Cancellation of the Imperforate Line Engraved Issues of Great Britain (1840–1854)
IntroductionWith the introduction of the world’s first postage stamps, the 1d black and 2d blue, which became valid to pre-pay postage from 6 May 1840, a reliable method of applying a permanent cancellation was also required to prevent the stamps’ fraudulent re-use.
The initial solution was in the form of an obliterator, now commonly referred to as the Maltese Cross cancellation, which was issued to all Postmasters shortly before the introduction of the stamps themselves, together with instructions confirming how the obliterator was to be applied.
In the period until the imperforate issues were superseded in 1853, a number of modifications to the official method of cancelling stamps were made:
|February 1841||The colour of ink used for cancelling stamps was changed from red to black|
|March 1843||Maltese Crosses incorporating numbers in the centre were introduced at the London Inland Office|
|May 1844||Maltese Crosses were replaced with Barred Numeral Cancellations at the London Offices, and also at the English and Welsh provincial Post Towns|
|June 1844||Maltese Crosses were replaced with Barred Numeral Cancellations at Scottish and Irish Post Towns|
Commencing with the first obliterator, the Maltese cross, this exhibit illustrates all the officially approved methods for cancelling the imperforate line engraved stamps of Great Britain until their eventual replacement by perforated stamps in 1853; the transitions between the various obliterators are also detailed.
In addition, many of the unofficial methods and shortcuts employed by the Postal Clerks of the day are shown which were in contravention of the official Post Office regulations; these include, amongst others, the use of a datestamp instead of the official obliterator, and the use of inks of a different colour than that specified by the regulations.
Cancellations of the 1841 Penny Red – Robert Danzig and David Goldsmith
Encyclopaedia of the Maltese Cross (volumes 1 to 3) – Professor S. David Rockoff and Mike Jackson