Decimal stamp booklets.

by Ron Shanahan, Queensland

The 30p stitched issues.


A set of 8 designs was issued showing drawings of British Birds by Harry Titcombe.

Each was intended to appear on two consecutive editions, but, as with the 25p series, a special cover publicising the exhibition '80 Years of British Stamp Books' replaced the April 1971 edition.

British Birds. designed by Harry Titcombe.

The first in the series was issued on February 15th 1971 and the cover illustration was of a Curlew. (Fig 1)

It contained two stamp panes of 3p x 5 on Original Coated Paper with PVA gum and two phosphor bands with one printed advertisement label £4,315 for you at age 55 Send coupon. (Fig 2)

The Curlew cover was only used for one issue, the second being replaced by a special edition.

The second illustration was of a Lapwing and the booklet inscribed June 1971 was issued on May 26th 1971. The illustration was repeated on the August issue which was in fact released on July 23rd. The June issue saw the change from Original Coated Paper to Fluorescent Coated Paper and the remainder of the booklets in the birds series were issued thus.

The third was a Robin and this appeared on the October 1971 (released 1.10.71) and December 1971 (10.11.71) editions.

The fourth, Pied Wagtail, was used on the Feb. 1972 (21.12.71) and April 1972 (9.2.72) editions.

The fifth, Kestrel, was used on the June 1972, (12.4.72) and August 1972 (8.6.72) booklets.

Number six, Black Grouse, was used for three editions, the Oct. 1972 (31.7.72), Dec. 1972 (30.10.72) and Issue S Dec. 1972 (6.12.72)

Number seven, Skylark, appeared on the Feb. 1973 (29.1.73) and April 1973 (2.4.73) editions.

The eighth and last, Oyster-catcher, appeared on the June 1973 (8.5.73) and August 1973 (7.6.73) editions. The August booklet was also released on 10.8.73 with a buff cover because of a shortage of the original purple coloured card.

'80 Years of British Stamp Books' designed by Stuart Rose.

This booklet (Fig 5) was issued to publicise the National Postal Museum exhibition. It was the April 1971 edition but released on March 19, 1971. The stamp contents were the same as for the first of the British Birds series.

'Save the Children Fund'.

This booklet was issued on 30.1.74 and the back cover inscription read "Spring 1974".

The stamp content was two panes of 5 x 3p one centre band phosphor FCP/PVA plus one blank label. (Fig 3)

'Canada Life'.

This June 1974 issue (Fig 4) was released on 21.6.74.

The stamp content was as the 'Save the Children' booklet except that the gum was PVAD.

A note in the S.G. specialised catalogue states that:-

"It had not been intended to issue this booklet but some were sent to the Sheffield Head Post Office in error on 14 May and issued shortly afterwards. In consequence a philatelic issue was made on 21 June but post offices were asked to withdraw all 30p booklets on 22 June, although supplies remained on sale at the Philatelic Bureau."


Numbers issued.

There were no surprising print runs in the 30p series. The largest was the October 1972 Black Grouse, being 3,821,240, and the smallest, normal issue, the April 1973 Skylark with 1,084,120. However the Oyster-catcher with buff cover, with an 'a' catalogue listing only ran to 804,000. Strangely, it is catalogued at the same price as the normal bright purple cover which had a print of 2,820,200



The panes on the birds series have a total of nine different perforation types whilst the Save the Children and Canada Life have two. Surprisingly, on the former the APP perforation (Fig 5) is catalogued at 50% higher than the I(½v) perforation.

If you are checking for APP, be careful, APPa is very much like it except that it has two small holes and one large instead of three small holes on the selvedge perforations.



An easily recognisable variety is the 'large retouch on shoulder and dress' on row 2 stamp 1 (Fig 6)

Others are the usual scratches, dots and smears and there is a missing 'top serif of figure 3' (row 1 stamp 2) on the 'P' perforation. Missing phosphors are also known but with a catalogue price tag of £250 they are obviously pretty rare.


Variations in make up.

These are nothing like as complicated as the 25p booklets but on the birds issues there are examples of both panes with OCP/PVA instead of FCP/PVA on the Robin (both issues) and Pied Wagtail (February edition).

The 'Spring 1974' (Save the Children) has variations with

a) First pane dextrin.

b) Second pane dextrin.

c) Both panes dextrin.

This is instead of the normal PVA gum. .

Manuscript amendments.

There was a change of postage rates on September 10th 1973, during the period of sale of the 30p booklets and staff were advised to make manuscript amendments of books in their counter stocks. Fig 7 shows the amendment made on the first interleaf of an August 1973 edition of the Oyster - Catcher.

The text has been scored through with three lines in ink and at the bottom of the pane is the notation 'See leaflet available at P.O.' The handstamp is a circular 'MELKSHAM WILTS H 8 SP 73' The letter 'H' is the identifying mark of the 'advance'. The second interleaf reads 'PLEASE REMEMBER 5p for letters to EUROPE (but only 3p to Cyprus, Gibraltar and Malta) PLEASE REMEMBER' This was also scored through and the manuscript notation read 'See pane 1' These amendments are seldom mentioned in price lists and there may not be too many around as most counter clerks probably did not bother with the few unsold booklets they had in their stocks. Though obviously not valuable, and no doubt enough to bore the socks off non-collectors, this is the type of thing that is worth looking for, as something just a little bit different.

Source acknowledgments:-
British Philatelic Bulletin.
Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Volume 4.
Mike Holt Price List No. 25.

This article was first published in 'Machinations' the Machin interest newsletter of the Canberra Philatelic Society.

Copyright EARS Leisurewrite 1999.

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