Tuesday 2 August 2016

Royal Mail marks the introduction of the Bishopmark again - 355 years after it was first used

Press Release 1 August 2016

Royal Mail is commemorating the introduction of the Bishopmark – now known as a postmark - 355 years after it was first used to ensure that mail was delivered in a timely manner by releasing a special slogan postmark that replicates the design of the original.

The Bishopmark, or date stamp, was introduced by the first Postmaster General, Colonel Henry Bishop on 2 August 1661. The mark featured the day and month when the item of mail had entered the postal service. It was originally used to ensure that post was delivered in a timely manner and according to Bishop himself ‘that no Letter Carrier may dare to detain a letter from post to post, which before was usual'.

Today the stamps are known as postmarks and perform two separate functions – one to highlight the date and corresponding post town where the item was posted or sorted and another to cancel the postage stamps affixed to the mail.

The UK was the first country in the world to introduce a date stamp to drive the timely processing of mail. Since then, the concept has been replicated across the world.

Royal Mail’s commemorative postmark will be applied to millions of items of mail nationwide from Tuesday 2 August to Saturday 13 August 2016.  (Which almost certainly refers to the dates when the mail will be delivered.

The Bishopmark also featured on Royal Mail's generic smiler sheet issued in 2011 to mark the 350th anniversary of the postmark:

We don't yet have any examples of the new slogan to show you.


Norwich Mail Centre 1 August 2016 -
The Bishopmark
Introduced in

Thanks to Mike for the 'other' version, from Southampton Portsmouth and Isle of Wight MC 01.08.16


  1. Hello, Ian! It's such a nice piece of philatelic history! And I wrote about it last year, when I dedicated a whole month to the EuroPhilex event, on the following post: https://blogdetimbrofil.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/filatelia-inainte-de-penny-black/
    Kind regards, Catalin

  2. I received one of these today, with the bonus being that the contents of the cover were a 1773 entire from my hometown to London with a Bishop Mark!


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