Tag Archives: Diamond Jubilee

Queens’ anniversaries

This June not only marks the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on 2 June 1953 but also 175 years since another female British monarch was crowned; the young Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom on 28 June 1838. Both queens have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee and are the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarchs – a remarkable achievement, which is also reflected in the eventful periods that mark their reigns spanning over decades of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Victoria oversaw a whole era of innovation, which was particularly true in postal affairs. The world’s first postage stamp, The Penny Black, was issued during her reign on 6 May 1840 and featured the young queen’s portrait.

The Penny Black and "Machin" stamp designs.

The Penny Black and “Machin” stamp designs.

Since Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne in 1952, many ground-breaking changes have taken place in every part of British life. In stamp design, the Queen’s head was almost removed from pictorial stamps but finally a new timeless and classic design was finally commissioned for definitive stamps: the “Machin stamp”, featuring Queen Elizabeth II’s effigy. Based on the white cameo relief created by Arnold Machin this iconic design has been reproduced on stamps over 200 billion time since 1965.

To commemorate these two extraordinary anniversaries, the British Postal Museum & Archive Shop is now offering a unique set of Wedgwood Jasperware plates featuring the two classic portraits of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II from stamp design. A Black Basalt plate shows Queen Victoria’s portrait from The Penny Black, and a Portland Blue dish features Queen Elizabeth II’s image from the “Machin Head”. The plates are 11cm in diameter with a white wreath of laurel leaves on the border and come beautifully presented in a Wedgwood box. You can now purchase this ideal souvenir of the coronation anniversaries in 2013 as a set for £17.50 from the BPMA online shop (plus P&P).

Wedgwood Jasperware Set.

Wedgwood Jasperware Set.

Welcome to 2013

This year will be an exciting year at The British Postal Museum & Archive. While many staff are working hard to develop our new museum and archive others are continuing to organise events and exhibitions.

Talks

The first of our talks takes place next month and features Chris West, author of First Class: A history of Britain in 36 postage stamps. In his talk Chris will discuss the book and go in depth on some of the stories. Last year Chris wrote a blog for us about how he came to write his book, and you can buy a copy from our online shop or purchase one at the event.

In March Oliver Carter-Wakefield of Kings College London will speak on Illness and Absence in the Victorian Post Office. Consumption, necrosis and mental derangement were just some of the reasons Victorian postmen called in sick – and they weren’t always skiving!

Postal Mischief with David Bramwell.

Postal Mischief with David Bramwell.

In April David Bramwell will present a slide-show talk on how the postal system was used for the purposes of mischief making, and in June BPMA Curator Emma Harper will explore a less weird but just as wonderful use of the Royal Mail when she explores the culture of letter writing in 19th and 20th Centuries.

Tickets for all our talks are only £3.00 (or £2.50 concession) and can be booked online.

Tours

Our ever popular tours will be held throughout 2013. Bookings are now open for three tours of the Royal Mail Archive and six tours of our Museum Collection. These guided tours are led by our archivists and curators, who will give you a rare behind the scenes look at our collections storage facilities and an insight in to what they care for. Book now for these tours as they sell out quickly!

Walking tours of postal London run once a month and are operated by our partners Cityguides. Tours start at Farringdon Station and end at Bank, taking you in to the City of London which was once the heartland of the British Post Office. There is no need to book for these tours – just turn up on the day. See our website for details.

See the sights of postal London on our walking tours.

See the sights of postal London on our walking tours.

Special Events

The Museum Store, where we are house our full of collection of pillar boxes and vehicles, will play host to two special events this year. The first, Pillar Box Perfection, taking place on 6 April, will offer a range of activities for all ages based around the iconic pillar box. The second, Museums at Night at the Museum Store, is part of an initiative taking place in May in which museums stay open in the evening. We’ll tell you more about this event nearer to the time. Both of these special events are free of charge.

Exhibitions

Visitors to the Royal Mail Archive in London can still see our Diamond Jubilee display of stamps from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. We also have a permanent exhibition, The Museum of the Post Office in the Community, at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Shorpshire. The Museum is located above a recreated Victorian post office – a fascinating place to visit in itself – and is free to visit as part of your entry to Blists Hill.

Part of our much-loved collection of General Post Office posters from the 1930s-1960s will go on display at the Great Western Hospital, Swindon in March. This is part of the Paintings in Hospitals scheme, and the public may visit the exhibition in the Hospital’s designated display area during their opening hours.

