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Cancellation of the Imperforate Line Engraved Issues of Great Britain (1840–1854)

Introduction

With the introduction of the world’s first postage stamps, the 1d black and 2d blue, which became valid to pre-pay postage from 6 May 1840, a reliable method of applying a permanent cancellation was also required to prevent the stamps’ fraudulent re-use.

The initial solution was in the form of an obliterator, now commonly referred to as the Maltese Cross cancellation, which was issued to all Postmasters shortly before the introduction of the stamps themselves, together with instructions confirming how it was to be applied.

Until the imperforate issues were superseded in 1853 a number of modifications to the official method of cancelling stamps were made:

February 1841 The colour of ink used for cancelling stamps was changed from red to black
March 1843 Maltese Crosses incorporating numbers in the centre were introduced at the London Inland Office
May 1844 Maltese Crosses were replaced with Barred Numeral Cancellations at the London Offices and also at English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
June 1844 Maltese Crosses were replaced with Barred Numeral Cancellations at Scottish and Irish Post Towns

Scope

Commencing with the first obliterator, the Maltese cross, this exhibit illustrates all the officially approved methods for cancelling the imperforate line engraved stamps of Great Britain until their eventual replacement by perforated stamps in 1853; the transitions between the various obliterators are also detailed.

In addition, many of the unofficial methods and shortcuts employed by the Postal Clerks of the day are shown which were in contravention of the official Post Office regulations; these include, amongst others, the use of a datestamp instead of the official obliterator, and the use of inks of a different colour than that specified by the regulations.

References

Cancellations of the 1841 Penny Red – Robert Danzig and David Goldsmith
Encyclopaedia of the Maltese Cross (volumes 1 to 3) – Professor S. David Rockoff and Mike Jackson

(link)

Frame 1

CONTENTS
  1. Introduction
MALTESE CROSSES

Red Maltese Cross
  1. Introduction of the obliterator
  2. Varying shades of ink
  3. Varying shades of ink
  4. Cancellation of multiple stamps
  5. Contrary to regulations
Black Maltese Cross
  1. Experimental London Cross
  2. Experimental London Cross – redirected
  3. Unofficial early use of black ink – May 1840
  4. Unofficial early use of black ink – September 1840
  5. Transition from red to black ink – first day of use
  6. Transition from red to black ink – redirected
  7. Cancellation of single stamps
  8. Cancellation of multiple stamps
  9. Contrary to regulations - pairs
  10. Contrary to regulations – larger multiples
(link)

Frame 2

MALTESE CROSSES (cont)

Coloured Maltese Crosses
  1. Late use of red ink – usage on 1d black
  2. Late use of red ink – usage on 1d red
  3. Late use of red ink – red and black crosses
  4. Blue Maltese Cross – usage in 1841
  5. Blue Maltese Cross – usage in 1842
  6. Blue Maltese Cross – usage in 1843
  7. Blue Maltese Cross – usage in 1844
  8. Green Maltese Cross
Distinctive Maltese Crosses
  1. Norwich
  2. Milnethorpe and Welshpool
  3. Cork and Eyrecourt
  4. York
London Numbered Crosses
  1. Introduction of the obliterator
  2. Usage on 1d reds
  3. Usage on 2d blues
  4. Last day of usage
(link)

Frame 3

BARRED NUMERAL CANCELLATIONS

Overview
  1. Introduction – usage on 1d blacks
  2. London Inland Office
  3. London District Office
  4. English and Welsh Provincial Post Towns
  5. Scottish Post Towns
  6. Irish Post Towns
Transition to Numerals
  1. London Inland Office – first day of usage
English and Welsh Provincial Post Towns
  1. Last Day of the Maltese Cross
  2. Changeover at Taunton
  3. Changeover at Liverpool
  4. First day of usage – Ipswich and Bath
  5. Scottish Post Towns
  6. Irish Post Towns – first day of usage
Contrary to Regulations
  1. London Inland Office
  2. English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
  3. English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
(link)

Frame 4

BARRED NUMERAL CANCELLATIONS (cont)

Contrary to Regulations (cont)
  1. English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
  2. English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
  3. Scottish Post Towns
  4. Scottish Post Towns
  5. Irish Post Towns
  6. Irish Post Towns
Coloured Cancellations
  1. London District Office
  2. English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
  3. English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
  4. English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
  5. English and Welsh provincial Post Towns
  6. Scottish Post Towns
  7. Scottish Post Towns
  8. Irish Post Towns
  9. Irish Post Towns
  10. Irish Post Towns – Transatlantic cover from Moate to New York
(link)

Frame 5

OTHER CANCELLATIONS

Late use of the Maltese Cross
  1. Isle of Man
  2. Chapeltown and Watchett
  3. In conjunction with a numeral cancellation
Datestamps etc
  1. Circular Town Datestamps
  2. Circular Town Datestamps
  3. Circular Town Datestamps – in blue ink
  4. Circular Town Datestamps – in red ink
  5. Undated Circular Cancellations
  6. Undated Circular Cancellations
  7. Spoon Duplex Cancellations
  8. Penny Post Handstamps
  9. Penny Post Handstamps – in conjunction with a Maltese Cross
  10. ”Paid at Liverpool”
  11. Manuscript Cancellations
  12. London “Too Late” and “Tombstone”
  13. Miscellaneous Cancellations