamps were already beyond our price range, but have concentrated on buying ones we could afford, which were the current, or relatively inexpensive stamps. These are just a sample of control numbers on the ½d and 1d stamps.
For more information and images of G.B. controls go to Sheet markings of Great Britain
There were no special issues of stamps to mark the Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and Queen Victoria died in 1901.
The next stamps we have are for her son King Edward VII. We were in the same situation for the Edwardian stamps as for the Victorian issues, we began collecting too late so we have only control numbers on single stamps or strips of the ½d and 1d stamps.
This is an example of a partial offset on a strip of stamps, which we have folded to show the front and back of the stamps. This offset occurs when in the printing process, before the ink has dried, some part of the stamp design is transferred from the front of one sheet to the back of another.
As a result such impressions are in reverse.
Note that the watermark is clearly visible.
Some controls on the ½d and 1d values.There were many noticeable shades on both these values.
Edward VII booklet, series 1. For all the King Edward VII booklets (nos. 1-7) an additional 1/2d was charged for the booklet itself in addition to the price of the stamps. This booklet, No. 1, was sold over the counter for 2s.0— ½d. It contained four panes of six KEVII stamps printed by De La Rue, with watermark Crown, normal or inverted. It was bound with staples in a red cover bearing the Edwardian P.O. cypher and interleaved with plain grease proof paper. The other booklets, numbers 2-7, contained only 1s.11-1/2d worth of stamps, one of the 1/2d stamp images being replaced by a green cross.
King George V became king on the death of his father, Edward VII, in 1911. The first definitive issue was the 1911 —1912 Downey Head designn. These two control strips were from different printers.
For more information and images of G.B. controls go to Sheet markings of Great Britain
The next definitive issue for King George V was the 1912 —22 known as the Profile issue with the Simple Cypher watermark
This issue has a huge range of colour variations with the halfpenny value alone having 17 colours listed in the (non specialised) Stoneham catalogue.
Some of the stamps in this set of definitives was overprinted for use in Morocco Agencies.
This is an example of a George V 2 shilling booklet of 1913 containing 18 x 1d stamps and 12 halfpenny stamps of the 1912-22 issue. This pane with stamps pre-cancelled but still intact is an advertiser's voucher copy, so that the stamps were not valid for postage. The cancellation is Type I, though it is interesting to note that though the illustration in Stanley Gibbons shows the month before the date, this copy shows the date before the month - 17 SP. This booklet is in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue number BB6 and is edition number 34, (visible to the side of the left cypher on the front cover).
Then in 1924 —26 the watermark was changed to the Block Cypher. As these controls show, they were still being issued up to 1935.
The British Empire Exhibition 1924 and 1925 had a lion as the symbol on all the publicity, and solid cast concrete lions sat at the great steps up to the main entrance to the building. Inside could be found exhibits showing the control and care taken by the mother country over her great Empire. There were illuminated maps showing the location, population and resources of the entire empire; displays of the armed forces, the post office, the Royal Mint and all the other branches of the Imperial government,the tropical health departments, and the war they waged against diseases like malaria.
The lions were part of the design of the stamps issued for this event. These were the first commemorative stamps issued by Great Britain, and were designed by Harold Nelson and recess printed by Waterlow and Sons from dies and plates of their own manufacture.
The exhibition was so successful that it was opened again in 1925 with new amusements and revitalised exhibits and although technically a colonial exhibition the Wembley Empire Exhibition of 1924-25 truly offered a trip “Round the World for Eighteenpence”, as suggested by the publicity. The second pair are the 1925 issue showing that date as part of the design.
The total printing order was for 17 million stamps. The quantities of stamps (not sets) sold at Wembley were:-
1924 issue 13,214,491: 1925 issue 3,545,128.
The exhibition not only housed the exhibits from the different countries, but also public shows like rodeos, and all kinds of amusements.These unused postcards show the scale of the buildings, the first being the Australian and Malaya pavilions from the lake. All three postcards have the same printing on the reverse, as shown here.
The next two postcards illustrate the Burma Pavilion and the India Pavilion
The next issue includes our favourite stamp issued by Royal Mail to date - this is the one pound value of the set issued to commemorate the meeting of the the Postal Union Congress in London.
The three lower values were included in 2/- (SGBB13) and 3/- (SGBB25) stamp booklets, and this is one of the panes showing the 1 ½d brown stamp.
The final set of definitives for King George V was issued in 1934 using the photogravure process.
Note the last two stamps, being shades of the 3d and 10d.
Some of the stamps in this set of definitives were overprinted for use in Morocco Agencies.
Also in 1934 the high values were re-engraved, printed by Waterlow & Sons.
The last commemorative issue for King George V was to celebrate his Silver Jubilee in 1935.
Although the stamps look identical on first glance, further study shows that there is a different emblem on the right hand side of each stamp design.
There were booklets issued with these stamps, and the covers and some of the panes are illustrated.
The last one is a pane with a cylinder number which appears at the bottom left margin. These are identified as coming from booklets as they have stitch holes along the left margin.
