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British Stamps

Surface Printed Issues


Surface printed British Stamps went through additional design transitions, during the period from 1865 through 1872.

In 1865, the corner boxes and check letters were made larger, and the plate numbers were added to each of the stamp designs.

Your author can see why this may have been done, probably for government accounting and tracking purposes in auditing the commercial printers.  But the postal patrons and stamp collectors of the day really didn't need to know all this information.  It DID work out to be a major change in the way British stamps of this era are collected.  From 1865, instead of the philatelist having to acquire one example of each major variety of the postage stamps issued, now he must collect all the plate numbers printed on each major variety of all the postage stamps.

WMK 23
Large Garter

The new Four Pence stamp with large check letters and plate numbers was issued in 1865.  It was printed on paper with WMK 23 -- the Large Garter watermark

  • 4 P.  (1865 - Plates 7-14 - Scott #43) - Vermilion.

WMK 24
Heraldic Emblems

Also in 1865, the other concurrent stamp denominations were re-designed with large check letters and plate numbers.  A new 10 P. denomination was also printed with this watermark, but its status is uncertain.  These  stamps were printed on paper with WMK 24 -- the Heraldic Emblems watermark.

  • 3 P.  (1865 - Plate 4 - Scott #44) - Rose, Rose on Thick Paper.
  • 6 P.  (1865 - Plates 5-6 - Scott #45) - Lilac, Deep Lilac, Lilac on Thick Paper.
  • 9 P.  (1865 - Plates 4-5 - Scott #46) - Straw, Straw on Thick Paper.
  • 10 P.  (1865 - Plate 1 - Scott #47) - Red Brown.
  • 1 S.  (1865 - Plate 4 - Scott #48) - Green.

All of these denominations, except for the 10 P., exist with watermark errors.  They are all very scarce and expensive.

According to the 2008 Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue, the 10 P. denomination (Scott #47), with this watermark, is exceedingly rare, and it is only known in used condition.  The scan shown above is from a major auction house, where this particular stamp sold for $70,000.00. 

According to the 1983 Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Specialised Catalogue, this 10 P. denomination (SG #99) is a product of the 1867 printings that are normally watermarked Spray of Rose.  It is listed as being an ERROR, printed on the wrong watermarked paper.  Stanley Gibbons indicates that 11 of these stamps are known, all in used condition, with seven of them having been used in Constantinople.

WMK 25
Spray of Rose

Beginning in
1867, the concurrent British stamp denominations were printed on paper with WMK 25 -- the Spray of Rose watermark.  A new 2 Shilling denomination was also introduced at this time.

  • 3 P.  (1867 - Plates 4-10 - Scott #49) - Rose, Deep Rose.
  • 6 P.  (1867 - Plate 6 - Scott #50) - Dull Violet, Bright Violet.
  • 6 P.  (1869 - Plates 8-9 - Scott #51) - Red Violet, Violet.
  • 9 P.  (1867 - Plate 4 - Scott #52) - Bister.
  • 10 P.  (1867 - Plates 1-2 - Scott #53) - Red Brown.
  • 1 S.  (1867 - Plates 4-7 - Scott #54) - Green.
  • 2 S.  (1867 - Plate 1 - Scott #55) - Blue, Pale Blue, Cobalt Blue, Milky Blue.
  • 2 S.  (1880 - Plate 1 - Scott #56) - Pale Brown.

Plate 10 examples of the 6 P. denomination and Plate 2 examples of the 10 P. denomination are from proof sheets.  They are both very rare.

WMK 26
Maltese Cross

In 1867, a new large-format 5 Shilling stamp was introduced.  These new stamps were perforated 15 1/2 x 14, and they were printed on paper with WMK26 -- the Maltese Cross watermark.

  • 5 S.  (1867 - Plates 1-2 - Scott #57) - Rose.

WMK 25
Spray of Rose

Beginning in 1872, the Six Pence denomination stamps were re-designed and issued in new colors.  These stamps were printed on paper with WMK25 -- the Spray of Rose watermark.

  • 6 P.  (1867 - Plates 11-12 - Scott #59) - Brown, Deep Brown, Pale Buff.
  • 6 P.  (1873 - Plate 12 - Scott #60) - Gray.

For the specialist, there are a multitude of collectible varieties of most of the British stamps described on this page, including essays, die proofs, plate proofs, color trials, plate markings, plate numbers, control numbers, shade varieties, etc.  For details, please refer to the Stanley Gibbons Specialised Catalogue - Volume I - Queen Victoria.

eBay Auction and Store Links

Great Britain Postage Stamps

The following links feature category-focused affiliated seller listings on various eBay sites worldwide. They may enable visitors to shop for and to buy specific items for the particular collecting subject they've just read about. 

The affiliated eBay seller auction lots provided by eBay, Inc. are not the responsibility of the management of this website.  On high priced material, make sure the lots you are buying are properly authenticated.

Remember that the lots on European eBay sites are priced in BRITISH POUNDS OR EUROS.  Shipping charges may be more, and the lots may take longer to arrive.  Also, make sure the foreign seller ships to your country, before bidding on or buying his lot.

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British Stamps - Surface Printed Issues of 1865-1872