Please pack parcels very carefully, poster by Tom Eckersley - this will be on display as part of Designs on Delivery.

Please pack parcels very carefully, poster by Tom Eckersley – this will be on display as part of Designs on Delivery.

Also on tour is our exhibition Last Post: Remembering the First World War, which can be seen at the Museum of Army Flying, Hampshire from March and at Aysgarth Station Heritage Site, North Yorkshire in May. The exhibition looks at the role of the Post Office during the Great War.

Visit our website for full details of our programme of events and exhibitions.

Majestic Magic

BPMA is participating in a Family Learning Fun Day at Coram Fields, near Russell Square tube station, this Saturday, 22nd September. The theme will be knights, princes, princesses, kings and queens, and it is a free fun day for families with children up to 12.

Attendees will have an opportunity to make fantastic crowns and tiaras, design their own maze and create a wonderful castle. There will be storytelling and music for the little ones and the whole event takes place indoors so you won’t need to worry about the weather spoiling the fun!

Make a crown at the Majestic Magic day.

Make a crown at the Majestic Magic day.

The BPMA will be offering two hands-on activities. In “Stamp Champs”, families will have a go at a card-matching quiz – trying to match pictures of British kings and queens to their stamps. In “Glam Stamps”, parents and children will get to practise their art and design skills, using colouring pencils, collage materials and jewels to make their own glamorous stamp to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Majestic Magic Family Fun Day will take place in Coram’s Fields, 93 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1DN, on Saturday 22nd of September from 1 to 5pm.

Designing the Diamond Jubilee stamps

Earlier this year we marked the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign by opening our Diamond Jubilee exhibition. The exhibition includes stamp artwork, issued stamps and other material, and it can be viewed for free by visiting the Royal Mail Archive.

To complement the exhibition we have invited designer Kate Stephens and Royal Mail Design Manager (Stamps & Collectibles) Catharine Brandy to discuss the recent Diamond Jubilee stamp issue at an event on Thursday 27th September. The pair will give a presentation looking at the design of the stamps which will be followed by a question and answer session.

Stamps from the recent Diamond Jubilee issue.

Stamps from the recent Diamond Jubilee issue.

The event takes place at the Phoenix Centre, next to the Royal Mail Archive, at 7pm on Thursday 27th September and costs £3.00 (£2.50 concession). Book your tickets online by visiting our website.

Get an online preview of the Diamond Jubilee exhibition at www.postalheritage.org.uk/diamondjubilee.

New Diamond Jubilee stamps

Royal Mail is marking the culmination of Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with eight new stamps featuring significant events over the past 60 years. The Diamond Jubilee stamps are issued today in time for the extended Jubilee Bank Holidays on 4 and 5 June.

Issued in four se-tenant ‘pairs’, the stamps use archive photographs showing The Queen performing her official duties both at home in the UK and on the world stage. These include such diverse tasks as the first televised Christmas broadcast in 1957, to Her Majesty’s inspection of the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh, as head of the UK’s Armed Forces, half a century later in 2007.

The Diamond Jubilee stamps are: 1st Class – Golden Jubilee 2002, Trooping the Colour 1967. 77p – The Royal Welsh 2007, First Christmas TV Broadcast 1957. 87p – Silver Jubilee Walkabout 1977, Garter Ceremony 1997. £1.28 – United Nations Address 1957, Commonwealth Games 1982.

The Diamond Jubilee stamps are: 1st Class – Golden Jubilee 2002, Trooping the Colour 1967. 77p – The Royal Welsh 2007, First Christmas TV Broadcast 1957. 87p – Silver Jubilee Walkabout 1977, Garter Ceremony 1997. £1.28 – United Nations Address 1957, Commonwealth Games 1982.

These stamps demonstrate The Queen’s devotion to duty since her accession to the throne on 6 February 1952. Much of this is recounted in a 24-page prestige stamp book written by Daily Mail journalist Robert Hardman that is also being issued to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

This is the third and final Royal Mail stamp issue in 2012 to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The first was The House of Windsor issue (2 February), which featured a 1954 portrait of The Queen. The second, the Diamond Jubilee Miniature Sheet, was issued on 6 February, the same day The Queen came to the throne in 1952.

