KGV "Downey Head" Postal Stationery Postcards


This exhibit is of GB postal stationery postcards stamped with the first King George V letterpress dies. As with the KGV adhesive stamps only ½d and 1d values were used before they were replaced.

Only cards used by the general public have been included here – i.e. those sold over the counter by the Post Office (both single and reply cards), and private cards stamped to order (STO). The few stamped cards used by official bodies and HM Forces have been excluded for reasons of space!

The exhibit includes unused, proof and archive material, along with usages to show how the cards were actually employed in practice by the public.


The portrait selected by the King for use on both adhesive stamps and postal stationery was three‑quarter face and derived from photographs taken by court photographers W. & D. Downey. The version used for the stationery was of a "plainer character" with less fine detail, as it would have to be printed on a variety of surfaces. The frame design was by the artist William Pitcher, and was quite distinct from the adhesive version.

Card Sizes

Post Office cards generally came in two sizes, the smaller "court shape" cards (~89x115mm) and a wider card (~89x140mm). Stamped to order cards varied considerably in dimensions but there were commonly used standard sizes, which have been given philatelic code letters as below (sizes in mm):

a – 75x122 d – 89x115 f – 89x140 g – 105x150

"Thin" and "Stout" Cards

This terminology dated from the Victorian era. "Thin" cards were printed on a fairly cheap buff‑coloured stock, while "stout" cards were printed on a better quality rigid white card and cost more. In this era, they also differed in size – thin cards were all issued in the wider format ("size f"), while all stout cards were in the "court shape" ("size d").


Frame 1

  1. Introduction and Plan
Design and Dies
  1. William Pitcher's Designs
  2. ½d Dies "I and II"
  3. ½d Dies "III and IV"
½d Post Office Single Cards
  1. Cards Issued on Coronation Day, 22nd June 1911
  2. Cards Supplied in Sheet Format
  3. Varieties
  4. UPU Specimens (Single and Reply) – Madagascar Post Office
½d Post Office Reply Cards
  1. ½d + ½d Reply Cards – Stout
  2. ½d + ½d Reply Cards – Thin
  3. ½d + ½d Reply Cards – Revised Heading
1d Post Office Cards
  1. Foreign & Colonial Rate Cards
  2. Additional 1d Revenue Stamping for Receipt Tax
  3. Late Use of Downey Head Card
Stamped to Order Cards
  1. Separate Dies for Stamping to Order
  2. Late Uses of Downey Head Stamped to Order Dies