16th April 2019 Collecting Postal Stationery – John Barker

On Tuesday 16th April the society welcomed John Barker who presented on the subject ‘Collecting Postal Stationery’.  In fact, the whole of the first half of the display was aimed at introducing us to the range of material covered by this topic – everything from pre-printed postcards and envelopes that most of us were familiar with through to more obscure items such as money order stationery.  John gave us one definition of postal stationery as ‘material with an imprinted stamp or other indication that a fee has been paid for a postal service’.  The first example was the New South Wales Sydney letter sheet of 1838; the first British example was the Mulready envelopes of 1840 which do not have a stamp on them but were pre-paid for postage.  Collecting postal stationery was popular with the Victorians but went out of favour because it was not included in stamp albums.

We started with postcards and envelopes and were introduced to some of the more obscure forms, such as reply paid cards which offered the same service as sending a pre-paid envelope for a reply, but in the form of a postcard and therefore at postcard rates.  If you sent the item abroad then the reply paid section had to be accepted by that post office.  Another unusual form of pre-paid envelope was for cassettes – we saw an example from Egypt.  We also learned that postal stationery imprints could be cut out and used as stamps on other envelopes – leading to some firms introducing perfins to their postal stationery as well as their stamps as a security feature.

I was fascinated to learn that current advertising mail which looks like it has a blue second class Machin stamp on is not in fact postal stationery – it is just a decoration, presumably to make the item look more like interesting mail!  The postage is paid through the sender’s bulk mailing ‘C9’ concession.

In the second half we went into more detailed presentations of some material.  We started with the introduction of letter cards in Germany where they experimented with papers, adhesives and perforations giving plenty of material for specialist collectors.  This was followed by the money order:  rather than sending cash, cheque or postal order, you deposited the money at the post office counter and then sent notification to the recipient, who could withdraw that amount from their local post office on presentation of the notification and identification.

Our next presentation evening will be on Tuesday 30th April 2019 at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre when Richard Fleming will give a presentation on ‘Channel Islands Postal History’. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.