Two first day of issue postmarks are available for this issue, including one featuring a depiction of a royal coach.

Diamond Jubilee pictorial handstamps

Diamond Jubilee pictorial handstamps

A display of philatelic material celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, including an exclusive insight into the making of the stamps released to mark the occasion, can be viewed free of charge at the Royal Mail Archive, London.

Jubilee Stamps Designer Kate Stephens and Royal Mail Design Manager (Stamps & Collectibles) Catharine Brandy will discuss Designing the Diamond Jubilee Stamps at the Phoenix Centre, London on 27 September. Tickets are £3/£2.50 concession, please book online.

The stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Office branches, online and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

Diamond Jubilee Party

To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the recent opening of our brand new Diamond Jubilee exhibition, we are holding a fun-filled Jubilee Party in a bright red Gazebo in Spa Fields, Clerkenwell on Friday 1 June.

We are being joined by teams from the Foundling Museum and the Museum of the Order of St John, who will both have plenty of items that illustrate their Museums as well as fantastic items to give away.

Throughout the day the brilliant Guy Atkins of Postcardese will be giving quick talks and workshops on the Forgotten Art of Writing Postcards, and the startling hidden histories behind the positioning of stamps.

Clerkenwell Tales bookstore will be with us all day, with plenty of great books and products.

The Big Wheel Theatre Company will also be running games and activities for everyone.

Lorna Giezot will be creating free stamp portraits for visitors to take away with them.

We will have Jubilee-themed cakes to give away and also a tombola with fantastic prizes including The World’s Smallest Post Service, letter writing sets, stamps, books, playing cards and games.

This is the perfect way to start the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend, and it’s free – we hope to see you there!

BPMA Diamond Jubilee Party, Friday 1st June, 11am- 4pm
at Spa Fields, off Exmouth Market, EC1R 08B (Map)

Diamond Jubilee Exhibition opens

Tomorrow, 10 May 2012 a new exhibition featuring material celebrating the Diamond Jubilee will open in the BPMA Search Room. The display includes an exclusive insight into the making of the stamps released to mark this special occasion.

An early proposal by Sedley Place for the Diamond Jubilee miniature sheet layout

Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne on 6 February 1952 on the death of her father King George VI. In 2012, she celebrates 60 years on the throne, her Diamond Jubilee. This exhibition shows how the two stamp issues from Royal Mail marking the Jubilee came about. The first was a miniature sheet issued in February featuring six definitives with iconic portraits from stamps, coins and banknotes. For the second special issue a series of photographs were chosen by Kate Stephens of the Queen’s life “in action” as monarch.

Both stamps from banknotes – the 1960 version by Robert Austin and the 1970 version by Harry Eccleston

The monarch, or ruler, has been the symbol of the country since at least Roman times. Alone, he or she has always represented the United Kingdom on coins and postage stamps, without any other indication of country name. For stamps, this is unique in the world. On Bank of England banknotes, however, the use of the monarch’s head is much more recent, only dating from 1960. How each of the six portraits came about is the subject of the main exhibition case. The original source photograph or sketch is followed by the origination or artwork (in the case of coins plaster casts) and an example of the item – such as Specimen banknotes from the Bank of England or coins from the Royal Mint Museum. You can then see how this has translated into the modern stamp. An accompanying brochure gives more details.

August 2011 essays with wrong values of Diamond Jubilee designs showing Her Majesty The Queen “in action”, by Kate Stephens

The Queen “in action”
Kate Stephens has been successful in designing several royal and non-royal related stamp issues. It was therefore natural to turn to her when considering images for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. How she created the commemorative issue (based on her previous research) is described in the third display case and in the brochure.

– Douglas N. Muir, Curator (Philately) –

SPECIAL DIAMOND JUBILEE OFFER: Celebrate this year’s Diamond Jubilee with a beautiful Wedgwood Jasperware plate in Portland Blue featuring one of the most well-known portraits of Queen Elizabeth II: the ‘Machin head’ – the white cameo relief created by Arnold Machin as the definitive stamp design. The dish is available in our online shop. The BPMA offer 10% discount on this wonderful souvenir – simply enter the discount code JU81L33 at checkout until 6 June 2012.

