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Ireland forerunners - Illustrated

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Irish overprints on GB stamps

      At a meeting of the Shropshire Philatelic Society on the 16th April 2008, David Petley-Jones showed Ireland. In the second half of the evening, the Irish overprints on the King George V stamps of Great Britain were included, and those present at the meeting were given a sheet which showed how the issues could be seperated. The web page version is taken directly from the copy supplied by David Petley-Jones to who all credit is due.

      As a follow on, it has been requested that the forerunners to the Irish issues be listed along with the Easter Rising set and this page attemps to make a start on these issues. They are all presented in date order, (as far as is known to me), and the camera icon, (camera icon), links to an image. An 'X' indicates either that the item exists in this state, but we have no picture or is used as a place holder for an issue and if their is a camera icon, (camera icon), within the description, this will bring up related pictures to the text or scans of text details. Multiple camera icons bring up different pictures and these can be opened at the same time and arranged on screen for comparission.


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Date Picture Description
     
Circa
1860
Benjamin Franklin type label cut from an envelope, which was inscribed 'Anglo American Message'.
Postmarked New York
1865
1867
Abortive Fenian issue 1c. black on rose mauve
1865
1867
Abortive Fenian issue 24c. green on white wove paper
1865
1867
Abortive Fenian issue 24c. mauve-purple on white wove paper
1865
1867
Abortive Fenian issue 24c.
Reprint printed on postcard
1893 Erin Go Bragh (Ireland Forever) 1d. green
1907
1916
X Sinn Fein Propaganda Labels
Text details on the production and design
Historical notes in two parts ... Part one and Part two
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Labels
Celtic Cross green and black
Imperforate plate proof block of four from the top left corner of the sheet
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Labels
Celtic Cross green and black
Imperforate plate proof block vertical strip of three, (top stamp touched), from the bottom of the sheet
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Labels
Celtic Cross blue and black Perf 11
A complete sheet (8 x 9) with two portions of marginal selvedge missing at bottom left
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Label
Celtic Cross blue and black Perf 11
Affixed to a postcard from Dublin with Great Britain KEVII ½d dated the 10th January 1908, (first week of usage)
Message on card states 'the Sinn Fein stamps may be had from Mr James Whelan. The stamps will be sold retail four for a penny'
Whelan was the chief agent for the sale of these adhesives
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Label
Hibernia with broad crown
Imperforate die proof in red on wove paper
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Labels
Hibernia with broad crown
A mint tete-beche block of eight (2 x 4)
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Labels
Hibernia with narrow crown
A complete mint sheet (10 x 5)
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Labels
Celtic Cross and Hibernia with broad crown used on piece

This piece from a registered letter, sent from Dublin to an unknown destination, includes three 1908 Sinn Féin labels (two "Broad Crown" Hibernias and one Celtic Cross) along with the three 1902-11 Edward VII definitives paying the 2½d postage.
It can be seen that the sender of the letter did not adhere to the recommendation of Arthur Griffith in Sinn Féin (4 January 1908) that the labels "be placed on the envelope in the opposite corner to that of the revenue stamp", (see test sections above). Rather, labels and stamps are adjacent and alternated - perhaps to ensure the labels' visibility, or perhaps to tweak the Post Office by representing the latter as stamps. In any case, the Dublin postal worker who handled the letter in the Upper Baggot Street branch cancelled each of the British stamps while avoiding the Sinn Féin labels as far as possible. The usage (3 February 1908) dates from about a month after the labels were introduced to the public.
1907
1916
Sinn Fein Propaganda Labels
Hibernia with narrow crown used on piece

The Hibernia labels printed in 1916 are commonly referred to as "Narrow Crowns," since the rectangular field behind the crown (at upper left) is noticeably narrower than is the case in the "Broad Crowns" of 1908 (the crown itself is also taller). But this is just one of numerous obvious differences between the printings, indicating that the composition was entirely redrawn. The usage shown here is two of the 1916 Hibernias that have been alternated with two ½d British definitives of the George V issue of 1912-13 (perhaps paying the basic 1d inland rate for printed matter, unless additionally used stamps are missing). The circular date stamp may read Mullingar, 9 August 1920, making this a late usage of the labels. Stamps and labels appear to have been cancelled indiscriminately.

