KGV Postal Stationery in "Postcard Format"


This exhibit covers the development and usage of Great Britain postal stationery cards stamped with a King George V head, both letterpress dies (that were supposed to be used for this purpose), and embossed dies (nevertheless used on occasion).

Its scope covers any items prepared in "postcard format" — i.e. a single card, or two joined cards in a reply card arrangement, that could be sent for less than the letter rate. Most of these were stamped for an actual postcard rate, although some of them qualified for an even lower rate as printed matter (although in common usage these would still be regarded as "postcards" based on their form).

Included are the standard issues sold to the public by the Post Office, private cards stamped to order (STO), and the few cards used by official bodies and the Forces that bore a stamp impression. Excluded are sealable lettercards sent at the letter rate, and cards with overprints added to convert them to non-GB stationery for use in other places.

The letterpress dies tracked those used for the adhesive stamps, with successive "Downey Head" and "Profile Head" designs. This latter continued in use into the reign of George VI. Uniquely in this reign, there is a clear distinction between the dies used for Post Office stationery and those for STO.

The exhibit includes unused, proof and archive material, along with a wide range of usages to show how the cards were used in practice. Used cards have often been chosen over unused for interest and to avoid repetition. It finishes with the only recorded example of a combination stamping of George V and George VI dies.

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:

a — 75x122mm
d — 89x115mm
f — 89x140mm
g — 105x150mm

Postal Rates

Postcard format stationery was used for both the actual postcard (PC) and basic rate printed matter (PM) classes of mail, Rates in the period covered are summarised here, inland first, then foreign (F) and/or colonial (C):

As of 1911½d½d1d1d½d
3 Jun 19181d½d1½d1½d½d
13 Jun 19211½d1d1½d1½d½d
29 May 19221d½d1½d1½d½d
15 Jun 19351d½d1½d1d½d
1 May 19402d1d2d2d½d

Note: this display was one of the King George V themed exhibits that were entered to support the Royal Philatelic Society's 150th anniversary celebrations at Spring Stampex 2019. It received a Gold Medal


Frame 1

  1. Introduction

Downey Head ½d
  1. The Downey Head Die
  2. Cards Issued on Coronation Day, 22nd June 1911
  3. "Thin" and "Stout" Cards
  4. Dies of the Downey Head Letterpress ½d: "I and II"
  5. Dies of the Downey Head Letterpress ½d: "III and IV"
  6. Varieties on the Downey Head Cards
  7. ½d + ½d Reply Cards — Stout
  8. ½d + ½d Reply Cards — Thin
  9. UPU Specimens, Single and Reply — Madagascar Post Office
  10. ½d + ½d Reply Cards — Revised Heading
  11. Cards Supplied in Sheet Format
  12. Cards Adapted by the Customer
  13. Irregular Usages To and From Serving Soldiers
  14. Cards Used for Prisoner of War Mail
Downey Head 1d
  1. Foreign & Colonial Rate Cards

Frame 2


Downey Head 1d (cont)
  1. Cards with Foreign Cancellations
  2. Additional 1d Revenue Stamping for Receipt Tax
  3. Late Use of Downey Head Card
Profile Head - First Issues
  1. The Profile Head Die
  2. ½d Inland Rate Thin Cards
  3. ½d Inland Rate Stout Cards and 1d Rate Foreign Card
  4. ½d Rate Postcards Repurposed for Printed Matter Rate
  5. 1d Inland Rate Single Cards
  6. Standard and Uprated Uses of the 1d Cards
  7. 1d + 1d Inland Rate Reply Cards
  8. Later Use of 1d Inland Rate Cards
  9. Hand Illustrations on Post Office Stationery Cards
Profile Head - 1918-22 Issues
  1. 1½d Inland Rate Single Cards
  2. 1½d Rate Reply Cards Headed "Great Britain and Ireland"
  3. 1½d Rate Reply Cards Headed "Great Britain"
  4. Cards Revalued Downwards due to Reduced Postal Rates

Frame 3


Profile Head - 1918-22 Issues (cont)
  1. Very Late Use of a Small Format 1d Card
Empire Exhibition Issues
  1. 1924 Exhibition Cards
  2. 1925 Exhibition Cards
  3. Commercial Uses of Empire Exhibition Cards
Profile Head - The Later Issues
  1. Inland Rate 1d Cards of the 1930s
  2. Inland Rate 1d Cards Used to Overseas
  3. 1d Postcard Sent by Registered Post
  4. Use of George V 1d Cards in the 1940s
  5. 1d + 1d Inland Reply Cards and the Change of 1935
  6. 1d + 1d Reply Cards with Standard "Great Britain" Heading
  7. Foreign & Colonial Rate 1½d Single Cards of the 1930s
  8. Foreign & Colonial Rate 1½d Reply Cards of the 1930s
  1. Patent Specification Request Cards
  2. Active Service Formular Cards
  3. Printings of Active Service Formular Cards in Red
  4. Chief Inspector of Taxes Printed Matter Card

Frame 4


Downey Head
  1. Separate Dies for Stamping to Order
  2. Late Uses of Downey Head Stamped to Order Dies
Embossed Dies
  1. Use of Embossed Dies for Stamping Cards
  2. Proxy Voting Cards with Additional Revenue Stamps
  3. Illustrated Card for Bulk Mailshot
  4. Postcard Rate Cards with 1d Embossed Die
  5. Proxy Voting Card with 1d Embossed Stamp
  6. Commercial Use of 1½d Embossed Cards
  7. Private Use of 1½d Embossed Cards
Profile Head - General
  1. Sheet Layout for Stamping to Order
  2. Card Size Marginal Instruction
Profile Head ½d
  1. Printed Matter Cards with the ½d Profile Head Die
  2. Flexibility Offered by Stamping to Order
  3. Large Format Company Report Cards
  4. Large Format Sales Representative Cards
  5. Notification of Birth Cards

Frame 5


Profile Head ½d (cont)
  1. Advertising Flyers with Attached Stamped Cards
  2. ½d + ½d "Reply Card" with Tuck-in Flap
  3. Advertising Matter in Reply Card Format
  4. Part-Paid, Part Unpaid Reply Cards
  5. Very Late Use of a George V ½d STO Card
Profile Head 1d
  1. 1d Profile Head Cards with Coat of Arms
  2. Size Variations of 1d Profile Head Cards with Coat of Arms
  3. Cards Used at the House of Commons
  4. Ford Motor Works Pictorial Cards
  5. 1940s Printed Matter Rate Cards
  6. Very Late Usage of Pictorial Sales Calling Card
Profile Head 1½d and 2d
  1. 1½d Foreign Rate STO Cards
  2. Standard Format 2d Cards
  3. Small Format 2d Cards
Combination Stampings
  1. Uprated Cards
  2. The Only Recorded George V and George VI Combination