Spring Stampex 2012

As the days are getting longer, there are also more and more events to look forward to – including Spring Stampex, from 22-25 February at the Business Design Centre (BDC) in Islington. Come and visit the Friends of the BPMA at stand 20 and learn more about upcoming BPMA events and exhibitions, get the latest postal heritage products or simply have a chat about some exciting finds at the stamp show.

Stampex at the Business Design Centre

Stampex at the Business Design Centre

Use your visit to Stampex to get more information about our new Diamond Jubilee exhibition which will offer an exclusive insight into the variety of the stamps released to mark the occasion. It will be on display at the BPMA Archive Search Room from 10 May 2012. One of the world’s greatest collections of stamps is the subject of a talk by Michael Sefi, Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection, on 23 February 2012 at the Phoenix Centre, for which you will be able to buy tickets at the stand, too. Another highlight of the postal heritage events calendar is the launch of The Post Office in Pictures exhibition at its exciting new touring venue. The exhibition (along with a host of activities) will be at the Lumen URC, London, from 19 May to the end of August 2012.

Among many popular BPMA products, we will offer a new postcard pack of six Mail Rail themed images at Stampex. On the occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee there will also be a beautiful collector’s item for sale at the stand: a Wedgwood Jasperware plate featuring one of the most famous portraits of Queen Elizabeth II – the ‘Machin head’.

Mail Rail postcard pack

Mail Rail postcard pack

Royal Mail will again have a substantial presence and offer the full range of current stamp issues and provide posting boxes for collectors to post covers for the special Stampex handstamps. On Thursday, 23 February, Royal Mail will launch the Britons of Distinction stamps and the following day will see the issue of new pictorial Post and Go Stamps featuring British sheep. As usual, admission is free and the exhibition opens 11.30am-7pm on Wednesday, 10am-6pm on Thursday and Friday, and 10am-5pm on Saturday.

The Friends of the BPMA are looking forward to meeting you there!

The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Sheet

The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Sheet is available from today; it marks the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen’s accession to the Throne. The new 1st Class stamps on the sheet feature iconic images of Queen Elizabeth II from stamps, notes and coins issued throughout Her 60-year reign.

The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Stamp Sheet

The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Stamp Sheet

Included among the six stamps is a brand new 1st Class diamond blue definitive stamp, millions of which will replace the current standard gold definitive in Post Offices during 2012.

The first stamp on the new definitive sheet is inspired by the very first stamp issued during Her Majesty The Queen’s reign. This 1952 stamp featured a classic photograph by society photographer Dorothy Wildling. The set also includes portraits taken from a £1 banknote first issued in 1960, and a £5 note issued in 1971. The images used which are taken from coins include a pre-decimal portrait first issued in 1953, on a coin minted the same year, and an image from a 1971 decimal coin which featured a portrait created by Arnold Machin.

The new diamond blue Machin stamp completes the set and features Arnold Machin’s iconic image on a blue background that highlights the words ‘Diamond Jubilee’ in iridescent ink. Since it first appeared in 1967, this timeless image has been reproduced on more than 220 billion of Royal Mail’s definitive stamps.

The fully illustrated presentation pack of The Diamond Jubilee Miniature Sheet is written by Douglas Muir, Curator, Philately, of the British Postal Museum and Archive. He takes a look at the history and iconography of Queen Elizabeth II portraiture on stamps, coins and banknotes. The pack was designed by Studio Dempsey, and printed by Walsall Security Printers.

First Day of Issue Postmarks

First Day of Issue Postmarks

The Stamp Sheet and the new Diamond Jubilee 1st Class Definitive stamps as well as additional philatelic products are available at all Post Office branches, from Royal Mail website, the Royal Mail eBay shop and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

The BPMA Shop now offers a beautiful collector’s item to celebrate this year’s Diamond Jubilee: a Wedgwood Jasperware plate in Portland Blue with the white cameo relief of Her Majesty The Queen by Arnold Machin which was the basis of the classic definitive portrait.

A Diamond Jubilee display will be launched in the Royal Mail Archive Search Room in May.

200 Years of Australia Post

by Alison Bean, Website Officer

Over the weekend philatelists and postal heritage buffs in Australia celebrated Australia Post’s bicentenary. As you might expect of a former British colony, Australia’s postal service was much influenced by Britain’s. Browsing Australia Post’s fascinating 200th Anniversary website I discovered many interesting parallels and connections between the two postal services.