Whether James Walker & Co. Ltd., Dublin (printers of the Sinn Féin labels in 1908) was also responsible for this 1916 issue has not been conclusively determined. Significant differences of detail between the Hibernias of 1908 and 1916 make it clear that the latter's composition was redrawn. The labels were probably printed in sheets of 50 subjects (10 x 5). Nine different transfer types have been recognized.

An enlarment of one of the labels is shown to highlight the narrow crown
1912 Redmondus Rex 1d.value
Four different
Black on yellow, Black on pale blue, Black on pale green, and Black on pale pink
1912 X Imperial Union
Design: Hibernia (Erin) with harp, flanked by columns with shamrock and ringed crosses
Inscriptions "PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT" (top panel), "IMPERIAL UNION" (bottom panel), "IRELAND"
Designed by William Ward. 24 x 34 mm
Printing: Typography. Both the engraving of the block, from which a stereo of six subjects (2 x 3) was prepared, and the printing of the 2 x 3 panes were handled by unknown parties in Manchester, England.
Separation: Perf. 11
Watermark: None
Date of Issue: 1912
Numbers Issued: 1500 total (250 panes of six). - This being the combined total for the three reconised colours
emerald-green, dull yellow-gree and dull orange

Historical text -
1912 Imperial Union 1d. emerald green mint, imperforate
1912 Imperial Union 1d. emerald green mint, perforated
1912 Imperial Union 1d. dull yellow green mint, perforated
1912 Imperial Union 1d. dull orange mint, perforated
1912 Anti-Home Rule
1d. orange affixed to 'National Movement against Home Rule' leaflet with 'This Union stamp must not be placed on the outside of any postal packets' at the top in red
1912 Anti-Home Rule
1d. orange affixed to sample page from book of Trade stamps printed by Harrison and Sons
Handstamped SPECIMEN
1912 Anti-Home Rule
1d. red - a mint block of 8
UVF - South Belfast - For God and Ulster
1912
1914
X Anti-Home Rule
Sir Edward Carson (Small and Large Head types as illustrated below)

Printing: Lithography. The stamps were printed in sheets of ten subjects (5 x 2).
Four colors were used for both types
Small head - brown, gold, red and blue)
Large head - blue, gray, red and yellow).
Separation: Perf 11.
Watermark: None.
Date of Issue: circa 1912-14.
Numbers Issued: Unknown.
Historical text -
1912
1914
Anti-Home Rule
Sir Edward Carson (Small Head)
Sir Edward Carson, framed by Union Jack, with arms of the province of Ulster. Inscription "WE WILL NOT HAVE HOME RULE". 41 x 61 mm.
1912
1914
Anti-Home Rule
Sir Edward Carson (Large Head)
Sir Edward Carson, with red hand of Ulster. Inscription "WE WILL NOT HAVE HOME RULE". 40 x 60 mm
1916
Pair
Manchester Martyrs Label

Design: Shamrock enclosing a harp and portraits of the "Manchester martyrs" Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien, against the tricolor.
Inscription "GOD SAVE IRELAND" at bottom center. 76 x 26 mm.
Printing: believed to be James Walker & Co. Ltd., Dublin
Separation: Imperforate
Watermark: None.
Date of Issue: April-May 1916.
Numbers Issued: Unknown
Historicial text -
1916 Erie Puist
Set of eight designs in se-tenant sheet

Printing: The full set of eight different designs or vignettes was printed se-tenant in sheets 4 x 2;
thus, each sheet includes one example of every design.
Many commentators have speculated that the labels were printed in America, but there is no documentation to support this.
Separation: Rough perforated
Watermark: None.
Date of Issue: 1916.
Numbers Issued: Unknown.

The sheet contains portraits of seven leaders of the Easter rising (from top left, Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonough, Connolly, The O'Rahilly, Eamonn da Valera, Cornelius Colbert, and Eamonn Ceannt); the label in the bottom right-hand corner of the sheet depicts a harp. The photographic portraits used on the labels are the same as those used on many other pieces of printed matter that circulated among sympathizers after the rising. It is not known who printed the sheets, nor is there evidence that they were ever sold.

Some commentators have interpreted the misspelling of the Irish Gaelic Éire ("Éire Puist" is "Ireland Post") as an indication that the labels were printed in America, by Republican sympathizers. Dulin also argues for an American origin, but suggests that "ERIE" may not be a misspelling but rather a reference to Fort Erie, captured by the Irish-American Fenians fifty years before in their attempted invasion of Canada. The initials "I. R." presumably stand for "Irish Republic."
1916 Erie Puist
James Connolly

One of the important socialist thinkers in Edwardian Ireland and a key trade union organizer, James Connolly (1868-1916) was likewise an ardent nationalist, viewing nationalism as a necessary vehicle for progress and for the implementation of a socialist society. He is best remembered not as labor leader or political theorist, however, but for his role in the Easter rising of 1916.

In January of that year, as commandant of the Irish Citizen Army of trade union workers, Connolly reached agreement with the military council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood to stage a joint armed insurrection. Connolly himself was wounded in the resultant fighting (24-29 April), and was one of fifteen leaders of the rising to be executed by firing squad.
1917 American inspired home rule label
Top marginal example showing the inscription
1922 X Irish Republican Army

Design: "An Post Poblact na h-Éireann" ("Post of the Republic of Ireland"), in central medallion, beneath rising sun. 21 x 25.5 mm.
Printing: Lithography; Eagle Printing Works, Cork.
The 1d and 2d values were printed in sheets of 120 (12 x 10) subjects.
The printing base or stone from which the sheets were pulled was made up of twenty individual transfers, each comprising six (3 x 2) subjects. The stamps in each of the locations within these transfers have unique printing flaws, enabling their positions to be identified.
Unlike the 1d and 2d values, the 6d was printed in sheets of eighty subjects (in two panes of forty, each 10 x 4).
The transfers, ten per pane, were 2 x 2.
Separation: Perf. 11.
Watermark: None.
Date of Issue: July 1922.
Numbers Issued: The number of sheets originally printed is not known. Most, in any case, were destroyed when the Republicans burned their Cork headquarters prior to withdrawing from that city during the Civil War (August 1922).

Most sources estimate that 250 copies of the 1d and 2d values, and 1000 copies of the 6d value, survived the fire.
Historical text -
1922 Irish Republican Army
1d., 2d. and 6d. (unused), imperforate
1922 Irish Republican Army
Perf 11 - 1d. brown - top marginal example
Wove paper
1922 Irish Republican Army
Perf 11 - 2d. green
Wove paper
1922 Irish Republican Army
Perf 11 - 2d. green in a mint block of 4 with vertical row of perfs misplaced well to the right
Wove paper
1922 Irish Republican Army
Perf 11 - 2d. green used on envelope dated the 11 July 1922, tied by BELVELLY c.d.s
1922 Irish Republican Army
Perf 11 - 6d. blue
Laid paper
1922 Irish Republican Army
Perf 11 - 6d. blue
A mint pane (10 x 4), with marginal selvedge at top, left and right
1922 Irish Republican Army
Perf 11 - 6d. blue
An unused part sheet (lacking only blocks of 8 and 16 removed from the top)
1922 Engraved by Dollard
2d. in grey black
We are informed that this stamp was produced in four colours
1922 Lithographed by Dollard
2d. 'Valdivia'
Perforated examples in blue, red, grey-blue and violet
We are informed that this stamp was produced in nine colours both imperforate and perforated
1922 Lithographed by Hely Ltd
2d. 'Shamrock with winged figure'
We are informed that this stamp was produced in eleven colour variations
1922 Engraved by Perkins, Bacon & Co
2d. 'Hibernia seated'
A die proof in black on thin wove proof paper (68 x 90mm)
1922 Engraved by Perkins, Bacon & Co
3d. 'Hibernia seated'
A die proof in green on thin wove proof paper (65 x 97mm)
1922 O'Loughlin, Murphy & Boland
1943 reprints of the Evelyn Willis design
Die proofs of the 1d., 3d. and 5d. printed in black
1922 O'Loughlin, Murphy & Boland
1943 reprints of the Evelyn Willis design
Die proofs of the 1d., 3d. and 5d. printed in red
1922 Typographed by Pictorial Printing Machine Co.
1d. pale turquoise - an imperforate horizontal strip of five from the top of the sheet
1922 Typographed by Pictorial Printing Machine Co.
1d. emerald, perforated 14
A horizontal strip of five from the top of the sheet
1922 X White Cross

