Postmark Database - GB Slogans
As the information in the database has expanded from a simple listing of known Victorian place names, to an illustrated listing that can be expanded to accept all known British postmarks, it was felt that some details on the slogan postmarks of Great Britain may be useful for some users. All illustrations used on these pages are taken directly from the database.
The intention is to provide here a listing here of types in date order that show the general details relating to the number of dies used, general periods of use, etc. Each type will then provide a link to the database so that the recorded exaples can be found showing the locations known along with the periods of use for the specific offices. The alphabetical index will list entries under various headings in an attempt to make it as easy as possible for the user to find the details, thus the early 'War Bonds' slogan will be listed as 'War Bonds', 'National War Bonds' and 'Buy National War Bonds'. In addition it is also itended to have a list for each year showing the slogans in use. In this manner, it is hoped that regardless of the method used by collectors in the arrangement of their items, that they will be able to find the details as quickly as possible.
The British Post Office lagged well behind in regards of the postal administrations of some other countries in accepting slogan dies as an alternative to the wavy lines used as an obliterator in stamp cancelling machines. The system adopted in this database, is to use the term 'slogan' on all dies that replace the normal wavy lines and that were used in stamp cancelling machines. We are aware that there are some collectors who will disagree with this classification, claiming that some are information or commemorative marks. However, all are grouped here and can be overlooked should you have a narrower focus on what you collect.
The machines and the slogans that were used with them ...
The first slogans were used on three machines - these were the continuous impression machines, (Krag and Alma) and a single impression machine, (Columbia). In all three of these machines the details regarding the place, time and date of posting, (or in the case of bulk postings that were pre-paid in cash - the place and date of posting and the amount paid), were shown in three horizontal of 'type' which was set in a type box.
Compared to later issues, only a small number of slogans were used on these machines. It should be remembered by the collector that there were two slogan dies seperated by a pair of type boxes containing place, time and date, located around the circumference of the die head on the continuous impression machines.
In general, there were certain characteristic differences between the slogan dies fitted to the different types of machines in the early years. In cases where it is known that a certain slogan was used in more than one type of machine, this will be noted in the details, and where possible the distinguishing features will be noted to allow collectors to identify the type of machine that impressed their particular specimen.
Later, single impression machines ...
The greatest number of slogan dies have been used on single impression machines. These machines are furnished for stamp cancelling duties with a circular town die, known to collectors as the circular date stamp portion or CDS. Although naturally most catalogues will illustrate the slogan without the CDS section, it naturally follows that these items are best collected on either full covers or if cut down, on piece large enough to show the entire mark, the CDS and the slogan.
Up until 1933, impressions from 'single impression stamp cancelling machines' could be distinguished easily due to the different types of town die that was used. Three differnt types of machine were in use as follows ...
Manufactured by the Universal Stamping Machine Co. - Known as Universals
Manufactured by the Internation Postal Supply Co. - Known as Hey-Dolphins
Manufactured by Krag Maskin Fabrik - Known as Krags - in this case, single impression Krags
Although in this period some slogan dies were fitted only to one type of machine, there are cases where the slogan was used on two and in rare cases, on all three types of machine. It is worth noting that in some cases there are also slight variations between the slogan dies that were fitted to the different types of machines. One of the first tasks with these earlier slogans is therefore being able to distinguish the different machines and the following notes, (illustrated from the database), it is hoped will aid the collector in this task.
In both Universal and Krag machines town dies, the year was a movable plug which is inserted in the centre of the die. On the Hey-Dolphin machines the year was an integral part of the rim and as a consequence of this, the dies for the Hey-Dolphin machines had to be replaced each year. The inscriptions on the majority of the single impression Krag machines is contained within concentric circles. Although the first few machines were furnished with single circle dies, no slogans were fitted during this experimental period. In contrast to this, the Universal machines have, (with three exceptions), always had single circle dies. These follow the standard pattern illustrated, although at time, depending on the current fashion when the dies were engraved, any vacent space in the rim may be filled with a curved arc.
As mentioned above, there are three double circle dies that are in many ways similar to those that were used on the single impression Krag machines, that are thought to have been used on Universal machines. These dies are inscribed Margate, (in use during 1924 and 1925), Doncaster Yorks, (in use from 1926 to 1928), and Bournemouth Poole 1, (in use at intermittent times between 1837 and 1949).
At first the Hey-Dolphin machines had single circle dies, but from 1923 double circle dies were introduced. However it should be noted that a few of these machines continued to use single circle dies in 1924.
