A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or other authorized vendors to customers who pay postage, who affix the stamp to the face or address-side of any item of mail—an envelope or other postal cover —that they wish to send. The item is processed by the postal system, where a postmark or cancellation mark—in modern usage indicating date and point of origin of mailing—is applied to the stamp and its left and right sides to prevent its reuse; the item is delivered to its addressee. Always featuring the name of the issuing nation, a denomination of its value, an illustration of persons, institutions, or natural realities that symbolize the nation's traditions and values, every stamp is printed on a piece of rectangular, but sometimes triangular or otherwise shaped special custom-made paper whose back is either glazed with an adhesive gum or self-adhesive; because governments issue stamps of different denominations in unequal numbers and discontinue some lines and introduce others, because of their illustrations and association with the social and political realities of the time of their issue, they are prized for their beauty and historical significance by stamp collectors whose study of their history and of mailing systems is called philately.
Because collectors buy stamps from an issuing agency with no intention to use them for postage, the revenues from such purchases and payments of postage can make them a source of net profit to that agency. Throughout modern history, numerous methods were used to indicate that postage had been paid on a mailed item, so several different men have received credit for inventing the postage stamp. William DockwraIn 1680, William Dockwra, an English merchant in London, his partner Robert Murray established the London Penny Post, a mail system that delivered letters and small parcels inside the city of London for the sum of one penny. Confirmation of paid postage was indicated by the use of a hand stamp to frank the mailed item. Though this'stamp' was applied to the letter or parcel itself, rather than to a separate piece of paper, it is considered by many historians to be the world's first postage stamp. Lovrenc KoširIn 1835, the Slovene civil servant Lovrenc Košir from Ljubljana in Austria-Hungary, suggested the use of "artificially affixed postal tax stamps" using "gepresste papieroblate", but although civil bureaucrats considered the suggestion in detail, it was not adopted.
Rowland HillIn 1836, a Member of Parliament, Robert Wallace, gave Sir Rowland Hill numerous books and documents about the postal service, which Hill described as a "half hundred weight of material". After a detailed study, on 4 January 1837 Hill submitted a pamphlet entitled Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability, marked "private and confidential," and not released to the general public, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Spring Rice; the Chancellor summoned Hill to a meeting at which he suggested improvements and changes to be presented in a supplement, which Hill duly produced and submitted on 28 January 1837. Summoned to give evidence before the Commission for Post Office Enquiry on 13 February 1837, Hill read from the letter he wrote to the Chancellor that included a statement saying that the notation of paid postage could be created "...by using a bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp, covered at the back with a glutinous wash...". This would become the first unambiguous description of a modern adhesive postage stamp.
Shortly afterward, Hill's revision of the booklet, dated 22 February 1837, containing some 28,000 words, incorporating the supplement given to the Chancellor and statements he made to the Commission, was published and made available to the general public. Hansard records that on 15 December 1837, Benjamin Hawes asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "whether it was the intention of the Government to give effect to the recommendation of the Commissioners of the Post-office, contained in their ninth report relating to the reduction of the rates of postage, the issuing of penny stamps?"Hill’s ideas for postage stamps and charging paid-postage based on weight soon took hold, were adopted in many countries throughout the world. With the new policy of charging by weight, using envelopes for mailing documents became the norm. Hill’s brother Edwin invented a prototype envelope-making machine that folded paper into envelopes enough to match the pace of the growing demand for postage stamps. Rowland Hill and the reforms he introduced to the United Kingdom postal system appear on several of its commemorative stamps.
James ChalmersIn the 1881 book The Penny Postage Scheme of 1837, Scotsman Patrick Chalmers claimed that his father, James Chalmers, published an essay in August 1834 describing and advocating a postage stamp, but submitted no evidence of the essay's existence. Until he died in 1891, Patrick Chalmers campaigned to have his father recognized as the inventor of the postage stamp; the first independent evidence for Chalmers' claim is an essay, dated 8 February 1838 and received by the Post Office on 17 February 1838, in which he proposed adhesive postage stamps to the General Post Office. In this 800-word document concerning methods of indicating that postage had been paid on mail he states: "Therefore, of Mr Hill’s plan of a uniform rate of postage... I conceive that the most simple and economical mode... would be by Slips... in the hope that Mr Hill’s plan may soon be carried into operation I would sugg
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke and the King died in 1820, Victoria was raised under close supervision by her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, she inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held little direct political power. Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments. Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840, their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the sobriquet "the grandmother of Europe". After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria avoided public appearances.
