Maltese Crosses on Mulready Postal Stationery


The 1d and 2d envelopes and letter sheets bearing the design by William Mulready were the world's first prestamped postal stationery available for general use.

An "Obliterating Stamp", in a shape now referred to as a Maltese Cross, was issued to all Postmasters shortly before stamps and the Mulready envelopes were made available to the public. Along with the Maltese Cross obliterators, Postmasters were also sent instructions on how to use the obliterators, as well as details for the red stamping composition to be used.

Although the intention was that the Maltese Cross obliterator would be used only once for each envelope, multiple strikes of the Maltese Cross are sometimes referred to incorrectly as contrary to regulations, which only stated that each stamp must be separately obliterated:

"You will carefully Stamp with the Cancelling Stamp that has been forwarded to you, the stamped Covers and envelopes, as well as the adhesive stamps, the two former must be struck on the figure of Britannia, and in the case of more than one adhesive Stamp being attached to a Letter, each Stamp must be separately obliterated."

Edward Lees
Secretary of the Scottish GPO
April 1840


This display covers a selection of non‑standard uses of Maltese Crosses on Mulready postal stationery and some of the causes of these non‑standard cancellations.


Encyclopaedia of the Maltese Cross Volumes 1‑3 – Professor S. David Rockoff & Mike Jackson
Maltese Cross Cancellations of The United Kingdom – R.C. Alcock and F.C. Holland
The Mulready Postal Stationery – Alan Huggins and Alan Holyoake
May Dates – Mike Jackson


Frame 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Early lack of familiarity
  3. Early lack of familiarity
  4. Uprated Mulreadys
  5. Problems caused by the public – hand colouring
  6. Problems caused by the public – strangely folded
  7. Problems caused by the public – caricatures
  8. Very well cancelled
  9. Coloured inks – violet and blue
  10. Coloured inks – yellow and orange
  11. Pressure of work – Mulreadys corrected in the same office
  12. Pressure of work – Mulreadys corrected by a different office
  13. Redirection – additional postage paid
  14. Redirection – no additional postage
  15. Deliberate additional strikes – Spilsby and Swansea
  16. Deliberate additional strikes – Wolverhampton