In 1933 it was decided that the die heads that were fitted to all single impression machines should be standardised, and the Universal type was chosen. The choice was probably based on the fact that the majority og the machines in use were the Universal along with the fact that the year was shown by a removable plug, thus removing the need for new dies every year. Therefore, from this date there is no means of distinguishing impressions from the single impression machines that were manufactured by the three different firms, (or their British agents). In circa 1960 / 1961 there were still about 100 Hey-Dolphin machines in use in the United Kingdom, although it seems unlikely that the single impression Krag machines continued in service for more than a few years following this change to the die heads in 1933.
Triangular dies ...
When circulars that were printed in imitation type written characters are sent through the post at the printed paper rate, the stamps should be cancelled by a triangular die. It is by the use of this method that this type of mail is identified as having been properly posted and also that it conforms to the regulations. The triangular dies first incorperated the telegraphic code of the office and later they had the index number of the office of posting.
When the concession for printed paper rate was first introduced in 1892, hand stamp triangular marks were very soon introduced for this type of duty. However, with the increased used of machines for cancelling, it was not long before dies were supplied for use in all standard machines. The Columbia machines were the first to be furnished with these dies in 1904. As these triangular dies take the place of the normal CDS, it is not uncommon for impressions from triangular dies to be found used with slogans.
There are no specific characteristics that aid the collector in identification of a triangular die used ina particular make / type of single impression machine. However, with certain other information it may be possible to deduce this information from the known information on the slogan die that is used, and it may be possible to see that the particular slogan was only used on one type of machine. The only really satisfactory method is to know the type of machine that was in use at a particular office at the given time. However, this is not easy to do as the date of use is not included in the die, although known dates for the use of the slogan and the date of issue for the stamp used will all aid the collector in narrowing down the possible time frame.
Triangular dies were used in conjunction with the earliest slogans that were fitted to Columbia and continuous impression Krag machines
Diamond dies ...
Those collectors who are intrested in the mechanical side of stamp cancelling machines will already know that single impression machines are fitted with automatic counting devices. In this way, the number of letters passing through a machine in an hour or a day can be recorded. It is by this method that a close check can be kept on the quantity of mail posted in any particular area. It is not so easy to keep a check on the quantity of mail arriving at an office for delivery. However, once a year, usually in October, a detailed census of postal traffic is carried out. This census covers counter business in the Post Offices as well as the volume of mail recieved at an office for despatch, forwarding or delivery. The single impression machines are used in connection with this census of letter post mail for forwarding and for delivery.
When the single impression machines are used for counting for forwarding or delivery, as opposed to mail posted into an office which is date stamped in the normal way, the machines are fitted with a diamond shaped die. These dies are usually impressed on the backs of covers or near the lower edge on the front, although this is not always the case. In the majority of cases the die is used on its own without the normal wavy lines or a slogan, but at some offices the usual practice is to use the diamond counting die with the slogan that is current at the time.
In addition there have also been instances of slogans used with the diamond die cancelling stamps. This most often seems to occur on circulars, (those printed in imitation type-written characters), with their use on other types of mail being far less common. It should also be noted that as well as the diamond die illustrated, there is a second type that is narrower but the same height.
The Mis-Sort dies ...
If any items are mis-sent to the wrong Post Office for delivery, the office that recieves them in error is required to back-stamp the covers to explain the delay in delivery in case there is any later complaint or enquiry. At provincial offices the ordinary date-stamps, either hand or machine, are used for this purpose. At offices in the London postal area these items are marked with a special mis-sort die. There is a cetain anonymity with the dies used as they only have the wording LONDON and the code of the office along with the date. The area that would normally have the time is either blank, has a dash or a code letter. The code numbers employed on these dies, sometimes with the addition of a suffixed A or B, correspond to the index numbers that appeared in the barred oval dies used in the later part of the 19th century.
As is the case with the diamonds dies used for counting, the majority of London offices that use the universal mis-sort die, use them alone, but some offices, even some of the Head District Offices, use them in conjunction with the wavy lines or the current slogan.
Prior to 1935, double circle dies similar to those shown earlier, but inscribed LONDON and the office code at the top and the year in the lower section, were supplied for the Hey-Dolphin machines at the Western and Western Central District office in London. The index codes for these offices are 89 and 73 respectively.
Paid dies ...
The first three types of paid dies to be generally used on Universal machines were constructed in such a way that the amount paid as well as the date could all be shown using movable type in the town die. As these paid impressions were done in red, it follows that when used in conjunction with a slogan, this also appears in red.
The circular type, (on the Universal machines), was superseded by the single square type in 1925, although the former continued in use for some years after this. The double square type was introduced in 1929 and new machines installed before 1936 were furnished with this type. In addition, any replacement of the earlier paid dies requisitioned in this period were supplied in the double square format.