The postal service began in Australia with the appointment of Isaac Nichols – a former convict who had been transported to New South Wales for stealing – as the first Postmaster of Sydney on 25th April 1809. Mail distribution prior to Nichols’ appointment was “haphazard” according to Australia Post’s website. It also says of this period:

“Life was often bleak and lonely for the first settlers as they waited for news from home. It could be many months before a ship was sighted offshore and this was enough to generate near pandemonium on the wharves.”

And so it wasn’t until two months after his appointment that Nichols performed his first duty, which was to board the brig Experiment as it docked in Sydney Harbour and take delivery of the mail. He then took the mail back to his home in George Street, Sydney, and placed an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette to alert recipients that mail awaited them.

The practise of not home delivering the mail was common at the time. In Britain prior to the introduction of free home delivery, letters would often be delivered to a convenient local place, such as a coffee shop. Although the first “letter carriers” (postmen) were appointed in Sydney in 1828 it appears that home delivery was not free in New South Wales at this time, as recipients paid for letters rather than senders. In Britain free home delivery was not granted to every household until 1897 (this was a concession to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria) although by 1859 93% of letters were not subject to a delivery charge.

Another important milestone for the Australian postal service was the introduction of the first public post boxes in Sydney in 1831. These were receipt boxes placed in front of letter receiving houses for the collection of (unpaid) letters. Receipt boxes were introduced in the UK in 1814 and underwent many stylistic changes throughout their existence, such as changes to the angle of the aperture (letter slot) from vertical to horizontal. The boxes introduced in Sydney in 1831 are likely to have been the same as their British counterparts.

Paris Letter Box 1850, an inspiration for early Australian letter boxes.

The first pillar boxes arrived in New South Wales in the late 1850s, a few years after UK trials had taken place in the Channel Islands. The Postmaster General of New South Wales announced that he would replace the existing receipt boxes with cast-iron letter receivers in Sydney and an invitation to tender was placed in the Government Gazette on 2nd November 1855. The boxes that followed were the famous Bubbs Boxes, which were modelled on those already in use in Belgium and Paris (which had also provided the inspiration for the first British roadside pillars). One of the stamps in Australia Post’s 200th Anniversary stamp issue shows an early Bubbs Box. A slightly different model manufactured in 1870 can be found in the collection of the National Museum of Australia and an image of this and others from the NMA’s collection can be seen on Wikipedia. Flickr shows an image of a similar box manufactured for the Western Australian postal service, bearing the Western Australian emblem of a black swan.

Australia Post’s website also notes that letter sheets pre-stamped with an albino embossing were introduced in New South Wales in 1838, pre-dating the Penny Black by almost two years. There is some debate about whether these letter sheets should be regarded as stamps or postal stationary. Those who feel they are postal stationary note that special letter sheets showing an eagle with the Cross of Savoy were sold in Sardinia in 1819. Either way, the letter sheets were inspired by British postal reformer Rowland Hill. James Raymond, the New South Wales Postmaster at this time, had been in communication with Hill and was much influenced by Hill’s 1837 pamphlet Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability, which recommended the introduction of prepayment for postage using pre-printed envelopes and stamps. But Raymond’s pioneering letter sheets did not prove popular and moves were made to introduce postage stamps. The first postage stamps were released in New South Wales on 1st January 1850. Victoria followed on 3rd January 1950 and other Australian colonies introduced stamps between 1853 and 1860.

Britains first charity stamp, issued in 1975 in support of health and handicap charities.

Britain's first charity stamp, issued in 1975 in support of health and handicap charities.

Another philatelic first claimed by Australia was the release of the world’s first charity stamps in 1897 in New South Wales. The stamps were to honour Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee with proceeds going to a Consumptive’s Home (images of these stamps can be seen on the Stamps of Distinction blog and Linns.com). It is important to note that Greece had released charity stamps in 1831, although the New South Wales Consumptive Home stamps were the first to include a charity surcharge. Britain’s first charity stamp was issued in 1975 to support health and handicap charities.

I am indebted to BPMA Curator Julian Stray for providing much of the information in this post. The following online resources were also extremely useful.
BPMA: Key Dates in the British Postal Service
BPMA: online catalogue
Australia Post: Our History
Australia Post: 200 Years
Wikipedia: Postage stamps and postal history of New South Wales
Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue: Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps