100 years of the Girl Guides

At a Boy Scout rally at Crystal Palace in 1909 a group of girls turned up and demanded something for them; luckily Scouting founder Lord Baden Powell was thinking along the same lines, and the Girl Guide movement was formed. A century on, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has 10 million members in more than 140 countries, and in the UK the Guides are the largest youth organisation in the country, with 550,000 members. Today Royal Mail has released a colourful miniature sheet commemorating 100 years of the Girlguiding UK, a nice follow on to 2007’s issue celebrating 100 years of the Scouts.

Girlguiding miniature sheet, 2010

Girlguiding miniature sheet, 2010

As you might expect, this is not the first time that the Girl Guides have appeared on stamps. In 1982 Royal Mail celebrated Youth Organisations. The stamps designed by Brian Sanders featured the Boy’s Brigade and the Girl’s Brigade, along with the Scouts and Guides.

Youth Organisations Commemoratives, 1982

Youth Organisations Commemoratives, 1982

The Boy Scouts, however, have made one other appearance on British stamps. In 1957 three stamps were released to commemorate the World Scout Jubilee Jamboree, a 50th anniversary celebration of the movement held at Sutton Coldfield in August of that year.

World Scout Jubilee Jamboree commemoratives, 1957

World Scout Jubilee Jamboree commemoratives, 1957

The commemorative stamps were designed by three artists, Mary Adshead (2½d value), Pat Keely (4d value) and William Henry Brown (1s 3d value) and printed by Harrisons onto sheets and rolls. The rolls of stamps were used with experimental automatic stamp-fixing equipment designed to produce first day covers, which was and built and housed in a portion of the Birmingham Postal Customs Depot adjoining Sutton Coldfield Sorting Office. Twelve different types of cover were produced by the Mayflower Stamp Co. and they cost 6s 6d each (which included a set of all three stamps). The covers were cancelled with the special postmark slogan “Jubilee Jamboree – Sutton Coldfield” and posted from the Jamboree Camp Post Office.

Also notable about the World Scout Jubilee Jamboree stamps was that the Boy Scout Association had to lobby hard to get them. In 1955 the Association contacted the Post Office Advisory Council to suggest the release of stamps to celebrate the centenary of Lord Baden Powell’s birth on 22 February 1957. This was rejected as it was the policy of the Post Office to restrict the issue of special stamps to events of greatest importance to the nation or major postal significance.

Later in 1955 the Boy Scout Association requested an issue to commemorate the Jubilee Jamboree. This was considered and rejected on the same grounds, but following a campaign organised through Stamp Collector magazine, which urged its readers to write to their MPs, a parliamentary question was put by J V Woollam (Conservative MP for Liverpool West Derby and a philatelist) with the support of several other Members of Parliament.

Pressure continued for special issues to celebrate both the Jubilee Jamboree and the British Empire Games (to be held in Cardiff in 1958). Finally in early March 1956 a memo was circulated which reconsidered the case for special issues commemorating both events and concluded by suggesting regular special issues at intervals of every two years or so. The memo advised that special issues should feature “current events of outstanding national or international importance”. With this change of policy the Post Office Advisory Council reversed its earlier rejection and it was announced in the House of Commons on 13 June 1956 that the Post Office would be issuing a set to commemorate the Jubilee Jamboree.

The Girlguiding miniature sheet is available from the Royal Mail Shop.

One response to “100 years of the Girl Guides

  1. What a nice site specially for the collectors of scouting stamps. I appreciate your efforts and hope it is kept updated for the sake of interests of stamps collectors like me. Regards to you all.

    Y M Kakar, Kotwalwala,
    P O Box-18, GPO,
    Quetta – 87300.
    P A K I S T A N .

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