Single square paid dies similar to the dies that were in use on the Universal machines were supplied with the first group of single impression Krag machines that were installed at the end of 1927. By the time that further purchaces of Krag machines were made, the double square paid dies had become standard, but the paid dies for the Krag machines are wider than those used on Universal machines. As the single square dies on the experimental machines were exchanged for the double square type at the same time as the double CDS dies were issued, only the double square dies from single impression Krag machines are found used with slogans. The double square type was also supplied from 1935 for use on Hey-Dolphin machines, for machines that had previously been fitted with special dies for bulk posting work. These earlier dies for bulk posting work did not allow for the use of slogans, but naturally, with the new double square type fitting to machines with a slogan was now possible.
In 1936 a new pattern of circular Great Britain die was introduced for use in the Universal machines. As many collectors will be aware, this shows the date and place of posting with the amount paid displayed in the central portion of the wavy lines section. Since 1936, as the previous types of paid dies have become unservicable, they have been replaced with the new GREAT BRITAIN circular type and as a result, the number of instances of slogans being used with the bulk posting dies and applied in red has steadily diminished over time. In the early 1960s', (circa 1961 - 1963), there were still some square paid dies that saw occasional use, but even with these, the amount paid was more frequently shown in the wavy line section rather than in the town die.
Although the circular GREAT BRITAIN dies when first introduced, cannot be used in conjunction with a slogan whilst they are employed with red ink, they are sometime found with slogans for normal cancelling duties in black. The CDS may have been put into a machine in error or pressed into service due to the normal die being badly worn. As time goes on, the use of these dies in normal operations becomes more frequent and easier to locate.
Allocation of the dies ...
With very few exceptions, most notable are the Victory, Royal Wedding and Coronations dies which were used on nearly all single impression machines in the United Kingdom, slogans with national or international impact have only been used on machines at selected offices. Slogans are usually allocated in such a way that the maximum use is made of them, thus if only a few slogan dies are engraved they are generally fitted to the main machine at sorting offices in large towns and cities.
Prior to 1945, it seems that a different allocation was used for almost every slogan. The distribution was governed by the number of dies that were available, (and this number often varied between very wide limits), the subject matter of the slogan, and also prior to 1933, the makes of machine that were installed in the various offices. At the end of each period of use the dies were returned to the Supplies Department and it was from here that they were reissued if they were needed again - as in the case of the 'Post early for Christmas' types.
Since the end of World War II it has frequently been the practice for 350 dies to be engraved and these have been sent to approximatly 250 offices that are on an agreed list. This list has been revised from timre to time to take account of movement in the population such as that to the 'New Towns' and the consequent variations in the levels of letter post traffic through the various offices. Circa 1962 it is believed that this list, and therefore the issue of slogan dies, was based on the office despatching, (on average), more than a certain number of letter post items, (including postcards and printed matter), on a daily basis. By circa 1960, slogans that were likely to be reused are retained at the office that they were issued to, but others such as those already mentioned, are supposed to be returned to the Supplies Department at the end of their period of use.
Caution must be exercised by the collector in correlating the number of slogan dies issued and the number of town dies with which they have been used. Within the index the number of dies issued is shown for the slogans, however, in some cases this is estimated, especially with the earlier pre-war issues. These points relate in particular to instances where two or more slogan dies, (either different slogans or variations of one type), are in concurrent use at one office. In the larger offices more than one machine is used for stamp cancelling duties and the town dies in these machines frequently incorperate some distinguishing feature. This may take the form of die letters or numbers or it may be the case that one CDS die has arcs and the other does not. As the main concern of the Post Office is to cancel the stamps and leave at the same time an indication of the date, time and place of posting, for them it does not particularly matter with which town die the slogan is used. It is for this reason that a slogan may be recorded with two variations of CDS but in fact had only one slogan issued, the CDS being used on only certain dates.
There are a few offices which date stamp mail posted in two adjacent towns and this is done with a CDS die of the appropriate town, such as the dies of Paignton and Torquay which are both held at Torquay. If one slogan die is sent to this office it may be used with one town die at certain times and the other CDS at other times.
Another problem is mail that is sent to another office to be cancelled. For example, circa 1960 on Sundays and public holidays mail posted at Wadhurst, (in Sussex), is sent direct to the Head Post Office at Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Here covers are passed through a Universal machine that is fitted with a town die inscribed 'WADHURST / - SUSSEX -'. If a slogan is fitted to the machine, this naturally appears next to the town die. For the remainder of the week, mail posted in the Wadhurst area is postmarked by a continuos impression Krag machine that is located in the postmen's office at Wadhurst.
Periods of use ...
Since 1945 postmasters have been informed via the 'Post Office Circular' of the dates during which slogans should be fitted to machines. As such, many of the dates that will be found in the index are based on that source. In addition, since 1958, information about national and local slogans has been released to the philatelic press via 'Press and Broadcast notices'. The data from this source has also been used from this date.
From circa 1960,instructions have been sent to postmasters that slogans not directly related to commorative stamps shall be withdrawn from use on their day of issue. Although it would appear that these instructions are apparently given on the occasion of each new issue, a few offices have failed to observe them. From this situation, collectors of First Day Covers posted in some towns have had the cover cancelled with an irrelevant slogan.
Collectors of the British slogan postmarks are well aware that from time to time the official period of use of a slogan at some offices is extended. Some offices make a regular habit of inserting the slogan dies a day early or letting them over-run the official period by several days. In defence of the Postmasters, it must be stated that due to the method of fixing the slogan dies, (or the wavy lime die), into the die head, that this work can only be carried out by a Post Office engineer. At offices that are of a moderate size, there is frequently a resident engineer and he is permitted to change the dies in the machines at the correct times. At smaller provincial offices as well as the sub-district office of London, the demands of the engineering staff are less frequent and any adjustments to the machines, including changes of obliterators, may have to wait for the next routine visit by a qualified member of the Post Office staff.
The dates of use for slogan dies before circa 1946 does not seem to have been so strictly controlled as it was after this date. Withing the records held at the Post Office archives, there is very little information to help with this situation. As such, within the index the entries have been arranged in order for each year and a general period of use has been given to aid collectors.
During the first few years, all the slogans were engraved by hand and as such each of the dies was unique. Therefore, it may be possible to allocate impressions from some dies bearing a particular legend and used at different offices into group with relation to certain characteristics of the lettering, arrangement or dimensions. The fact that these differences exist may be attributable to different craftsmen incorperating their individual styles into the engraving or each using their own master jig as an aid to their work, each of which may have had slight differences.
Varieties also exist in the later dies, although the reason for this is from that mentioned above. With the possible exception of those dies that were issued to a single office or a small group of offices, the dies are cut by a mechanicial method using a pantograph technique. It is thought that the distinct types that have been recorded, has arisen because the order for engraving a particular design has been done in more than one stage, either at different times or by different contractors. In either case it is generally assumed that a new master for the slogan had to be drawn.
Since Christmas 1952, it has been general practice to add eight short horizontal bars at the right of the slogan design. When replacements were ordered for those slogans that were used annually such as 'Post early for Christmas', the inscriptions were re-arranged slightly to accommodate this modification.
Due to faults in the metal from which certain slogans dies have been engraved, there are a number that have become visibly defective over a period of time. In general when this happens, parts of the outline or inscription are missing, usually at the edges or corners. This situation must not be confused with part impressions which are more frequently seen and which arise from bad inking, uneven thicknes of the cover and its contents or similar situations. For the collector to verify that they are in possession of an impression from a broken or damaged die, it is necessary to prove that the fault is constant by having multiple examples from the same office. It may be the case that the fault becomes progessively worse and this will be proved by having a series of examples used on different dates. In the same way, as certain dies of the Telephone series, (first used in 1931), can be identified by constant flaws, it is possible to trace the movement of the dies between adjacent offices.
Prices are included in the listing, and there are discussions in place to add this information to the main database.
Within these pages, the prices given are for commercial covers within the period of use noted. They do not apply to every town die that was used with a slogan, some of which may be worth more than the basic price shown. For this reason the prices shown should be treated as if the words 'from' or 'about' were placed in front of them. A number of slogan postmark items are often on cut down pieces, and naturally these are worth less than the full covers. In addition we must stress that the prices given are for the postmark on a basic rate cover or card, that is where the value of the stamp will not generally put the price up. In cases where there is something special in relation to the stamp(s) used, additional routing marks or an unusal destination, all these will increase the value. In some cases it has not been possible to establish a price due to the scarcity of the material and some items may show an 'R' for rare or 'VR' for very rare
For the cut down strips showing the full slogan, (town die and slogan die), we would suggest that in most cases the price for these will be about half of the cover price. Naturally this is not set in stone and some of the less common slogans will command a higher percentage, whilst the more common items will probably be at a very low price.
Above each price for each of the slogans is the date shown as the month and year. This will show the user when the information was entered.
We are happy to discuss any information that you feel is incorrect so that a base line can be established that will allow dealers and collectors to better understand this area.