The £5 Orange


The display covers the life of the Great Britain Five Pound Orange. It includes die proofs, colour trials, specimens, issued stamps, the IR Officials, its interaction with Unification and the varieties that developed as the plate suffered progressive deterioration. These varieties have received little attention in the past. Those shown result from extensive personal research conducted over several years.

The £5 Orange was introduced in 1877 as a Telegraphs stamp for payment of bulk telegrams and those of individual high cost. In October 1881, all Telegraphs stamps were withdrawn and postage stamps used instead. The Telegraphs plate was adapted for the £5 Postage in 1882. Basically, the word TELEGRAPHS was replaced by POSTAGE.

Although nominally a postage stamp, there was no postal necessity for it. It was created to avoid the anomaly of leaving the £5 as the only remaining Telegraphs value. As a postage stamp, it was not limited to telegraphic use and available for other purposes such as internal accounting for payments received for bulk mail. Genuine postal use is scarce.

Apart from a change from blued to white paper, there were no major developments until preparations for the King Edward VII equivalent in 1902. Being an iconic stamp, it has been the target of many forgers. Examples of their efforts are shown.

The £5 Telegraphs – introduction and die proofs1-10
– plate considerations and colour trials11-24
– specimens and issued stamps25-32
The £5 Postage stamp and its specimen overprints33-41
– shades and cancellations42-47
– fraudulent and genuine usage48-52
– the plate varieties53-62
The £5 IR Officials63-64
The £5 King Edward VII79-80

At the author's instigation, two of the plate varieties shown are now included in the Stanley Gibbons Queen Victoria Specialised Catalogue, the illustrations in which are from examples in this display.

All known essays for the £5 Telegraphs are in institution collections. The fourth essay, the closest to the issued stamp, is in the Royal Philatelic Collection and is reproduced here with the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen to whom copyright belongs.


Personal research using The Royal Philatelic Collection, The National Archives, The British Library, National Postal Museum & Archive, the De La Rue Archives and the analysis of over 3500 £5 Oranges (mostly as images) gleaned from Harmers' archives and hundreds of sale catalogues from dozens of auction houses.

Horsey, Dr. John: The £5 Orange, published by Stanley Gibbons 2013, ISBN-13: 978-0-85259-9024).

Langmead, Peter & Huggins, Alan: The Telegraph Stamps and Stationery of Great Britain 1851-1954, published by the GBPS, ISBN 0-907630-14-6.

Samuel, Marcus & Huggins, Alan: Specimen Stamps and Stationery of Great Britain, published by the GBPS 1980.

Stanley Gibbons: Great Britain Specialised Catalogue Volume 1 – Queen Victoria 2008.

Wiseman, WA: The De La Rue Years 1878-1910, Volume 1, published by Bridger & Kay 1984,
ISBN 0-902784-064.

Wiseman, WA: The De La Rue Years 1878-1910, Volume 2, published by Stanley Gibbons 1990,
ISBN 0-85259-254-X.

Wright and Creeke: A History of the Adhesive Stamps of the British Isles, published by The Philatelic Society 1899.


Frame 1

  1. Introduction
  1. The Need for a £5 Value
Die Proofs
  1. The Telegraphs Die Proofs
  2. The Telegraphs Die Proofs
  3. The Telegraphs Die Proofs
  4. The Telegraphs Die Proofs
  5. The Telegraphs Die Proofs
  6. The Telegraphs Die Proofs
  7. The Telegraphs Die Proofs
  8. The Telegraphs Die Proofs
Plate Considerations and Colour Trials
  1. Making the Corner Letters
  2. Shamrocks Watermark
  3. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  4. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  5. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  6. The Telegraphs Colour Trials

Frame 2


Plate Considerations and Colour Trials (cont)
  1. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  2. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  3. See sheet 18
  4. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  5. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  6. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  7. The Telegraphs Colour Trials
  8. The Pale Ultramarine Colour Trials
  9. Confusion with the £5 Probate Court Stamp
Specimens and Issued Stamps
  1. The Telegraphs Imprimatur and Issued Stamp
  2. The Telegraphs Specimens
  3. The Telegraphs Specimens
  4. The Telegraphs Specimens
  5. Used £5 Telegraphs
  6. Used £5 Telegraphs
  7. Used £5 Telegraphs

Frame 3

  1. The £5 Postage Stamp
  2. The £5 Postage Stamp
  3. The £5 Postage Stamp
Specimen Overprints
  1. The Specimens on Blued Paper
  2. The Specimens on Blued Paper
  3. The Specimens on Blued Paper
  4. The Specimens on Blued Paper
  5. The Specimens on White Paper
  6. Unlisted Specimens
Shades and Cancellations
  1. Shades
  2. Shades
  3. Cancellations
  4. Cancellations
  5. Cancellations
  6. Cancellations
Fraudulent and Genuine Usage
  1. Using a £5 Orange - Fraudulent Re-Use

Frame 4


Fraudulent and Genuine Usage (cont)
  1. Not Using a £5 Orange
  2. Using a £5 Orange
  3. Using a £5 Orange
  4. Using a £5 Orange
The Plate Varieties
  1. The Plate Varieties
  2. The Plate Varieties
  3. The Plate Varieties
  4. The Plate Varieties
  5. The Plate Varieties
  6. The Plate Varieties
  7. The Plate Varieties
  8. The Plate Varieties
  9. The Plate Varieties
  10. The Plate Varieties
The £5 IR Officials
  1. The £5 Inland Revenue Officials
  2. The £5 Inland Revenue Officials

Frame 5

  1. Unification
  2. Unification
  3. Unification
  4. Unification
  5. Unification
  6. Unification
  7. Unification
  1. Forgeries - Telegraphs
  2. Forgeries - Postage
  3. Forgeries - Postage
  4. Forgeries - Postage
  5. Forgeries - Postage
  6. Forgeries - Postage
  7. Forgeries - Postage
The £5 King Edward VII
  1. The King Edward VII £5
  2. The King Edward VII £5