When King George VI died on 6 February 1952, his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, succeeded him as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey.
On 3 June 1953, the General Post Office (GPO) issued four stamps to mark the coronation. The stamps have a horizontal format twice the size of a definitive stamp. They were printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons Ltd. in double-pane reel-fed sheets. The counter sheets had 20 rows of six stamps. Stamps are perforated 15x14 and have the multiple Tudor Crown over the Royal Cipher watermark.
Multiple Tudor Crown watermark
The 2½d, 4d, and 1/6 stamps feature a three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II taken by Dorothy Wilding, on 15 April 1952. The Queen had remarked the photographs showed the diadem too far back on her head and expressed her hope this would be corrected. The final designs show a combination of retouches of the photograph by Michael Farrar-Bell and Edmund Dulac.
3 June 1953, Coronation special stamp set (SG 532-535)
2½d – Basic inland and Empire letter rate (1 oz.) Design: Edgar G Fuller. The design shows the St. Edward's and Imperial State crowns, sceptres with cross and with dove, orb, and ampulla, against a background of olive branches. Printing: 442,332,600 (27,298,600 unsold). Colour: carmine-red.
4d – Basic overseas surface-mail letter rate (1 oz.) Design: Michael Goaman. The design shows the St. Edward's crown, orb, and ampulla, against a background of the regional emblems for England (Tudor rose), Scotland (thistle), Northern Ireland (shamrocks), and Wales (daffodil). There was Welsh criticism of the use of the daffodil as symbol for the country. The majority of Welch favoured the leek that was the official symbol of Wales. The GPO favoured the daffodil as it was easier to represent on a stamp than a leek. It, also, was considered odd to represent one country by a vegetable when the others were represented by a flower or flower leaf. Printing: 23,347,100 (3,530,200 unsold). Colour: ultramarine.
1/3 – Basic overseas airmail letter rate to zone B (½ oz.) and second weight-step to zone A (1 oz.) Design: Edmund Dulac. The design shows a full-face drawing by Edmund Dulac of H.M. the Queen wearing the Coronation Robes, Imperial State crown and holding the Royal sceptre with cross, and orb, against an ornamental background with the regional emblems for England (Tudor rose), Scotland (thistle), Northern Ireland (shamrocks), and Wales (daffodil). As it was not known what robes the Queen would wear for her coronation, the design was based on the robes worn by King George VI. Printing: 10,134,700 (2,121,900 unsold). Colour: yellow-green.
1/6 – Basic overseas airmail letter rate to zone C (½ oz.) Design: Michael Farrar-Bell. The design shows the St. Edward's crown over the Royal Cipher, Tudor Crown over a bouquet of the regional emblems for England (Tudor rose), Scotland (thistle), Northern Ireland (shamrocks), and Wales (daffodil), and sceptres with cross and with dove. Printing: 8,273,400 (2,860,200 unsold). Colour: grey-blue.
Part of the printings was overprinted for British Post Office Agencies in Eastern Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the international port zone of Tangier.
3 June 1953, Coronation special stamp set overprinted for use at foreign postal agencies
As the stamps overprinted for use at British post offices in the international port zone of Tangier retained their sterling values, they were also valid for postage in the United Kingdom.
On 23 May 2000, the first day of "The Stamp Show 2000" held in London, Royal Mail issued a miniature sheet to mark the occasion. The miniature sheet included a £1 stamp (SG 1492a) in the Edmund Dulac design (1/3) for the original Coronation issue. On 2 June 2003, Royal Mail issued a prestige stamp book "A Perfect Coronation" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. The fourth of the stamp panes included a slightly smaller version of the miniature sheet issued to mark The Stamp Show 2000. Stamps from this stamp pane have the number "50" as watermark (£1 Dulac design: SG 2380).
23 May 2003, £1 coronation stamp from A perfect Coronation prestige stamp book (SG 2380)
Edmund Dulac never saw his design in use. He died on 25 May 1953, nine days before the issue if the coronation stamps.
Robert Baden-Powell was born on 22 February 1857. An officer in the British Army in Africa, he wrote "Aids to Scouting." The book was a summary of lectures he had given about military scouting. When he returned to England, he found the book was being used by teachers and youth organisations and decided to re-write Aids to Scouting to suit a youth readership. Encouraged by a friend, Baden-Powell conceived the idea for a book "Scouting for Boys" aimed at boys. From 1 to 8 August 1907, he held a camp for boys on Brownsea Island to test out his ideas. "Scouting for Boys," published in 1908, started the scouting movement.
Already in 1955, the Boy Scout Association contacted the Post Office to issue a stamp marking the centenary of the birth of Robert Baden-Powell, on 22 February 1957. The Post Office declined the request. It was its policy to restrict the issue of special stamps to events of greatest importance to the nation or major postal significance.
The Boy Scout Association did not give up on the idea. From 1 to 12 August 1957, the World Organization of the Scout Movement organised the 9th. World Jamboree in the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. The Jubilee Jamboree marked both the centenary of the birth of Robert Baden-Powell and the 50th. anniversary of the camp he held on Brownsea Island. Still in 1955, the Boy Scout Association suggested the Post Office to issue a stamp to mark the jamboree that would take place in the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, in 1957. The Post Office, again, rejected the idea.
The Boy Scout Association continued its campaign and found support with Collectors Magazine that urged its readers to write to their Members of Parliament. In the spring of 1956, the Post Office gave in to the pressure to issue special stamps to mark the World Jamboree and the British Empire Games. It invited several artists to submit designs symbolising the jamboree. The artist's brief instructed the artists the design should not bear the effigy of Robert Baden-Powell or any other person. It should, however, include a photograph of the Queen's head.
On 1 August 1957, the GPO issued three stamps to mark the Jubilee Jamboree. The stamps have a horizontal format twice the size of a definitive stamp. They were printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons Ltd. in double-pane reel-fed sheets. The counter sheets had 20 rows of six stamps. Stamps are perforated 15x14 and have the multiple St. Edward's Crown over the Royal Cipher watermark.
Multiple St. Edward's Crown watermark
In 1955, a new dandy roll to watermark the paper used for printing of stamps had to replace the worn-down old one. The St. Edward's Crown replaced the Tudor Crown in the watermarks used for stamps printed from the reign of King George V. The Tudor Crown. The St. Edward's Crown was made in the 11th. century for King Edward the Confessor. The existing crown was made in 1661 for King Charles II. It, traditionally, is used for the coronation of the Monarch. The crown was used for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, who had chosen it as symbol for her Royal Authority.
From 1902 until 1953, the Tudor Crown symbolised the British Monarch and the Crown as institution. It was a heraldic symbol, as the Tudor Crown itself had been broken up and sold in pieces by the republicans in 1649. The oldest record of the Tudor Crown dates to 1521 as the crown of Henry VIII. It was either commissioned by Tudor King Henry VII, or King Henry VIII.
The stamps feature a three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding.
1 August 1957, Jubilee Jamboree special stamp set (SG 557-559)
In addition to sheets, rolls of 4,800 stamps were ordered for use in machines that affixed the stamps to first day covers. The machines were developed for this purpose. The rolls were placed on sale at the London Chief Office. To make them more attractive to collectors, from 2 September 1957, some were rewound into smaller rolls of 480 stamps (2½d and 4d), or of 240 stamps (1/3). The issue was withdrawn from sale at post offices on 11 September 1957.
2½d – Basic inland and Empire letter rate (1 oz.) Design: Mary Adshead. The design shows a rope coiled to make a 'rolling hitch' knot, enclosing the Boy Scout badge in one loop and the Queen's portrait in the other. The stamp design includes the years 1907 and 1957 and the inscription "Jubilee Jamboree." Printing: 195,729,600 (58,009,463 unsold). Colour: carmine-red.
4d – Basic overseas surface-mail letter rate (1 oz.) Design: Pat Keely. The design shows swallows flying towards the portrait of the Queen in the centre of the stamp, symbolising the gathering of Boy Scouts in Britain as the home of the movement. The Queen's head was framed in a light ornamental oval to suggest a cameo locket. The stamp design includes the year 1957, the arrowhead from the Boy Scout badge, and the inscription "Jubilee Jamboree." Printing: 34,932,000 (25,128,672 unsold). Colour: ultramarine.
1/3 – Basic overseas airmail letter rate to zone B (½ oz.) and second weight-step to zone A (1 oz.) Design: William Henry Brown. The design shows the world encircled by a compass and a ribbon with the dates '1907-1957.' It represented the Scout movement, as one of the greatest international organisations in the world, reaching to all points of the compass; the arrowhead at the tip of the compass needle was the symbol first adopted for the movement by Lord Baden-Powell to signify 'pointing the way.' The stamp design includes the Boy Scout badge and the inscription "Jubilee Jamboree." Printing: 35,757,600 (31,468,749 unsold). Colour: deep yellow-green.
The number of stamps that remained unsold – this includes stamps overprinted for use at British Post Office Agencies in the Arabian Peninsula – shows the sales forecast had been extremely over-optimistic. In 1958, the Post Office investigated the costs of producing special issues. It concluded the Jubilee Jamboree issue had cost about £19,000. The sales figures imply the issue generated just under 100 times that amount.
Part of the printings was overprinted for British Post Office Agencies in Eastern Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar. The post office in Tangier had closed.
