King George VI Stamped to Order Postal Stationery of Great Britain


Although the use of stamped stationery in Great Britain was declining somewhat in the mid-20th century, given the availability of alternatives such as the Business Reply service, stamping to order remained a popular choice for many users who needed stationery that was “ready to go”.

A range of King George VI head STO dies were used, both embossed and letterpress, with values from ½d to 1s. Examples of all the known dies are included here, both solo and in combination.

Of course, not all commercial KGVI STO material consists of straightforward single die stampings! Changing postal rates often meant that envelopes prepared for one rate had to be returned for additional stamping when rates were increased. In particular, numerous unusual combinations were used on newspaper wrappers, which had to cover a wide variety of rates.

As with several GVI adhesive stamps, STO dies to replace KGV values were not available until 1939, but only one example of a dual reign combination is recorded (included in the exhibit). Also included for reference is the KGV 4d die struck in blue in 1950, before a KGVI die had been prepared.

At the other end of the reign, several of the QEII values were not available as STO dies until 1961, and so the KGVI dies saw an extended usage well into the following reign. In this case there were a number of commercial dual reign combinations, both embossed and letterpress.

While some stamp dealers with an interest in the stamping to order facility were (in)famous for producing many envelopes with odd combinations of dies, this exhibit generally makes only passing reference to these. The main emphasis here is on commercial usages for specific requirements where available, showing why the stationery was produced to cover the changing postal rates of the era, with mint items included as appropriate.

Many of these STO items were produced in small quantities. The exhibit features multiple items for which few examples are known, and several are otherwise unrecorded discovery examples.


The stamping to order rule for a rate that required the use of multiple dies was for these to be struck in ascending order of value from right to left. Thus combinations with lower values to left must be uprates of previously stamped material.


British Postal Stationery, Alan Huggins, 1970.
Collect British Postal Stationery, Alan Huggins and Colin Baker, 2007.
Postal Stationery Society Journal, various issues
POST 52/684 ("Stamped Stationery … George VI issue and variations")


Frame 1

  1. Introduction and Plan
  1. Printed Matter Envelopes - ½d and 1d Rates
  2. Printed Matter Envelopes - 1½d Rate
  3. Printed Matter Envelopes - 2d and 2½d Rates
  4. Sample Post and Large Format Printed Matter Envelopes
  5. Letter Rate Envelopes - 1½d and 2½d Rates
  6. Letter Rate Envelopes - 3d Rate
  7. Large Format Envelopes with Higher Value Dies

Frame 2

  1. Larger Format Envelopes with Die Combinations
  2. Unsealed Envelopes for Overseas Printed Papers
  3. Overseas Rate Stampings
  1. Printed Matter Cards - 1d Rate
  2. Printed Matter Cards - 1½d and 2d Rates
  3. Printed Matter Rate Cards - Uprated
  4. Postcard Rate Cards
  5. Postcards with Embossed Dies

Frame 3

  1. Reply Cards - Blood Transfusion Service
  2. Reply Cards - Blood Transfusion Service Uprated Cards
  1. Letterpress Wrappers - ½d and 1d Overseas Rates
  2. Letterpress Dies - Single 1½d, 2d, 2½d Stampings
  3. Letterpress Dies - Combination Stampings
  4. Embossed Dies - Single Die Stampings
  5. Embossed Dies - Combination Stampings, 4d-5d
  6. Embossed Dies - Combination Stampings, 5½d-9½d

Frame 4

  1. Embossed Dies - Combination Stampings, 10d-1/1
  2. Embossed Dies - Combination Stampings, 1/2-1/6
  3. Embossed Dies - Reduced Rate Wrappers
  1. Registered Envelopes - Combination Stampings with 4½d Die
  2. Registered Envelopes - 5½d Die
  3. Lettersheets and Labels
  4. Philatelic Stampings
  5. Errors in Production