GB Controls Used on Cover


Controls on cover - why bother? You may well ask. Banished from the main S.G. catalogue after 1966, controls have been in the 2 specialized catalogues (QV & 4 Kings) since. For our grandfathers (great grandfathers for most of you) they were a pleasant addition and probably had their heyday in the 1920's. Having only been available on ½d and 1d stamps since 1884 (1d Lilac, ½d Vermilion and Green from the Jubilee series, ½d and 1d Edward VII and Downey Heads) in the George V Royal Cypher series all values and all postage dues were now printed with one control per sheet showing the period it was printed.

They were normally collected (as still today) in mint pairs or corner blocks and most are readily available still like that. A great source for inverted watermarks from sheets and for specific shades in the Royal Cypher issue as the correlation between shade and date of issue is much easier.

Used is a different matter altogether. Most people tore off margins before using stamps and still do. A quarter of all stamps in a sheet of 240 stamps will originally have a margin or 2 (corner stamps) so automatically less common than without. Only one of these had the control marking. Any used stamps with controls are therefore scarcer than without and used on cover can be difficult to find, some of them impossible.

Having inherited a small envelope full of George V used controls over 50 years ago and hearing some family folklore about them, I have been trying to get a complete collection since. Probably 25 years ago I got my first covers and ditto. There are a good number of "philatelically inspired" ones on the market and in my collection and I thank some of the pioneers for that! Purely commercial usage wherever available though. Victorian stamps were demonetized in 1915, Edward VII in 1930, George V, Edward VIII and George VI in 1972. Controls used within the year after release are preferable but should not be turned down if within the period of validity. More than one stamp with control is probably less likely on pure commercial usage and the imperforate margins would normally be torn rather than cut.

Basically, controls could and were used just like normal stamps, which they are, so on all forms of correspondence. In the first frame I show some general and introductory aspects and in the other 6 frames an attempt to show most of the over 200 basic stamps issued with controls, used on cover of some kind. I have tried to include more interesting items where available but especially on the higher face values I am often still pleased if I just have one example.


Frame 1

  1. Controls first issued in 1884
  2. Controls last issued in 1947
  3. Position of controls
  4. Position of controls
  5. Position of controls
  6. Different Printers' Controls
  7. Parcel Post Controls
  8. Philatelic Pioneers & Controls - Marsh
  9. Philatelic Pioneers & Controls - Smye
  10. Philatelic Pioneers & Controls - Smye/Field
  11. Controls Used Abroad
  12. What am I still looking for?

Frame 2

Queen Victoria
  1. 1d lilac control S, perforated margin
  2. 1d lilac control O, perforated margin
  3. ½d vermilion control J, perforated margin
  4. ½d vermilion control O, imperforate margin
  5. ½d vermilion, imperforate margin
  6. ½d blue-green only issued with control R
Edward VII
  1. Early ½d and 1d controls
  2. ½d change of colour 1904
  3. ½d yellow-green & 1d red
  4. Harrison ½d pale green & 1d red
George V Downey Head
  1. ½d - Crown Watermark
  2. 1d - Crown Watermark

Frame 3

George V Downey Head (cont)
  1. 1d - Crown Watermark
  2. 1d - Crown Watermark
  3. 1d - Crown Watermark
  4. Die 2 Controls B12 - Various Watermarks
George V Profile Head - Royal Cypher Watermark
  1. ½d
  2. 1d
  3. 1½d
  4. 2d
  5. 2d & 2½d
  6. 2½d & 3d
  7. 4d & 5d
  8. Different Values Royal Cypher Controls

Frame 4

George V Profile Head - Royal Cypher Watermark (cont)
  1. 9d & 10d
George V Profile Head - Block Cypher Watermark
  1. ½d & 1d
  2. ½d & 1d
  3. 1½d
  4. 1½d
  5. 2d & 2½d
  6. 3d & 5d
  7. 4d
  8. 6d
  9. 6d & 9d
  10. 10d & 1/-
  11. Mix of Controls

Frame 5

George V Profile Head - Block Cypher Watermark (cont)
  1. 1/-
George V Photogravure
  1. ½d
  2. 1d
  3. 1d
  4. 1½d
  5. 2d
  6. 2½d
  7. 3d & 4d
  8. 5d
  9. 9d
  10. 10d & 1s
George V Commemoratives
  1. PUC ½d & 1d

Frame 6

George V Commemoratives (cont)
  1. PUC 1½d & 2½d
  2. Silver Jubilee ½d & 1d
  3. Silver Jubilee 1½d
Edward VIII
  1. ½d & 1d
  2. 1½d & 2½d
George VI Dark Colours
  1. ½d & 1d
  2. 1½d
  3. 2d & 2½d
  4. 3d & 4d
  5. 5d & 6d
  6. 7d & 8d
  7. 10d & 1/-

Frame 7

George VI Light Colours
  1. ½d & 1d
  2. 1½d & 2d
  3. 2½d & 3d
George VI Commemoratives
  1. Coronation 1½d
  2. Coronation 1½d & special
  3. Postal Centenary
  4. Postal Centenary
  5. Victory - the final ones
Other Controls
  1. George V Controls with Postage Due
  2. George V Postage Due Royal Cypher Controls
  3. George V Postage Due Block Cypher Controls
  4. Overprinted Controls