1 August 1957, Jubilee Jamboree special stamp set overprinted for use at foreign postal agencies
12 September 1957 Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was created in 1889, in an era when there were no established means for governments or parliaments to work together internationally. The IPU was instrumental in setting up the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 1899, and its calls for an international institution linking governments helped lay the foundations for the creation of the League of Nations in 1919 and the United Nations in 1945.
The 46th. conference of the IPU would open on 12 September 1957, at Church House in London. In 1955, the MP who chaired the British Committee of IPU requested the Postmaster General (PMG) to issue a special stamp to mark the occasion. The PMG rejected the idea because it would set a precedent for the many international conferences held in the United Kingdom. The decision was reconsidered in 1956, although a suggestion to issue a high-value stamp as had been issued for the 1929 Congress of the Universal Postal Union was rejected.
The 4d-stamp stamp pre-paying the basic international rate for letters from the "Wilding" definitive series was adapted for the occasion. The intention was to overprint stamps in blue. Harrison and Sons, however, could not guarantee the correct positioning of the overprint every time. Consequently, a new cylinder was made with "46th PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE" added to the design. The stamp was issued on 12 September 1957. It was withdrawn on 13 October 1957 and the ordinary "Wilding" 4d was put back on sale from post offices.
Current Wilding definitive stamp(SG 546)
The stamps have the size and colour of the corresponding 4d ultramarine "Wilding" definitive stamp. They were printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons Ltd. in single-pane reel-fed sheets. The sheets had 20 rows of 12 stamps. Stamps are perforated 15x14 and have the multiple St. Edward's Crown over the Royal Cipher watermark. In total, 10,470,160 stamps were sold. The stamps were not overprinted for use at British overseas postal agencies.
12 September 1957, 46th Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference special stamp (SG 560)
In 1891, John Astley Cooper wrote a letter to The Times suggesting a "Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years as a means of increasing goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire." The idea inspired Baron de Coubertin to start the international Olympic Games movement. In 1911, as part of the Festival of the Empire celebrating the coronation of King George V, teams from Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom competed in the Inter-Empire Championship. The Canadian team won the cup competed in four events. The games were criticised as "not worthy of the title 'Empire Sports'."
In the late 1920s, Cooper's idea was revived. Melvin Marks Robinson who managed Canada's track and field team in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics lobbied for organising the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada. The first Empire Games took place from 16 until 23 August 1930. Eleven countries competed in the Games. The games have been taking place every four years, except for 1942 and 1946. As a result of decolonialisation, the name changed to British Empire and Commonwealth Games, and later, to Commonwealth Games.
The sixth edition of the Games, now known as British Empire and Commonwealth Games, would take place in Cardiff, Wales, from 18 until 26 July 1958. In a letter to Post Office Headquarters dated 4 November 1955, the Director for Wales and Border Counties suggested to celebrate the Games by issuing special stamps. In February 1955, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cardiff put forward a Parliamentary Question pertaining to the issue of special stamps celebrating the Games. The PMG rejected the suggestion on the grounds that it would break with the GPO policy of strictly limiting commemorative stamp issues.
In March 1956, the Deputy Director General of the Post circulated a memorandum advocating special issues of stamps every two years or so, 'selecting for the purpose current events of outstanding national or international importance.' On 13 June 1956, when the MP for Cardiff repeated his question for special stamps to mark the Games, it was announced to the House of Commons three stamps would be issued to mark the sixth British Empire and Commonwealth Games.
The artists were free in their choice of theme symbolic to the Games. It, however, should include a symbol associating the Games with Wales. The artists also had to provide a brief description of the symbol used. All stamps show the Ddraig Goch (Red Dragon) of Wales popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of the legendary King Arthur.
The stamps have a horizontal format twice the size of a definitive stamp. They were printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons Ltd. in double-pane reel-fed sheets. The counter sheets had 20 rows of six stamps. Stamps are perforated 15x14 and have the multiple St. Edward's Crown over the Royal Cipher watermark.
18 July 1958, 6th British Empire and Commonwealth Games special stamps (SG 567-569)
3d – Basic inland and Empire letter rate (1 oz.) Design: Reynold Stone. The design shows the Welsh dragon holding a banner inscribed "British Empire & Commonwealth Games." The three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding appears in an oval. Printing: 320,400,000. Colour: deep lilac.
6d – Basic overseas surface-mail letter rate (1 oz.) Design: William Henry Brown. The design shows a flag flying with the Games' badge on the left half and a three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding on the right half. At the top of the badge appears the Welsh dragon. The stamp bears the inscription "British Empire & Commonwealth Games." William Henry Brown worked for the design department of the printers Harrison and Sons. Printing: 28,595,880. Colour: reddish purple.
