Tag Archives: Scottish Crown

House of Stewarts

The reigning British monarch has appeared on stamps since their introduction in 1840, but over the past couple of years Royal Mail has ensured that some of those monarchs who ruled before postal reform have also been commemorated. Following last year’s House of Tudor commemoratives and the Houses of Lancaster and York stamps of 2008 comes today’s new release, the House of Stewarts. 

House of Stewarts stamps: (left to right) James I, James II, James III, James IV, James V, Mary, James VI

House of Stewarts stamps: (left to right) James I, James II, James III, James IV, James V, Mary, James VI

The House of Stewart was founded in the late 14th Century by Robert II of Scotland. The Stewarts were monarchs of Scotland from 1371 to 1603, and Monarchs of Great Britain and Ireland from 1603 to 1714.

The House of Stewarts stamps commemorate the seven Stewart monarchs who reigned from 1406 to 1625. This period was significant in Scottish history and saw Scotland transformed from a poor, feudal country into a wealthy modern state which would eventually unite with the rest of the nations of the British Isles.

This era of progress is marked by the four commemoratives which appear in The Age of the Stewarts miniature sheet, marking the foundation of Scotland’s first university, St Andrews, in 1413; the granting of a Royal Charter to the College of Surgeons in 1505; the formalisation of the Court of Session in 1532; and the Reformation of the Church of Scotland (also known as the Presbyterian Church) in 1559.

The Age of the Stewarts miniature sheet

The Age of the Stewarts miniature sheet with stamps for St Andrews University, the College of Surgeons, the Court of Session, and the Reformation of the Church of Scotland.

King James I and Bible (Authorised version of the Bible) stamp, released in 1999 as part of The Christians’ Tale.

King James I and Bible (Authorised version of the Bible) stamp, released in 1999 as part of The Christians’ Tale.

Among the other key events of the House of Stewart period was the translation of the Bible into English. This became known as the King James Bible, and was commemorated on a stamp in 1999. The translation is named after the reigning monarch of the time James I of England and Ireland. James I succeeded Elizabeth I to the throne upon her death in 1603, but from 1567 had been James VI of Scotland. As the first of the Stuart Kings of England, James I will also be included in the House of Stuarts stamps to be released on 15th June.

Scottish Lamp Box, 1974-1976

Scottish Lamp Box, 1974-1976 (OB1994.17)

James I of England/James VI of Scotland is not the only monarch to have caused confusion to someone exploring the complex regal history of Britain. While the current Queen is Elizabeth II of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in Scotland she is technically Elizabeth I. As a result letter boxes and postal vehicles in Scotland do not bear her cipher, ERII, but the Scottish crown.

The House of Stewart stamps area available from the Royal Mail website.

GPO Street Furniture Discover Session

This Saturday our Curators will be throwing open the doors of our Museum Store, where some of the larger items in our collection are housed, and helping people view and explore some of the classic items of street furniture which shape our urban and rural landscape.

Few of us take notice of the humble pillar box at the end of our street, yet it is an essential part of our lives. Such everyday items have a fascinating history and have been through many changes in their history. From the size and design of the aperture, to the colour, shape and internal workings of the box itself, each evolution reflects both changing technologies and changing needs.

A Scottish lamp box bearing the Scottish Crown instead of the EIIR cypher

A Scottish lamp box bearing the Scottish Crown instead of the EIIR cypher

Lamp boxes were first trialled in 1896 for residents in fashionable London Squares who required a nearby posting facility so their letters written late at night could catch the midnight or early morning collections.

There have also been regional differences in street furniture design. In Scotland Royal Mail street furniture, vehicles and buildings bear the Scottish Crown rather than the cypher of Queen Elizabeth – EIIR. This is due to complaints that Her Majesty is not the second Queen Elizabeth of Scotland, but the first.

Street furniture produced for Royal Mail and the Post Office has often been innovative. A telephone kiosk in the BPMA’s collection includes a stamp vending machine, perhaps a pioneering example of the current trend in technology for convergence.

Other topics to be covered on the day include wall boxes, Stamp Vending Machines, sub-stations, manhole covers, milestones, signage, pouch boxes and PODS. So, if you’ve ever wondered what’s inside a pillar box, why telephone kiosks have sloping floors or how ‘posties’ manage to deliver to so many homes from such a small mail bag, join us at the Museum Store this Saturday.

The GPO Street Furniture Discover Session will take place at the BPMA’s Museum Store on Saturday 20th June from 11am-3pm. For further information, and to book, please see our website. A Discover Session on Square Pillar Boxes will take place on Saturday 19 September.