1879 Tender - The No-Hopers


Waterlow and Sons, Bradbury Wilkinson, McCorquodales and Charles Skipper & East

Introduction: Invitations to tender for the design of a new 1d postage stamp were sent to seven companies on 3rd April 1879 and six of these accepted the invitation. The closing date was just four weeks later and, although this was extended by a fortnight, the tight timescale must have made it difficult for printers to put together a bid. It was stated that the new stamps would have to be produced by surface printing and that the ink used would have to be fugitive. Bidders were asked to submit their designs along with evidence of their ability to undertake surface printing and examples of the inks and gum they intended to use. These conditions heavily favoured De La Rue, the existing printers of fiscal and higher value postage stamps who already had a track record of delivering these requirements.

The other leading contender was Perkins Bacon and Co., the incumbent printer of the ld stamp. The firm had been experimenting with surface printing and attempting to develop more fugitive inks during the year leading up to the tender.

The other four bidders were the firms of Bradbury Wilkinson, McCorquodales, Charles Skipper & East and Waterlow and Sons.

These companies were at a disadvantage as they had had no advance notice of the tender and had to
rely heavily on designs produced for other purposes.

The Display: This Display concentrates on the entries of these 'no-hopers'. It clarifies how the examples presented are related to the tender (on a number of occasions, correcting previously published views) and illustrates preparatory, submitted and associated material.

Importance: These bidders gave the Inland Revenue the ability to view the quality of De La Rue's and Perkins Bacons' submissions in a wider context and gave assurance that the prices quoted were competitive. Without them, it would have been considerably more difficult for the Inland Revenue to justify their ground-breaking award of the contract to De La Rue.


Tender submissions, ink and gum samples The Postal Museum archives
Great Britain Specialised Catalogue Volume 1 Queen Victoria Stanley Gibbons, 2011
Queen Victoria Essays, Proofs and Trials Peter Young, GBPS Website
An Argentinian Banknote in the 1879 Tender Howard Hughes, GBJ Vol 59 2021


Frame 1

  1. Introduction and Plan
  2. Waterlow & Sons - Preparatory Work for the 2d 'Queensland' Essays
  3. See sheet 2
  4. Waterlow & Sons - Preparatory Work for the 2d 'Queensland' Essays
  5. Bradbury Wilkinson - Essays Associated with Submitted Design Number 2
  6. Bradbury Wilkinson - Preparatory Work for Submitted Design Number 1
  7. See sheet 6
  8. Bradbury Wilkinson - Material Submitted as Examples of Printing, Colour & Gum
  9. Bradbury Wilkinson - Material Submitted as Examples of Printing, Colour & Gum
  10. McCorquodales - Reprints of 'IA' Plate Proofs Submitted as Examples of Printing, Colour & Gum
  11. See sheet 10
  12. McCorquodales - Preparatory Work for a Supporting Submission
  13. McCorquodales - Reprints of 'IA' Plate Proofs Submitted as Examples of Surface Printing, Colour & Gum
  14. See sheet 13
  15. Charles Skipper & East - Preparatory Work, Submitted Example Reprints of Ceres Head Essays
  16. See sheet 15