1/3 – Basic overseas airmail letter rate to zone B (½ oz.) Design: Patrick Cokayne Keely. The design shows a three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding. Behind the Queen's portrait appears the Welsh Dragon holding a laurel wreath in its right claw. Laurel was a sacred plant of the Greek god Apollo. Winners of athletic and musical competitions held every four years in honour of Apollo (Pythian Games) got to wear a laurel wreath. The stamp bears the inscription "VIth British Empire & Commonwealth Games." Printing: 9,870,000. Colour: green.
Stocks of all values were exhausted by February 1959.
7 July 1960 Tercentenary of the Establishment of the General Letter Office
King Henry VIII established a master of the Posts, in 1516. The position, eventually, became that of Postmaster General. On 31 July 1635, King Charles I made the royal mail available to the public. After the English civil war, Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the British Isles. During Cromwell's government, the Post Office came under the government control of John Thurloe. John Thurloe is known to history as Cromwell's spymaster general. Whereas previous governments had tried to prevent conspirators using the postal system, Thurloe preferred to have the post of conspirators delivered after reading it.
On 9 June 1657, parliament passed the "Act for settling the Postage in England, Scotland and Ireland." The act created the post office's monopoly for the delivery of mail throughout the British Isles. In 1660, the monarchy was restored, and the act passed by the parliaments during the civil war and the ensuing Interregnum became void. The English parliament legislated for the General Letter Office in the same year.
In the mid-1950s, it was suggested to commemorate the tercentenary of the establishment of the Post Office. The initial suggestion was to commemorate the tercentenary of the General Post Office in 1957. By 1956, the Post Office preferred to commemorate the tercentenary in 1960. The reason for this was that it was stated in the preamble of the act of 1657 that the General Post Office was set up as a police-control organisation. Although the act of 1660 establishing the General Letter Office was very similar to the act of 1657, it omitted the reference to the police control. At the same time, the General Post Office acknowledged that, already, it had celebrated the tercentenary of the proclamation of King Charles I that opened the royal mail system to the public.
In December 1959, the General Post Office announced its intention to celebrate the tercentenary of the General Letter Office by issuing special stamps in the summer of 1960. The artists invited to submit designs for the issue were briefed that the stamps should not convey the impression that the stamps marked the tercentenary of the Post Office or the postal services.
The issued stamps have twice the size of a definitive stamp. They were printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons Ltd.. The 3d stamps have a landscape orientation. The 1/3 stamps have a portrait orientation. The former were printed in double pane reel-fed sheets, the latter were printed in single pane reel-fed sheets. The counter sheets had 20 rows of six stamps, and six rows of 20 stamps, respectively. The 3d stamps are perforated 15x14 and have the multiple St. Edward's Crown watermark upright. The 1s. 3d. stamps are perforated 14x15 and have the multiple St. Edward's Crown watermark sideways.
7 July 1960, Tercentenary of the Establishment of the General Letter Office (SG 619-620)
3d – Basic inland and Empire letter rate (1 oz.) Design: Reynolds Stone. The design shows a postboy of 1660 on horseback, blowing a horn. The cipher CII, the year 1660 and the inscription 'General Letter Office' identify the event commemorated by the stamp as the establishment of the General Letter Office by King Charles II, in 1660. The three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding appears in an oval. Printing: 150,000,000 (143,390,520 sold). Colour: deep lilac.
1/3 – Basic overseas airmail letter rate to zone B (½ oz.) Design: Faith Jaques. The design shows a three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding. It is flanked by the years 1660 to the left and 1960 to the right marking the tercentenary. In the upper left corner appears the encircled royal cipher CIIR. Below the Queen's portrait appear a post horn of 1660 and the St. Edward's Crown. The present version of this crown was made for King Charles II in 1661. The post horn and crown are framed by oak branches. Printing: 7,250,000 (6,090,840 sold). Colour: green.
The stamps caused some confusion. Some people thought the year 1660 that appeared on both stamps were design errors for 1960. Also, people thought the royal cipher 'EII' on the 3d and 'EIIR' on the 1/3 stamp were incorrect. These, however, were the royal ciphers of Charles II.
These were the first commemorative stamps with the 'Multiple Crowns' watermark. The issue of regional 'Wilding' stamps necessitated the change from the 'St. Edward's Crown' watermark to the 'Multiple Crown's' watermark that no longer included the E2R cipher. As Elizabeth Tudor had not been queen of Scotland, Elizabeth Windsor was the second Queen Elizabeth of England and Ireland, but the first of Scotland.
Multiple Crowns sideways watermark
Part of the 3d stamps were printed on chalk-surfaced paper. The chalk-surfaced paper has a whiter appearance than the ordinary paper and the printed image is better-defined.