As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration, her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any of her predecessors and is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, political and military change within the United Kingdom, was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire, she was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, initiated the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father. Victoria's father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of the reigning King of the United Kingdom, George III; until 1817, Edward's niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales, was the only legitimate grandchild of George III. Her death in 1817 precipitated a succession crisis that brought pressure on the Duke of Kent and his unmarried brothers to marry and have children.
In 1818 he married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children—Carl and Feodora —by her first marriage to the Prince of Leiningen. Her brother Leopold was Princess Charlotte's widower; the Duke and Duchess of Kent's only child, was born at 4.15 a.m. on 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London. Victoria was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on 24 June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace, she was baptised Alexandrina after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, Victoria, after her mother. Additional names proposed by her parents—Georgina and Augusta—were dropped on the instructions of Kent's eldest brother, the Prince Regent. At birth, Victoria was fifth in the line of succession after the four eldest sons of George III: George, the Prince Regent; the Prince Regent had no surviving children, the Duke of York had no children. The Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Kent married on the same day in 1818, but both of Clarence's legitimate daughters died as infants.
The first of these was Princess Charlotte, born and died on 27 March 1819, two months before Victoria was born. Victoria's father died in January 1820. A week her grandfather died and was succeeded by his eldest son as George IV. Victoria was third in line to the throne after York and Clarence. Clarence's second daughter was Princess Elizabeth of Clarence who lived for twelve weeks from 10 December 1820 to 4 March 1821 and, while Elizabeth lived, Victoria was fourth in line; the Duke of York died in 1827. When George IV died in 1830, he was succeeded by his next surviving brother, Clarence, as William IV, Victoria became heir presumptive; the Regency Act 1830 made special provision for Victoria's mother to act as regent in case William died while Victoria was still a minor. King William distrusted the Duchess's capacity to be regent, in 1836 he declared in her presence that he wanted to live until Victoria's 18th birthday, so that a regency could be avoided. Victoria described her childhood as "rather melancholy".
Her mother was protective, Victoria was raised isolated from other children under the so-called "Kensington System", an elaborate set of rules and protocols devised by the Duchess and her ambitious and domineering comptroller, Sir John Conroy, rumoured to be the Duchess's lover. The system prevented the princess from meeting people whom her mother and Conroy deemed undesirable, was designed to render her weak and dependent upon them; the Duchess avoided the court because she was scandalised by the presence of King William's illegitimate children. Victoria shared a bedroom with her mother every night, studied with private tutors to a regular timetable, spent her play-hours with her dolls and her King Charles Spaniel, Dash, her lessons included French, German and Latin, but she spoke only English at home. In 1830, the Duchess of Kent and Conroy took Victoria across the centre of England to visit the Malvern Hills, stopping at towns and great country houses along the way. Similar journeys to oth
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom, having financed the European coalition that defeated France during the Napoleonic Wars, developed a large Royal Navy that enabled the British Empire to become the foremost world power for the next century; the Crimean War with Russia and the Boer wars were small operations in a peaceful century. Rapid industrialisation that began in the decades prior to the state's formation continued up until the mid-19th century; the Great Irish Famine, exacerbated by government inaction in the mid-19th century, led to demographic collapse in much of Ireland and increased calls for Irish land reform. The 19th century was an era of rapid economic modernisation and growth of industry and finance, in which Britain dominated the world economy. Outward migration was heavy to the United States; the empire was expanded into much of South Asia. The Colonial Office and India Office ruled through a small number of administrators who managed the units of the empire locally, while democratic institutions began to develop.
British India, by far the most important overseas possession, saw a short-lived revolt in 1857. In overseas policy, the central policy was free trade, which enabled British and Irish financiers and merchants to operate in many otherwise independent countries, as in South America. London formed no permanent military alliances until the early 20th century, when it began to cooperate with Japan and Russia, moved closer to the United States. Growing desire for Irish self-governance led to the Irish War of Independence, which resulted in most of Ireland seceding from the Union and forming the Irish Free State in 1922. Northern Ireland remained part of the Union, the state was renamed to the current "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" in 1927; the modern-day United Kingdom is the same country as the one from this period—a direct continuation of what remained after the secession—not an new successor state. A brief period of limited independence for Ireland came to an end following the Irish Rebellion of 1798, which occurred during the British war with revolutionary France.
The British government's fear of an independent Ireland siding against them with the French resulted in the decision to unite the two countries. This was brought about by legislation in the parliaments of both kingdoms and came into effect on 1 January 1801; the Irish had been led to believe by the British that their loss of legislative independence would be compensated with Catholic emancipation, that is, by the removal of civil disabilities placed upon Roman Catholics in both Great Britain and Ireland. However, King George III was bitterly opposed to any such Emancipation and succeeded in defeating his government's attempts to introduce it. During the War of the Second Coalition, Britain occupied most of the French and Dutch overseas possessions, the Netherlands having become a satellite state of France in 1796, but tropical diseases claimed the lives of over 40,000 troops; when the Treaty of Amiens ended the war, Britain agreed to return most of the territories it had seized. The peace settlement was in effect only a ceasefire, Napoleon continued to provoke the British by attempting a trade embargo on the country and by occupying the city of Hanover, capital of the Electorate, a German-speaking duchy, in a personal union with the United Kingdom.
In May 1803, war was declared again. Napoleon's plans to invade Great Britain failed, chiefly due to the inferiority of his navy, in 1805 a Royal Navy fleet led by Nelson decisively defeated the French and Spanish at Trafalgar, the last significant naval action of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1806, Napoleon issued the series of Berlin Decrees, which brought into effect the Continental System; this policy aimed to eliminate the threat from the British by closing French-controlled territory to foreign trade. The British Army remained a minimal threat to France. Although the Royal Navy disrupted France's extra-continental trade—both by seizing and threatening French shipping and by seizing French colonial possessions—it could do nothing about France's trade with the major continental economies and posed little threat to French territory in Europe. France's population and agricultural capacity far outstripped that of the British Isles, but it was smaller in terms of industry, mercantile marine and naval strength.
Napoleon expected that cutting Britain off from the European mainland would end its economic hegemony. On the contrary Britain possessed the greatest industrial capacity in the world, its mastery of the seas allowed it to build up considerable economic strength through trade to its possessions and the United States; the Spanish uprising in 1808 at last permitted Britain to gain a foothold on the Continent. The Duke of Wellington pushed the French out of Spain, in early 1814, as Napoleon was being driven back in the east by the Prussians and Russians, Wellington invaded southern France. After Napoleon's surrender and exile to the island of Elba, peace appeared to have returned. Napoleon reappeared in 1815; the Allies united and the armies of Wellington and Blücher defeated Napoleon once and for all at Waterloo. To defeat France, Britain put heavy pressure on the Americans
The Stanley Gibbons Group plc is a company quoted on the London Stock Exchange and which specialises in the retailing of collectable postage stamps and similar products. The group is incorporated in London; the company is philatelic publisher. The company's philatelic subsidiary, Stanley Gibbons Limited, has a royal warrant of appointment from Queen Elizabeth II; the company has a long corporate history, having started as a sole trader business owned by Edward Stanley Gibbons in 1856 and now being a quoted company with a number of subsidiaries. The business started when, employed as an assistant in his father's pharmacy shop in Plymouth, Gibbons set up a counter selling stamps. In 1863 he was fortunate enough to purchase from two sailors a sackful of rare Cape of Good Hope triangular stamps. In 1874 Gibbons moved to a house near Clapham Common in South London and in 1876 he moved again to Gower Street in Bloomsbury near the British Museum. By 1890 Stanley Gibbons wished to retire and the business was sold to Charles Phillips for £25,000.
Phillips became Managing Director, with Gibbons as Chairman. In 1891 a shop was opened at 435 Strand in addition to the Gower Street premises, in 1893 the shop and offices were amalgamated at 391 Strand where the company's retail premises remained for many years until they moved to 399 Strand. A new issue department was opened in 1906. In 1914 the company received a royal warrant from George V. In 1956 the company celebrated its centenary with an exhibition at the Waldorf Hotel opened by Sir John Wilson, it is in that year that Queen Elizabeth II granted her royal warrant to Stanley Gibbons Ltd as her philatelist. In 1967 the firm expanded into the United States in a joint venture with Whitman Publishing. A magazine and catalogues were produced. In 1968 the privately held Stanley Gibbons Limited was floated on the stock market through a tender arranged by S. G. Warburg & Co. Ltd; the offer was oversubscribed five times. The shares were sold at 20 shillings rather than the minimum tender price of 12 shillings and six pence.
It was estimated that there were 30 to 35 sharesholders before the offer and they still owned 66% of the equity after the offer, worth at least £1.8 million before trading began. Prices subsequently slipped back, however in the year. In 1970 The Crown Agents acquired a 20% stake in the company and appointed two Directors to the Gibbons board; the stake was sold in 1976. In 1977 Stanley Gibbons acquired the stock of the firm Chas Nissen, once run by the eminent stamp dealer and philatelist Charles Nissen. In 1979 Gibbons was bought by Letraset for £19 million in an attempt to diversify away from their dry-lettering business, but the acquisition did not go smoothly and like Flying Flowers Letraset faced difficulties integrating Gibbons into its core business; the Chairman of Letraset blamed "indiscriminate expansion" and "imprudent" investment decisions for the problems at Gibbons and was quoted in The Times as saying "We overpaid for what we got." The US$10 million paid by Gibbons for the Marc Haas collection was questioned.
In 1981 Letraset was taken over by Esselte after Esselte fought a takeover battle with Mills & Allen International for the company. Letraset had been fatally weakened by losses sustained in its Stanley Gibbons subsidiary; the same year Gibbons was put up for sale by Esselte as they said it did not form a logical part of their long-term development. In 1981 Gibbons bought the stock of the late H. F. Johnson. In 1982 Clive Feigenbaum staged a management buy-out followed by an application in 1984 for a listing on the UK's Unlisted Securities Market in order to raise funds for new acquisitions. Following the buy-out, the Chairman, had owned over 50% of the shares with the others owned by the rest of the board; the listing went ahead but the shares were suspended within moments of their debut before trading had begun, following concerns about Feigenbaum's background highlighted in an article in the Sunday Times. The suspension was said to be the fastest on record at that time; the concerns had surrounded Feigenbaum's expulsion from the Philatelic Traders Society for breaching their code of ethics and his sale of "23 carat gold" stamps of no postal validity from the island of Staffa.
U. S. government tests had shown the stamps, sold at £10 each, to have a gold value of about 5c each. The debacle was said to have caused considerable embarrassment, not just to the company but to its USM brokers Simon & Coates. Shortly afterwards, Feigenbaum resigned as Chairman and was bought out by a consortium of institutions and individuals for £3 million. A further attempt at a listing did not go ahead. In 1989 Paul Fraser began to invest in the firm, he purchased a further 30% stake in the company from New Zealand businessman Sir Ron Brierley, a stamp collector. Paul Fraser was appointed Executive Chairman in 1990. By 1995 Fraser had acquired 76.83% of Gibbons shares and he purchased the rest of the shares in December 1995. In June 1998 the company was sold for £13.5 million to Flying Flowers. Paul Fraser took shares in Flying Flowers instead of cash and was left with an 8% stake in the enlarged company following the deal; the merger was not a success and in 2000 the two companies were demerged again after a series of profits warnings and trading problems.
Paul Fraser's stake was reduced in value from £13.5 million to £4 million. The de-merged Stanley Gibbons became Communitie.com and was listed on AIM. The chairman of Flying Flowers was quoted as saying the deal "...was at the wrong price and at the wrong time." In August 2007, Paul Fraser resigned as Executive Chairman and in April 2008 he sold his re
Postage stamps and postal history of Great Britain
Postage stamps and postal history of Great Britain surveys postal history from the United Kingdom and the postage stamps issued by that country and its various historical territories until the present day. The postal history of the United Kingdom is notable in at least two respects- first, for the introduction of postage stamps in 1840, secondly for the establishment of an efficient postal system throughout the British Empire, laying the foundation of many national systems still in existence today; the story begins in the 12th century with Henry I, who appointed messengers to carry letters for the government. It is estimated that between 1135, 4,500 letters were carried by these messengers. During this time, private individuals had to make their own arrangements. Henry III provided uniforms for the messengers, Edward I instituted posting houses where the messengers could change horses; the reign of Edward II saw the first postal marking. Henry VIII created the Royal Mail in 1516, appointing Brian Tuke as "Master of the Postes", while Elizabeth I appointed Thomas Randolph as "Chief Postmaster".
