Encapsulated Stamp Cards
IntroductionA dilemma within the Post Office was always how best to publicise new issues to staff and media without risking stamp misuse. This was overcome early on by stamps overprinted SPECIMEN or CANCELLED, followed by black and white, then colour, photos. Digital scans are provided today.
In 1969 the Post Office altered its policy, allowing unissued mint stamps to be provided pre-release to news editors at press conferences. These stamps could not be postally used, as they were mounted on a descriptive card that was encapsulated in plastic. The initial two issues stated Stamps issued [date], with later cards reading Stamps to be issued [date], reflecting their pre-release status.
By the end of 1973 regulations had relaxed further and unmounted mint stamps were being sent to favoured editors, diminishing the need for these cards. Possibly only given to overseas newspaper editors at the end of this publicity method, this is probably why the final cards are even more scarce.
Some 25 stamp issues were encapsulated, with a rare variant by Ron Lee of the Philympia organising committee serving as an invitation to a press reception. A single stamp from the 1975 Trains issue appeared in a broadly similar style and this card was only discovered in October 2017.