3d Tercentenary of the General Letter Office on ordinary (left) and chalk-surfaced (right) paper
19 September 1960 European Postal and Telecommunications Conference
On 26 June 1959, nineteen European states founded the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT). Its objective was to help its members with commercial, operational, regulatory, and technical aspects of post and telecommunication, and to promote cooperation at a European level. It also aspired to unify the European position before international organisations such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Universal Postal Union (UPU).
CEPT invited its member states to submit a design for a stamp to be issued for its first anniversary. From 1956 until 1959, the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands, already, had issued stamps with a common design including the word 'EUROPA.' A committee of these six states would select the winning design to be used as a common motif for stamps issued by the member states of CEPT, from 1960 onwards.
The Postmaster General declined the invitation to submit a British design. Among his reasons were the tradition to include the Monarch in the design of stamps and to omit the country name. Instead, he suggested CEPT to issue two stamps to mark the first anniversary of the founding of CEPT. On 9 March 1960, the committee voted in favour of the design submitted by Finland. The design by Finnish artist Pentti Rahikainen showed the word 'EUROPA' with a wheel of a Roman mail coach for the 'O.' The wheel had 19 spokes, representing the 19 member states of CEPT. The chosen design had to be modified because it had omitted the letters 'CEPT.'
On 8 March 1960, the Post Office sent an observer to determine the motif of the winning design to be integrated into the British design. The printers, Harrison and Sons, had three artists submit designs for the British issue. The Post Office had requested the artists would retain the 19-spoke wheel in their designs. Instead of the letters 'CEPT' derived from the French name of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations, the Post Office requested the artists would include the words 'Conference of European Postal and Telecommunications Administrations' in their designs.
The Post Office rejected the designs submitted by the printers' artists. On the suggestion of the printers, Reynolds Stone was asked to work on the problems encountered by Harrison's artists. The problems included the placing of the Queen's portrait next to the word 'EUROPA' in a horizontal format. Reynolds Stone favoured the simple design of the Finnish stamp. He suggested to insert a ribbon above and below the word 'EUROPA' with the wheel for its 'O.' The ribbons should contain the English equivalent of CEPT. His design was accepted with minor corrections to the lettering. Also, the 'superfluous letters 'CEPT' were removed.
19 September 1960, First Anniversary of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (SG 621-622)
Harrison and Sons Ltd. printed the stamps in photogravure from two colour cylinders. These were Great Britain's first bicoloured special stamps and first bicoloured stamps printed in photogravure. The stamps have twice the size of a definitive stamp. The stamps were printed in single pane reel-fed sheets with upright multiple St. Edward's Crown watermark. The sheets had six rows of 20 stamps. The stamps are perforated 15x14.
6d – 'All-up' European letter rate (1 oz.) Design: Reynolds Stone and Pentti Rahikainen. The design shows the word 'EUROPA' with a wheel of a Roman mail coach for the 'O.' The wheel had 19 spokes printed in the secondary colour, representing the 19 member states of CEPT. Above and below this are banners with the words 'CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN POSTAL & TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADMINISTRATIONS' in the secondary colour. To the right of the word 'EUROPA' appears the three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding in a framed oval. The portrait and background to the portrait are printed in the secondary colour. The stamp's value appears reversed out of the background in the lower left corner of the stamp. Printing: 16,990,320 (sold out). Colour: purple and green. The 'all-up' rate meant that an item of mail was sent by air if this was quicker at surface mail rates.
1/6 – Basic overseas airmail letter rate to zone C (½ oz.) Design: Reynolds Stone and Pentti Rahikainen. The design is the same as that for the 6d stamp. Printing: 7,682,520 (sold out). Colour: steel blue and brown. Zone C covered East and Southeast Asia, and Australasia and Oceania.
The Post Office had requested the stamps to be treated with phosphor for use with its new automatic letter-facing machinery. Harrison and Sons conducted trials for application of phosphor, the first for special stamps. The printers informed the Post Office that they encountered problems with two-colour printing on the paper needed for phosphor treatment. As the planned issue date approached, the Post Office agreed not to disrupt the timetable by continuing with the production of a phosphor stamp.
1960, CEPT stamps in the common European design issued by Ireland and the Netherlands
The Post Office Savings Bank Act of 17 May 1861 made the Post Office available for the deposit of small savings, and to give the direct security of the state to the depositor of all monies deposited by him, together with the interest due thereon. The Post Office Savings Bank started its activities in the Post Office headquarters on 16 September 1861. It was the world's first postal savings system.
In the summer of 1959, the Post Office Savings Department suggested the issue of stamps to commemorate the centenary of the Post Office Savings Bank, in 1961. The Post Office remarked that such a special stamp issue would constitute a departure from commemorating 'postal' rather than 'Post Office' anniversaries. This, however, was not considered a problem.
Initially, the Post Office planned to issue a set of four values, including 1/3 and 1/6 stamps. These higher-value stamps covered overseas postage rates. The Post Office took into consideration that the director of the Savings Department hoped the stamps would reach people overseas, and the high margin on philatelic sales of such high-denomination stamps. In the end, it was decided to issue three values 2 1/2d (postcards), 3d (basic inland and Empire letters), and 1/6 (basic overseas mail to zone C).
Both the Postal Department and the Savings Department favoured an issue for the actual centenary of the Post office Savings Bank, on 16 September 1961. However, the GPO decided to commemorate the second anniversary of CEPT that also fell in September. As it was felt undesirable to issue two sets in the same month, an earlier date of 28 August 1961 was fixed so the issues would not fall in the same month.
The artists invited to submit designs were briefed the stamps would be double the format of the permanent stamps and that they would be printed in two basic colours. The designs should also include an approved photograph of the Queen's head.
Harrison and Sons Ltd. printed the stamps in photogravure from two colour cylinders. They printed the stamps on 70 grammes per square metre chalk-coated paper with multiple St. Edward's Crown watermark that it also used for the 1960 CEPT issue. The watermark was sideways for the 2 1/2d value, and upright for the 3d and 1/6 values. The stamps have twice the size of a definitive stamp. The stamps are perforated 14 x 15 (2 1/2d), or 15x14 (3d and 1/6). The counter sheets had 20 rows of six stamps (2 1/2d), or six rows of 20 stamps (3d and 1/6). All stamps incorporate a three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding.
28 August 1961, Centenary of the Post Office Savings Bank (SG 623-625)
2 1/2d – inland and Empire standard postcard rate Design: Peter Gauld. The design shows a stylised thrift plant (armeria maritima), an evergreen perennial plant. Thrift, meaning frugality, also is a word used – now more commonly in the USA than in the UK - for a savings bank. It is not known whether it featured in a Post Office brief, but ten submitted designs by eight different artists included the thrift plant. Over the thrift plant appears the portrait of the Queen based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding. The portrait and thrift are framed by a black line in the shape of an '8.' Outside the frame appear the inscriptions 'POST OFFICE SAVINGS BANK' and 'CENTENARY 1861 – 1961' reversed out of the background. The value appears to the right and left of the intersection of the frame. Printing: 24,720,000 (sold out). Colour: red on black.
3d – Basic inland and Empire letter rate (1 oz.) Design: Michael Goaman. The design represents the growth of savings by a stylised nut tree in which a squirrel is gathering nuts. A growing stack of nuts appears to the right of the tree. In the tree, a bird sits on its nest. The familiar Wilding portrait of the Queen appears on the right half of the stamp. On the right border appear branches of a similar tree. An owl sits on the top branch. At the top left of the stamp is an inscription 'POST OFFICE SAVINGS BANK' reversed out of the background. The years '1861 – 1961' appear below the Queen's portrait. The value appears in the lower left corner. Printing: 114,360,000 (sold out). Colour: violet and red-brown.
1/6 – Basic overseas airmail letter rate to zone C (½ oz.) Design: Michael Goaman. Michael Goaman's design selected for the 1/6 stamp shows a thrift plant with flowers in the secondary colour. To the right of the plant appears the portrait of the Queen, also in the secondary colour, in an oval. The inscription 'POST OFFICE SAVINGS BANK 1861 – 1961' appears reversed out of the background along the left and lower border of the stamp. The value appears at the top centre of the stamp. Printing: 7,558,800 (sold out). Colour: blue and red.
Harrison and Sons used two printing presses. The 'Timson' press was used to print all three values in single pane reel-fed sheets. The 2 1/2d and 3d stamps, also, were printed on its 'Thrissell' press in double pane reel-fed sheets. The presses produced different colour-tones.
28 August 1961, printings of the 2 1/2d, left: 'Thrissell' (SG 623 II), right: 'Timson' (SG623 I)
The 'Thrissell' press produced 2 1/2d stamps in a brownish black colour – the Stanley Gibbons Specialised catalogue, Vol. 3, identifies it as grey-black -, appearing lighter than the 'Timson' portrait. The 'Timson' portrait is deeply shaded portrait in a lighter black – dull black according to Stanley Gibbons -.
28 August 1961, printings of the 3d, left: 'Thrissell' (SG 624 II), right: 'Timson' (SG624 I)
The 'Thrissell' press produced 3d stamps with a dull portrait of the Queen. The portrait of the 'Timson' printing is clearer.
18 September 1961 European Postal and Telecommunications Conference
When the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) proposed its members to issue a stamp set in a common design, the Post Office hesitated. The Post Office did issue two stamps to commemorate the first anniversary of CEPT on 19 September 1960 (see above). These were different from the common design used by the other members and used only some elements from the common design.
Great Britain hosted the 1961 annual conference of European postal and telecommunications administrations in Torquay, from 11 until 22 September. As hosts, Great Britain held the secretariat of CEPT for 1961 and was expected to co-ordinate the 1961 stamp issue for all member countries.
At the Paris conference held in March 1960, CEPT decided to hold two design competitions for the 1961 stamp issue. The first was for a common stamp design and the second for a permanent CEPT emblem to be used by member countries that did not adopt the common design. The conference further decided on an issue date of 18 September 1961. The winning designs were chosen at a meeting held in London, in March 1961.
Not until 10 February 1961 did the General Post Office (GPO) confirm it would issue CEPT stamps on 18 September 1961. To avoid issuing multiple stamp sets in that month, the issue for the centenary of the Post Office Savings Bank conceived for 16 September 1961 was rescheduled (see above).
The GPO invited British artists and the printers Harrison and Sons to submit designs for consideration as British entries for the two international design competitions. As the stamp design was intended for use by different countries, the artists were briefed not to include the Queen's head, but the country name 'Great Britain' where each country's name would appear. The design, further, should include the word 'EUROPA' as it had done in 1960. The brief for the logo design stated that the word 'EUROPA' should not be included, as this would refer to the earlier organisation that had been subsumed into CEPT.
On 29 March 1961, the Postal Committee of CEPT selected a design by Dutch artist Theo Kurpershoek, one of the two submitted by the Dutch post office, for the common stamp design. The design showed nineteen doves, one for each member state, flying in formation to form a dove.
1961, CEPT winning design by Theo Kurpershoek submitted and issued by the Netherlands
For the permanent CEPT logo, the committee selected a design by Michael Goaman, submitted by the British post office. The logo shows four post horns with the letters 'CEPT' enclosed by the horns' coils.
CEPT logo design by Michael Goaman submitted by the GPO
The GPO invited Michael Goaman to design stamps in the values of 2d (minimum overseas ordinary printed papers rate), 4d (minimum overseas postcard rate), and 10d (overseas UPU rate for letters in the second weight step of 1 – 2 oz.). The GPO approached only one artist as it, successfully, had done for the 1960 issue. The GPO briefed him the design 'should include either your CEPT symbol or the 19 doves, EUROPA and CEPT motif on the Netherlands stamp or any combination of both motifs'. The stamps should be twice the size of a permanent stamp.
18 September 1961, European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (SG 626-628)
As the stamps had to use a common motif, the GPO did not consult with the Stamp Advisory Committee before submitting the designs to H.M. the Queen for her approval. The Palace objected to the word 'EUROPA' Michael Goaman had incorporated in his original designs.
Harrison and Sons Ltd. printed the stamps in photogravure from three colour reel-fed double pane cylinders. These were the first stamps printed in three colours issued in the United Kingdom. The paper used for printing the stamps was the 70 grammes per square metre chalk-coated paper with upright multiple St. Edward's Crown watermark used for earlier issues. The stamps were perforated 15x14. The counter sheets have six rows of 20 stamps. The stamps incorporate a three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding.
2d – Minimum overseas ordinary printed papers rate Design: Michael Goaman. The design shows the symbol chosen by representatives of the member countries of the Conference consisting of four post horns containing the letters 'CEPT' - the initials of 'Conférence Européenne des Postes et des Télécommunications'. A further representation of four post horns has been used as a frame for Her Majesty's portrait. The value appears in the lower left corner of the stamp. Printing: 52,200,000 (47,530,920 sold). Colour: light brown, yellow, and pink.
4d – Minimum overseas postcard rate Design: Michael Goaman and Theo Kurpershoek. The design shows the dove which is the main motif on the common stamp design chosen by representatives of member countries of the Conference. The 19 doves making up the larger dove represent the 19 member countries of the Conference. The symbolic design of four post horns containing the letters CEPT is to the right of the stamp. In between the dove and the symbolic design is Her Majesty's portrait. The value appears above the dove. Printing: 7,681,200 (7,614,480 sold). Colour: light blue, tan, and violet.
10d – Overseas UPU rate for letters in the second weight step of 1 – 2 oz. Design: Michael Goaman and Theo Kurpershoek. The design shows the dove from the common design chosen by representatives of member countries of the Conference to the left of Her Majesty's portrait. In between appears the value reversed out of the background. Above the value is the 'post horn and CEPT' symbol. Printing: 5,580,000 (5,427,780 sold). Colour: azure blue, yellow and turquoise.
The stamps remained on sale for a calendar year. Due to technical problems at the printers and a shortage of chalk-surfaced paper no further printings took place after the stamps had been issued. The 4d was withdrawn from general sale on 5 October 1961, and the 10d on 27 October 1961. After May 1962 the stamps, only, remained available from the London Chief Office.
