Postal events on GB stamps

Postal & Telecommunication events
commemorated on British postage stamps

a post horn used by early mail carriers.

This is a small collection which started me off on thematic, or topical collecting. I worked in telecommunications, so was drawn to this as a subject. We belonged to a local stamp club which had about 15 members, and the President suggested we all try to bring a 9–page entry on any subject. It was a good way to interest the new collectors.

The events commemorated were either British, European and/or international.

The first step towards an international Postal Union was taken in 1863, when the United States called for a conference in Paris. However, little progress was made at this time, as no agreement could be reached. The Paris Postal Conference was commemorated by Britain 100 years later with this stamp designed by Reynolds Stone issued on 7/5/1963.

The idea remained popular, and in 1874 the German, Dr. Von Stephan called a conference in Berne, which founded the General Postal Union, established by the “Treaty of Berne&rquo;, to co-ordinate postal services internationally. The name was changed in 1878 to The Universal Postal Union.
In my view one of the most attractive of all British stamps was issued in 1929. This was the high value of the set issued to commemorate the Ninth Universal Postal Union Congress. There were four low&endash;value commemoratives plus the £1. The information from the Gibbons catalogue is:-

Designer J. Farleigh the 1/2d and the 2&endash;1/2d, E. Linzell the 1d and 1&endash;1/2d , H. Nelson the £1. The low&endash;value stamps were printed in typography by Waterlow & Sons from plates made at the Royal Mint. The 1 was printed in recess by Bradbury Wilkinson &a,p; Co from the die and plate of their own manufacture.

The first British postage event to be commemorated was in 1940, which was the Centenary of the issue of the world*rsquo;s first adhesive postage stamp.

The design was based on the ‘Wyon’ medallion, used for the Penny black and the ‘Dulac’ head of King George which was in use on the definitive stamps.

The Penny Black marked a significant step in social progress as it was the culmination of the campaign for the ‘Uniform Penny Post’, the demand for which had been growing for many years.

The 75th anniversary of the U.P.U. was commemorated with this set of stamps issued on 10th October 1949 and showed the ‘Dulac’ portrait of King George Vi with the two hemispheres, on the 2½d, the UPU monument, Berne on the 3d, the globe, points of the compass, and the Goddess Concordia on the 6d, and a posthorn and globe on the 1/- stamp.

There were four different designers for these stamps : the 2½d by Mary Adshead ; the 3d by Percy Metcalfe, C.V.O. ; the 6d by H Fleury, and the 1/- by the Hon. George R. Bellew M.V.O.

In 1960, the Post Office acknowledged its origin – 300 years earlier – as the General Letter Office in 1660.

The conditions under which the mail was to be carried, as a State service, were laid down in great detail. The postboy shown on the stamp was expected to ride seven miles a day during the summer months, and five miles a day during the rest of the year.

The Post horn, and the crown were the badges of office.The two stamps were designed by two people, the 3d by Reynolds Stone and the 1s 3d by Faith Jaques.

The Union Telegraphique Internationale was founded in Paris in 1865. It was not known as the I.T.U. until 1932, after amalgamation with the International Radiotelegraph convention, and the International Telegraph Convention. The aims of the I.T.U. are to maintain and extend co-operation for the efficient use and development of telecommunications.

The Centenary of this union was marked by Britain with an issue of two stamps on 15/11/65 to symbolise World Communications.

Designer A. Restall.


On 26th June 1959, 23 European member nations of the U.P.U. met at Montreux for the first conference of European Postal & Telecommunications Administrations, C.E.P.T. or EUROPA. These are now held annually, the aims of which are, closer relations between members, and to harmonise and improve their administrative and technical services.

Since 1959 there has been an annual issue of stamps by most of the EUROPA nations, all of which bear a common motif. Britain has not issued these annually, but issued one set in 1960.

Designed jointly by P. Rahikainen and Reynolds Stone.

Another set was issued in 1961 to mark the year in which Britain was the administrative manager ending with the conference at Torquay.

These stamps were designed by M. Goaman in collaboration with T. Kurperschoek who designed the doves on the 4d and 10d values.

In 1969 one 9d stamp was issued for the tenth anniversary of CEPT.

This stamp was one of five issued for various anniversaries and this 9d value was designed by M and Sylvia Goaman.

The next two British events were technological achievements : first, in 1963, the Trans-pacific Telephone Cable (COMPAC) was opened, commemorated with one stamp of 1/6d. This was designed by P. Gauld

Then in 1965, great publicity was given to the opening of the Post Office Tower, which has become a familiar London landmark.

The two stamps were designed by C. Abbott.

On 1st October 1969 the Post Office passed out of government control and became a Public Corporation. To mark this historic event, four stamps were issued to show the technology and development of the modern Post Office. The symbolic designs showed National GIRO, telephones,telecommunications,and automatic letter sorting.

The set was designed by David Gentleman and they all had two phosphor bands used in the automatic letter sorting system.

This is only a small example of the stamps that have been issued in connection with the UPU,and if it was expanded to include stamps issued by some (or many) of the member nations it would soon involve a lot of money and research, and would be an ongoing collection, in view of the incredible developments in the technology involved in despatch and receipt of local and international mail.

Acknowledgement: Stanley Gibbons stamp catalogues Commonwealth 1974 and Elizabethan 1976

Copyright 2011 By EARS Leisurewrite

Contact us here

Return To our Home Page

OR Return to our Stamps page