On Tuesday October 4th, Banbury Stamp Society welcomed Dr. John Horsey who talked about the Queen Victoria £5 Orange – a stamp that most collectors don’t get to own. Indeed, John was unable to bring original material to display because of prohibitive insurance costs, but good quality colour copies showed the range of his material. The main presentation was done with Powerpoint and a projector which meant that details could be seen clearly. The project started in 2010 with a presentation on the £5 Orange to the Royal Philatelic Society. This led to a challenge to carry out a study on the subject – something John thought might run to a monograph of a few dozen pages. The end result of the project was a 312 page reference volume based on 3,500 good quality photographs of the stamp from the archives of auction houses.
The £5 Orange started as a Telegraph stamp in 1876 when payment for sending telegrams regularly ran to £10 and could go as high as £32. The presentation started with the proof stamps and John showed how he had developed a method of comparing different stamps using Adobe Photoshop to overlay two images. This enabled John to identify the changes to the engravings that took place as the proofs were developed; he was also able to show that the corner letters had been hand engraved in contrast to the methods used on other Victorian stamps. He then moved on to the colour trials which included a gold version which, at a cost of 4d a stamp, was deemed too expensive. Blue was chosen and was about to go to print when it was realised that in low light levels it was too close in appearance to the £5 probate stamp. So the orange colour was chosen and the stamps printed.
Telegraph stamps were withdrawn in 1881 and the plates were modified to replace TELEGRAPH with POSTAGE, with 250,000 stamps printed up to 1900. As well as Telegraph use, the stamp was used for accounting purposes between post offices. A fine example of this was a docket listing several bulk mailings (including 2400 postcards at 1/2d each) and with £5 orange Postage stamps on the reverse for accounting purposes. Only a handful of proven postal use examples exist because it was almost impossible to have a piece of mail that cost this much to post – £5 in late Victorian times would be the equivalent of £1,000 today!
The talk finished with forgeries that John had discovered, from Victorian postmark removal to modern re-perforation – if you are considering investing in this stamp, you may be wise to invest in Dr. Horsey’s book first.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday October 18th at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre. Ray Shepherd’s presentation is titled ‘Occupation of Europe 1933-1942’. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.