Sunday 7 April 2024

Another aspect of Postal Stationery

Last week I showed some less common Machin Postal Stationery in the form of Postnotes. The more common forms included 

● postcards
● reply-paid postcards
● letter-cards
● envelopes of various sizes
● registered envelopes of various sizes 

... in addition to the previously mentioned Air Letters of Aerogrammes.

Those were issued by the (General) Post Office and sold at many branches.  But from 1855 companies and individuals could also have envelopes and paper 'Stamped To Order' (or STO).  The last place this was done was by Her Majesty's Stationery Office printing works at Harrow, until 1973.

This could be done using the same dies as were used for the Post Office official issues, but other values were also available, primarily for companies with large volumes of correspondence with Europe, and for overseas Registered Mail.

Here's an inland use example of a King George 3d violet embossed envelope (a value not used on official products), with additional adhesives used in 1921 (27 June).  At the time the inland postage rate was 2d for 2 ounces and 2d for 4 ounces, but it is unlikely that envelopes like this were prepared for 4 ounce (110 gramme) contents.  

3d Stamped to Order envelope with adhesives stamps for 2d paying additional postage for an inland registered letter.

3d was cost of a letter to 1 ounce foreign (non-empire) letter from 13 June 1921, so it is likely that this was the primary reason these were ordered.  But 3d was also the inland or international registration fee and having such envelopes prepared would permit their use inland - with the addition of 2d-worth of adhesives for postage as shown here. 

Stamped to Order stationery was also used for Certificates of Posting (when the cost was 1d per item).  These seem to have been introduced during 1970-71 so likely all philatelic creations.  I have seen several examples with very clear counter date stamps, particularly skeletons or from Mobile Post Offices.

They were also used by dealers and philatelic organisations in this country and abroad.  Before the end of the system in 1973 HMSO dealt with orders for the bulk uprating of aerogrammes with the necessary new values due to increased postage rates.  These were probably used on First Flights, covers from which were much more popular in Germany than here.

I have one example of a Stamped to Order inland Souvenir Letter Sheet produced by the Association of Essex Philatelic Societies.  The AEPS had been using the STO service for postcard souvenirs from the conventions in 1952, with the 1½d King George VI stamp printed in green. Mint covers were sold at 3d
each, cards at 4d. 

The 1973 Stamp Day saw the first appearance of a the pictorial Letter Sheet. 1st class sheets had 1p + 2p dies, 2nd class had ½p + 2p dies in the same colours as the adhesive stamps.  In second printings the dies were transposed on the 1st class sheets while the 2nd class had 1½p + 1p dies. 

By the time of the Autumn Rally, postal rates had risen to 3½p first class, 3p second class. A number
of the 1½p + 1p sheets were uprated by the stamping of an additional 1p to the left of the original stamps, as shown here, the only one I have seen.

AEPS Autumn Rally 1973 Letter Sheet with additional 1p die uprating the original 1½p + 1p dies due to the increased postal rate.

As I mentioned with the Postnotes and Aerogrammes, a small collection of these as an adjunct to a main Machin collection will always be interesting.  In the case of these examples, especially commercially used STOs, the range of values and uses over the years can be a good subject for research. 

As with the King George V example shown above, some Machin values exist only as STO, for example 6d, 9d and 1s in the pre-decimal range.  Many examples are not costly, mint (though not often seen) but are very scarce in used condition.


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