The Irish White Cross Society was founded on 1 February 1921, to (in its own words) "cope with the distress and destitution resulting in Ireland from the war caused by the determination of the Irish people to assert their right to nationhood." The reference is to the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-21, waged between the forces of the British crown and those of a new provisional Republican government (proclaimed following Sinn Féin's strong showing in the general election of December 1918). To resist British administration and secure recognition for its government, the Irish Republican Army initiated a guerilla war of ambushes and attacks on barracks, to which the crown reponded with ruthless reprisals. The idea of creating a relief organization to assist refugees and others materially affected by the struggle originated in America, where the Republican mission (led by president-in-exile Eamon de Valera) was assiduously courting public opinion and raising funds. In December 1920 wealthy sympathizers formed the American Committee for Relief in Ireland - an ostensibly non-partisan, humanitarian agency, though its premise - that damage wrought by crown (as opposed to IRA) forces in Ireland was so extensive as to require international aid - was contested by both the British Red Cross and the American Friends Service Committee, and remains controversial to this day. The Irish White Cross was created to receive and disburse funds collected by the ACRI. Because of the presence on the White Cross Board of Trustees of ardent nationalists like Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins, the British at first demanded that the donations be otherwise distributed, but relented in the face of American opinion. Ultimately, the White Cross distributed over £1,350,000 in aid in 1921-22, mostly in the form of personal relief and loans for the rebuilding of houses.

Among the listings under "Income" in the Report of the Irish White Cross to 31 August, 1922 is the amount of £52 15s 3d earned "by sale of stamps." This presumably refers to either or both of the labels ishown below. The philatelic literature has paid scant attention to this set, since "charity stamps" of this general type (invalid for postage and sold to raise funds for a charitable cause) are more universal, and less ostensibly political.

The imagery on the first label relates quite specifically to the social ills the ACRI and White Cross were seeking to alleviate: the burning homestead, the injured or dying father and the uncertain fate of the other family members
1922
Block 4
White Cross
Irish family and burning building. Inscription "IRISH WHITE CROSS". 23 x 32 mm.

Printing: - printed in sheets of 36 subjects (6 x 6).
Separation: Perf. 11.
Watermark: None.
Date of Issue: circa 1921-22.
Numbers Issued: Unknown.
1922
Block 4
White Cross
White cross. Inscription "IRISH WHITE CROSS". 24.25 x 33 mm

Printing: - printed in sheets of twenty subjects (4 x 5).
Separation: Perf. 11.
Watermark: None.
Date of Issue: circa 1921-22.
Numbers Issued: Unknown.
1941 Easter Rising
2d orange map overprinted
An unmounted mint marginal block of 24 (4 x 6) from the top right corner of the sheet
1941 Easter Rising
3d blue Celtic Cross overprinted
An unmounted mint marginal block of 24 (4 x 6) from the bottom right corner of the pane showing the interpane pillars
1943 O'Loughlin, Murphy & Boland
Reprints of the Evelyn Willis design
The 1d.printed in black in a complete sheet of twelve, perf 11½
1943 O'Loughlin, Murphy & Boland
Reprints of the Evelyn Willis design
The 1d.printed in red in a complete sheet of twelve, perf 11½