This set was also issued for use in Morocco Agencies
In 2010 Royal Mail issued a Prestige Booklet of £11.15 to mark the centenary of the accession of King George V, with combinations of stamps including panes of 3 x 1st class 3 x £1 Centenary of Accession, pane of 2 different £1 Seahorses, pane of 4 x 1st class British Empire Exhibition, pane of 4 x 1st class, 2 x Second class, 2 x 50p definitives self adhesive.
Sadly King George V died not long after he had celebrated his Jubilee. He was followed for a very short time by his eldest son who was to be crowned as King Edward VIII, but as he abdicated, his younger brother Albert became King George VI. So in the year 1936 there were 3 monarchs.
This miniature sheet was issued to mark the occasion.
As noted previously, King George V was succeeded by his eldest son David, who was to be known as King Edward VIII. The coronation was planned and the stamps designed and issued. There were a set of four low-value definitives.
For an article about these four stamps The complete collection click here
For more detailed information follow the link at the bottom of the page for King Edward 1936
Another m/s was issued as part of the History of Britain, and this is the bottom part of the sheet with the portraits of the three Kings George V, George VI in the centre and Edward VIII on the right.
So Prince Albert the third son of King George V and Queen Mary succeeded as King and took the name George VI in December 1936. A commemorative Coronation stamp was issued and a set of low-value definitives
I was a child in England when he died, and his funeral was the first item we saw on our new television set. It was very sombre and moving and the thing I remember most was that the double-decker red London Transport buses were stopped as the procession was moving, and all the bus drivers stood out of their driving cabs and stood on the road with heads bowed. There was such a feeling of respect for this reluctant King.
Use the link below for details of the stamps issued for George VI on another section of our website.
The stamps issued for the new Queen's reign are also on another part of our site, see the link at the bottom of the page, but the first Jubilee set for the 25 years, in 1977 had some very interesting items. The original first set were issued, and then a rate rate for one of the postage rates was changed from 8½p to 9p, so a new value was issued.
These are souvenirs sheets, these were printed by the Post Office, sponsored by a British Stamp Dealer Rushstamps. They bore embossed stamps and so were postally valid, they could be used as postcards. Three different designs were used and two values, 6½p for second class mail and 8½p for 1st class. The 8½p has two phosphor lines. There were a limited number of sheets printed and each one issued bore a serial number printed in black on the back.
There was also an aerogramme, these images show the front and back of the item.
The next interesting items were the Exeter Special Stamp Booklets issued for the Daily Mirror Balloon race. They are bright silver but we could not get a good scanned image to show this.
Each of the booklets were numbered on the inside of the back cover, this one was number 1277 of 3000 issued.
There were two separate issues with different covers and contents, the first one having the original four stamps plus the labels. The second one had the five stamps including the 9p plus the labels. There was a further variation on this second issue, as there were 1250 issued of each with the English crown and the Scottish crown. These two booklets are numbered 59 and 429. They all had the same wording on the back of the booklets
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
The booklets were assembled using the side margin stamps from the sheets, and half of the number had the stamps stapled into the cover upside down.
I wrote to the Daily Mirror to ask questions about this balloon race, and the reply dated 25th January 1978 was that the event was held on Monday 6th June, 1977. The balloons were released from Priory School, Exeter, Devon and, due to prevailing winds, the majority travelled in a north-easterly direction. The prizes were offered for the balloons travelling the greatest distance were £50 for 1st, £25 for second and £5 for five runner up prizes. and lastly £ 5 for the finder of the winning balloon. The winning balloon was released by a Miss Catherine Butt of Exeter, whose balloon was found in the garden of a private house in Meopham, Kent, a distance of approximately 175 miles from Exeter.
As a matter of interest all the Commonwealth countries issued stamps and sometimes booklets and miniature sheets for this event, and we bought them from a new issue dealer and found they were still appearing two years after the event! There was a great variety in these issues some better than others.
The next Jubilee was the Golden Jubilee marking 50 years in June 2002, which was an issue of 5 photos one taken from each of the decades of the Queen's reign. Each was taken by a celebrated photographer of the time. 1952 by Dorothy Wilding, 1968 by Cecil Beaton, 1978 by her brother-in-law Lord Snowdon, 1984 Yousuf Karsh, and finally 1996 by Tim Graham. To me the middle one of these photographs has a great resemblance to her sister Princess Margaret Rose, to whom Lord Snowdon was married, so I think he must have seen a similarity between the sisters.
If you are interested in more detailed information about stamps of the different monarchs, click on one of the titles listed below. Click on the back arrow in the top toolbar to return to the previous page.
(*) Note : Since this page was written and uploaded, this has changed of course, and Queen Elizabeth II has now exceeded the reign of Queen Victoria, but in 2018 Prince Charles will be representing the Queen at the opening of the Commonwealth Games here in the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. It is a long way to come for a nonagenarian, even one who seems as ageless as our Queen.
Edward VIII, 1936
King George VI 1936-1952
Queen Elizabeth, Wilding issues, 1952
booklets,coils, short studies of different issues