Under Thomas Witherings, chief postmaster under Charles I, the Royal Mail was made available to the public, with a regular system of post roads and staff. From this time through to the postal reforms of 1839 – 1840 it was most common for the recipient to pay the postage, although it was possible to prepay the charge at the time of sending. In 1661, Charles II made Henry Bishop the first Postmaster General. In answer to customer complaints about delayed letters, Bishop introduced the Bishop mark, a small circle with month and day inside, applied at London, in the General Post office and the Foreign section, soon after adopted in Scotland, Ireland. In subsequent years, the postal system expanded from six roads to a network covering the country, post offices were set up in both large and small towns, each of which had its own postmark. In 1680 William Dockwra established the London Penny Post, a mail delivery system that delivered letters and parcels weighing up to one pound within the city of London and some of its immediate suburbs for the sum of one penny.
The Great Post Office Reform of 1839 and 1840 was championed by Rowland Hill credited with the invention of the postage stamp, as a way to reverse the steady financial losses of the Post Office. Hill convinced Parliament to adopt the Uniform Fourpenny Post whereby a flat 4d per half ounce rate was charged regardless of distance. December 1839-letters could arrive at any address in the United Kingdom: The rate went into effect on 5 December 1839 but only lasted for 36 days; this was successful, on 10 January 1840 the Uniform Penny Post started, charging only 1d for prepaid letters and 2d if the fee was collected from the recipient. Fixed rates meant that it was practical to avoid handling money to send a letter by using an "adhesive label", accordingly, on 6 May, the Penny Black became the world's first postage stamp in use. After more than 2,000 suggestions were submitted, Rowland Hill chose the method and printer, worked by trial and error to achieve the required result, he decided to go with Perkins, Bacon & Petch, "a firm of bank-note printers, to carry out the work by the process of steel engraving, the head of the Queen as engraved by William Wyon for a special medal struck to celebrate Her Majesty's official visit to the City of London in the year of her Coronation."The stamp was for use only within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and as such was, in effect, a local stamp.
For this reason the name of the country was not included within the design, a situation which continued by agreement with foreign post offices, provided the sovereign's effigy appeared on the stamp. Envelopes sold with postage paid did not include this. In 1951, the special commemorative issue for the Festival of Britain included the name "Britain" incidentally, it could therefore be said that the name of the country appeared for the first time on a stamp of the UK, although the word "British" had appeared on British Empire Exhibition commemorative stamps of 1924. After the stamp was circulating, it became obvious that black was not a good choice of stamp colour, since any cancellation marks were hard to see. So from 1841 onwards, the stamps were printed in a brick-red colour; the Penny Reds continued in use for decades with about 21 billion being produced. The Victorian age saw an explosion of experimentation; the inefficiency of using scissors to cut stamps from the sheet inspired trials with rouletting, with perforation, which became standard practice in 1854.
In 1847, the 1 shilling became the first of the British embossed postage stamps to be issued, followed by 10d stamps the following year, 6d values in 1854. Surface-printed stamps first appeared in the form of a 4d stamp in 1855, printed by De La Rue, subsequently became the standard type. 1⁄2 d and 1 1⁄2 d engraved stamps issued in 1870. Surface-printed stamps of the 1860s and 1870s all used the same profile of Victoria, but a variety of frames and corner lettering. A 5-shilling stamp first appeared in 1867, followed by 10 shilling and £1 values in 1878, culminating in a £5 stamp in 1882. Meanwhile, the age of the Penny Reds had come to an end along with the Perkins Bacon printing contract; the new low values were surface-printed: first was a penny stamp coloure