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Not all Crown Official Paid is boring black!
IntroductionCrown Official Paid was introduced in 1904 to simplify the handling of official mail. The original King's Crown was replaced by the Queen's Crown for Queen Elizabeth II (page 14), and the design revised to the TV screen shape in 1962 (pages 15-16) to provide a better signal for Automatic Letter Facing Equipment of the time.
From the early days a small portion of the insignia were printed in colour (page 2), rather than black, and the purpose of this is to show that "Not all Crown Official Paid is boring black".
The majority of the coloured items are blue, saving costs when having to print blue crossed lines for Registered Mail, and printing everything in one colour. Page 13 has letterpress and litho versions of the same registered envelope.
Official mail was only valid as printed, so unless it was clearly marked for parcels, or registered, it had to be uprated with stamps for anything above basic services. Nor was it valid for overseas mail, except for Ireland since in 1922 both Postal administrations agreed to handle each others Official Paid without charge.
On the first page are a couple of die proofs (from a Royal Mint presentation album given to Royal Mint engraver H.A. Richardson on his retirement). Page 14 shows the better quality stationery used by Ministers and some senior officials.
In 1980 the National Audit Office looked at the accounting arrangements for Official Mail, and recommended that all Government Departments and other users of the Official Paid symbol (including the Houses of Parliament) went over to "Commercial" charging methods. (Previously departments accounts had been charged an average cost by the Treasury, [based on a months sample count every 10 years], when the order for printing was placed with Her Majesty's Stationery Office.)
And remember Postage Meters, Business Reply Service, Freepost, PPI etc. did not exist in 1904 when the Official Paid Symbol was first introduced.