25 September 1961 Seventh Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference
The Empire Parliamentary Association was founded at a meeting on 18 July 1911, on the occasion of the coronation of King George V. At the time, the British Empire was composed of the Westminster Parliament in the United Kingdom, five dominions, a handful of tiny protectorates and a vast array of colonies. The British sought to generate dominion support for a centralised imperial federation to advance British interests in an increasingly tense world. The representatives of the five dominions - Australia, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand, South Africa - wanted a voice in what Britain might be dragging them into.
The meeting paved the way for dominion leaders to be involved in the imperial war cabinet during the First World War. After the war, the Association became as a link to keep a changing empire together. Malta and Rhodesia joined the association followed by other parts of the Empire. In 1924, the first conference was held outside London, in South Africa, currently Lesotho.
At the outbreak of World War II, the Association comprised more than 20 parliaments and legislatures. At a conference in London in October 1948, it changed its name to Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. In addition to discussing political issues, it discussed parliamentary and electoral processes. The seventh conference, again, took place in London.
On 28 November 1960, the Postmaster General received a letter from the Chairman of the General Council of the Association, Sir Roland Robinson. He argued a stamp issue marking the 1961 conference would "emphasise to our country and to the world the closeness of the Commonwealth link." The Post Office, already, had committed to issues commemorating the centenary of the Post Office Savings Bank and the Torquay conference of the European postal and telecommunications administrations. The Post Office replied that a third issue within a month was "out of the question."
In February 1961, the first issue had been rescheduled for August and the Post Office agreed on a further issue in September to mark the opening of the seventh Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II.
With little time remaining, the Post Office invited two artists to submit designs for the issue, rather than organise a design competition. On 17 March 1960, Lynton Lamb who had designed the current high-value permanent 'Castles' stamps and Faith Jaques who designed the 1s 3d Tercentenary of the General Letter Office stamp issued in 1960 were invited to submit two designs each by 17 April 1960. The artists were instructed to include the inscription 'Seventh (or VIIth) Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference.' The brief also suggested to include something associated with Parliament in at least one of the designs, such as the Palace of Westminster featuring the clock tower or Westminster Hall, where the conference would take place. The brief also suggested to include a Commonwealth angle, if possible. Flags or symbols associated with any nation should be avoided. The primary colours should be purple for a 6d and green for a 1s 3d stamp, but secondary colours were left to the discretion of the artists.
25 September 1961, VIIth Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference (SG 629-630)
Although the chairman of the Stamp Advisory Committee favoured a design each of the two artists, both designs by Faith Jaques were selected. The argument was made that two stamps by the same designer would give unity to the issue. Furthermore, the preferred design by Lynton Lamb was considered too much like his design for the 1957 'Inter-Parliamentary Union' airletter. Faith Jaques was asked to make some alterations to her designs. Most notably, she was asked to remove the crown in both designs as a courtesy to republican nations of the Commonwealth.
Both stamps incorporate the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's badge symbol of the crossed black rod and mace. The mace represents the authority of the monarch. Without it, neither House can meet or pass laws. The Black Rod is the staff of office of the Gentleman – currently Lady – Usher of the Black Rod. The Usher is principally responsible for controlling access to and maintaining order within the House of Lords and its precincts.
6d – Basic UPU surface-mail rate for letters (1 oz.) Design: Faith Jaques. The design shows the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall in gold. The Wilding portrait of the Queen appears at the centre of the stamp. It is flanked at the bottom by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's badge symbol at left and the value at right, reversed out of the design in white. At the left and top of the stamp is an inscription 'VIIth COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE 1961' reversed out of the background. Printing: 16,680,000 (sold out). Colour: purple and gold.
1/3 – Basic overseas airmail letter rate to zone B (½ oz.) Design: Faith Jaques. The design of the 1s 3d stamp shows the Palace of Westminster with clock tower crowned by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's badge symbol under the value 1|3 reversed out of the background in white. Above it appears the Wilding portrait of the Queen in a rectangular area in blue. Along the left, top, and right sides is the inscription 'SEVENTH COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE + 1961' reversed out of the background in white. The year is separated from the text by a stylised Maltese Cross. Printing: 5,760,000 (sold out). Colour: green and blue.
Zone B comprised the Americas, Africa, except North Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.
Harrison and Sons Ltd. printed the stamps in photogravure from two colour reel-fed single pane cylinders. The stamps were printed on chalk-coated paper with multiple St. Edward's Crown watermark that is upright on the 6d and sideways on the 1s 3d stamp. The 6d stamp is perforated 15x14 and the 1s 3d stamp is perforated 14x15. The counter sheets have six rows of 20 stamps (6d) or twenty rows of 6 stamps (1s 3d). The stamps incorporate a three-quarter face, leftward-looking portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II based on a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding.