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Protective Overprints and Underprints

Introduction

Protective Overprints and Underprints were the precursor to Perfins (the Perforated Initials) applied to stocks of stamps to deter theft. During the Victorian period, it was quite usual to pay small bills in stamps and the Post Office would buy back mint stamps, at face value, as long as they had not been defaced in any way. This presented a temptation to office staff, as stamps were easier to steal and conceal than a pocket full of loose change.

As early as 1858 firms and organisations had taken to privately overprinting (on the face) or underprinting (on the back) their stocks of stamps in an attempt to prevent this petty pilfering.

From 1866 until 1882, the Post Office provided an official underprinting service (these differing from the unofficial underprints in being printed under the gum). Only five firms and organisations took up this official service:

J. & C. Boyd & Co.1866-1880
W. H. Smith and Son1867-1880
Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co.1867-1882
Oxford Union Society1871-1880
Great Eastern Railway1873-1880

Before, during and after the official service was in operation some 50+ firms (including Boyd, Copestake and the Oxford Union Society) produced their own private underprints and overprints.

Although superseded by Perfins two further unofficial underprints (W H E & S Ltd. and Wattses) appeared during the reign of King Edward VII and King George V.

This display shows the large number of different overprints and underprints known (both on and off cover) along with some unusual varieties, misprints, proofs and fakes. A brief history of each firm is also included where known.

A Note on Condition

The official underprints generally survive very well on the stamps, having been printed before the gum was applied to the sheets. The unofficial underprints, over the gum, are very hard to find in a complete state.




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Frame 1

INTRODUCTION
  1. Introduction 1
  2. Introduction 2
  3. Introduction 3
  4. Introduction 4
OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER
  1. W. J. Barron & Co.
  2. W. J. Barron & Co.
  3. Beddoe, Hulbert & Hulbert / Beddoe, Hulbert & Co.
  4. Beddoe, Hulbert & Hulbert / Beddoe, Hulbert & Co.
  5. Borrowman, Phillipps & Co.
  6. Borrowman, Phillipps & Co.
  7. J. & C. Boyd & Co.
  8. J. & C. Boyd & Co.
  9. J. & C. Boyd & Co.
  10. J. & C. Boyd & Co.
  11. J. & C. Boyd & Co.
  12. Brown, Davis & Co.
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Frame 2

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. Brown, Davis & Co.
  2. M.B.s
  3. The City Bank
  4. The City Bank
  5. Cocker Brothers
  6. Cocker Brothers
  7. L. Cohen
  8. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  9. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  10. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  11. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  12. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  13. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  14. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  15. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  16. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
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Frame 3

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  2. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  3. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  4. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  5. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  6. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  7. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  8. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  9. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  10. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  11. Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co. / Copestake, Hughes Crampton & Co.
  12. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
  13. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
  14. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
  15. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
  16. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
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Frame 4

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
  2. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
  3. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
  4. Wm. Dawbarn & Co. / W. Dawbarn & Co.
  5. M. De Costa Andrade
  6. M. J. E.
  7. M. J. E.
  8. Ellington & Ridley
  9. The Fore Street Warehouse Company Limited
  10. The Fore Street Warehouse Company Limited
  11. The Fore Street Warehouse Company Limited
  12. The Fore Street Warehouse Company Limited
  13. The Fore Street Warehouse Company Limited
  14. G P O
  15. G. E. R.
  16. G. E. R.
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Frame 5

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. G. E. R.
  2. G. E. R.
  3. H. H.
  4. H. H.
  5. James Harvey
  6. Harvey & Portway
  7. A. & S. Henry & Co.
  8. A. & S. Henry & Co.
  9. A. & S. Henry & Co.
  10. A. & S. Henry & Co.
  11. A. & S. Henry & Co.
  12. Mr. Mitchell Henry's Committee
  13. Mr. Mitchell Henry's Committee
  14. Holloway 244
  15. Holloway 244
  16. Holloway 244
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Frame 6

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. Holloway 244
  2. Holloway 244
  3. Holloway 244
  4. C. T. Hook & Co.
  5. C. T. Hook & Co.
  6. C. T. Hook & Co.
  7. Lowfield
  8. Hugh Jones & Co.
  9. Hugh Jones & Co.
  10. Linoleum Company Limited
  11. Linoleum Company Limited
  12. Linoleum Company Limited
  13. Linoleum Company Limited
  14. Samuel. Montagu & Co.
  15. Samuel. Montagu & Co.
  16. Samuel. Montagu & Co.
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Frame 7

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. Samuel. Montagu & Co.
  2. Samuel. Montagu & Co.
  3. Samuel. Montagu & Co.
  4. Naylor, Benzon & Co.
  5. Naylor, Benzon & Co.
  6. Ogilvie & Moore
  7. Ogilvie & Moore
  8. O. U. S.
  9. O. U. S.
  10. O. U. S.
  11. O. U. S.
  12. O. U. S.
  13. O. U. S.
  14. O. U. S.
  15. O. U. S.
  16. O. U. S.
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Frame 8

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. O. U. S.
  2. O. U. S.
  3. O. U. S.
  4. O. U. S.
  5. O. U. S.
  6. O. U. S.
  7. O. U. S.
  8. PPSO
  9. H. Rossell & Co.
  10. H. Rossell & Co.
  11. H. Rossell & Co.
  12. G.S.S. & Co.
  13. G.S.S. & Co.
  14. J. S. & Co.
  15. J. S. & Co.
  16. J. H. Schroder & Co.
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Frame 9

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. J. H. Schroder & Co.
  2. Schwann, Modera & Co.
  3. Schwann, Modera & Co.
  4. Smith, Elder & Co.
  5. Smith, Elder & Co.
  6. Smith, Elder & Co.
  7. Smith & Lister
  8. Smith & Lister
  9. W. H. Smith and Son
  10. W. H. Smith and Son
  11. W. H. Smith and Son
  12. W. H. Smith and Son
  13. W. H. Smith and Son
  14. W. H. Smith and Son
  15. W. H. Smith and Son
  16. W. H. Smith and Son
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Frame 10

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. Charles Thomas
  2. J. Tylor & Sons
  3. J. Tylor & Sons
  4. Vickers, Sons & Co.
  5. Vickers, Sons & Co.
  6. Vickers, Sons & Co.
  7. Vickers, Sons & Co.
  8. Vickers, Sons & Co.
  9. F. P. W. & Co.
  10. F. P. W. & Co.
  11. F. P. W. & Co.
  12. F. P. W. & Co.
  13. G. H. W. & Co.
  14. G. H. W. & Co.
  15. W & Co.
  16. W. W. & Co.
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Frame 11

OVERPRINTS/UNDERPRINTS BY USER (cont)
  1. William Whiteley
  2. William Whiteley
  3. William Whiteley
  4. William Whiteley
  5. William Whiteley
  6. W. H. Everett & Son Ltd.
  7. W. H. Everett & Son Ltd.
  8. W. H. Everett & Son Ltd.
  9. W. H. Everett & Son Ltd.
  10. W. H. Everett & Son Ltd.
  11. Wattses
  12. Wattses
  13. Wattses
  14. Wattses
  15. Wattses
MISCELLANEOUS
  1. Unidentified Overprints and Underprints
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Frame 12

MISCELLANEOUS (cont)
  1. Unidentified Overprints and Underprints
  2. Overprint and Underprint Fakes
  3. Overprint and Underprint Fakes
  4. Dinner Menu