World Stamps

By Denise McCarty

Stamps honor Britain’s Penny Black, Winston Churchill

May 08, 2015 08:24 AM

The world’s first postage stamp, Great Britain’s Penny Black, celebrated its 175th anniversary this May, and Royal Mail and several other postal administrations issued stamp-on-stamp designs in its honor.

The earliest of these was the Isle of Man, which issued six stamps Feb. 17. As reported in the March 9 Linn’s, page 24, three of the stamps show stamp-on-stamp designs of Great Britain’s first three stamps: the Penny Black and Two-Penny Blue of 1840 and the Penny Red issued in 1841.

The other stamps in the Isle of Man issue honor British postal reformer Rowland Hill, considered by many as the inventor of the adhesive postage stamp; William Mulready, who designed Great Britain’s first postal stationery; and Edward Stanley Gibbons, who founded the stamp firm that bears his name.

In chronological order, Russia was next in celebrating the Penny Black’s anniversary with a 26.50-ruble commemorative issued April 23, depicting the famous first stamp under a magnifying glass. This Penny Black is on a cover addressed to London and bearing a black Maltese Cross cancellation.

The new commemorative also shows a Russian postal card, a letter, and four scenes: the Big Ben clock tower in London, spires in the Moscow skyline, a man of the Victorian era mailing a letter, and a modern postal van.

The stamp was printed by offset in sheets of 12.

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Gibraltar issued its Penny Black tribute April 24. This souvenir sheet appears to depict a plating of the Penny Black with portions of more than 20 mint and used examples shown on the £3 stamp, and more than 100 more in the selvage.

The Penny Black was printed by intaglio in plates of 240 (20 horizontal rows of 12 stamps each), and 11 different plates were used.

The souvenir sheet also includes text providing a brief history of the Penny Black.

In addition to this sheet, Gibraltar also issued a Queen Elizabeth II definitive stamp with a design reminiscent of its 1840 counterpart. Gibraltar’s philatelic bureau said that this £1 stamp was “produced in tribute and to replicate the original Penny Black.”

On this new definitive, the corner letters from the original Penny Black have been replaced by the royal cypher of Queen Elizabeth on the left and the £1 denomination on the right.

Stephen Perera designed this, as well the souvenir sheet and four other Queen Elizabeth definitives issued at the same time. The French security printer Cartor printed the definitives by offset. BDT Security Printers of Ireland printed the souvenir sheet.

MalaysiaGuernsey and Malta featured the Penny Black on souvenir sheets issued April 30, May 1 and May 2, respectively.

The souvenir sheet from Malaysia includes a single $3 stamp with a stamp-on-stamp design of both the Penny Black and the Two-Penny Blue.

Included in the selvage is a portrait of Hill, an illustration of the William Wyon medal on which the design of the two 1840 stamps is based, a red Maltese cross cancellation, and text that commemorates the 175th anniversary and deems the first postage stamp “a great invention.”

The sheet from Guernsey includes a single £2 stamp showing a Penny Black with the corner letters “Q” and “B,” indicating that it is from the second position in the 17th horizontal row.

In the selvage of this sheet, Hill can be seen with quill pen in hand, preparing to write. His signature is shown in red, as is a Maltese cross cancellation. Completing the design is part of a handwritten letter, an image of a mail coach and a tombstone-shaped datestamp.

Keith Robinson designed the sheet for Guernsey, and Lowe-Martin of Canada printed it by offset.

The souvenir sheet from Malta includes three £1.21 stamps, all with the same Penny Black stamp-on-stamp design, surrounded by illustrations from a Mulready envelope in the selvage. Printex Ltd. printed the sheet by offset.

On May 6, Britain’s Royal Mail issued a souvenir sheet, a stamp booklet and two other panes of stamps for the 175th anniversary of the world’s first stamps. These items were discussed and pictured in the May 4 Linn’s, in a news report on page 10 and in David Alderfer’s Great Britain Philately column on page 20.

Austria joined the celebration with a 2.20 souvenir sheet released May 7. The Penny Black is pictured on the stamp, while Austria’s first stamp, the 1850 1-kreuzer yellow Coat of Arms, is shown in the selvage.

Text in the selvage mentions Hill and two other men who also have been credited with inventing the postage stamp: James Chalmers and Laurenz Koschier (or Lovrenc Kosir).

Winston Churchill

In addition to honoring the Penny Black, five of the aforementioned postal administrations have pictured Prime Minister Winston Churchill on stamps issued this year.

Malta commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Yalta Conference on three se-tenant 1 stamps released Feb. 4.

During this Feb. 4-11, 1945, conference in the Crimea, Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union met to discuss the reorganization of Europe after World War II.

The first stamp in the strip reproduces a photograph of Churchill and Roosevelt in a meeting in Malta prior to the Yalta conference. The third stamp pictures the three world leaders.

Printex Ltd. printed the stamps by offset in sheets of nine.

On May 9, Jersey Post issued a set of six stamps and two souvenir sheets to celebrate the victory of Allied forces in Europe that led to the liberation of Jersey after five years of German occupation.

The 95-penny stamp depicts a microphone, representing Churchill’s May 8, 1945, radio announcement “and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.”

One souvenir sheet contains the six stamps se-tenant. The other contains a single large (72 millimeters by 58mm) £3 stamp featuring a portrait of Churchill engraved by Martin Morck.

Jersey Post reports that the engraving is based on a photograph taken Dec. 30, 1941, by Yousuf Karsh, and used with permission of the Churchill Estate.

The firm Hat-Trick design designed the stamps and souvenir sheets. Cartor printed them by offset.
Stamps from the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Gibraltar commemorate the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death in 1965.

The issue dates were Jan. 2 for eight stamps from the Isle of Man, which also mark the 70th anniversary of his final year as wartime prime minister; Jan. 22 for a souvenir sheet of three stamps from Guernsey; and March 20 for four stamps and a souvenir sheet from Gibraltar.

All of the stamps reproduce black-and-white photographs of Churchill.

The Gibraltar souvenir sheet, which is shown nearby, also includes a photograph of Big Ben and a bronze statue of Churchill by Ivor Roberts-Jones in the selvage.

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